The best possible situation for the West, which is why one wishes not to bring this conflict to a rapid close, but to watch it go on for as long as possible,and ideally, to deepen resentments among, and have repercussions on, Sunni, Shi'a, Druse, Christians, Kurds, and other peoples and regimes, in Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, and the Gulf.
From The Times (UK):
IRAN is spending billions of dollars in support of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, creating a rift at the top of the regime in Tehran as the war remains deadlocked.
Failure to decide the Syrian conflict in favour of Assad, despite huge military and financial support for the regime in Damascus, has caused a split between Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Iran's spymaster, Qassem Suleimani.
According to Western intelligence reports, details of which have been passed to the The Times and confirmed by other sources, the two men, who have been close for years, are at loggerheads over the failure to crush the 18-month uprising.
Iran is thought to have spent $US10 billion ($9.7bn). Defectors from Assad's forces have told co-ordinators for the rebel Free Syrian Army in the Gulf that Iran has been paying the salaries of Syrian government troops for months, as well as providing weapons and logistical support.
This huge outlay has increased friction in Tehran as the Iranian economy labours under international sanctions imposed by the West to curb Iran's disputed nuclear program.
Mr Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, a unit of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, masterminds Iranian strategy with its proxies across the region, including Hezbollah and Hamas.
Late last year, he assured Ayatollah Khamenei that he could turn the tide in Syria and crush the rebels.
Instead, the conflict has become a bloody stalemate, as Iran pumps weapons, troops and cash into Syria to counter support for the rebels from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, overseen by the US.
The Syrian regime's deployment of its air force in recent months has increased the civilian death toll without yielding a breakthrough, while the rebels still lack decisive firepower. With the war at a stalemate, Iran is left paying an ever more costly bill.
"Suleimani promised he would turn the situation in Syria around and has failed to deliver," said one Western defence source.
The Iranian government knows this is money it cannot afford to squander with its economy on the brink of collapse. Inflation and unemployment are soaring and there is widespread unhappiness among ordinary Iranians at the regime's fixation with the war in Syria while sanctions continue to bite.
Senior regime figures are also questioning Iranian strategy in Syria, fearful of unrest at home if the conflict drags on and the scale of Iran's spending becomes public.
Tehran reiterated its support for Assad at the weekend. Ali Akbar Velayati, Ayatollah Khamenei's foreign policy adviser, insisted victory for the Assad regime was "certain" and would represent a victory for Iran.
Behind the scenes, Iran is exploring other options and reopening talks with various opposition groups, including the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, in an effort to retain a stake in the country should the Assad regime be toppled.
"They need time to build the necessary alliances to make sure Iran is not expelled from Syria for ever," said one source in the Gulf.
Failure to crush the Syrian uprising puts the first real dent in the reputation of Mr Suleimani. Head of the Quds Force since 2002, he marshalled the Shia insurgency against US-led forces in Iraq, entering Baghdad at will under the noses of the Americans and becoming a darling of the ultra-conservative elite in Tehran.
He is so close to Ayatollah Khamenei that he has been touted as a contender for the presidency when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad steps down next year, but most observers consider him unlikely to run for office just now.