A triumphant President Bashar al-Assad was sworn in on Wednesday for a third seven-year term. At the same time, rebels fired five mortar shells into Damascus, killing four people, and the UN adopted a resolution authorising aid convoys to enter Syria without the consent of Assad’s government. The politics of Syria are in a knot that the West has been at a loss to undo over the last three years and have not been able to secure the ousting of Assad. The rise of the Islamic State (IS) has pulled away the focus on Assad and allowed him to slip back in.

With the IS on the brink of breaking Iraq apart, Assad may have managed to portray his leadership as a more acceptable option. Iran and Russia also stand by Assad as allies and Moscow and China have vetoed a number of UN Security Council resolutions that would impose sanctions on Damascus. Assad branded the revolt in March 2011 as a foreign-backed “terrorist plot” and the Syrians are caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. At least 100,000 people were recorded as being killed in the last count in July 2013.

The Free Syrian Army is backed by the US, Britain, EU, Turkey and the Gulf states. It insists it is the only group capable of defeating ISIS and the Al Qaeda backed Jabhat al-Nusra while bringing about democratic change in Syria. As the situation stands right now, it seems that IS isn’t interested in defeating Assad right at all; it has bigger fish to fry in Iraq and has put enough on its plate. The areas in the east of Syria are areas that fell away from the rebels who have been resisting ISIS’s advances. ISIS hasn’t exactly been welcomed into these places, and there have already been some demonstrations against IS in various localities. It has to be remembered that some longtime prominent IS are defectors from the Free Syrian Army and have a reputation for criminality. And the fact that there are defectors should be cause for concern for the West and the Free Syrian Army. Among the rebels there is a lot of support for IS and many Syrians are going to Iraq to join the IS. Assad is only interested painting the Syrian people as terrorists for wanting democracy and with the IS distraction will gain back territories lost to the Free Syrian Army. ISIS will eventually face the combined might of Iran, Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah, so it will be a long time before the rebel army in Syria may be able to topple the Assad government.