The picture of Omran Daqneesh, a Syrian boy wounded by the bombing of Aleppo, has caught the world’s imagination, and is the most potent image arising out of the Syrian conflict since that of Aylan al-Kurdi, whose dead body washed up on the Greek coast last September, and showed how dire a journey refugees had to undertake. Daqneesh’s picture, which was not just photographic, but video, showed the world, just what Al-Kurdi had been trying to get away from. At this rate, some horrific image of the Syrian conflict might be expected in next July.

What this image helped show was the horrors of what is going on in Aleppo, which has been a centre of the anti-regime resistance, and for which the regime of President Bashar Al-Assad has engaged with the opposition in a fresh struggle. That brief clip of Ommran in the ambulance, dazed and bleeding, showed much of the agony suffered by the citizens of Aleppo. What it did not show, but which was part of little Omran’s ordeal, was the death of his father, and later of his brother.

While Aylan’s death last year showed the world how the refugees were suffering on their journey to Europe, Omran’s ordeal showed what Aylan had been fleeing from. While Aylan’s death might have helped galvanise Europe into trying to do something about the refugee crisis, it seems that not enough was done. For example, the UK agreed to take 20,000 refugees by 2020, but it is not on course to do so. There has been instead an exit from the European Union. The timing of the referendum allowed Leave campaigners to point to the increased refugee burden that EU membership meant. It might be too late to keep the UK in the EU, but the new image might well illustrate the dangers of leaving the refugees where they are.

Another important message encapsulated in that image is the sheer brutality of the Assad regime. It deserves some thought that the havoc reacted on Omran was not caused by some militant suicide bombing, but by bombing carried out by his own government, which has as its basic duty the protection of his life and property, and that of other citizens. It is not a case of militants carrying out violence unchecked by the government, but of violence by the government itself.

This will naturally lead to the demand, or rather the revival of the demand, that the Assad regime must be removed. In its defense, it is not just using the armed forces, but has also called in help from Russia as well as Iran. Though there is an attempt to portray this as a USA vs Russia battle, it is actually one of the Syrian people against him.

It is not that the regime has not got support. Bashar is nestled within the Alawite community. As it is Shiite, even though it is Sevener, it is supported by the Isna Asharis of Iran so strongly, that it has not only committed its own forces, but also the Hizbollah militia of Lebanon. Yet at the same time, 400,000 have been killed in five years. Obviously, Assad has aroused a great deal of ill-will and opposition.

At the same time, even though so many people have been killed, Assad remains. This would not be possible in the face of strong US opposition. However, the USA has found that it has the same problem in Syria as Russia: who will be the successor? Neither side wants the succession to fall to Islamists, as happened in other countries affected by the Arab Spring, but neither side wants a successor to be someone leaning to the other. An additional problem has been the effectiveness of the Assad regime, especially the late Hafez Al-Assad, Bashar’s father and the founder of the dynasty, in crushing all opposition, to the extent that leave aside pro-American or pro-democracy figures, there is no Islamist figure, not even in exile, that could provide some sort of alternative leadership.

One of the requirements of the Aleppo situation is that the starvation of the population be averted. This would require a ceasefire to allow aid to go in. It makes clear the minimalist position of the various bodies making the demand; that the people of Aleppo not be allowed to starve. That the Assad regime may slaughter them is a separate matter The USA and Russia both want the fighting stopped, but neither has a suitable substitute. Indeed, Russia would like Assad to remain, probably because it fears the alternative, which probably will not allow it to maintain its naval base at Latakia, which is the only port the Russian Navy has in the Mediterranean. However, even though it continues to give the regime full support, especially in the bombardment of Aleppo, it too has thrown out hints that it would be amenable to some other ruler.

Bashar is thus in power without the backing of any major power. However, a new factor in the equation has been that of Turkey. While the USAF has been attacking ISIS targets from Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, Turkey has gone through a terrible national experience, the failed coup of July 15, followed by the massive purge of the armed forces, judiciary and government services. As the coup is being blamed on the USA by the Erdogan government, Turkey has moved closer to Russia, though its friction with it has been a constant since Ottoman times. There has even been some talk of Russian planes flying out of Inirlik, though for tie time being, the only foreign bases they have been using have been in Iran.

Will Turkey come to the rescue of the USA by providing forces as well as logistical support for the anti-ISIS coalition that Saudi Arabia is trying to put together? It is almost as if the purge has allowed Erdogan to lick into shape the Turkish armed forces in preparation for such a move. Such a coalition will not only allow Pakistan to be dragged into the conflict, through its contribution of forces, but will also allow Saudi Arabia, the architect of the coalition, to resume centrestage.

Before joining in, Pakistan should also pay attention to what the Syrian people are demanding, and which is being opposed not just by the Al-Assad regime, but also by Turkey, Russia and the USA: an Islamic regime. ISIS is not seen as providing it, and as a result, is not expanding. Indeed, it is contracting. Perhaps that is the real crux of the Syrian situation: the establishment of an Islamic government as demanded by the Syrian masses (and not as provided by ISIS). Such a government would truly set the cat among the pigeons, and it is no wonder that everybody and his uncle are uniting to prevent such an outcome.

It should not be ignored that there is no readymade mass movement in Syria, like the Ikhwanul Muslimeen, that could act as a vehicle for the wishes of the people. The USA and Russia have dealt with the Egyptian, so they fear what will emerge. It will either be a leadership (and rank and file) without any political experience, or some political force now underground and which would have been so for years). In either case, people without much (or any) status-quo experience. In short, people they would like to avoid.