As Syria's bloody civil war grinds on, the country is now split into three parts—each boasting its own flags, security agencies, and judicial system—and the longer the conflict lasts, analysts say, the more difficult it will be to piece together a coherent Syrian state from the wreckage. "There is no doubt that as a distinct single entity, Syria has ceased to exist," says an analyst at IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center. "Considering the sheer scale of its territorial losses in some areas of the country, Syria no longer functions as a single all-encompassing unitarily-governed state."
The regime holds a firm grip on a corridor running from the southern border with Jordan, through the capital Damascus and up to the Mediterranean coast. The rebels control a chunk of territory that spans parts of Idlib and Aleppo provinces in the north and stretches along the Euphrates River to the Iraqi border in the east. Tucked into the far northeastern corner, meanwhile, Syria's Kurdish minority enjoys semi-autonomy. In each area, religious, ideological, and turf power struggles are under way and battle lines tend to ebb and flow, making it impossible to predict exactly what Syria could look like once the combatants lay down their arms. (Read more Syria stories.)