They say Syria is in the middle of a civil war.

Now what on Earth is that?

There are two answers to that question, a broader and a narrower one:

Linguists tend to favor a balanced approach:
“A war between opposing groups of citizens of the same country”

‘Political scientists’ tend to favor the established power:
“Armed conflict between a government and another group from within the same country.”

Scholars tend to favor precision while preserving the bias towards what is perceived as being “the established order”:
“A civil war” is “an armed conflict that meets the following criteria:
a) the war has caused more than 1,000 battle deaths
b) the war represented a challenge to the sovereignty of an internationally recognized state
c) the war occurred within the recognized boundary of that state
d) the war involved the state as one of the principal combatants
e) the rebels were able to mount an organized military opposition to the state and to inflict significant casualties on the state.”

Now it is easier to understand those who favor Bashar al Assad: they are people who need to preserve, sometimes at all costs, the status-quo. In Syria or at home.

Now lets examine the idea of the nation. Here we also find a lot of definitions, some of them rather scholar and springing from different starting points: common ethnicity, common culture, the use of a certain territory, etc. Another line of thinking starts from the workings of a nation and proposes a different approach: “a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own”. The implications of this definition include the fact that the members of a nation get along themselves good enough as to participate peacefully in the political process.

And this is the very point where my mind starts to melt. Or to blow up.
“Civility is claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”
Exactly the kind of behavior one would expect inside a nation in working order, right?
Then again: “Civil war?”
Armed conflict with at least 1000 “battle deaths” fought between “opposing groups of citizens of the same country”, one of the groups claiming to represent the “government” and all this in the name of not “degrading” the “identity, needs and beliefs” of the other side?

Wouldn’t be simpler to accept that the waring parties no longer constitute a nation?