According to the Egyptian Al-Ahram weekly October 29th 2013: "Many in the Syrian opposition say that the Al-Qaeda affiliates are now in fact doing the regime's bidding by weakening its true adversaries, those led by the FSA, and alienating Syrian civilians and the West and thus giving the regime the opportunity to claim it is fighting terrorists".
I work for Médecins sans Frontières (aka Doctors Without Borders). Professional humanitarians are many things; rarely superstitious. And yet 2013 has proven a year to leave behind, and I find myself harbouring nothing morbid, yet nonetheless fairly shaken by the 13th year of the new millennium... As a director in MSF, the spectre of Somalia 2013 leaves me feeling apprehensive about Syria, CAR or Sudan in 2014. Or Myanmar and DRC. Or many others.
Globally, there are 100 million homeless. Last week saw some bizarre and disgusting news reported about their fate, which made me think about the wide range of reasons people become homeless, the various fates that await them - and the urgency with which we must safely and affordably house our populations.
The massive funeral was a fitting tribute to this courageous physician who left his comfortable London life and endured a year-long incarceration by one of the most brutal regimes in the Arab world. The British society, particularly the Muslim community, can feel proud of Dr Khan who put the lives of ordinary people above his; he paid the ultimate price by giving his own life.
Syria has been facing disaster - humanitarian and military - for three blood-soaked years. A recent event has rocked this already volatile region, and deepened the divisions within all sections of society, increasing the chance that this war will be even longer and bloodier than first thought. The Islamists are coming, and this represents an even stronger reason for the West to intervene.
Crises at the scale of what has unfolded in Syria and neighbouring countries inevitably upset all norms and test the capacity of all organisations to respond, national or international. There can be no humanitarian solutions for what is fundamentally a political crisis. Yet as we head towards the third anniversary of the uprising in Syria, the international community does need to be asking itself: are we doing enough to assist those affected, and how can we do this better?