Ted Rall's explanation of the situation actually bespeaks a common Western misconception of how wars work in the Middle East. "Two sides" is such an amusingly simple concept.

Each ethnic or religious group is, effectively, its own side, with shifting alliances. There are also multiple rebel organizations which unify various such groups, some of which are also supported by various other governments, like Iran. Each has their own agenda. Many of these agendas include genocide, if they can get away with it. Many other agendas include establishing a dictatorship, in any number of terrifying flavors. 

There are people whose agenda includes such things as "surviving" and "raising one's family" and "living a normal life," but in the earlier stages of a civil war such people are generally not taking sides so much as running for cover and/or becoming refugees. (There are later stages in a war where everyone is grabbing weapons, but this is more typical of the African style of civil warfare rather than the Middle Eastern)

And the special joy of this is, it's easy to start your own side! Simply come in with an agenda that's either contrary to all of theirs, or with an agenda of making sure that none of these bastards win, and that the area just stays in a long-term mess. This was a favorite strategy of many countries in the Iran-Iraq war.

Ain't politics grand?
Trying to explain the lack of reasoning!
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