At the onset of the Syrian unrest amidst concerns and request for western intervention in the uprising, the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in an interview commented that “Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground, you will cause an earthquake”. Coming from a power greedy leader, the reality of this comment was subdued by the cancerous nature of his government and the world did not make it a priority to look beyond the obvious result of the uprising as evidenced in the commitment of the UN humanitarian arm and the slackness of its security council in reaching a consensus over the Syrian situation.

Now, three years from the beginning of Syria’s 2011 popular uprising against a corrupt, cynical and brutal regime, the “earthquake” is here and it has evolved to attain regional and international significance. The rise of the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) may have been catalyzed by Assad in an effort to divert international attention from the peaceful protests and create an opposition that will tackle his enemies – the armed nationalist in western Syria, while initiating a shift in the technical and military response of western nations from his government to the much dreaded international terrorism. However, the recent turn of events have indicated a loss of control (if there was any), and ushered Assad’s human rights violating troops into unfavorable times. The breakaway al-Qaida group remains the most powerful faction fighting Assad’s forces with a record of significant wins.

The capture of a major military air base in Tabqa, north eastern Syria, the beheading of American James Foley, the rampage of the extremist groups in territory spanning the Iraq-Syria border and the recent possession of sensitive military weapons has injected a new dynamic into the calculations of solving the Syrian situation – one which places the West, particularly the united states at a strategic and moral crossroads.

Earlier this week, the French president Francois Hollande rejected the idea of including Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in the fight against ISIS. Likewise, the UK ruled out an alliance with Assad while president Obama gave indications on Thursday that he was not yet persuaded on attacking the terrorist group in Syria stating that he has not developed a strategy to combat ISIS. The reluctance of these leaders in adopting a strategy that involves President Assad is quite understandable, considering the fact that Assad is far from being a saint. However, it is important for the west to be realistic in its battle against this rather powerful and influential group.

One of those realities is the fact that most ISIS members are fighting in Syria not inside its neighbor Iraq where the US military efforts against ISIS are currently limited to. The part of the organization that resides in Syria is crucial to ISIS’ survival and fro it to be crushed Assad must be brought on board otherwise, any foreign action on Syrian soil and space will be considered as aggression according to the Syrian foreign minister.

The contemptuous rejection of the Obama administration and the outright disagreement of the French and British leaders at the idea of a collaboration with Assad in the fight against ISIS may not last. Although, a US campaign to weaken the Islamic state extremists could wholly strengthen a leader the white house has sought to push from office, however the threat to regional and international security as well as the increasing magnitude of this extremist group will sooner than later propel the West to opt for pragmatic ways for joint efforts against terrorism – the common threat now posed by ISIS in Assad’s Syria.