A country is devastated by civil war. The rebels are unified by their religious beliefs and conviction that the regime is corrupt and oppressive. The national government is weak, but still retains the support of the country’s elite, who in turn see the rebels as zealots and fanatics.
The rest of the world watches and waits, unwilling to support a regime most of the international community considers outdated and despotic, and not yet ready to support rebels whose ideology and motivations remain poorly understood.
Syria, 2016? No. China, 1860.