Nearly four months after the Arab Spring brought about seismic political changes in Tunisia and Egypt and continuing unrest in Yemen and Bahrain.
The fate of Muammer Gadaffi of Libya and President Assad of Syria hang in the balance.
Gadaffi came to power following a military coup 42-years ago, Assad took the reins after his fathers death in 2000.
The situation in both Libya and Syria are similar but different.
Violence and repression are common to both regimes yet the West has given differing responses.
As NATO aircraft buzz and bomb targets in Libya the UN and the EU have yet to agree on a course of action for Syria even as Syrian forces threaten an all-out assault on a town where 120 security personnel were killed over the weekend.
Britain and France are working together on a UN security council resolution condemning a crackdown on anti-government protesters in Syria.
The draft resolution falls short of the no-fly zone agreed against Tripoli that sent war planes to back up the efforts of anti-Gaddafi fighters.
Russia looks set to oppose action against Assad along with India and Brazil as they fear military intervention may follow.
Russian opposition stems from former close ties with Damascus and a belief that NATO has over stepped the mark in Libya.
Despite the cruel crackdown in Syria a point of no return appears to have been reached between the population and their president.
Ricardo Bocco is professor of politics and sociology at IHEID in Geneva:
“The shattering regime change in Egypt has not yet been digested and there is a fear that a weak Syria or an end to Assad would destabilise the region. Syria’s alliances with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas add to fears of a wider regional conflict.”
As Libya remains almost isolated Syria retains its influence in the area giving Damascus a continued hold on Middle East politics.
When Gaddafi’s government splintered as the unrest began Assad’s remained firm.
The dynamic in Syria has now changed. The formerly peaceful protesters are now taking up arms to fight government troops and there is evidence that a number of Syrian military are gradually beginning to defect.
Yet the nightmare for both countries looks set run and run with more bloodshed assured.