American Secretary of State John Kerry is the Point Man, on President Barack Obama’s Team, in eradicating the Islamic State (IS), as well as various other Islamic Fundamentalist Groups, in Syria and Iraq. The political consequences in the U.S. are obvious; but, it is truly a damned if you do, damed if you don’t situation. And unfortunately, other than several staunch Allies from the West, there are only a few participants from the Arab League combating the Jihadist; but, only to a token extent.
There are two key points to keep in mind: First, following the death of The Great Prophet Mohammed, reportedly in 632 A.D, there was confusion as to who was his rightful heir to lead Islam. That resulted in the split between the two major branches–the Sunnis and the Shias. The proportionate breakdown between them is 85%-to-15%, with the largest being the Sunnis. Also, following the break-up of the Ottoman Empire following World War I, the Major Powers drew lines to establish independent nations in the Middle East; but, without any regard for Sectarian, Tribal or Ethnic Considerations.
Accordingly, the fighting between the Sunnis and the Shias has been going on for some fourteen hundred years–and without any apparent suggestion of a solution. The current situation in Syria and Iraq certainly is a multi-faceted one, which merely suggests more of the same. The U.S. and its NATO Allies have been fighting various factions, in Iraq and Afghanistan, for more than ten years and, even as Allied Troops have withdrawn from Iraq and expect to mostly withdraw from Afghanistan soon, the question is: How many people must die before Peace comes to Islam? Or will it ever?
There are more moving parts in this turmoil, however, than in a three ring circus. Consider the following:
1. Lately, it was rumored that Iran had sent jet fighters to deliver air strikes against IS in Northern Iraq. Shia Iran has been an ally of the Shia government there all along. At first, Secretary Kerry wouldn’t confirm or deny Iran’s involvement in the air strikes; however, the Pentagon has recently acknowledged as much. Iran has also been an ally and arms supplier of the Regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, also a Shia Muslim.
2. Until recently, NATO Ally Turkey has shied away from providing any assistance to the U.S.-led Coalition fighting the Jihadists. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a Sunni Muslim Fundamentalist, would prefer to attack Assad’s Regime more than the various Sunni Jihadists in Northern Syria.
3. Also, the Turkish Kurds are considered to be terrorists within Turkey–and the U.S. includes all Kurds in the Region on its “Foreign Terrorist Organizations List”. So far, however, the Kurds have been the only capable military ground troops that the U.S. has been able to rely on in either Syria or Iraq. Turkey has shown somewhat of a change-of-heart recently in that there reportedly have been negotiations with the U.S. to provide some Special Operation Troops to establish a free corridor along the Syrian side of the Turkish border, which would result in some security, both for Turkey and the Syrian Kurds.
4. The Kurdish People settled in an area composed of parts of Southern Turkey and adjacent areas of Syria, Iraq and Iran prior to the year 1000 A.D.–in a Land they call Kurdistan. So, while they have been regarded as a Terrorist group by the respective national governments, in their minds, they are really fighting for their Homeland
5. And let’s not forget the Syrian Army, which has lost much control in the North; however, it is still in the overall mix, and has made air strikes on IS in Northern Syria, against IS and other Jihadist groups.
6. The Jihadists have benefitted from weapons that they have captured from both the Syrian and Iraqi Armies. IS has also been able to capture some of the Oil Fields, in both Syria and Iraq, and send it to the Black Market through Turkey. But, with the price of Oil having recently dropped to $65 per barrel, that source of Revenue has surely declined.
7. Lastly, there is even a certain amount of confusion among the Islamic Jihadists, as well. Recently, it has been reported that some Groups operate as allies in certain areas, and enemies in others. Now, what does that do for the age-old commentary that: “The Enemy of my Enemy is my Friend?”
It is impossible to determine exactly what is going on in the Region and, let’s face it, other nations cannot fight these Peoples’ Wars for them. As President Obama has said, if we do, what will happen when we leave. Haven’t we learned that lesson in Afghanistan, where the Taliban seemed to have been wiped-out; but, only to rise again one de the Afghan Army took more responsibility? And, many of our Soldiers and Marines, who fought the long fight in both Iraq and Afghanistan, are quite distraught to learn that the Iraqi Army lost areas that they fought to recapture–and losing Comrades in process. And now, they see that those areas are now in the possession of the various Jihadist Groups.