It seems that China has dealt itself into the Middle East; we presume that Martians will be next. Perhaps, the area having attracted the interest of God Himself on three occasions (Jewish, Christian and Moslem) we should not be so surprised. He understands geopolitics better than we do, that’s all. But short of a fourth round from Him, China will do.
Britain stabilized the area after WWI. Recently, it was stabilized by minority dictatorships. In Syria, a (sort of) Shia thug sat on the majority Sunni population and cuddled with Shia Iran, though the Sunni majority would have preferred nesting with the fellow Sunni Gulf Arabs.
In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used minority Sunni Arabs to run the place, to the chagrin of the majority Shia Arab Iraqis. Under Saddam, Iraq was a buffer against Shia Iran and they fought an inconclusive war a while back.
The thousands of years old game is the seesaw between the Arabs and non-Arab Iran, both of whom feel entitled to run things. But Iran could not call upon fellow Shia in Iraq with the Sunnis in charge there. Nor could the Gulf Arabs call on fellow Sunni Arabs in Syria with the Shia (Alawite) Assads on top. Sort of a stalemate. Relative peace …
Then, Prez Bush, pere, somehow allowed Saddam to believe that he would be allowed to invade Kuwait. (Oil, oil, oil …). Letting such as Saddam imagine that was a key diplomatic failure of President Bush’s administration. It require the Gulf War to restore the status quo ante with Saddam still in charge in Iraq but out of Kuwait. Bush the First has never been adequately criticized for allowing Saddam’s misadventure.
Bush the Second tipped over the apple cart; he effectively removed the Sunni seal from the Shia Iraqi bottle by toppling Saddam. Some of those dispossessed Sunnis now call themselves: ISIS. Shia took over government and are now cozying up to Shia Iran. Bagdad has just provided Russia an airbase in Iraq. The Bushes put Iraq in play. They killed a lot of people and wasted a lot of money doing it.
Seeing this and the regime changes in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia et al, some Syrians arose to toss their dictator Assad. These rebels are mostly Sunni itching to dump the minority Shia government. Naturally, Assad fought back and the two were going at it when Iraqi ISIS piled on them both. The Syrian rebels weren’t pushing a religious dictatorship; ISIS wants that. Generally, Assad has been slowly losing. That distresses his sponsor Iran. Iran sent its Hezbollah militia from Lebanon to help Assad. It wasn’t quite enough.
Into this mess, President Obama was pushed by political winds; he pretended to care and events forced him to act up to it. He sent a few air strikes to help the Kurds against ISIS in Syria and a few more against ISIS in Iraq.
Iran, losing satellite Syria, asked Russia for help. Putin piled in and started saving Assad, attacking the Syrian rebels and promising to attack ISIS. Unless he wanted to fight Russia, this dealt Obama out of Syria. It bids fair to assure Syria remains in Iranian orbit, never mind what its majority Sunnis might wish. And even if Obama desired to proceed in Syria, damn the Russian torpedoes, the advent of China is too much. Syria, despite its majority Sunni Arabs, will stay in Iran’s shadow.
Iraq was, despite its Shia Arabs, a friend of the Sunni Gulf. Now that it has been beheaded by the Bushes, it is drifting toward Shia Iran instead. Though Shia, Iraqis are Arabs; Iranians aren’t nor do the two trust. Iraqi people may not be happy with Iran as Big Brother but that seems the direction that the Iraqi government is drifting.
Betting on the outcome of this sort of witches’ brew is silly. But it seems safe to expect lots of dead people, wasted money and unexpected or at least unintended, side effects such as wars.
Compounding all this, Europe and the United States are abandoning Israel as rapidly as they are able to manage while denying any such thing. And of course, blessing Iranian nuclear ambitions while pretending to oppose them.
We can understand most of this, after a fashion. It’s all too human politics and nothing new on earth. There is one thing though, that we would like to understand much better and do not:
Who is organizing and funding the streams of refugees and other migrants into Europe and the parallel stream into the U.S? The U.N. has set up refugee camps around the trashed areas; they have been receiving their refugees for years now. In the Americas, Central American instability is on the downswing, Someone has invested much money and effort to organize these mass movements, over considerable time. Or so we suppose. WHO?