As most people will tell you the Middle East has always been a chaotic violent region and that this current situation is just an amplification of those traits.
That is somewhat accurate but the big problems showed up around the time of the Arab Spring…factions within factions within countries made some bad calculations that has lead to a horrific war/civil war……plus the disastrous humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the region.
As uncertainty engulfs a bleeding Near East, besieged by regional and global powers each pursuing its own agenda, dormant ambitions and sensitivities are waking up and finding the current situation suitable to express themselves.
There are a wealth of reasons why this region exploded into the violence that has been unmatched in many years. The problem is that a problem is identified and before a solution can be formulated another problem fires up…..for the time being all that the world can do is try to manage the situation as best they can without things getting worse.
Two of the world’s most powerful and influential countries, Russia and the US, are doing all they can to re-shape the Middle East…..but what will that look like?
On Tuesday, September 12, Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu sat with Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. According to Russian embassy social-media posts they discussed joint cooperation against Islamic State. This comes on the heels of the Syrian army reaching the city of Deir ez-Zor on the Euphrates River in eastern Syria and breaking a two-and-a-half-year siege. Russia has played a key role in the Syrian army’s successes, which increasingly means that Russian-backed Syrian forces are coming into contact with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). On September 16th the US-led coalition said a Russian airstrike east of the Euphrates river wounded several members of the SDF. As ISIS declines, its vacuum is filled with groups whose agendas are not the same and, in the case of Washington, whose policy remains unclear in eastern Syria. That is leading to greater Iranian influence across Iraq and Syria, and it leaves U.S. allies in the Gulf, Israel and on the ground in Syria wondering what comes next.
Both countries are pouring resources into the region…..and how will this shake out in the end? The problem is the amount of factions and players in the region.