July 23, 2020

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬ ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬ In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its … [Read more...]


PDF version available here In response to the September 11 attacks, the United States occupied Iraq. Baghdad effectively ended up in the hands of Iran, thus leading to the formation of the Shi’i Crescent. Riyadh has been leading the Sunni crusade to derail the march of Shi’ism. At the same time, to protect its nuclear facilities, Tehran has made Hizballah its Mediterranean defense line and Damascus its arms courier. The existence of an atomic bomb component in Iran’s nuclear … [Read more...]

War Across the Borders – One Sectarian War in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon

Saudi army in Jizan before war against the Houthis, November 2009.

A single sectarian war is currently under way across the Middle East.  This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others.  Its most intensive arena is the single land area taking in the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.  But this conflict is also manifest further afield – in Bahrain, in north Yemen, to some degree also in Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.    The core powers on each of the sides are the Islamic Republic of Iran for the Shia, and the … [Read more...]

Saudi Arabia/United States: Strange Bedfellows in the Middle East


What is the difference between Saudi and U.S. policy in the Arabic-speaking Middle East? It’s complex but fascinating and if you can understand the weird twists and turns in this situation you can understand the Middle East. While the two countries may appear aligned in fact–and often when they have the same goals–their policies differ extensively. And the Saudis are not always wrong. Arguably, they are pursuing their own interests more effectively than is the United States. The Saudis … [Read more...]