Posted tagged ‘Sunni’

Aleppo’s Fall Signals Rise of Emboldened Radical Shi’ite Axis

December 16, 2016

Aleppo’s Fall Signals Rise of Emboldened Radical Shi’ite Axis, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, December 16, 2016

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Recent sweeping gains by the pro-Assad alliance in Aleppo signal the rise of an emboldened Iranian-led radical Shi’ite axis. The more this axis gains strength, territory, weapons, and influence, the more likely it is to threaten regional and global security.

Ideologues in Iran have formulated a Shi’ite jihadist vision which holds that the Iranian Islamic revolution must take control of the entire Muslim world. Losing the Assad regime to Sunni rebels, many of them backed by Tehran’s Gulf Arab state archenemies, would have represented a major setback to Iran’s agenda.

This same ideological agenda also calls for the eventual annihilation of Israel, the toppling of Sunni governments, and intimidating the West into complying with Iran’s schemes.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and Tehran’s military elites, in the form of the Islamic Republican Guards Corps (IRGC), use the current regional chaos to promote these goals.

In Syria, Iran has mobilized tens of thousands of Shi’ite militia fighters from all over the Middle East, as well as those from Hizballah in Lebanon, and sent them to do battle with Sunni rebel organizations to help save the Assad regime.

As the Shi’ite axis wages a sectarian war against Sunnis moderate groups and jihadists, it mobilizes and arms its proxies, and moves military assets into Syria, gaining a growing influence that can be used for bellicose purposes in the not too distant future.

The conquest of east Aleppo is a victory for the wider, transnational Iranian-led alliance, of which the Damascus regime is but one component. The Assad regime is composed and led by Syria’s minority Alawite population, which makes up just 11 percent of Syrians (Alawites are seen as an offshoot of Shia Islam).

A look at the order of battle assembled in Aleppo reveals that the war in Syria is not a civil conflict by any measure. In addition to Assad regime forces sent to fight Sunni rebels, such as the Fourth Division, Syrian army special forces, and paramilitary units, there is also the Iranian-backed Hizballah, which has transformed itself into a regional Shi’ite ground army, deployed across Syria and Lebanon.

These are joined by Shi’ite Iraqi Kataib Hizballah militia, Afghan Shi’ite militia groups, and Iranian military personnel on the ground in Syria, all of whom receive the assistance of massive Russian air power.

The large scale, indiscriminate airstrikes and shelling in places like Aleppo resulted in mass slaughter and ethnic cleansing of many Sunni civilians, producing the largest humanitarian catastrophe and refugee crisis in the 21st century. Such extreme war crimes will be sure to produce a new generation of radical recruits for ISIS and al-Qaida.

The IRGC’s Quds Force, under the command of Qassem Suleimani, orchestrates the entire ground war effort. Suleimani is very close to the Iranian supreme leader.

The Quds Force uses Syria as a transit zone to traffic advanced weapons from Iranian and Syrian arms factories to the Hizballah storehouses that pepper neighboring Lebanon.

Hizballah has amassed one of the largest surface to surface rocket and missile arsenal in the world, composed of over 100,000 projectiles, all of which are pointed at Israeli cities.

According to international media reports, Israel recently launched two strikes in the one week, targeting attempts to smuggle game-changing weapons to Lebanon.

Syrian dictator Basher Assad owes his survival to Iran and Hizballah, and their military presence in Syria should continue and expand further.

Assad regime and Hizballah representatives boast of this fact in recent statements highlighted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

“The power-balances will change not only in Syria but in the entire region,” said Hizballah Executive Council Chairman Hashem Safi Al-Din.

“Syria’s steadfastness, and the support from its allies, have shifted the regional and international balance [of power], said Assad political adviser Bouthaina Sha’aban. “The recent developments in the international arena are bringing the countries of the region face to face with a new world.

If it takes western Syria with Russian air support, the Shi’ite axis victors will likely turn their sights on seizing southern Syria, near the Israeli border. To accomplish that, they will need to do battle with an array of Sunni rebels that now control that area (groups that include ISIS-affiliates). If successful, the axis could be tempted to build bases of attack throughout Syria against Israel, a development that would certainly trigger Israeli defensive action, as has reportedly occurred in the past.

The same pattern repeats itself in Iraq, where Iran-backed militias are moving in on Mosul, and could later be used to threaten Iraq’s Sunnis, and in Yemen, where Iranian-armed Houthi rebels control large swaths of the country, and are currently at war with a Saudi-led military coalition. The Houthis also threaten international oil shipping lanes and have fired on the U.S. Navy using Iranian-smuggled missiles.

In this way, the fundamentalist Iranian coalition gains a growing foothold.

Iran’s ballistic missile program, which is developing long-range strike capabilities that could place Europe in range, and its temporarily dormant nuclear program, represents investments that would make the Shi’ite axis more powerful than any Sunni Islamist camp.

Defense officials in Israel and in pragmatic Sunni states will watch for the danger that Iran will use its presence, proxies, and bases in Syria and Iraq to wage a Shi’ite jihad that extends well beyond the battlegrounds there.

The Iranian coalition can also lure armed Sunni groups into its orbit as well, as it has done in the past with the Palestinian Hamas terrorist regime in Gaza.

While the Israeli defense establishment has no desire to be dragged into Syria’s conflict, Jerusalem has indicated that it would act to remove any Iranian-Hizballah base it detects in Syria that is designed to launch attacks on Israel, and would not tolerate the trafficking of advanced weapons to Hizballah.

Few events illustrate more clearly how an ascendant Shi’ite jihadist axis is redrawing the map of the region than a recent military parade held by Hizballah in the western Syrian town of Al-Qusayr, which it conquered from the rebels in 2013.

According to an assessment by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, that parade featured Soviet-made tanks, American armored personnel carriers, artillery guns, anti-aircraft guns, and powerful truck-mounted rocket launchers with an estimated range of between 90 to 180 kilometers. “It is clear that state-owned capabilities, some of them advanced, were delivered to Hizballah, which is a terrorist organization,” the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center said in its report.

Hizballah, like the Assad regime and armed groups in Iraq and Yemen, is a component of an international axis whose battles against ISIS have managed to dupe some decision makers into believing that they are stabilizing forces. In actuality, the Shi’ite jihadists are as radical as their Sunni jihadist counterparts – albeit more tactically prudent – and are far better armed and better organized.

Global Assembly of Islamic Awakening aims at rooting out Takfiri thought

October 22, 2016

Global Assembly of Islamic Awakening aims at rooting out Takfiri thought, AhlulBayt News, October 21, 2016

(The split between Shiite – Sunni Muslims began centuries ago due to disputes about who was Mohamud’s legitimate successor . A Takfiri 

is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim (or an adherent of another Abrahamic faith) of apostasy.[1] The accusation itself is called takfir, derived from the word kafir (unbeliever), and is described as when “one who is, or claims to be, a Muslim is declared impure.”[2]Accusing other Muslims of being takfiris has become a sectarian slur, particularly since the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War in 2011

Significant healing of the rift between Shiites and Sunnis seems unlikely anytime soon, but were it to happen it probably would not be advantageous for non-Muslims. — DM)

Velayati, also a top advisor to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, made the remarks during a joint press conference held in Baghdad on Thursday after he met with Head of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq Ammar Hakim.

Velayati travelled to Iraq on Wednesday to participate in the 9th meeting of the supreme council of the Global Assembly of Islamic Awakening.

He told reporters at the conference that the fact that most of the participants in the meeting are from some 22 Sunni Muslim countries and a few of them are from Shia countries has indicated the unity and solidarity among all Muslim nations.

He also stressed that Iran would continue its support for Iraq as the latter is an ‘oppressed country which was occupied by the US and liberated later with the help of God and is now being ruled completely based on democracy.’

Meanwhile, Hakim told reporters that the Assembly meeting is being held in Baghdad while Mosul liberation operation is underway in north of the country.

He noted that the Daesh (ISIS) terrorists are not only considered a threat for Iraq but for the entire world.

Hakim noted that the Assembly meeting aims at briefing the Shiite and Sunni Muslims and scholars on the latest developments in the Islamic world.

Iran May Execute 30 Sunni Clerics for ‘Endangering Security’

May 1, 2016

Iran May Execute 30 Sunni Clerics for ‘Endangering Security’, Clarion Project, May 1, 2016

Shahram-Ahmadi-IPOne of the most prominent preachers, Shahram Ahmadi, was arrested seven years ago. (Photo: Facebook)

A campaign called Defense of Political Prisoners in Iran has published a list that includes the name of 30 Sunni preachers that Iran has threatened to execute.

As reported by Al Arabiya, the preachers are part of a larger group of 200 Sunni political prisoners including other preachers and students of religious science that have been accused of endangered national security and preaching against the regime. Most of the prisoners are Iranian Kurds.

The 30 who have been threatened with execution are being held in the Rajai Shahrprison in Karaj, the fourth largest city in Iran.

One of the most prominent preachers, Shahram Ahmadi, was arrested seven years ago for the crimes of taking part in political and religious classes and selling books with religious content. He was arrested with his brother Chamid who was executed in March 2015 at the age of 17.

Chamid, together with five other inmates who were also executed, was accused of taking part in the assassination of a Sunni cleric who was close the regime. Amnesty International as well as other human rights groups say that the five were involved in peaceful, religious activities that included organizing classes of religious studies in the Sunni mosques in the Kurdish regions of Iran.

Relatives of those executed say that no charges were brought against the five for the first four years after their arrests. The group was also never brought to a court during that time.

Some of the preachers said they had been severely tortured during an entire year of interrogations and kept in solitary confinement in an Iranian intelligence facility in the city of Sanandaj in the center of the Kurdish province.

According to the report, prisoners spoke of brutal methods of torture inflicted upon them through letters sent to international human rights organizations and the UN representative for human rights in Iran.

The torture included electric shocks to the genitals, being hanged upside down and beatings with red-hot wires. They were also not allowed to drink for a number of days, forced to shave their beards and taunted by claims that their families would be tortured as well.

Sunni activists said that most of the arrests were made because of the demands by the preachers that the regime stop oppressing and discriminating against Sunnis. Activists say that the regime prevents Sunnis from practicing their religion and rituals freely. For example, last July, after the municipality of Iran, supported by the security forces, destroyed the only place of Sunni worship in Tehran, Sunnis have been prevented from building a mosque in the capital city.

The destruction set off angry responses by the country’s Sunni population.

Iraq Parliament Collapses, Lawmakers Flee Baghdad

May 1, 2016

Iraq Parliament Collapses, Lawmakers Flee Baghdad, Voice of AmericaSharon Behn, May 1, 2016

Baghdad parliament flees

Baghdad teeters on the edge of political chaos Sunday.

The city is in a state of emergency, protesters are occupying parts of the once-secure International Zone (IZ), lawmakers have run away and the military is on high alert.

By Sunday morning, protesters led by Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr continued to crowd the streets in front of the country’s now-empty parliament and gather in what is known as the zone’s “Celebration Square.”

Lawmakers fled Saturday after protestors stormed into the parliament.

About 60 lawmakers, mostly from the minority Kurdish and Sunni parties, flew out of the capital for Irbil and Suleymania, in the northern autonomous Kurdish region.

“It was dangerous for all of us,” one parliament official told VOA, speaking on condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. Some lawmakers were beaten, he said.

Baghdad 1A handout image released by the press office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on May 1, 2016, shows him (L) looking at the damage after protesters stormed the Iraqi parliament building in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone area.

The official said thousands of protesters were still in the so-called International Zone Sunday, parked outside the major government buildings.

WATCH: Related video of protesters in the International Zone (Video at the link — DM)

Normally only those with special badges are allowed into the secured area, which is also home to many foreign embassies and the United Nations.

“It is dangerous,” the parliament official said. “At any time, the protesters could attack any embassy, any institution they want, or abuse anybody passing by.

“It seems al-Sadr wants to keep them inside the IZ so he can force the government to do what he wants,” the official said.

Political unrest

The parliament takeover was the culmination of weeks of political wrangling and increasing instability, and came just days after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden visited Baghdad.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the visit was a good indication of U.S. continued support for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s efforts to unify Iraq and confront the Islamic State (IS) group.

Baghdad 2Supporters of Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr walk over the blast walls surrounding Baghdad’s highly fortified Green Zone, April 30, 2016. Dozens of protesters climbed over the blast walls and could be seen storming the parliament building.

But the visit was not enough to stave off the deepening political crisis.

Sadr has been demanding a new government of technocrats.

Abadi, who had also promised reform, had been unable to deliver any real change as political parties, unwilling to let go of their political power, blocked the majority of his list of candidates.

The prime minister on Sunday walked through the ransacked parliament building, and called on Interior Minister Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban to bring the attackers “to justice.”

Unrest growing

But even as political blocs have fought to maintain their positions and all the trappings of power, the anger in the Iraqi street has been growing for the past year over the lack of basic services, security, and the vast government corruption and political patronage.

Sadr, a firebrand cleric sometimes described as a Shi’ite nationalist, has managed to capitalize on that anger and frustration.

“Al-Sadr has the power of the people. One speech and he can deliver thousands of people to do what he wants. It is the power of the populace,” the parliament official said. “Al-Sadr is capable of running and leading the anger within each Iraqi person.”

Baghdad 3Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr raise the Iraqi flag outside parliament in Baghdad’s Green Zone, April 30, 2016.

One high-ranking Iraqi military official, also speaking to VOA on condition of anonymity, said that Sadr had many young Iraqis, including Sunnis and Christians, on his side.

The Institute for the Study of War describes Sadr’s power grab as a de facto political coup.

But the military official said Prime Minister Abadi was still in control of the Iraqi military and running the country.

Rival Shi’ite powers

Yet, the military official warned that powerful rival Shi’ite powers in Baghdad were not comfortable with Sadr’s attempted power grab. He said members of the notorious Badr Brigade militia, which is strongly allied with Iran, were beginning to converge on the capital’s center.

The possibility for intra-Shi’ite violence in Baghdad is high, and Baghdad residents said they are unsure of what will happen next.

There is also concern that IS could take advantage of the turmoil to ramp up its attacks. Iraqi security forces closed off all entrances to the city Saturday.

Resident Mahdi Makhmour, who lives outside the IZ, said the city streets were empty Sunday morning and many roads were still blocked, partly because of the start of a three-day Shi’ite religious celebration in the capital.

Obama’s Fake Syrian Peace Talks Falling Apart

January 29, 2016

Obama’s Fake Syrian Peace Talks Falling Apart, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, January 29, 2016

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The peace talks strategy for Syria comes out of Iran and Russia, two countries determined to keep Assad in power. Obama wanted the peace talks in order to rig a fake settlement that would come apart once he was out of office. But the only people fooled by this were stupid enough to get their news from CNN and their talking points from Think Progress. The Sunni side only participated to the extent that they could wreck the talks and extract some demands. They have no intention in signing on to Assad staying in power or to letting Obama get away with a fake solution that does just that.

And, oh yes, no one actually thinks Obama has any credibility.

As the Obama administration pushes for peace in Syria, its credibility is crumbling among Syrian opposition leaders, many of whom increasingly doubt the U.S. is serious about ending the rule of dictator Bashar Assad.

Because he isn’t.

If the talks peter out or collapse, that will further undermine President Barack Obama’s foreign policy legacy, which already has been tarnished by the endless bloodshed in Syria

It’s okay. Obama will blame Tom Cotton or Bush or Israel. Or someone. And the media will go along with it.

“A number of the opposition has expressed the feeling that the U.S. is not acting as an honest broker and that they’ve lost both trust and faith in the ability of the United States to deliver on a political settlement in Syria,” said Andrew Bowen, a senior fellow at the Center for the National Interest who has contacts among Syrian opposition groups.

Obama signed on with Iran. So he’s about as much of an honest broker as any other foreign agent.

“Kerry did not make any promises, nor did he put forward any initiatives,” said Khaled Khoja, president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, in onestatement questioning U.S. intentions. “He has long been delivering messages similar to those drafted by Iran and Russia, which call for the establishment of a ‘national government’ and allowing Bashar al-Assad to stay in power and stand for re-election.”

Well yes. What else do you expect Kerry to do? This is the only thing he’s been doing since he got to the Senate and even beforehand with the Viet Cong. Traitors gotta traitor.

Among the numerous reports floating around — some of them highly speculative — are those that allege Kerry warned opposition leaders they could lose international support if they didn’t attend Friday’s talks. The reports come as the U.S. has appeared to be backing away from its demand that Assad must leave office by signaling its support for the notion of a transitional period.

And that period will come to an end once Obama is out of office.

But all this is theater anyway as the groups with the most fighters on the ground, including Al Qaeda and ISIS, are not represented. Most of the Islamists aren’t either. So this is just the Muslim Brotherhood, whose actual strength is weak, throwing a tantrum. Even if the Sunni groups signed some sort of deal it would be as worthless as the fake elections Hillary still talks up in Libya

Iran-Saudi crisis spurs Hizballah strike on Israel

January 4, 2016

Iran-Saudi crisis spurs Hizballah strike on Israel, DEBKAfile, January 3, 2016

Iranian_protesters_set_fire_to_pictures_of_the_Saudi_royal_family_3.1.16

The heated verbal battle between Tehran and Riyadh over Saudi Arabia’s execution of a Shiite cleric escalated Sunday night, Jan 3, with the severance of diplomatic relations. On the broader front, the repercussions from the quarrel between the two leaders of the Muslim world’s Shia-Sunni split are widely seen in Middle East military and intelligence circles as spurring a fast-track Hizballah attack on Israel.

Among the 47 people executed by Saudi Arabia Saturday on terrorism charges was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, Saudi Shiite leader and a prominent Shiite cleric in the region. Put to death with him were several Saudi Shiite and Sunni activists, which enraged Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to the point of threatening the Saudi royal family with “divine revenge.”

From Iran’s perspective, the Saudis committed the unpardonable act of executing Shiites together with Sunni Al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists. This made the House of Saud the first ruling power ever to treat Shiite and Sunni terrorists alike. This, more than anything, incensed Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizballah, who are deep in a bloody war against the Sunni Islamic State and the Nusra Front terrorists in Syria. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards are additionally locked in a bitter conflict with ISIS in Iraq.

The Iranian war effort is backed by the US in Iraq and by Russia in Syria.

By the mass executions of both classes of terrorist at the same time, Riyadh issued four messages:

1. Washington and Moscow are wrong. The Iranians and the forces they back in the Persian Gulf, Syria and Iraq are just as much terrorists as ISIS and Al Qaeda.

2. The House of Saud is determined to fight both with equal resolve and severity

3. Riyadh has already taken Tehran on in Yemen, and indirectly in Syria, and is now ready to take the fight against Tehran all the way to the war on terror.

4. Taking off the diplomatic gloves, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir Monday night severed relations with Iran and ordered all Iranian diplomats to leave the kingdom within 48 hours. The foreign ministry said that by condemning the Nimr execution, Iran was supporting terrorism.

Saudi diplomats were already gone after protesters in Tehran torched and ransacked the Saudi embassy Saturday.

Amid all the sound and fury, Tehran’s attention was drawn to comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in the light of a major terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. He pointed out that, in addition to the Palestinians, Israel is threatened by two streams of radical Islam, the Shiites and the Sunnis.

He was clearly referring to Iran and its terrorist arm, Hizballah, on the one hand, and ISIS and Al Qaeda, on the other, inspired less by the Tel Aviv outrage than by the gathering clouds of terror darkening the region, which place the Saudi royal family and Israel on the same side, sharing a similar perception of the two foes facing both countries.

Policymakers in Jerusalem noted the odd statement by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan to reporters on Saturday, January 1 on the way home from a visit to Riyadh. After years of reviling the Jewish state, he said, “Israel is in need of a country like Turkey in the region. We have to admit that we also need Israel.”

He sounded as though he was urging the resumption of the old political and military alliance binding the two countries years ago.

DEBKAfile’s Middle Eastern sources point out that, since his comment came directly after his talks with Saudi King Salman in Riyadh, it appeared to open a path toward the possible creation of a new Middle East bloc consisting of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, perhaps Egypt, and Israel, bound by the same enemies. This grouping could serve as a counterweight against the Sunni-Shiite bloc of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hizballah, which has the backing of the US and Russia on one hand, and fights ISIS on the other.

Iran’s leaders may curse the House of Saud without restraint, but they are canny enough not to go from words to deeds, knowing they would be on their own if they attacked the oil kingdom and earn no backing from either Washington or Moscow.

However, it might be easier for Tehran to take advantage of Netanyahu’s tough predicament in his war on terror, by sending Hizballah to strike Israel and, meanwhile, pre-empt the formation of a new anti-Tehran alliance. Speeding up Hassan Nasrallah’s promised revenge for the assassination of its master terrorist Samir Quntar would serve this purpose.

This possibility has prompted the IDF to keep artillery units pounding areas bordering on Israel during the past few days. The IDF says this action is necessary to stop Hizballah exploiting the stormy, snowy winter weather to attack Israel. Its military chiefs appear to be acting on information received of an approaching Hizballah operation as its leader has threatened.

No, the Islamic State Will Not Be Defeated — and if It Is, We Still Lose

November 25, 2015

No, the Islamic State Will Not Be Defeated — and if It Is, We Still Lose, BreitbartBen Shapiro, November 24, 2015

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Barack Obama has now created an unwinnable war.

While all of the 2016 candidates declare their strategies for victory against ISIS, President Obama’s leading from behind has now entered the Middle East and the West into a free-for-all that cannot end any way but poorly.

The best way to understand the situation in Syria is to look at the situation and motivation of the various players. All of them have varying agendas; all of them have different preferred outcomes. Few of them are on anything approaching the same page. And Barack Obama’s failure of leadership means that there is no global power around which to center.

ISIS. ISIS has gained tremendous strength since Barack Obama’s entry to power and pullout from Iraq. They currently control northern Syria, bordering Turkey, as well as large portions of northern Iraq. Their goal: to consolidate their territorial stranglehold, and to demonstrate to their followers that they, and not other competing terrorist groups like Al Qaeda, represent the new Islamic wave. They have little interest in toppling Syrian dictator Bashar Assad for the moment. They do serve as a regional counterweight to the increasingly powerful Iranians – increasingly powerful because of President Obama’s big nuclear deal, as well as his complete abdication of responsibility in Iraq.

Iran. Iran wants to maximize its regional power. The rise of ISIS has allowed it to masquerade as a benevolent force in Iraq and Syria, even as it supports Assad’s now-routine use of chemical weapons against his adversaries, including the remnants of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Iran has already expanded its horizons beyond Iraq and Syria and Lebanon; now it wants to make moves into heretofore non-friendly regions like Afghanistan. Their goal in Syria: keep Bashar Assad in power. Their goal in Iraq: pushing ISIS out of any resource-rich territories, but not finishing ISIS off, because that would then get rid of the global villain against which they fight.

Assad. The growth of ISIS has allowed Assad to play the wronged victim. While the FSA could provide a possible replacement for him, ISIS can’t credibly do so on the international stage. Assad knows that, and thus has little interest in completely ousting them. His main interest is in continuing to devastate the remaining FSA while pretending to fight ISIS.

Egypt/Saudi Arabia/Jordan. As you can see, ISIS, Iran, and Assad all have one shared interest: the continued existence of ISIS. The same is not true with regard to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan, all of whom fear the rise of radical Sunni terrorist groups in their home countries. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place, however, because openly destroying ISIS on behalf of Alaouite Assad, they embolden the Shia, their enemies. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan would all join an anti-ISIS coalition in the same way they did against Saddam Hussein in 1991, but just like Hussein in 1991, they won’t do it if there are no Sunni alternatives available. Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan are the top three sources of foreign fighters for ISIS.

Turkey. The Turks have several goals: to stop the Syrian exodus across their borders, to prevent the rise of the Iranians, and to stop the rise of the Kurds. None of these goals involves the destruction of ISIS. Turkey is Sunni; so is ISIS. ISIS provides a regional counterweight against Iran, so long as it remains viable. It also keeps the Kurds occupied in northern Iraq, preventing any threat of Kurdish consolidation across the Iraq-Turkey border. They will accept Syrian refugees so long as those other two goals remain primary – and they’ll certainly do it if they can ship a hefty portion of those refugees into Europe and off their hands.

Russia. Russia wants to consolidate its power in the Middle East. It has done so by wooing all the players to fight against one another. Russia’s involvement in the Middle East now looks a good deal like American involvement circa the Iran-Iraq War: they’re playing both sides. Russia is building nuclear reactors in Egypt, Jordan, Turkey and Iran. They’re Bashar Assad’s air force against both the FSA and ISIS. Russia’s Vladimir Putin doesn’t have a problem with destroying ISIS so long as doing so achieves his other goal: putting everyone else in his debt. He has a secondary goal he thought he could chiefly pursue in Eastern Europe, and attempted with Ukraine: he wants to split apart the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which he rightly sees as a counterbalance to check Russian aggression. Thanks to today’s Turkish attack on a Russian plane, and thanks to the West’s hands-off policy with regard to the conflict, Putin could theoretically use his war against ISIS as cover to bombard Turkish military targets, daring the West to get involved against him. Were he to do so, he’d set the precedent that NATO is no longer functional. Two birds, one war.

Israel. Israel’s position is the same it has always been: Israel is surrounded by radical Islamic enemies on every side. Whether Iranian-backed Hezbollah or Sunni Hamas and ISIS, Israel is the focus of hate for all of these groups. Ironically, the rise of Iran has unified Israel with its neighbors in Jordan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. All three of those countries, however, can’t stand firmly against ISIS.

All of which means that the only country capable of filling the vacuum would be the United States. Just as in 1991, a major Sunni power is on the move against American interests – but unlike in 1991, no viable option existed for leaving the current regime in power. And the US’ insistence upon the help of ground allies is far too vague. Who should those allies be, occupying ISIS-free ISISland?

The Kurds have no interest in a Syrian incursion. Turkish troops movements into ISIS-land will prompt Iranian intervention. Iranian intervention into ISIS-land would prompt higher levels of support for Sunni resistance. ISIS-land without ISIS is like Iraq without Saddam Hussein: in the absence of solidifying force, chaos breaks out. From that chaos, the most organized force takes power. Russia hopes that should it destroy ISIS, Assad will simply retain power; that may be the simplest solution, although it certainly will not end the war within the country. There are no good answers.

Barack Obama’s dithering for years led to this. Had he lent his support in any strong way to one side, a solution might be possible. Now, it’s not.