The Islamic State

As you have likely heard by now, the Islamic State is a de-facto nation on the Syrian-Iraq border. The brutality and inhumanity of their tactics are well known, ranging from executions to what some have construed as an attempt at genocide of the Yazedi people. Important people in Washington D.C . have recently called them Al Qaeda’s junior varsity, but nobody is saying that anymore. What is still true, however, is that the rise of the Islamic state makes strange bedfellows and could possibly reorder politics and Middle East in ways not seen since the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

Suuni Shia Split Politics

Of the various conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims have ongoing, especially in Iraq, the Islamic State’s actions are open and without any political cover story for their operations against non-Sunni Muslims, whether they are Shia or Christians. This is unheard of the last century. It could be argued that the regime of Saddam Hussein and the war against Iran was an open Sunni-Shia conflict, but it was nation against nation where both nations were majority Shia. Also the Saudi Arabian intervention in Bahrain was merely to keep a friendly monarch in power, even though they did suppress a majority Shia uprising. It appears in the Islamic state is on a mission of eradication which no modern Middle Eastern nation has advocated for outside of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

What Is Interesting

The first curious thing I noticed about operations against the Islamic state is that all the American air power used against them seems to have been launched from aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. I wonder why the F-15s and F-16s stationed throughout the Middle East in places such as Saudi Arabia Kuwait and Qatar are not participating? Could it be that the U.S. does not want foreign policy issues of launching airstrikes from Sunni nations against the Islamic state? Or could it be that the Sunni nations will not allow the United States to launch airstrikes from their territory? Remember this idea.

Another thing I noticed is that the nations that are openly against the Islamic state are traditional U.S .enemies, such as Syria and Iran. The ongoing Syrian Civil War has pitted the Assad regime against a coterie of Sunni militants such as the Al-Nusra front, the FSA, and the Islamic state. Iran has openly contributed Sukhoi 25 ground attack fighters and pilots of the Revolutionary Guard Corps conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State from bases in Iraq. It’s also interesting that the ranks of the Islamic state seems to be populated somewhat by Westerners, Saudis,and other citizens of traditional U.S. allies. This totality of circumstances presents an opportunity to reorder the alliances of the Middle East.

How This Could Change The Middle East

The Islamic state is interesting in the fact that it is a terrorist organization that has actually started to conduct offensive combat operations, utilizing firepower and maneuvers like a modern army. They have become largely self-funding with black-market fuel and energy sales, along with the loot from the capture of Mosul. They have a very slick propaganda campaign that has been successful in recruiting people to their cause. Unlike most terrorist groups, they actually stand their ground and hold key terrain until they are dislodged  through combat operations. This staying power allows them to become a center of gravity to change politics in the Middle East.

As I said earlier, with traditional U.S. allies being quiet about and possibly supporting it behind the scenes, and traditional U.S. enemies actually fighting against them, this could cause the United States to make new allies in the region. If the Islamic state is successful in exploding a Sunni-Shia conflict to something larger than just Syria and Iraq, there might be a Middle Eastern war not caused by the West or fought by Western soldiers. For example, if Saudi Arabia ceases to be allies of the United States, the royal family are in a very serious position.

Kuwait would look like a very inviting target for Iran if they no longer have the protection of United States. The Iranian nuclear program and any action against it could be shelved if the U.S. decides to cooperate with the Ayatollah against the Islamic State. The Syrian Civil War could come to a total victory for President Assad if powerful people decide the Islamic state is a more important target. A wise man would observe the situation and invest in Lockheed Martin stock.

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