The Muslim civil war


Syria is the focal point of a global war between Shi’ite Muslims (led by Iran, with the support of Russia) and Sunni Muslims (led by Saudi Arabia, with support from the United States).

Charles Krauthammer describes the situation and explains the overall strategy, which I excerpt after the jump.

Can someone explain why the United States is involved in this conflict so deeply?  Why do we favor the Sunnis against the Shi’ites?  After all, ISIS is Sunni.  So is Al-Qaida.  And the Shi’ites are fighting them.

Both factions have their Islamic terrorists.  Both want to destroy Israel.

Is our position due to our desire to thwart Russia’s influence and its access to the Mediterranean Sea?  To our hostility to Iran that dates back to Jimmy Carter’s hostage crisis?  To our entanglement in Iraq, a country that has both Sunni and Shi’ite factions?

Yes, we have business ties to the Saudis and other Sunni countries. Are these reasons worth our involvement in what is, in effect, a Muslim civil war?  Or are there other issues that I am missing?

Map:  On a scale, the red shows the percentage of Shi’a Muslims; green shows the percentage of Sunni Muslims. Map by Baba66, NordNordWest. Before changing this file, please look at the detailed information provided in its source code. (Own work, Data from CIA World Factbook, ca. 2005) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

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And now, war with Turkey?

512px-Tag_des_Sieges_2Americans’ strongest and most effective allies in the fight against ISIS are the Kurdish militias in Syria.  U.S. forces have recently been embedded with the Kurdish militias as they move in on Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of ISIS.

Turkey has long been battling the rebellious Kurds within its border, which have ties with the Kurds in Syria.  Recently, Turkey has been launching airstrikes against those Kurdish militias.

Now the Turkish government is saying that Americans in Kurdish units will also be attacked.

How should President Trump handle this new potential powder keg?  Abandon our Kurdish allies and pull out of the fight against ISIS at perhaps its most crucial phase?  Wouldn’t that be a show of weakness that the president has promised will no longer happen?  If Turkey kills American advisors, should we retaliate against Turkey?  How?  And what would happen next? [Read more…]

Why the Russians are backing Assad

Azaz,_SyriaSecretary of State Rex Tillerson, who is in Moscow for negotiations, has said that Russia needs to choose between Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad and the United States.
One would think that Vladimir Putin would rather have good relations with the United States than Syria.  And what’s in it for Russia to help with the bombing of hospitals and other atrocities?John Hopkins International Affairs expert Vali Nasr explains Russia’s ties to Syria and to Assad, after the jump. [Read more…]

Russia attacks ISIS

Russia is doing what many people hoped the United States would do.  It has gone into Syria and is bombing ISIS, reportedly wiping out its command center.  True, Vladimir Putin is supporting the Syrian government, which we don’t approve of, against its various factions of rebels.  He is also presenting Russia as the defender of humane values against the evils of terrorism.  But this is surely good news for the United States.  Let Russia get entangled in another mideast war.  And if Russia stops ISIS, that would be good news for everyone. [Read more…]

American airstrikes aren’t stopping ISIL

A British newspaper reports that American efforts to stop ISIL are failing, as ISIL continues to win victory after victory against the Iraqi army and Kurdish rivals in Syria.  The airstrikes are just not working.  Even with American air support, the Iraqi army keeps running away.  Meanwhile, ISIL is gaining more and more territory and is getting stronger and stronger. [Read more…]

We’re bombing Syria

The United States has been bombing ISIL positions in Iraq, but yesterday we took the fight to Syria.  Arab allies joined in the bombing.  ISIL began as a Sunnni rebel group trying to overthrow the Shi’ite dictator in Syria, Bashar al-Assad.  American planes also attacked another terrorist organization there, the Khorasan Group, which was reportedly planning an attack on the United States and other Western countries. [Read more…]