Are Post ISIS Alliances Already Taking Shape?

As the Raqqa operation gets underway, with the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) ploughing forward into the “capital” of ISIS, the terror group’s leaders and fighters are said to have already travelled to safe havens along the middle Euphrates.  With the American backed SDF bogged down in strett to street fighting, Iranian paramilitary units are pouring in from where they helped fight to free Mosul to Eastern Syria to destroy the heads of ISIS.

This struggle for land as ISIS collapses is forming the beginnings of regional boundaries that in essence brand new lines between ethnic units as well as defined frontiers of regional alliances.

Rising up from the rubble of ISIS are two clearly definied groupings.

The first consists of Russia, Iran, Syria (Assad), Turkey, and Qatar.  None of these countries trust eachother, but work together under a common interest in battling back America as well as seeking a piece of what they see as a rising Middle Eastern hegemony.

The second group is made up of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Kurds and Israel.  This grouping sees the first group as an existential threat and has been conjoled to work together by the Trump administration.

With the fall of ISIS a matter of weeks, the real battle will come after. Iran has used the chaos to reach to the Israeli border.  They have shown the ability to capitalize on the weaknesses of their enemies. Besides Iran, Hezbollah can now turn its sites on Israel.

The Middle Eastern alliances now taking shape even before the last of the caliphate are buried not only put Iran im the drivers seat, but increase the likelihood of war sooner rather than later.  The Syckes-Picot agreement, the document based colonialist and neo-colonialist pinciples set in motion by France and Germany is becoming irrelevant as a new set of states and mini states take shape.

As the chaos spreads throughout the region and beyond, the Saudis backed by Israeli tehnology will attempt to push back on the Shiite gains in order to create a buffer between the Kingdom and its enemies. The Kurds backed covertly by Israel and overtly by America will be encouraged to push forward in order to stabilize Northern Syria and Iraq and break the link between a power hungry Turkey and their allies in Qatar.

Be prepared the Great Game of the Middle East is about to begin. It could very well be far more destructive than the havoc ISIS has caused.

The Great Game: Turkey-Israel Detente, Russian-Iranian Cooperation, and the Kurdish Question

The old adage “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” has been an increasingly confirmative rule in middle eastern governing circles.  With the collapse of American hegemony in the region that has caused a resurgent Russia and Iran to take charge of areas that stretch from Iraq to Levant, countries normally at odds with one another have found the strange inclination to actually form alliances to offset the bear and the ayatollahs.

The Turkish-Israeli rapprochement took many people by surprise, but in the current geopolitical realities, the détente makes perfect sense.  Keep in mind Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt all have the same enemy in Iran and fellow Shiite travellers.  Throw Putin’s Russia into the mix and the Sunni states were very quick to find the only other middle eastern nation they could bring in.  The danger of Iran and Russia is so great for these forces, Palestinian issue, which has long been used as a foil to placate the Arab street has been move to the back of the Sunni’s list of priorities.

Israel as the Anchor

Israel is actively seeking a cornerstone role in the wide-ranging alliance forming in the western part of the middle east. One can already see this in the gas deals being built between Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, and Israel.  With Turkey being brought on board, Israel’s role in bringing old foes to the same table is not being missed, especially by Russia, who thought it had Erdogan cornered.

Israel’s game is to offset Russia’s power play to its north by giving a lifeline to Turkey, Russia’s age-old adversary.  For now it seems to be working, although it is clear Russia is remains unnerved by the “Great Game” and is willing to pressure Israel by backing up Iranian, Syrian, and Hezbollah forces on the Golan border.

What About the Kurds?

Kurdistan as it is known by all Kurdish people across the middle east is spread across northern Syria, Iraq, southern Turkey, and western Iran. Turkey’s main challenge is to dissuade the Kurds from working directly with Russia. If they are not able to, then Russia will have  a fifth column of 10 million strong disenfranchised Kurds inside Turkey to use as leverage if needed.

Right now, barring a severe flare up in Israel’s northern border the “Great Game” of the middle east is in its early phases.  Geo-political maneuvering is still fresh and fluid.  Russia may opt to play neutral in the burgeoning alliance system and let Iran and Syria go it alone.  Russia may also be able to convince Israel to remain neutral as well in exchange for security promises.  No matter the outcome, this “Great Game” will not take 100 years like the last one as America’s pull back has shuffled the deck and wrought chaos on what was already considered a chaotic region.