The more I read about today’s multiple U.S. airstrikes against ISIS militants in western and northern Iraq, the more you have to wonder if things could get any worse in that part of the world…short answer: yes.
Long answer: depends on the neighborhood. One look at the region and you can already spot a few countries (with the exception of Syria, which is essentially a volatile basketcase at the moment) that most assuredly are watching the situation in northern/western Iraq at present…
- Iran: Iraq’s eastern neighbor, though it had a long and bloody war back in the 1980’s with the then-Saddam run country, Iran – like Iraq – is a Shi’a Muslim-run country that has – with varying degrees of success – tried to influence its’ neighbor. Given the brutality of the Sunni Muslim ISIS militants, Iran has made it no secret that should they push to the edge of Baghdad and points south, they would be tempted to intervene militarily.
- Saudi Arabia & the Gulf States: While – unlike Iran – these countries, all Sunni-dominated, likely share an equal amount of skepticism towards ISIS, they all also know that, should ISIS begin pushing south, they might end up getting sucked in also..especially Saudi Arabia, which considers itself “the guardians of Islam”…while the House of Saud may want to remain on the sidelines, they will almost certainly go ballistic should ISIS make any moves against their kingdom for while Saudi Arabia may be one of the conservative Muslim countries on the earth, ISIS’s particular brand of Islam makes the Saudis’ look like party-goers on an alcoholic binge.
- Turkey: here it gets complicated, for several reasons. First, Turkey – like Iran and Saudi Arabia – shares a border with Iraq…in particular, its’ northern border, which gives the Turks’ some major skin in what’s going on there. Second, both Turkey & Iraq share part of what some have described as a “greater Kurdistan”, so anything that affects that region indirectly affects Turkey as well and while Turkey has long been opposed to Kurdish separatism, they also are aware that should Iraqi Kurdistan begin to fall, it would not be beyond the realm of possibility that Turkish Kurdistan might decide to agitate Turkey in response – namely along the lines of ‘help our brothers to the south, Ankara’ – which could prompt a Turkish response. Third, should Turkey intervene, this could blow the conflict wide open, for Turkey, as a NATO member, could try to invoke Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and if that happens, all bets are off.
For what it is worth, I agree with Booman Tribune on what should be done in regards to ISIS in Iraq…as much as I opposed, back in 2003, the Iraq War, not doing anything in this situation would be a lot worse than what the Iraq War has brought us over the past decade.