The US is caught in the web of contradictions and sectarian strife that is the Middle East.
American warplanes are backing an Iran-led offensive in Iraq, bombing Sunni ISIS militants who are holed up in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. The US has started providing “air strikes, airborne intelligence, and Advise & Assist support to Iraqi security forces headquarters.”
At the same time, Washington is providing “intelligence sharing, targeting assistance, and advisory and logistical support” for Saudi Arabian strikes on Iran-backed Houti rebels who are rampaging across Yemen.
The US officially says that it is backing most Sunni rebels fighting Bashar al-Assad in Syria, but White House policy is actually aligned with the Iran-backed regime as both consider ISIS the largest threat.
Amid the unfolding chaos, US and Iranian negotiators are trying to hammer out a historic nuclear deal.
A few tweets from this morning illustrate the geopolitical tangle in the region:
Noah Browning, a Reuters correspondent for Israel and Palestine, put it succinctly:
Confused? If you’re a pro-Iran Shiite militia in Iraq, you get US air cover. If you’re a pro-Iran Shiite militia in Yemen, US helps bomb you
— Noah Browning (@Noah_Browning) March 26, 2015
Buzzfeed World editor Miram Elder riffed on what this means for nuclear talks:
And geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer put it all into perspective:
My Middle East bracket is completely busted.
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) March 26, 2015
Here’s a map of the sectarian makeup of the region:
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