- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 6, 2016

If there ever was a more telling statement issued by a foreign power regarding underlying agendas in the Middle Eastern conflict than Iran’s statement on the Saudis entering the war against the Islamic State, I don’t know what it is.

Late last week, Saudi Arabia announced it is ready to consider deploying ground troops in the Levant to join the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State. Iran promptly mocked the Saudi statement, saying the troops would be immediately wiped out if they joined the war.

Why would Iran be so obviously worried about Saudi providing troops to fight ISIS when Iran’s partner in Syria, Russia, also says they are fighting the Islamic State terrorists? Because it’s not about ISIS and never has been.

Russia and Iran are using the fight against ISIS as an excuse to build a new dominant, Shia axis in the region, anchored by an Alawite state in Syria and further extended by Iranian backed militias and Iranian troops themselves from Beirut to Baghdad. Their Sunni adversaries are alarmed at their progress. This is what this conflict has become—a growing conflagration—a Shia vs. Sunni existential fight for Middle Eastern dominance.

“Today, the Saudi kingdom announced its readiness to participate with ground troops with the US-led coalition against ISIL, because we now have the experience in Yemen,” Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri told Al Jazeera last Thursday.

“We know that air strikes cannot be enough and that a ground operation is needed. We need to combine both to achieve better results on the ground.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter reacted positively, “That kind of news is very welcome,” he told reporters on Thursday.

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, Mohammad Ali Jafari, was quick to comment as well, “(The Saudis) have made such a claim but I don’t think they are brave enough to do so … Even if they send troops, they would be definitely defeated … it would be suicide,” reported Reuters.

Peace talks in Geneva collapsed this week as Russian and Iranian-backed forces pressed their new found advantage that Russian air strikes have brought in the war against anti-Assad forces. This is the reason behind the Saudis fresh willingness to commit troops and the Iranian, harsh reaction against this possibility.

For its part, Russia has made a deal with the Iranian devil. Russia has teamed up with the Shia, Islamic Republic to reassert Russian influence in the Middle East. Russia’s next moves are unclear but they are building up their military presence.

The Obama administration is hiding in the diplomatic corner, mumbling gibberish about red lines and how they are containing ISIS as the terrorist organization spreads across North Africa. The White House’s incompetence is on full display, or should I say underlying agendas which we know nothing about and won’t until the next administration takes over.

One thing is for sure, the world’s great powers are being drawn into this proxy war for control of an historical violent and unstable region of the world. Where this will end, nobody knows.

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