It’s increasingly difficult to navigate the web of transitory enemies and allies in the region.
Try figuring out the maze of enemies, allies, and neutrals in the Middle East.
In 2012, the Obama administration was on the verge of bombing the forces of Syrian president Bashar Assad. For a few weeks, he was public enemy No. 1 because he had used chemical weapons on his own people and because he was responsible for many of the deaths in the Syrian civil war, with a casualty count that is now close to 200,000.
After Obama’s red lines turned pink, we forgot about Syria. Then the Islamic State showed up with beheadings, crucifixions, rapes, and mass murders through a huge swath of Iraq and Syria.
Now the United States is bombing the Islamic State. Sometimes Obama says that he is still seeking a strategy against the jihadist group. Sometimes he wants to reduce it to a manageable problem. And sometimes he says that he wants to degrade or even destroy it.