Thanks to the United States, Iran has found a strong foothold in Shiite-dominated Iraq. Now, thanks to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), Iran is freely fulfilling its foreign policy goals of gaining the upper hand in Syria and Yemen and is becoming a serious threat to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
If we didn't know better, we would say the U.S. and Israel are giving Iran a free hand to expand its influence in the Middle East.
Iran has consolidated its position in Iraq with ISIS. The fear that the weak Iraqi army will crumble against the ISIS hordes????? has pushed the central Iraqi government much closer to Iran, much to the distaste of the Americans. There are rumors that Iranian military officials are helping the Iraqi army to launch an offensive against ISIS to take back Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein. Iraq has also enlisted the help of Iranian "volunteers" to fight against ISIS. However, the situation is far more complicated than ISIS controlling the city. ISIS is only a part of the Sunni equation in Tikrit while the old Baath apparatus and Saddam's well-trained and war-toughened forces are alive and well. So Tikrit is actually turning into a battlefield between Sunnis and Shiites, which is, to say the least, extremely dangerous. A Shiite victory in Tikrit will not mean much as the anger and alienation deepens among Sunnis. The problem has to be solved by winning back the Sunni tribes and Saddam's men. Turkey can see this and is warning the West, as well as all its other friends in the Middle East.
Then there is the situation in Syria. Since the birth of ISIS, and the fact that it controls one third of Syria, we have seen everyone seemingly forget about the civil war in the country, concentrating only on getting rid of ISIS. Iran has crept onto the Syrian scene with Lebanon's Iranian-controlled Hezbollah helping Saddam's forces. In recent times, direct Iranian presence in Syria became clearer after we learnt one ranking Iranian National Guards general was among the seven killed in a recent attack on Hezbollah by Israel in the Golan Heights. Iran is knee deep in Syria as well as in Iraq. They are once again fueling Sunni-Shiite divisions. So the Iranians have effectively protected Assad and have taken the pressure off his regime while the world concentrates on getting rid of ISIS and not the Assad regime, which continues to butcher its own people. Turkey is pointing to this awkward and unacceptable situation and is demanding that the West also concentrates on getting rid of Assad as well as ISIS.
While the world is busy trying to "contain" ISIS, Iran is furthering its expansion in Yemen, with Shiite forces taking over the country. The fact that Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Arab states host a large Shiite community signals more trouble on the horizon as Iran continues its quest for dominance. Turkey has to move with Saudi Arabia and other friends in the region to halt the dominance of the Shiite element through practical and solid measures.
ISIS is a degenerate organization that has set out to ruin the basic values of Islam and thus create chaos. It is not Sunni, it is not even Islamic. Yet, by using the good name of Islam and pretending to support the Sunni cause it is hijacking all of them and thus furthering its own cause. It has to be stopped but not at the price of hurting Sunni beliefs and values otherwise if and when ISIS goes, it will soon be replaced with another organization that will be fed by Sunni grievances.