With the region in chaos on the one hand and the attitude of the Assad regime in Syria leading to a dangerous deadlock on the other, ISIS has become a fully-fledged armed terrorist group challenging an entire region
The total disappearance of the Syrian state has created a dangerous void in the region, filled in mainly by different armed forces. The situation has become so inextricable that ever changing maps of different dominant armed forces are published and reviewed every week in the international media to give the public an idea about the situation in Syria.
It is anyhow senseless to talk about the situation in Syria because there is no statehood left, neither in most parts of Iraq, which has created a huge vacuum in the northern Middle East. An immense region, where the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) remains the dominant force, has been declared almost a no-man's land by the international system.
After 13 years of turmoil, we now fully understand how criminal the neo-con idea to "punish Saddam" on the grounds of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction was. Not only has the social infrastructure of Iraq been totally destroyed, but also Iran, whose external policy remained dormant and passive because of the opposition in Afghanistan and Iraq, has been totally freed. It has become a major player and a focal point of destabilization in the region.
Turkey has done its best, during the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) regime, to establish a viable, feasible cooperation and integration scheme for the region. A free-trade zone covering Syria, Lebanon and Jordan was almost achieved, when the social uprising begun in Syria. Starting from that point, public opinion has been fed with the idea that Turkey was not doing enough to tackle terrorist movements in Syria. A branch of al-Qaida in Syria and Iraq has turned into ISIS - the name appeared for the first time some three years ago - and since then it has focused all the attention and hatred of the world's public opinion. The total impotence of the "new" Iraqi army has helped ISIS to grab all of the sophisticated weaponry and heavy armaments given by the U.S. to the Iraqi government. Mostly with the help of Saddam's elite troops and officers, in no time ISIS has become a fully-fledged armed force capable of terrorizing entire regions. What has differentiated ISIS from other terrorist movements has been its capacity to transcend all the horrors known in such cases.
Martyrdom and the hope for a wonderful afterlife has not been a new issue for radical religious terror movements, and before ISIS many suicide bombers committed criminal deeds. But with ISIS, this martyrdom has become not an instrument but an objective to attain. This explains why they can massacre innocent people so easily. This horrendous movement has not been fought against by the Assad regime, save for a few occasions. The ailing regime has kept its ability to divide in order to survive, which it has been doing dexterously. Assad has been playing Kurds against ISIS, ISIS against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the remainder of its force against the Free Syrian opposition almost exclusively.
The Syrian regime has been openly supported by Iran on the ground and by the Russian Federation in terms of military and diplomatic support. This is an accepted fact, but basically nobody openly asks Russians and Iranians to withdraw their support and make Syria and most parts of Iraq a civilized, secure place to live for their inhabitants. On the other hand, not a day has passed by without Turkey being incriminated for showing too much leniency towards ISIS. Now that ISIS militants have attacked a Turkish frontier post, staged a terrible suicide bombing and openly threatened Turkey, the reaction came swiftly and strongly. ISIS is no match for the Turkish army, but the last thing the government wants is to get bogged down in Syria. The recent developments have shown the necessity to first demote the zombie regime in Syria and then, together with NATO and EU countries, forge a solution for the unlucky populations of these regions. The recent deal made with Iran might serve as leverage for the latter to tone down its aggressive policy in Syria.