With Islamic extremists raising their ominous-looking flags over Falluja and Ramadi again, it's not looking too good in Iraq and the rest of the neighborhood. Sure, Iraqi government forces may take back some territory they lost, but it's never a good sign when you have to shell your own country to maintain order.
The scariest part about this is that the violence is spreading. Syria, Lebanon and Iraq have all had some nasty sectarian and tribal fighting lately that doesn't fit neatly into any of the old national boundaries.
I know we're all tired of paying attention to the Middle East and learning those funny names, but the situation is bad and could get much worse. Unfortunately sometimes, the whole world is our backyard. One-Minute Mapping is my attempt to make the confusing alliances and rivalries in the region a little more accessible and understandable. "Enjoy" the cartoon and be sure to share it with your friends. As usual, you'll be able to find more links to news stories behind the cartoon on my website.
From the producers of News-in-a-Nutshell comes . . . .
One-Minute Mapping! A cartographic look at what's happening a world away, in our own backyard!
First up: Nation-Building Today!
When we last left our friends in Iraq, U.S. troops were headed home and things were looking up!
But today, Iraq is seeing the worst violence since the civil war sparked by the U.S. occupation.
After Shiite prime minister al-Maliki did everything he could to squeeze out the Sunnis,
Sectarian fighting is back-- as the black banners of Sunni Islamic extremists fly once again over Anbar Province.
Not to be outdone, the Iraqi government is bombing from above, (because that worked out so well when the United States did it.)
What does a brand-new twenty billion dollar police force and army buy you?
Government forces firing Hellfire missiles from Cesnas and fanatical Muslims overrunning Falluja and Ramadi!
But, there's . . . more.
The Sunni zealots who helped kill eight-thousand Iraqis this year are also at work in Syria, fighting the Iranian-backed Shiite extremists who are fighting on behalf of Assad's Alawite regime.
Which . . . has led to renewed sectarian violence in Lebanon between Sunni and Shiite.
Strange bedfellows are born as Iran and the USA say, "my enemy's enemy is my friend . . . in Iraq, but not in Syria."
But it's not really about Iraq, Lebanon or Syria. It's a good 'ol fashioned proxy war between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia!
With neighboring strongmen out of the picture and the U.S. just plain tuckered out, regional stability is in the hands of . . .
. . . two extremist theocracies.
Which is why this takes more than one minute to explain.