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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.

[newsreel announcer]

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.

Originally posted to Comics on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:50 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Remember when Biden wanted to partition Iraq? (5+ / 0-)

    RealPolitik?

    You have to wonder...

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:01:10 AM PST

    •  Remember when the British... (4+ / 0-)

      ...wanted to partition the middle east according to the Biblical descriptions of tribes...

      This problem of failed states, factions and the disability of one king to rule alone and monopolize everything goes back to Rim Sim at least.

      It was last successfully solved , at least mythically by the kingdom of Atlantis which had an Ocean Empire larger than Libya and Asia combined.

      It brought down the Empires of the Egyptians and Hittites, the Sea People,  Roman Empire, the Greeks, the Persians and the Ottoman Turks.

      To get the oil out of the Middle East and through Afghanistan we want to deal with just one guy, or one guy per country at least, or if you really force us to it no more than one guy per faction and no more than three factions per country except for failed states where its no more than one guy per tribe unless the tribe has more than one religious faction in which case its no more than one guy per religious faction and no more than three religious factions per tribe unless the religious factions have more unity than the tribes in which case we want to gerrymander districts and suppress the voting...

      CIA Handbook

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:09:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  let them fight it out ON THEIR OWN n/t (5+ / 0-)
  •  This drives me crazy about Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MadGeorgiaDem, Jim Domenico

    He was right about The Surge, but somehow allowed himself to be convinced he was wrong. So convinced, that he sent that incompetent clown Petraeus to produce a similar failure in Afghanistan. He's like the high school stoner whose a good athlete but will never be accepted by the jocks. It doesn't matter how many time they insult him, beat him, or wedgie him. He still wants to be a part of their group.

    I'm no philosopher, I am no poet, I'm just trying to help you out - Gomez (from the song Hamoa Beach)

    by jhecht on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:23:06 AM PST

  •  Lindsey and John McC (5+ / 0-)

    On Senate floor yesterday, absolutely incoherent.   Our natural ally in defeating Sunni extremism in Syria and Iraq, is Iran.

      Lindsey and Johhny want to send guns and money to Sunni tribal leaders.  

    Insane.  

  •  We should have never been there to begin with, (9+ / 0-)

    which is why I chose to retire from the military in early 2003.

    What utterly amazes me is there are people(not just the neocon intelligentsia, but ordinary people I know right here in east GA) that want to us to send troops back into that morass. I just look at them like they are crazy and ask, "Are you mad?"  

    Guns are never the principal in the commission of a crime, but they are usually an accomplice

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:56:16 AM PST

    •  Lindsey and McCain (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadGeorgiaDem, oceanview

      Said on Senate floor , we should send Petreaus and Ryan Crocker back to organize another "Sunni awakening"

      Just nuts

      •  I saw that on C-SPAN and I'm (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        whizdom, Jim Domenico, Calamity Jean

        thinking, "To what end?"

        I spent a considerable part of my military career in the Middle East and I am familiar with the politics and history of the region; consequently, I find those such as McCain and Graham appalling.

        Any rational and informed person who knows anything about Iraq foresaw this outcome back in 2002. Hell, you can even go back to the Gulf War in 1990-91 and see that many of G.H.W. Bush's advisors understood the implications of overthrowing Saddam, which is why they decided against it, at least in part.

        For good, bad or indifferent, the situation in Iraq will have to be allowed to play out. It is their fight, not ours. Not only would going back into Iraq be a waste of blood, it would also be a colossal waste of money the GOP itself insists we don't have until they want to go to war or hand out tax cuts and subsidies to the wealthy.  

        Guns are never the principal in the commission of a crime, but they are usually an accomplice

        by MadGeorgiaDem on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 10:17:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Re-invade! (0+ / 0-)

      Government and laws are the agreement we all make to secure everyone's freedom.

      by Simplify on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 12:51:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Same as with Viet Nam. (0+ / 0-)

      There were people who really believed that if we just stayed a little while longer, a little while longer -- and above all, if we'd gone back in when South Viet Nam finally imploded, we could have won. To this day they claim that it was the "peaceniks" who "lost" Viet Nam. And now I'm hearing word for word the same rhetoric about Iraq. "We won the war! We got rid of Saddam! But liberal politicians lost the peace!" It's the old "dolchstoss" excuse, the last resort of losers who can't accept loss.

  •  Sunnis and Shiites... (6+ / 0-)

    Have been slaughtering each other time in memorial, no amount of intervention on our part will fix that, and we sure as hell shouldn't be taking sides with one sect of Islam over another.

    What really sad is that this shouldn't surprise anyone, and I have no doubt that there were many who said at the outset of this all that once we left it would degenerate back into this status quo. Want to talk about a lost decade...Iraq and Afghanistan is our lost decade.

    I'm sorry about the loss of innocent lives, not only the ones we took and continue to take with drones, but the ones that are taken by their own simply because of a disagreement on which ancestor of which caliph can rightfully claim to be the leader of Islam.

    I'm sorry for all that but in the end I'm sick to effing death of the Middle east and its never ending self-inflicted religious pogrom.

    Honesty may be the best policy, but it's important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.

    by fauxrs on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:45:58 AM PST

  •  Right back where We started (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MadGeorgiaDem, Nattiq, Calamity Jean

    Except for the Fact that We wasted thousands of LIVES
    and Billions of Dollars to achieve NOTHING.

    So it makes perfect sense to go back and do it AGAIN.

    If Lindsey Graham Cracker and John Insane McCain think
    sending Americans is a Good Idea, then they can Go there
    IN PERSON.

    The only thing that Suni and Shia can agree on is that
    they HATE Outsiders like US even more than they Hate
    each Other.

    On Giving Advice: Smart People Don't Need It and Stupid People Don't Listen

    by Brian76239 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 09:13:41 AM PST

  •  This was posted in another diary and linked. (0+ / 0-)

      I am glad to have found it.  Thank you so much.  I think this should be shared and widely.  The creator of this comic did very very well.  

  •  Great artwork. LEGO® Mini Middle East Figure Set (0+ / 0-)

    West. No further west. All sea. --Robert Grenier

    by Nicolas Fouquet on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 12:17:48 PM PST

  •  Religion... Ain't it great? (0+ / 0-)

    Let the Sunnis and Shiites go to it. As for the USA... Send McCain and Graham to fight there!

    Focus on the love! The Republicans can keep the disco.

    by Mr Horrible on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 06:27:53 PM PST

  •  And how predictable was all of this back in 2003? (0+ / 0-)

    The Bush administration insisted that as soon as democracy was established in Iraq, which of course would be quick and easy as soon as Saddam Hussein was gone, peace and democracy would spread over the entire middle east. A lot of us, in this country and around the world, pointed out how hopelessly unrealistic that expectation was, and warned that what was likelier to spread was violence and chaos. We of course were called traitors, cowards, "cheese eating surrender monkeys," and threatened with death for treason. By the way, I never quite figured out the logic of claiming that it was an act of "surrender" to refrain from invading a country that had not attacked us.

    But Bush/Cheney knew how to handle things when chaos did ensue -- just prolong the war long enough to hand off to someone else, and then let him take the blame for the failure. Yeah, the surge "worked," all right. It worked exactly as intended.

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