Over the past couple of weeks, images have an eerie familiarity like the ones that are being played over again in the Middle East. Masked gunmen taking over the cities of Ramadi and Falluja in Iraq, where many soldiers from the U.S. lost their lives fighting, bombs in cars exploding amidst downtown Beirut, the civil war in Syria costing more and more innocent people to flee or lose their lives.
For all the loss of life and bloodshed engulfing Lebanon, Syria and Iraq over the past two weeks, it has exposed something new, destabilizing and worrisome, the emergence of a Middle East post-American in which no one has the power or will to contain the sectarian hatreds within the region.
Due to this vacuum, fanatic militant Islamists have started to flourish in both Syria and Iraq under the al-Qaeda banner, as the conflicts in those two countries amplify one another and foster radicalism that is even deeper than previously.
Behind the majority of it is the rivalry of two huge oil powers Saudi Arabia and Iran, whose rules, that claim to represent Sunni and Shiite Islam respectively, have cynically deployed an agenda of sectarianism.
Local experts believe a turning point is taking place as two regional powers, the Iranians and Saudis have taken charge and the West is no longer around. In their own way, both the Iranians and Saudis are fanatical.
The new emergence of violence over the past few weeks is threatening to bring back what was the worst during the Iraq civil war that was touched off when the U.S. invaded.
With the possibility of American forces withdrawing from Afghanistan within the next 12 months, many are in fear of increased insurgency that will help to unravel the country, leaving another effort by the Americans in ashes.
For only the first time since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011, al Qaeda affiliates have recaptured territory in Iraq. Over the past couple of days, the fighters have taken parts of Anbar Province’s two largest cities, where the local governments struggle to maintain some semblance of control and authority.