This map shows why things are so volatile right now in Southwest Asia. Syria has had a civil war waging for over a year. Shiite supporters from Syria have been supplying Iraqi insurgents since the beginning of the invasion in 2003. Syrian refuges have been pouring into Turkey. Turkish and Syrian forces have been clashing on the border for almost as long as the civil war has been going.
The uprising in Iraq has created a strange cooperation between the US and Iran. Iran and Iraq went to war in the 1980s when Saddam Hussein feared the Iraqi Shia minority would be inspired by the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Now roles are reversed and Iran is interested in not having the violence of Syria and Iraq spill over to their republic. The US fears is violence erupts in Iran, any nuclear technology could fall into terrorist hands.
The US is culpable in all of this. As I wrote previously, the invasion destroyed the infrastructure for any kind of leadership. Placing bets that Prime Minister Maliki would be the one to keep the peace was a mistake. His tendency towards oppressive violence was known as far back as 2008. Once the troops came out in 2011, it was inevitable that Iraq would erupt into violence.
Now the White House is trying to work with Iran to keep things in check. If things work out, it will make Tehran seem much less like the "axis of evil" and the White House like a bunch xenophobic hypocrites. On one hand, the President has spent most of his tenure demonizing Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Now he has to turn to Iran under his "multilateral partnerships" to fix a problem the US created.
The US direct response was to send in a Marine "FAST" (fleet anti-terrorism security team) to protect US embassy personnel. In an ironic twist, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel sent the USS George H.W. Bush to the Persian Gulf. The carrier will give the White House more options to strike but there arises the big question, strike who? There is no single person or group of people to target to stop the insurgency. Worse such strikes would most likely exacerbate matters.
Now with the US attention once again distracted, what of Ukraine? Or even our own border with Mexico?