Who would have imagined that the United States and Iran would find common cause so abruptly after decades of estrangement?
It seems to be a "my enemy's enemy" sort of thing, the enemy in chief being Sunni extremists - Wahabists or Salafists primarily from Saudi Arabia clustered mainly under the al Qaeda umbrella. It's no secret that the Royal House of Saud has been funding these Islamist radicals going back to the
Mujahedeen revolt against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Even as America launched murderous conquests of Afghanistan and Iraq in retaliation for the terrorist attacks of 9/11, it was plain that most of the hijackers were Saudi nationals.
Now the Saudis and Israelis feel betrayed by America's new relationship with their perceived, mortal enemy - Iran.
While the two governments quietly continue to pursue their often conflicting interests, they are being drawn together by their mutual opposition to an international movement of young Sunni fighters, who with their pickup trucks and Kalashnikovs are raising the black flag of Al Qaeda along sectarian fault lines in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.
The United States, reluctant to intervene in bloody, inconclusive conflicts, is seeing its regional influence decline, while Iraq, which cost the Americans $1 trillion and more than 4,000 lives, is growing increasingly unstable.
At the same time, Shiite-dominated Iran, the magnetic pole for the Shiite minority in the region, has its own reasons to be nervous, with the ragtag army of Sunni militants threatening Syria and Iraq, both important allies, and the United States drawing down its troops in Afghanistan.
Some contend that the spread of militant groups across the Middle East is the result of an emerging power vacuum from the decline of American hegemony. This seems to have set the scene for a showdown between Shiite and Sunni Islam. This time the Americans are coming to the aid of the Shiite government of Iraq, expediting deliveries of weapons the al Maliki government needs to pry Fallujah from al Qaeda control.
This region was supposed to be the proving ground for the New American Century of the neo-cons' dreams. Instead they set fire to it.