I don't really follow the news much, but the Paris attacks really got my attention - probably because the situation at the Bataclan was a . . . how do you say . . . relate-able environment?
Anyhow, I did a bunch of reading and I found this article which I feel is a pretty likely explanation for why this mess exists in the first place.
essentially saying that the syrian civil war and resulting jihadist bullshit started over conflicting interests regarding a pipeline through Syria.
I thought the article was enlightening, so I thought I would share.
Also, if anyone thinks the article is bullshit, I'd like to know about it and why.
Zerohedge is....not an entirely reliable source.
There's always pipeline politics in the Middle East. Sure, that's part of the picture.
But it ignores basic human agency on the part of...well, everyone. The Syrian people rose up because of the Arab Spring in other countries, because they were suffering economic malaise while under a dictatorship. That dictatorship responded with extreme cruelty to demands for more political freedom (they kidnapped and tortured kids, to death. Then they dumped the bodies on the streets).
The Arab Spring then got co-opted by conservative Middle Eastern states, who hoped to use it to destabilize the Shia Crescent, the arc of alliances that was forming from Hezbollah held territory in Lebanon, through Syria, central Iraq and into Iran. They saw a chance to take out a major Iranian ally, and they jumped at the chance.
Conservative Muslim states = code for Saudi Arabia and Qatar, btw. Turkey also saw an opportunity to spread its own influence in the Middle East.
But it backfired in their face. Assad's regime was more durable than they gave it credit for. They put Assad's back against a wall, funding the most extreme jihadist elements against the regime, such as the Islamic Front and Jabhat al-Nusra. That it turn meant elements in Syria who feared Sunni Islamic extremism, including the Alawites, had little qualms about throwing in with the regime. They were only going to be killed anyway, right?
Al-Qaeda in Iraq takes advantage of the chaos. Sends experienced fighters across the border, captures large swathes of territory in the poorly held eastern regions of Syria. Creates a special division, Jabhat al-Nusra, to fight in Syria. Al-Qaeda Central see AQI as cowboys, assert control over their Syrian puppet via the Khorasan Group of advisors they sent in-country to aid the fighting. AQI tries to reabsorb JaN....unsuccessfully. Creates the ISIS-Al-Qaeda split.
Add into the mess the Kurdish desire for their own homeland.
Add into that mess intervention by Hezbollah, Iran and Russia on behalf of the Syrian regime.
Add into that mess intervention by Western powers against ISIS.
Add into that mess the whole civil war potentially boiling over into the clusterfucks that are Iraq and Lebanon, with their own histories of sectarian violence.
Everyone's too invested to back down, the moderates (the Free Syrian Army) are mostly slaughtered, (though the Syrian Democratic Front has made some promising moves of late) and lines of mutual alliance and distrust are so tangled that the early 20th century Balkans is impressed. And then you have a crazy as fuck faction which happens to be sitting on most of the oil and has a penchant for genocide.