By Ian Morris
Sep 9, 2015 (08:00 GMT) STRATFOR
The battle lines of the Middle East are changing. The chaotic force of the Islamic State has pushed the region’s major powers — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran — to rethink decades-old relationships and regional strategies. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Syrian-Iraqi battleground, where a sectarian proxy battle has been the incubator for an emerging balance of power. Though it may look messy on the surface, this dynamic falls in line with the United States’ long-term strategy for the region.
Many have criticized Washington’s decision not to take a more direct role in containing the violence in Syria or to rely on local forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq. But the United States’ global geopolitical imperatives necessitate a balance of power in the Middle East in which regional actors shoulder more of the burden of managing their problems. Washington’s refusal to be dragged back into another ground war in the Middle East is slowly bearing fruit, as Turkey is cautiously re-entering its former sphere of influence along its southern flank, counterbalancing the Saudi-Iranian competition that has fueled much of the violence destabilizing the Middle East.