In December 2006, William Roebuck, the political counselor at the American Embassy in Damascus, sent a classified cable to Washington, later released by WikiLeaks, proposing “actions, statements, and signals” that could help destabilize Assad’s regime. Among other recommended initiatives was a campaign, coordinated with the Egyptian and Saudi governments, to pump up existing alarm among Syrian Sunnis about Iranian influence in the country.So Saudi Arabia is extraordinarily focused on countering the Shiites nearby. Instead of working to stabilize the region by keeping either side from each other's throats, the U.S. has taken the side of the Saudis.
Instead of staying out of a dispute that has no significance to non-Muslims, we have a then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice mouthing patent hogwash about the Saudis as "reformers."
We are still squandering huge amounts of money and materiel -- and helping cause the deaths of over 200,000 Syrians -- to help one side in this ancient dispute that fewer than 50 people in the U.S. can explain. If it strikes you as strange that we're taking sides in a Muslim controversy involving who got to succeed Mohammed 1,400 years ago, you're not alone.
Just so's you know, we're Abu Bakr guys.
Do read Alexander Cockburn's article. If you want to try to begin to understand why we're joined at the hip with, yes, al Qaida, and how we ended up in bed with ISIS. It's as lucid a treatise on these subjects as you'll find this side of the Home Shopping Channel. I never thought I'd recommend anything by Cockburn, who always struck me as a dogmatic leftie. Given the upside down nature of our world, I should take another look.
 "A Special Relationship. The United States is teaming up with Al Qaeda, again." By Andrew Cockburn, Harper's Magazine, 3/22/16.
I confused Andrew Cockburn, above, with the late Alexander Cockburn, the writer for The Nation magazine and editor of Counterpunch.