The friendships and enmities among countries, political groups and militant organisations in the Middle East
A “mosaic chart” of Middle Eastern relationships
ISLAMIC STATE (IS) has no friends. But it has upended geopolitics in the Middle East and drawn America’s armed forces back to the region. Our “relationship mosaic” summarises the friendships and enmities among countries, political groups and militant organisations in the Middle East. It provides a quick, simplified glimpse (the “neutral” category, for instance, embraces a large number of possibilities).
Syria’s official al-Qaeda affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, is almost as isolated as IS: neither was invited to a conference of Syrian opposition groups held in Saudi Arabia in December 2015. The Syrian government is disliked by many countries, but supported by Iran and Russia. Russia’s relationship with Turkey deteriorated sharply after the Turks’ shooting-down of a Russian warplane in November. The Iraqi Kurds count numerous friends and no sworn enemies. Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia’s already sour relations with Shia-led Iran deteriorated severely in early January 2016 following the execution of an influential Shia cleric by the Saudis. The resulting diplomatic row saw a number of other Arab League countries, including Qatar and Kuwait, take sides with the Saudi government against Iran. For its part, America must play a delicate diplomatic game in holding together some very unlikely ties.