And just when I thought it couldn’t get anymore complicated.

An article in this morning’s British paper, the Independent, reported that the US is fighting a two front war smack dab in the middle of the ongoing Yemeni civil war. It seems the US is fighting both the Al-Qaeda faction as well as another faction, the Shiite rebels who are battling the Yemeni government. Why both? Because Al-Qaeda are old enemies that threaten to destroy the US and the Shiite faction threatens the northern neighbor of Yemen, Saudi Arabia (with whom they’ve had an on again off again shooting battle with for the last five years).

And the US as we all know is fighting in Syria against both the Assad government (Shiite) – mostly using spies and propaganda – while all the meanwhile running air sorties against their enemy, ISIS (Sunni).

So militarily in Syria you currently have the Assad regime, Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, ISIS, and the US. And kind of sort of Israel.

Over this past weekend the Israelis graduated from the periodic bombing of munitions depots in Syria to destroying a motorcade on their border with Syria, killing 6 senior Hezbollah and 6 senior Iranians officials; one being an Iranian general.

Hezbollah (Shiite), in case you’ve forgotten, are the Lebanese based proxy for Iran (Shiite). And Lebanon, just so you don’t have to look at a map, sits on the northern border of Israel. So if this story is true, Hezbollah with it’s 150,000 missiles – advised by Iran – are/were planning mischief with Israel and the Israeli helicopter gunship disrupted what was reported as a senior level scouting mission.

So there is Iran (Shiite) fighting along side Hezbollah (Shiite) against ISIS (Sunni) in Syria.  ISIS, whom Saudi Arabia (Sunni Wahabi) quit supporting once ISIS made it clear that they wanted the whole Middle East pie (their own caliphate) which unfortunately, as it turns out for the Kingdom of Saud, includes the entire Saudi Arabian peninsula.

Russia is involved because they have substantial investments in Syria and would stand to lose those should Assad fall including their port facility in Tarsus which is the only direct Mediterranean access for the Russian Navy. And then of course, Russia is allies with Iran.

The US is dicking around in Syria because ISIS is a threat not just to our sort of ally, Saudi Arabia but also to the entire region. So the US is helping Assad (kind of) by fighting ISIS while also trying to undermine him because Assad is buddies with both Putin and Iran.

It is all infinitely more complicated than the 19th century’s ‘The Great Game’ where Russia fought the British Empire for dominance in Central Asia.

In keeping with the game metaphor – as I believe it was the Persian’s who invented the game of chess – then it should come as no surprise that the US State Department is being intellectually outgunned by the Iranians (not to mention the Russians, who are also avid players).

So while the US is dithering, the Iranians are developing nuclear weapons to destroy Israel. And that nuclear advantage – used or unused – will also give them hegemony over the entire Middle East. Which of course will lead to a regional nuclear arms race as Saudi Arabia (at the very least) will need nuclear weapons too, just to avoid getting their asses kicked by the Shiites.

All the meanwhile Turkey dreams of a resurrected Ottoman Empire.

Then there is Putin and his regime trying to survive $50/barrel oil prices brought upon him by the House of Saud in collusion with the US. (If I was Putin I’d be thinking of how I could restrict the flow of oil to drive the prices back up).

And Turkey to the north is letting ISIS kill Kurds because their take is somebody has to do it.

And US foreign policy being as f***ed up as it is means that no one in the current government has any real idea how to stop the shit from spiraling out of control over there. John Kerry? Right.

So the real issues are: Shiite vs. Sunni, hegemony (caliphates): Turkey, Iran, ISIS. And all the meanwhile Saudi Arabia is squeezing Putin by the balls which is probably not the most prudent thing to do considering the kingdom is surrounded by hostile neighbors and has mostly a single flaky ally who goes by the name of Obama.

And the irony is if it weren’t for the oil, no one would give a shit.

How is all this going to turn out? I am guessing that there will be lots of pieces taken before someone eventually loses their king.

PS – As of later today, the Associated Press announced that the Yemen President resigned and that the Shiite rebels “effectively control the capital Sanaa, several other cities and state institutions, but their writ does not extend to vast areas of the country that are predominantly Sunni, where its recent encroachments have fanned fears of a sectarian conflict.”

And from the Times of Israel, Jan. 23, 2015 – “Even if a new regime rises in Yemen that includes Sunnis and Houthis (the Shiite rebels), the latter are likely to run the show and are expected to allow the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to operate in the country.”

PPS – And then there are the Yemeni Al-Qaeda who just recently took credit for one of the two terror attacks in Paris.

And there are more variables. Unstable Pakistan. The Palestinians. Hamas. Gaza tunnels. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The fight over Jerusalem.

But the best player of all will turn out to be the one who has the most to lose. Who else? Israel. But fortunately for them – they are the smartest, toughest bastards on the planet.