What's fueling the bloody conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq? That's the subject Jonathan Spyer tackles in a thoughtful essay over at The Tower. A common view holds that the region's "instability" stems from the perennially festering Arab-Israel conflict.

That's false. And if there were any doubt, consider Spyer's article, which looks at the meltdown of "Syria," "Lebanon," and "Iraq" as sovereign states. Syria's civil war has led to a de facto shape-shifting partition of the country into areas held by the Assad faction and Islamist fighters. Lebanon has been fractured for decades, with the Islamist group Hezbollah running a mini-state (dubbed "Hezbollahland") in the south. The splintering of Iraq, evident during the 2007 nadir of its civil war, continues today as rival factions vie for power.


The conflicts within (and spilling over from) these three regimes, Spyer argues, are fueled by religiously driven jockeying for domination among Muslim powers, led principally by Tehran. Spyer's analysis is well worth reading in full.