With its new inroads into northern Iraq, ISIS is also a game-changer for the Kurds, and for Turkish policy. Somebody is going to end up king of the hill in the battle to defeat ISIS. Whoever it is will be the chief patron of Iraq’s central government.
The Sunnis in Iraq won’t be enamored of simply throwing the door open to an alliance with Iran as the means of defeating ISIS. Russia, the Kurds, and the Turks will all be in play as counterweights to excessive Shia Iranian influence. The Saudis may try to involve themselves as well, at least by quietly hooking up Sunni factions in Iraq with cash and outside connections.
The Iraqi situation that America turned over in 2011 will be gone by 2016. What’s developing in its place is less a matter of the 1950s calling, wanting its geopolitics back, than of the 1910s – or perhaps the 1850s – arriving with a moving van. Sic transit Pax Americana.