A very, very nice update of the changing map of the Mideast. A subtext of the story: "Syria and Iraq are imploding, unlike nations in the region with more history and tradition."
But now it may all be coming to an end. Syria and Iraq have effectively ceased to function as states. large parts of both countries lie beyond central government control, and the very meaning of Syrian and Iraqi nationhood has been hollowed out bythe dominance of sectarian and ethnic identities.
The rise of Islamic State is the direct result of the meltdown. The Sunni extremist group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has proclaimed himself the new caliph and vowed to erase the shame of the "Sykes-Picot conspiracy." After his men surged from their stronghold in Syria last summer and captured Mosul, now one of hte Iraq's largest cities, he promised destroy the old border. in that offensive, one of hte first acitons taken by ISIS (as his group is also known) was to to blow up customs checkpoints between Syrian and Iraq.Huge, huge story and one of the big stories continuing to play out.