Decoding the war in Syria is not for the faint of heart.
The situation on the ground is, and always has been, impossibly convoluted. The hodgepodge of rebels, militants, and jihadists battling Assad’s army for control of the country would be confusing enough on its own without having to take into account the myriad state sponsors that fund, arm, and train the opposition.
In addition to covert (and we use that term loosely because at this juncture, the fact that the US and its regional allies are backing the Sunni extremists operating in the country is just about the worst kept secret in the geopolitical universe) support, numerous world powers are engaged in overt military ops. Russia is in the skies above western Syria while the US, France, and (soon) Britain are flying in the east. Turkey conducts bombing runs along its border with Syria and Iran has a heavy troop presence operating under cover of Russian airstrikes.
Meanwhile, Ankara has been accused of enabling the Islamic State crude trade and it seems at least possible that ISIS oil eventually ends up in Israel as part of the same cargoes that contain Kurdish oil.
Finally, the YPG is waging an honest war against Islamic State and would probably be even more successful than they already are if their “allies” in Washington were serious about the fight.
Oh, and al-Qaeda is around too, surviving off aid to al-Nusra from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
For those looking to make sense of it all, we present the following infographic which should go some ways towards untangling what has become one of the most complex, convoluted wars in recent memory.