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The Desert of Mirrors: Who's Really Who in the Middle East?

Look at it this way: if WE know that a top AQ operations commander is operating freely in Tehran, sending killers into Syria, the Iranian regime certainly knows it too.  At a minimum, the Iranians tolerate it.  At a maximum, they are fully complicit and perhaps even direct it.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed, the general manager of Al Arabiya, directs our attention toward a potentially important piece of the puzzle.  He points out that the spectacular emergence of the Islamist fighting groups in Syria and Iraq served the interests of the rulers (Maliki in Iraq, Assad in Syria), and in similar circumstances:

There is nothing suspicious about fighting ISIS since it is a terrorist group, except that its emergence was in parallel with the crisis of the two regimes and it has only been active in regions controlled by the opposition. Maliki and Assad used ISIS to manipulate the Western and local public opinions. Fighting ISIS was associated with the survival of the two regimes that are presumably living out their last days in power!

Moreover, both Maliki and Assad are supported by Russia and Iran, whose intelligence services often cooperate very closely.  And speaking of intelligence services, I find, courtesy of Il Corriere della Sera's reliable Guido Olimpio, that Western intel officials have been quietly meeting with their Syrian counterparts.  Why?  First, to get information on European and maybe even American volunteers in the Syrian opposition groups (some of them may survive the slaughter and try to bring it back home), and second, to try to distinguish the "good terrorists" from those who totally hate the West.  Such conversations offer the Syrians, Iranians and Russians a magnificent opportunity to deceive and manipulate us.

Let's call it a desert of mirrors, the Middle Eastern version of the "wilderness of mirrors" in which one invariably finds oneself when trying to sort out the maneuvering of the shadow world of spies and counter-spies.  This is just a first, tentative slice through the darkness.  Where are the Saudis?  What about the Turks?  Both of them seem to change sides most every week.  Why?

Yes, it's wild out there.