The growing power of Sunni Islamic terrorist group ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in the last year has caused the Saudis and Iranians to pause their growing Sunni-Shia feud because both countries have more to fear from ISIL and its rabid brand of Sunni Islamic terrorism than from each other. Signs of this unofficial truce can be seen in several ways. Saudi Arabia has backed off on its anti-Iran propaganda and is quietly cooperating with Iran to deal with ISIL advances in Syria and Iraq. Iran reciprocated when it recently ordered the shutdown of several semi-legal satellite TV channels run by some rabidly anti-Sunni (but high ranking) Shia clerics. The Saudis were not happy with these unofficial satellite TV operations but what prompted the most senior Iranian leaders (the clerics that actually run the Iranian religious dictatorship) to shut these operations down was a complaint from the leader of Hezbollah that this sort of TV programming was making life more difficult for Shia in Lebanon. While Shia Moslems like to believe that their form of Islam is the best one, they also have to live (or die) with the fact that only about ten percent of all Moslems are Shia and 80 percent are Sunni.
My fear isn’t that the IS/Caliphate will take over the Middle East today — and tomorrow the world! But by drawing Saudi and Iranian forces into Iraq as friends today, it does increase the chances of the Saudi and Iranian forces fighting one another in Iraq tomorrow. It becomes very difficult for politicians to give the withdraw order from the second guy’s country when the third guy’s forces are there, too. The Sunni vs Shi’a, Arab vs Persian angles just add to the fun.