In what could never be described in clear cut terms, the fall of the American-backed Iraqi government to al-Qaeda forces cold possibly be delayed by Iran now doing what it can to shore up the Baghdad government. The Wall Street Journal is reporting on June 12, 2014 that Iranian Special Forces have joined Iraqi government troops in the face to rebel ISIS fighters.
Unlike the Second World War where there were clear lines of delineation between Allied and Axis forces, the battlefield of the Middle East more closely resembles a plate of spaghetti thrown against the wall. But as time goes by and the situation constantly evolves and mutates, many agree that this particular conflict isn't between conventional governments, but fought by the two major branches of Islam.
As the Iraqi cities Fallujah and Ramadi before them, the north-central Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit have just fallen to the al-Qaeda-allied forces of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), the Iranian government has deployed at least two battalions of the al-Quds Revolutionary Guards to fight side-by-side with the troops loyal to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. As the overseas branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, the al-Quds forces are looked upon as their nation's version of the US Marine Corps.
As the situation sits as of press time, the same Tehran government that has called for the destruction of both the United States and Israel is now bolstering the same Iraqi government that Vice President Joe Biden vowed the United States would also prop up. In a phone call between Biden and Maliki on June 12, 2014, the US Veep has assured the Iraqis that America is "prepared to intensify and accelerate security support and cooperation, as reported by the Reuters news agency.
To further muddy the diplomatic and political waters, the loyalty of forces are coalescing more on religious lines than governmental ones. With the ISIS jihadists establishing a de facto country stretching from the mountains of Lebanon to almost the Iraqi southern marshland, they identify themselves more closely to the Sunni Muslims such as the often bloody Wahhabi-friendly Royal House of Saud (who the United States now supports), most of the common people of Syria, and lastly, the same as those who were loyal to the late Saddam Hussein.
The Iranians, on the other hand, are overwhelmingly Shia Muslims and adhere to their own often bloody brand of Sharia Law. the majority of Iraqis, along with Prime Minister Malaki (who the United States now supports), share in the Iranian adherence to Shia. Yet another Shiite faction in the area would be the Syrian strongman Bashir al-Assad (who the Russians now support). The government of Lebanon is in reality controlled by Sunni Muslims and quite cozy with Iran's mullahs. Vladimir Putin's Russia has been instrumental in keeping Iran afloat, especially their nuclear weapons program.
While the Shiites and Sunnis almost completely agree on a common theology, what essentially has the two willing to kill the other is political. The Shiites (People of Ali) adhere to the notion that leadership passed from Muhammad to his cousin/son-in-law Ali. The Sunni (People of Tradition) believe leadership was handed down to Abu Bakr, one of Muhammad's chief lieutenants.