While Obama drowns in his obligations and priorities, the situation in Iraq is getting grim and grimy. While we discuss Turkey and Kobani to no end, the question of the fate of Syria and the silence of the Saudis over the ISIS’ caliphate hangs heavy.

Aleppo, Syria’s second biggest city, is besieged on three sides by the forces of Bashar Assad, with the Islamic State holding part of the other side. Syrian army units backed by Shia Muslim fighters from Afghanistan, Lebanon and Iran are poised to cut the one remaining land route into Aleppo used by mainly Sunni rebels. If the Assad regime severs the Castillo Road, which connects the rebels with the Syrian countryside and Turkey, it would set the stage for a full scale siege of rebel-held districts in the city. The loss of Aleppo by the Syrian rebels would deliver a devastating blow to Western-backed rebels who are fighting against Assad and against ISIS.

Saudi Arabia is too often ignored in its role in the fault lines in the region. Far from prompting a moment of reflection, the West has plunged on with its Saudi allies, using its forces of fired-up Sunni Islam in the pursuit of Western interests. This is true since before 9/11. Some of the deepest prejudices of Saudi Arabia, like the abhorrence for the Shia, were absorbed by Western states. Their anti-Shiite narrative became the western “Axis of Evil”… Saddam Hussein, Colonel Gaddafi, Hezbollah, President Assad, Iran. None were a true threat to the West but they were all objects of the dominant Gulf antipathy. Prince Bandar, the former head of Saudi intelligence, had instructions from King Abdullah to take charge of getting rid of President Assad, even if he had to hire every jihadi he could find. The West looked aside and actually assisted in training and facilitating the passage of foreign fighters, including jihadists to Syria.

Now every state around Iraq and the US is drawn into a complex war, which centres on the politics of Sunni Islam, and in opposition to the idea of a Sunni Caliphate.