The Islamic State, which is run by a deviant strain of Sunni fanatics, has been a disaster for all Sunnis across the region. Sunnis account for as much as ninety per cent of the Arab population and almost a fifth of the global population ... Now their world is in ruins. They have suffered the largest losses in lives and property and make up the largest percentage of refugees. They are under attack from other sects and have little to fall back on politically, despite their numbers.

The Obama administration is giving the elite Joint Special Operations Command...expanded power to track, plan and potentially launch attacks on terrorist cells around the globe ... it will elevate JSOC from being a highly-valued strike tool used by regional military commands to leading a new multiagency intelligence and action force ... The missions could occur well beyond the battlefields...where Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) has carried out clandestine operations in the past.

social media has empowered isis recruiting, helping the group draw at least 30,000 foreign fighters, from some 100 countries, to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. It has aided the seeding of new franchises in places ranging from Libya and Afghanistan to Nigeria and Bangladesh. It was the vehicle isis used to declare war on the United States ... So intertwined are the Islamic State’s online propaganda and real-life operations that one can hardly be separated from the other

the six [nations] most profoundly affected [by the Arab Spring] — Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen — are all republics, rather than monarchies. And of these six, the three that have disintegrated so completely as to raise doubt that they will ever again exist as functioning states — Iraq, Syria and Libya — are all...countries created by Western imperial powers in the early 20th century ... little thought was given to national coherence, and even less to tribal or sectarian divisions.

Of roughly 40 groups in 16 countries that have pledged support or allegiance, ISIS has formally recognized nearly 20 wilayats in nine countries... This selectiveness, experts say, allows ISIS to project an aura of strength...With recent losses in Iraq and Syria, the affiliate strategy has only grown more important... ISIS uses its affiliates as outposts, to propagate a notion of its global reach. The more territory ISIS holds, the more it can...legitimize its claims of being an Islamic caliphate

dismissing the uprisings as a failure does not capture how fully they have transformed ...the region ... Today’s authoritarians are more repressive because they are less stable, more frightened and ever more incapable of sustaining their domination. With oil prices collapsing and popular discontent again spiking, it is obvious that the ... challenge of the Arab uprising is continuing to unfold. “Success or failure” is not a helpful way to understand these ongoing societal and political processes

The United States has had about 250 citizens who have tried to travel to join the fighting... Charles Kurzman, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who tracks Muslim American terrorism suspects, said that he has found only 42 who successfully traveled to join militants in Syria, Iraq or Libya, and that of those, only 16 remain in military territory. Six were arrested or otherwise taken into custody, and 20 died. Dozens have been prosecuted in the United States

Five years after the uprising that led to the downfall of Qaddafi, Libya is a failed state, torn apart by rival militias. ISIS is growing stronger by the day, and poorly armed makeshift militias are all that stand in its way ... the threat posed by ISIS is forcing Libya’s collection of militias overseeing security to work together to prevent the group from dispatching fighters or setting up cells across the country.

China ... is projected to overtake the United States as the world's largest energy consumer by 2030, as its demand for imported oil grows from six million barrels per day to 13 million by 2035 ... its new supply is likely to come from the Middle East, which China also needs for ... new markets to produce its goods, invest its capital, and secure new labor. It is in this context that China has articulated its Middle East strategy, focusing on ... energy cooperation and infrastructure investment

the context has changed dramatically. Today there are all-out civil wars burning in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya, and would-be civil wars simmering in Egypt, Turkey, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan. Bahrain, Lebanon, Jordan, and Tunisia all face dangerous internal discord. Iran and Saudi Arabia now lead rival coalitions waging proxy wars—figuratively across the region, and literally across Syria, Yemen, and (to a lesser extent) Iraq.