REAL-POLITIC: One of the best explanations on the Syrian conflict was written in February 2012 by David Goldman, but still applies. In it, the ghost of Cardinal Richelieu explains balance of power and disequilibrium in the ethnic-patchwork states of the Middle East.:
Then let them kill each other as long as possible, which is to say for 30 years or so. Do you know,” the ghastly Cardinal continued, “why really interesting wars last for 30 years? That has been true from the Peloponnesian War to my own century. First you kill the fathers, then you kill their sons. There aren’t usually enough men left for a third iteration.
The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world,” the cardinal replied, “you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression. “The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death. In the case of Iraq, the presence of oil mitigates the problem.