Sunni, Shi'a, Kurds, Isis, Hezbollah, al-Qaida and Houthis. It's difficult to differentiate the players, but the common thread is they are all sects of the Islamic religion.
Sunnis and Shiites are the two largest denominations. The great majority of Muslims in the world are Sunnis (almost 90 percent). Shiites are nearly 10 percent, and the remaining sects make up the balance.
Of the two major denominations, Sunnis believe that leaders of the country should be chosen by vote or consensus. Sunni religious teachers and leaders come under state control.
Shiites, on the other hand, believe that only Allah can select leaders of the country and they must be direct descendants of the Prophet Muhammad. Shia religious leaders are superior to the nation's government.
If the United States had to select a government closest to our own, we would side with the Sunnis, but that is not my point.
Once you recognize that all of these denominations of Islam are battling in the Middle East for geographic and government control, you have to ask, "Why is the United States even getting involved in what is obviously a holy war?"
The argument that the U.S. is fighting terrorism overseas instead of here at home is fallacious. None of these groups are actually fighting terrorists. They are fighting amongst themselves to promulgate their own religious doctrine in the region.
My point is this: We, as a country that advocates religious freedom, should neither sacrifice the lives of our military members nor our nation's resources to influence the outcome of this religious conflict. It is time to back off and let the principal parties settle it.