The Shia in the region is concentrated in Iraq and Iran , where they hold power. In Syria , a Shia off-shoot the Alewites hold on to power, but in Bahrain and Yemen, Oman, where they are a majority, they are ruled by a Sunni minority and there have been ongoing outbreaks of violence. In Saudi Arabia, the extreme Sunna group, the Wahabis rule. The likelihood of a sectarian war in the region is real as especially, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Bahrain are supporting and arming the Free Syrian Army in their fight against the Assad regime. This is also in the interest of USA and Israel (wanting to weaken Iran particularly). Iran is supporting Assad and so is the Shia -led government in Iraq. In Lebanon, Hizballah, a surrogate of Iran is poised to enter the fray. As this bloody conflict rages on, it is highly likely that all these countries will be drawn in even more. It will also attract diverse other groups taking sides.
30 million Kurds live in the Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. In Iraq, they have managed to get control of their region in the north. However in Turkey, the situation is quite different. The Kurds have been waging a war for independence and this situation plays into their hands. The Turkish/Syrian border is breached by the outflow of refugees from Syria and the Kurds are exploiting the situation upping their attacks on the Turks. Before the violence in Syria, there was a real move towards compromise. The Turks have allowed the teaching of the Kurd language for instance and talks was taking place in other areas. Now that has ended and the war is in the air. This is a war for territorial recognition/ integrity. The Syrian army has withdrawn from their area. leaving them in charge, and they have established control, with check-ponts and their flag flying. This is a message to the Turks who are most concerned. "All we want is our rights, nothing more" says Siro Issa, a 24 yrs. old Kurd. " A separate state is every Kurdish person's dream"
The interests of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the USA coincide, especially as it applies to Iran. They each want to curb Iranian influence in the region (it has been growing since the Americans left Iraq and the Shia-led govt. has moved to closer relations with Iran), and to stop the Iranian nuclear programme. So far Iran with the help of Russia and China (they have their own interests. Russia need for a warm water port and to re-establish its influence in the region and China want access to Iranian oil and gas and to establish its influence), have managed to stop the UN Security Council being used to further the interests of US and the West, the Saudis and the Israelis. Here there is a stalemate. Israel has however been sounding the clarion call for an attack on Iran. This will unleash a regional war , pulling in more and more countries.
Change is inevitable. It can be peaceful as in Egypt and Tunisia or bloody as in Libya and Syria and Yemen.In Egypt, Tunisia the broad movement/ protest against the regimes, got the needed support from the USA and the West, who were able to convince the military to stand down. Not so in Libya and now Syria. Saudi Arabia and its Gulf Allies are close and integral allies of the US, so do not expect any great pressure to be put on them (Saudi Arabia sent one female "athlete" to the recently concluded Olympic Games and that was enough). In Yemen , al Qaeda is the enemy being confronted and this may well be case in other places, if this "syrian" war continues.