The Middle East is torn apart along sectarian lines, with radical Sunnism being the main culprit. It follows then that moderate Sunnism, according to the journalist, has to be the main component of any efforts aimed at bringing peace to the battered region.
"The lack of mainstream Sunni leadership is a blight across the region, which offers instead varieties of Sunni supremacism. [Daesh], a hybrid of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ba'athist officers from Saddam Hussein's army, disbanded by the US after 2003, is obviously the most virulent. But the big Sunni powers – Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt – are diluted flavors of this poison to which they claim to be the antidote," he observed.
Saudi Arabia's "sectarian Wahhabi strain of Sunni Islam competes with [Daesh] as to which is the more effective hammer of the Shia," he observed.
"Turkey under the increasingly autocratic presidency of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has seen its presumption of leading a neo-Ottoman Sunni revival boil down to a revived war with its Kurdish minority. Neither power is carrying the fight to Isis," the journalist added.
Gardner maintains that any efforts aimed at defeating the terrorist group and the like will be doomed to failure without "a Sunni counter-narrative that takes on board the rights of minorities as well as individuals."
Otherwise, any roadmap aimed at bringing peace to Syria will look "as riddled as a Swiss cheese," he observed.