aside PRIMER ON MIDDLE EAST, PART IV / KURDS

21FebISIS BEST ISIS CARTOON

I cannot comprehend why the Kurds are not being better treated by President Barack Obama and his administration. See what you think after reading this blog.

The important cliff notes about the Kurds are: Their army, Peshmerga while ill equipped are extremely competent, fierce and effective to where they make the Iraqi army look amateurish in comparison; the Kurds are a minority Sunni population in Iraq; they have a record of governing more democratically than the other factions; from 2014-2015, they have successfully taken back areas of Iraq which were under the control of ISIS; the Kurds have been asking for independence since 1984, but this is counter to President Obama’s “One Iraqi State” policy; the Kurds are sitting on supplies of oil which they could export but they are being blocked by the United States and the Iraqi government; Turkey (our ally) has a history of being an arch enemy of the Kurds; in the late summer of 2015, the U.S. military finally received approval to use Turkey air force bases to continue air strikes.

The Iraqi city of Mosul which fell into ISIS hands in 2014, due to an incompetent Iraqi military, could have been prevented. Wikipedia reports the following: ” On June 10, 2014, Mosul was occupied by ISIS (ISIL).  Kurdish intelligence had been warned by a reliable source in early 2014 that Mosul would be attacked by ISIL (and had informed the US and UK); however Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the Defence Minister turned down repeated offers of help from the Peshmerga (the Kurdish military). ISIL acquired three divisions’ worth of up-to-date American arms and munitions.”

The New Yorker published an article on September 29, 2014 by Tim Arangotitled “The Fight of Their Lives,” which depicts the fighting skills of the Kurds. The article states the following:

D14A20_3 outstanding kurds issue turkey cartoon

“Since 2003, when the U.S. destroyed the Iraqi state and began spending billions of dollars trying to rebuild, the Kurds have been their most steadfast ally. When American forces departed, in 2011, not a single U.S. soldier had lost his life in Kurdish territory. As the rest of Iraq imploded, only the Kurdish region realized the dream that President George W. Bush had set forth when he ordered the attack: it is pro-Western, largely democratic, largely secular, and economically prosperous. President Obama recently told the Times that the Kurdish government is “functional the way we would like to see.”

KIRKUK
KIRKUK

“The incursion of ISIS presents the Kurds with both opportunity and risk. In June 2014, the ISIS army swept out of the Syrian desert and into Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. As the Islamist forces took control, Iraqi Army soldiers fled, setting off a military collapse through the region. The Kurds, taking advantage of the chaos, seized huge tracts of territory that had been claimed by both Kurdistan and the government in Baghdad. With the newly acquired land, the political climate for independence seemed promising. The region was also finding new economic strength; vast reserves of oil have been discovered there in the past decade. In July, President Barzani asked the Kurdish parliament to begin preparations for a vote on self-rule.”

The Kurds have been defending Kobani from ISIS control since mid September, 2014. Even though the U.S. military resisted assisting the Kurds until it was almost too late, they finally came through with support.

Explosion in Kobani
Explosion in Kobani

As per the 2/1/15 NY Times report, ” Liberated Kobani, Kurds Take Pride Despite the Devastation,” by Tim Arango, the Kurds have succeeded in defending their land from Islamic State forces. Here are some excerpts:

“The battle for Kobani, a border outpost that abuts Turkey, began in September. Almost by accident, the city, of little obvious strategic value to the American-led coalition, took on outsize importance as the signature test of President Obama’s strategy for defeating the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL: American air power combined with local forces on the ground.”

“American officials said Kobani became important to them only because it became important to the Islamic State, which rushed reinforcements to the city — providing a steady stream of targets for coalition fighter pilots — and used the battle as a recruiting pitch for foreign jihadists.”

“In a statement released Friday (1/30/15), the Islamic State acknowledged its retreat from Kobani, saying it was “because of the bombardment and because some of the brothers were killed.”

Ben Hubbard reports the following in his 6/12/15 New York Times article, “Success of Kurdish Forces Is a Rare Bright Spot for U.S. Policy in Iraq:”

” Since retaking these Sultan Abdullah Hills (1/15) in northern Iraq( Kirkuk 3/15 ) from the jihadists of the Islamic State, Kurdish pesh merga forces have dug in: excavating trenches, unfurling barbed wire and coordinating with the United States-led military coalition to identify targets for airstrikes.”2834231326_4e02024797 KURDISTAN BARZANI

“The new outposts dotting the hilltops provide clear views of villages where Islamic State jihadists build truck bombs and launch attacks, but the Kurdish forces have no plans to advance, saying the territory is not theirs to fight for.”

“Now our main job is defense,” said Maj. Gen. Mohammed Khoshawe, a field commander. “To defend the Kurds, this is the farthest we go.”

“The ability of Kurdish forces in northern Iraq to retake and defend territory has been a rare success story for the Obama administration’s policy of coordinating with local ground forces to battle the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. This week, the administration announced that it was considering expanding that effort with a network of new training bases in the Iraqi countryside.”

images RETURN IRAQ PRES OBAMA

“Since the Islamic State’s breakout in Iraq last June put several Kurdish cities in peril, the pesh merga have benefited from a concerted campaign of airstrikes, as well as training, arms and intelligence support from the United States and its allies.”

“But the successes of the Kurdish forces also highlight the political and military limits that American policy faces elsewhere in Iraq and Syria, where the United States lacks a solid relationship with forces on the ground and where there is little unity.”

With the above description about how the Kurds have successfully helped the U.S. military take back Iraqi territory under ISIS control, you would not expect to read the following by Con Coughlin, in his 7/2/15 The Telegraph article, “The United States has blocked attempts by its Middle East allies to fly heavy weapons directly to the Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists in Iraq:”

 Turkomen are one of several minority ethnic groups in Kirkuk. (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)
Turkomen are one of several minority ethnic groups in Kirkuk. (AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed)

“Some of America’s closest allies say President Barack Obama and other Western leaders, including David Cameron, are failing to show strategic leadership over the world’s gravest security crisis for decades.”

“They now say they are willing to “go it alone” in supplying heavy weapons to the Kurds, even if means defying the Iraqi authorities and their American backers, who demand all weapons be channelled through Baghdad.”

ISIS-size OUTSTANDING ISIS CARTOON

“High level officials from Gulf and other states have told this newspaper that all attempts to persuade Obama of the need to arm the Kurds directly as part of more vigorous plans to take on ISIS (Isil) have failed.

“The officials say they are looking at new ways to take the fight to Isil without seeking US approval.”

“The Peshmerga have been successfully fighting Isil, driving them back from the gates of Erbil and, with the support of Kurds from neighbouring Syria, re-establishing control over parts of Iraq’s north-west.”

“But they are doing so with a makeshift armoury. Millions of pounds-worth of weapons have been bought by a number of European countries to arm the Kurds, but American commanders, who are overseeing all military operations against Isil, are blocking the arms transfers.”

MAP SHOWING TERRITORY UNDER CONTROL OF THE KURDS
MAP SHOWING TERRITORY UNDER CONTROL OF THE KURDS

“One of the core complaints of the Kurds is that the Iraqi army has abandoned so many weapons in the face of Isil attack, the Peshmerga are fighting modern American weaponry with out-of-date Soviet equipment.”

“At least one Arab state is understood to be considering arming the Peshmerga directly, despite US opposition.”

“The US has also infuriated its allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf states, by what they perceive to be a lack of clear purpose and vacillation in how they conduct the bombing campaign. Other members of the coalition say they have identified clear Isil targets but then been blocked by US veto from firing at them.”

“There is simply no strategic approach,” one senior Gulf official said. “There is a lack of coordination in selecting targets, and there is no overall plan for defeating ISIL”

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9 comments

    • Grazie Mille!! As always, I am eternally grateful for your support and the reblog. After writing about the Kurds, I now know for sure that the U.S. is clueless about what they are doing in this part of the world.

  1. GRAZIE MILLE!!! Thanks a million for the reblog and for your support. Intricacy is a good word. There is so much complexity and intrigue in this part of the world. However, I do know one thing for certain. If I were in charge, I would be helping the Kurds.

    • Welcome!! Thanks a million for the reblog and for taking time to comment. Many in our military do not get this. Would you believe that even after Mosul was lost to ISIS that the Kurds have offered to help take it back. The US is holding off until the Iraqi Army is up to snuff to take on ISIS. I think that we have a long wait.

  2. Seems Turkey considers Kurds more of terrorist state than ISIS and US must support Turkey as part of NATO but Kurds very valuable to overall effort. There really is no such thing as Iraqi people as are a mixture of many different people and a country created post WW I as France and England drew senseless lines in composing new countries. I visited here because I happened to review my Red Baron post on 3/3/14 and enjoyed your comment.

    • Carl D’Agostino, WELCOME TO THIS BLOG!

      This hatred by Turkey for the Kurds has been real problem. Until this year, Turkey had been allowing ISIS and arms to cross their borders into Syria. Whenever insurgents have a nearby haven, they are impossible to to oust from the area. Why would we send US soldiers to risk their lives when our Nato ally was playing us? Turkey will deny this but there is overwhelming evidence that they were double dealing. Until, there is a political solution to this mess, any ground military successes will be just temporary.

      The military is convinced they can prevail in a few months in destroying ISIS strongholds, and they are right. But then what? We will still be stuck in another never ending quagmire like Iraq, Syria and Libya. The strategic priority should be to push hard for a political solution as was done with Ireland and the former Yugoslavia. Civil wars continued in these area until a political solution was agreed to by all the vested interests.

      You are right about the arbitrary boundary lines established after 1918 which did not consider the interests of the various tribes with their own traditions, cultures, faiths going back thousands of years. We are now paying for this short sighted decision making. Any political solution will have to reconsider these boundaries to accommodate the Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and other minorities.

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