Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kurdistan today, from Dexter Filkins in "The New Yorker"

Here at ENS, there were at least five posts in August about Kurdistan.  They focused on the, at the time, limited support from the U.S. and the unique qualities of the Kurds, most emphatically the fact that they were long term supporters of the U.S. in the region.  That is definitely unique.  The Kurds have been followed here since the advent of Bush's war in 2003.

In this week's "The New Yorker", Dexter Filkins gives an update on the status of Kurdistan, the resolve of its President, and the region's desire to eventually be an independent country.  As a reporter who always manages to find his way to the front lines, Filkins writes with characteristic authenticity.  It is an update that every follower of the Middle East conflict now should read.  He does not romanticize the Kurds, and he does not criticize them.  He sees them as a force in the fight against ISIS, one that is the only potent force in the fight given the impotence of the Iraqi army that he details.  The Iraqi army was composed of  just guys wanting jobs, needing jobs after Bush and Cheney dismantled the entire Iraq economy after 2003 and never reassembled it.  They were just senior officers of the Iraqi army wanting loot, especially after American oversight ended in 2011.

What startles me is what Filkins left out.  That is that the U.S. is still not fully supporting Kurdistan, as it is not supplying them with tanks, major vehicles, and advanced weapons that could assault ISIS from a distance.  Obama is supplying the Kurds with rifles, assault weapons, and ammo that they can use in brutal combat, but not anything compared with what ISIS has captured from the hopeless Iraqi army.  Why?

The United States administration is still stuck on its unified Iraq strategy and does not want Iraqi Kurdistan to become too strong.  They absolutely want the Kurd's pesh murga forces to confront ISIS, but they don't want it to be able to defy Baghdad.  This is a useless Kissinger chessboard style of thinking.  Giving the Kurds their opportunity and more weapons would greatly heighten their efficiency as the most effective fighting force in the region, one that would not give up their weapons, would support the U.S., and that unequivocally sees ISIS as a huge threat to their ecumenical way of life and hope for Kurdish independence.

The unity of Iraq is a pipe dream.  The threat of ISIS is immediate and one that should not be tempered by long term diplomatic theory.

That Filkins did not express an opinion on this issue just raises questions here.  What does he see and know while on the ground that cannot be known here?  The views here are clearly stated, but the information network is not robust.  That Kurdistan needs even more U.S. support in materials to continue their military ascendancy is beyond debate.  Obama has made a huge step by striking within Syria.  Upgrading support to the Kurds would is not such a big step, and really is essential.  Obama's reluctance is something that he will come to regret.

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