Iraqi Kurds “see themselves as alone” in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) according to an analysis Monday written by Jackson Diehl, a member of The Washington Post’s editorial board.
While Diehl observes that though the Kurds have given “Iraq’s central government another chance” and not immediately sought independence, their partnership with Baghdad remains tenuous.
In the end, the Kurds still see themselves as alone. The thrust of their lobbying in Washington was to obtain U.S. heavy weapons for delivery to Irbil, with or without Baghdad’s consent. The Pentagon’s response was grudging: There is a plan in the works to deliver 250 armored vehicles to Iraq, of which the Kurds would get 25. The administration meanwhile plans to train nine Iraqi and three Kurdish brigades, in the hope that that will be enough to go on the offensive in northern and western Iraq. But U.S. officials still insist that any arms deliveries to the Kurds go through the central government.
Like many U.S. military experts — including former defense secretary Robert Gates — the Kurds see that plan as underpowered. “Three divisions is 10,000 fighters,” Hussein said. Mosul, the declared seat of the Islamic State’s caliphate, is a city of more than 1 million people, heavily fortified with captured U.S. weapons. “Who is going to liberate Mosul?” Hussein asked. “We cannot do that without heavy weapons — Apache helicopters and Humvees, artillery, rockets, sniper rifles.”
Diehl’s Kurdish interlocutor sounded a note of despair with the situation, ““To liberate Mosul, we need an army with us. Where is that army going to come from?”
In ISIS: Can the West Win Without a Ground Game, which was published in the October 2014 issue of The Tower Magazine, Jonathan identified the Kurds, along with Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as one of the key allies the United States should engage to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Specifically Spyer wrote:
As part of a strategy of containment, the West should increase support for and recognition of both the Kurdish enclaves in the north of Syria and the Kurdish Regional Government itself. Both are elements capable of containing the spread of the jihadis from the north. It has become clear in recent days that the Pesh Merga, despite early setbacks, is a useful instrument in preventing the further advance westward of the Islamic State, and in so doing protecting the investment of international oil companies in the oil-rich parts of Iraq. The YPG militia, though poorly equipped, has also avoided major losses.
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