August 05, 2014
Peshmerga Open New Offensive Against ISIS With Iraqi Regime Support
Iraq's government sent its air force on Monday to back Kurdish forces struggling to blunt a jihadist advance, an extraordinary move that reflects alarm over the insurgents' brash new offensive against Kurds in both Iraq and Syria.Lets hope so. Death to the Islamic State!
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's authorization of air support came after the Kurdish forces, known as Peshmerga, lost a string of towns over the weekend to the militant group, which calls itself Islamic State. The Peshmerga had held off the insurgents in northwestern Iraq without central Iraqi government forces for nearly two months.
On Monday, the Peshmerga launched a counteroffensive to retake two towns—Sinjar and Zumar—said Kurdish and United Nations officials. The Kurds also drove the militants from two other towns, Wana and Rabia, Kurdish officials said, but fighting continued to rage and the situation appeared fluid.
The air support marks Baghdad's first such military commitment to the semiautonomous Kurdish government, marking a significant pledge to confront an extremist group striving to create an Islamic state across the historic area called the Levant, which includes Iraq and Syria.
...Iraqi Air Force jets started bombing targets in the town of Sinjar, west of Mosul near the Syrian border, and the broader area on Monday afternoon, Peshmerga spokesman Jabar Yawer said in an interview. The jets flew from and returned to Baghdad.
Monday's counteroffensive left the Kurdish fighters in control of Iraq's largest dam in Mosul, Mr. Yawer said, after Islamic State militants tried to seize it in their effort to control resources.
More on why we should help the Kurds here in the New Yorker.
During the American war, from 2003 to 2011, not a single American soldier was killed in the Kurdish region.
...And that’s the problem, at least according to the United States. Since 2003, American policy toward Kurdistan has been “one Iraq.” That is, no matter how friendly the Kurds are, no matter how pro-Western, American policy has been to keep Iraq together. That means: don’t do anything that helps the Kurds too much, lest they break away from Iraq and declare independence, which is most what most Kurds want.
Until recently, this made a certain amount of sense, even if it denied the Kurds their true desires. But, since June, when ISIS militants swept across the Syrian border and captured huge portions of northern and western Iraq, that policy has been more and more difficult to justify. The Kurds now share a huge border with ISIS-controlled territory, and only a few miles of what is left of Iraq. The Kurdish militia, called the peshmerga, fights ISIS every day. Since early this year, the Kurdish regional government, which presides over the area, has been cut off entirely from Iraq’s oil revenue—to which it is entitled by law—by the government in Baghdad. The way that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is dealing with the Kurds is the same way he dealt with the Sunni Arabs—harshly and arbitrarily. Indeed, Maliki’s actions toward the Sunnis precipitated the events that led to the ISIS takeover.
Hat Tip: Barkley.