Iraq’s Kurds want U.S. help to hold off Islamic State extremists


IRBIL, Iraq — Each day, Kurdish security forces* in northern Iraq skirmish with fearsomely armed Islamic State militants along their new, nearly 650-mile border. The Kurds have held their own so far. But without fresh arms supplies or financial assistance their fight is unsustainable, a senior Kurdish official said.

Masrour Barzani, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intelligence and security chief, described his forces as “overstretched.” In an interview this week, he called on the United States to provide direct military assistance to his semi*autonomous region, which he complained has been left to fight the extremists unaided.

For the Kurds, the Islamic State’s blitz across northern Iraq in recent weeks has in some respects been a boon. Iraqi military forces* rapidly withdrew from the north, enabling the Kurds to seize areas where they had disputed control with Baghdad, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.


The Kurds are friendly toward the west, non-radical, welcome Christians and don’t want to be ruled by Islamic radicals; whether Sunni or Iranian, and are willing to fight the radicals.

Which means it’s highly unlikely the U.S. will provide them with any aid.

Now, Hamas, on the other hand…


These clashes rarely make it into the reporting from Western news outlets. However, the Institute for the Study of War issues a daily map showing incidents which have occurred around Iraq. These maps document some of the Kurdish-ISIS clashes.

Here is a map showing areas controlled by the various factions in Iraq. A recent development is that the Kurds withdrew from Badush Dam, relinquishing it to ISIS control.


I think the u.s. should help and anybody else who wants to help.


I’m curious and naive: do the western countries not have the military capability to wipe them out? heck, maybe even china and russia can join forces this one time?


Not naive.

The western countries most definitely have the military capability, perhaps not to wipe them out, but to spank them back out of Iraq and massively reduce their capabilities.

What’s missing is the will. Other western countries don’t have the means or the will to do it without the U.S. It’s interesting to follow why the U.S. has the means but not the will.

Initially, Democrats and Repubs in congress joined in supporting “Iraq War Phase II”. Obama was one of the few senators who did not. Terrorists like the ISIS people poured in and got themselves killed. The war had its ups and downs, but the U.S. and its allies (chiefly Britain and Poland) won, and controlled the center of the Middle East. The Kurds, Sunni and Shiites all wanted us to stay and guard the peace we had established.

But Obama, his supporters and the media made the Iraq presence unpopular with a lot of American voters. That, and his seeming promise to provide free, quality healthcare, got him elected. Obama then declared victory and permanent stability in Iraq and pulled out, even though the Kurds, Sunni and Shia begged us to stay. They knew it would take a fair-minded and strong peacekeeper for a long time.

Some, (and I am one of them) knew the minute we pulled out, it would all fall apart and the entire Middle East would become a battleground between Sunni extremists and Iran. I expect Obama knew it too, but didn’t care.

And that’s why the Middle East is what it is today.

Russia supports Iran in its attempt to take over the entire region. China moved into the oil fields and oil seems to be its chief interest at present.


So how do you propose this mess be resolved?


I know that not all Muslims are terrorists and that many are peaceful. But why does there seem to be an endless supply of Islamic extremists?


I don’t ever want to have happen here what is happening in iraq and syria!

I saw a picture today of a fighter from australia who was holding 2 heads in each hand that had been beheaded. Later they were impaling many heads on a fence. They were smiling and laughing. All I could think of is what denonic behavior!
They are answering the call from all over the world. I feel the fight is just beginning.


But that happens in Mexico. It shows how the USA really needs strong leadership. Indeed, it may be an often used cliche but these people are as bad as the Nazis easily, we need a Churchill not someone who is either radical, incompetent or inept.


I don’t think the U.S. can now resolve it or even contribute significantly toward any kind of amelioration. The opportunity to keep a reasonable degree of peace in the Middle East was thrown away by Obama. I doubt anything remotely like the pre-Obama Middle East can ever be achieved again. Savages and savagery now prevail and will likely do so indefinitely.

I think we are now facing a repeat of history, in which the Arab Sunni and the Iranian Shiites are each going to vie for a Middle Eastern empire, with Asian (including Turkic and Russian) potentates standing by for opportunity if it strikes. The problem is the war is going to be fought with modern weapons instead of scimitars, and the radicals have a much greater opportunity to carry their venom to other parts of the world.

Back in that time, what the west had in its favor were difficult terrain and weather, a reasonable degree of moral unity and, later on, “gunboat diplomacy”. The question remains not whether, but when, the west will be reduced to “gunboat diplomacy” in its dealings with Middle EAstern empire builders. In other words, retaliation in greater kind to acts of aggression. It will be a dangerous world.

The west will not defend itself in any meaningful way as long as Obama is in power, because he does not think the west worth defending. Nor, anymore, does his political party.


Let me depart a bit from your analysis. It’s not so much a matter of leadership (though that’s important) as it is of values. This administration and its supporters really don’t believe in western culture, least of all that of the US. A stronger leader of the current kind would only make things worse. Don’t forget that the Obama-ist group overreaches in terms of power all the time. It is only because they don’t have full control and stronger leadership that we aren’t already living in a police state.


Returning to topic for a moment. It was once the case in the late Roman Empire that Rome (the west) had a steadfast regional ally in Armenia. The Kurds could serve that role and would like to do it. The current administration, though, is unlikely to be of any help to them.


I’m not saying that Islam is not inherently more violent, nor that there weren’t more extreme elements before the war. Perhaps both are correct.

I think 9/11 is an illustrative example. I live close to New York, so I experienced a lot of the raw emotions that followed thereafter, and I know a few people who lost loved ones. I’ve never seen more rage in my life than in the days following that attack. And justifiably so.

But think about it this way. What if you had the equivalent of a 9/11 type event in your country every month? What then? The 9/11 attacks killed, what, 3000? Hundreds of thousands have died since the Iraq invasion. Probably a hundred or more 9/11s combined. It’s unfathomable, IMO.

What are some examples of his police statish behavior? The PATRIOT act?


I understand why America is reluctant to reengage with another Iraqi war. Also they probably figure that most of ISIS neighbours hate them and will do the job of containing them by themselves, the Kurds have their own arrangement with ISIS to respect their mutual borders. ISIS have continued to advance against the Iraqi and Syrian regimes and America could do various things to help without getting involved in another war. Obamas silence here is the big issue for me and I do not know if this is to do with political problems with the Syrian and Iraqi regimes or a simple indifference to the plight of Christians in the region.


I don’t understand the silence either. When the 300 girls were kudnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria, we at least had Michelle O.
holding the sign #Bring back our girls!

Here we have tens of thousands of people who have been threatened with taxes or death if they did not convert and have fled their homes and cities. Where are the human rights activists?


I’m not so sure the Kurds and ISIS have an agreement like that. The Kurds have lost ground to ISIS, including a power generating dam on the Tigris, and are asking the west for material aid. Doesn’t sound like much of a mutual agreement to me.

This administration is indisputably correct if it assumes ISIS and Iran will keep each other busy fighting each other. And possibly that’s the end result Obama desired when he pulled out of Iraq. He’s not dissimilar to Ron Paul in maintaining that others in the world ought to be allowed to slaughter each other without our attempting to intervene or promote American interest in it all. Quite possibly Obama believes that and doesn’t want to say it straight out. Possibly he’s just feckless and fails to see anything coming, no matter how obvious.

But America is now essentially irrelevant in the central Middle East. We held the center and let it go. So now it’s contested among other, very savage regimes.


Incursions into Kurdish territory have been quite limited and it seems that its more to do with ISIS target priorities. They want to bring down the Maliki regime and do not want to open a second front.

Playing off ISIS against Iran makes some sense in Real Politik terms but neglecting the plight of Iraq and indeed Syrias Christians is another matter. This conflict between Iran and ISIS would of course be phase 2 or 3 after the overthrow of the Maliki regime. Maybe America believes that ISIS would offer a more powerful counterbalance to Iran than the Maliki regime so do not care if it falls. However American credibility as a moral power is undermined by its indifference and neglect of Christians and the creation of a new Caliphate in the Middle East is also detrimental to its own long term security interests and the security of Israel also. Such a new power could end up controlling or destroying a large percentage of the worlds oil supplies and killing vast numbers of Christians, Jews and indeed Muslims who disagree with its agenda. The Shia parts of Iraq would probably move to the Iranian sphere of influence thus further strengthening an Iran that is set to acquire nuclear weopans shortly and Kurdistan would be established temporarily as an independent power only to be overwhelmed by ISIS(ISIL). Both Iran and this new Islamic state would make the old Assad or Hussein regime look like moderates!


I agree with most of what you say.

But I cannot possibly think the situation in which ISIS and Iran are the contenders for control of the Middle East can be good for the world in a realpolitik sense, because, eventually, they can’t both lose. Iran was on a march to the Mediterranean. ISIS now stands in the way, quite possibly because the Sunni perceived that Iran was, indeed, likely to gain control of the M.E. from the Afghanistan/Iran border to the Mediterranean and perhaps grudgingly prefers an Arab Caliphate to being part of a new Persian Empire.

We did, for a time, hold the pieces of Iraq together by their consent. Perhaps more importantly, though, we prevented a Caliphate and the linking of Iran’s to its clients in Syria and Lebanon. Then we abandoned Iraq to the warring parties.

The Kurds have at least a fighting chance for a tenuous non-alignment if only because neither Turkey nor Iran is likely to tolerate ISIS control of the Kurdish region and the Kurds. Both Turkey and Iran have sizeable and restive Kurdish minorities and could never trust ISIS not to establish “Kurdish Caliphate Brigades” to cause trouble in their own countries.

Erdogan, of course, is Islamist in his orientation and likely more sympathetic toward ISIS than not. But having “Caliphate Kurds” right next to Turkey’s Kurds might be too hard even for Erdogan to swallow, and the incipient reality might even be his downfall.


Well maybe if the US had kept its’ nose out of Iraq and Libya there wouldn’t be terrorists in those countries…but thanks to US interference in getting rid of those dictators now we have countries that are easy pickings for Islamic terrorists…now we are covertly helping these same terrorists get rid of Assad in Syria…and I’m sure this administration is working at helping overthrow the regime in Iran…so you can add two more countries that will eventually be a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists…probably with nuclear capabilities once they take over Iran…meanwhile Christians in these countries we have helped “liberate” are being wiped out…2000 years of Christianity is no more in some areas of Iraq…if you watched The World Over on EWTN the other night you would have heard an Iraqi Catholic nun…Mother Olga… lay the blame on the US

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