The growth of the terrorist state ISIS has taken all the attention lately. This is just a resurgence of al Qeada in the vacuum left by Obama’s withdrawal of all US troops. Maybe, if we had kept a significant force in Iraq, something could be saved of all we bought at such terrible cost. Now, it is too late.
We do have allies worth helping but they are not in the Iraqi government. It is Shia dominated and dependent on Iran for support. They have alienated the Sunnis and the growth of ISIS is the result. We still have the Kurds as allies and they know we were their only hope in 1993. Jay Garner did a great job working with them once we decided to protect them after the First Gulf War. I have never understood why he was dismissed by George W Bush.
The Kurds have been an embarrassment for us for decades in the middle east because they occupy parts of three nations, two of which were at one time our allies.
Kurdistan includes parts of Iraq, Turkey and Iran. They have never had a modern nation and the neighbors are enemies. Only the mountains have protected them. Now, it is time we did something. Iran is certainly no friend. Iraq has dissolved and it is time to allow it to be broken up into the Sunni, Shia and Kurdish provinces it should be. Turkey is increasingly Islamist and has not been an ally at least since 2003 when they blocked our 4th Infantry Division from invading Iraq from the north.
The 4th was initially ordered to deploy in January 2003 before the war began, but did not arrive in Kuwait until late March. The delay was caused by the inability of the United States and Turkey to reach an agreement over using Turkish military bases to gain access to northern Iraq, where the division was originally planned to be located. Units from the division began crossing into Iraq on April 12, 2003.
The Kurds know this is their opportunity and Dexter Filkins’ piece in the New Yorker makes this clear.
The incursion of ISIS presents the Kurds with both opportunity and risk. In June, 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 time has come to decide our fate, and we should not wait for other people to decide it for us,” Barzani said.
The Kurds were surprised and routed by ISIS mostly due to limited weapons and ammunition. We could supply the deficit but Obama seems to be oblivious to the true situation. The Iraqi Army will not fight, a characteristic of all Arab armies. To the degree that the Iraqi army is Shia led, the Sunni Arabs will not cooperate or will join the enemy.
The present situation in Kurdistan is desperate.
Erbil has changed a lot since I was there last. In early 2013, on my way into Syrian Kurdistan, I had stopped off in the city for a few days to make preparations. Then, the city had the feel of a boom town – shopping malls springing up across the skyline, brand new SUVs on the road, Exxon Mobil and Total were coming to town. It was the safest part of Iraq, an official of the Kurdish Regional Government had told me proudly over dinner in a garden restaurant.
A new kind of Middle East city.
What a difference a year makes. Now, Erbil is a city under siege. The closest lines of the Islamic State (IS) forces are 45 kilometers away. At the distant frontlines, IS (formerly ISIS) is dug in, its vehicles visible, waiting and glowering in the desert heat. The Kurdish Peshmerga forces are a few hundred meters away in positions hastily cut out of the sand to face the advancing jihadi fighters.
The problem and a solution are both clear. Obama is not serious about doing anything in Iraq or Syria and the Kurds may have to fend for themselves. Interesting enough, there are Jewish Kurds. Israel may have more at stake here than we do.
The phrase “Kurds have no friends but the mountains” was coined by Mullah Mustafa Barzani, the great and undisputed leader of the Kurdish people who fought all his life for Kurdish independence, and who was the first leader of the Kurdish autonomous region. His son, Massoud Barzani, is the current president of Iraqi Kurdistan. Other family members hold key positions in the government.
Perhaps the Israelis and Kurds can work out an alliance. The US, under Obama, is untrustworthy. We will see what happens.
The Yazidi minority we hear about in the news is not the only Kurdish minority. The Jews of Kurdistan, for example, maintained the traditions of ancient Judaism from the days of the Babylonian exile and the First Temple: they carried on the tradition of teaching the Oral Torah, and Aramaic remained the principal tongue of some in the Jewish Kurdish community since the Talmudic period. They preserved the legacy of the last prophets — whose grave markers constituted a significant part of community life — including the tomb of the prophet Jonah in Mosul, the prophet Nahum in Elkosh and the prophet Daniel in Kirkuk. When the vast majority of Kurdish Jews immigrated to Israel and adopted Hebrew as their first language, Aramaic ceased to exist as a living, spoken language. Although our grandparents’ generation still speaks it, along with a few Christian communities in Kurdistan, Aramaic has been declared a dead language by the academic world.
Israel might be an answer to the Kurds’ dilemma. I don’t think we are, except for supplying materials which we should have been doing all along.
21 thoughts on “The Kurds and the Israelis are our only allies in the middle east.”
I have always thought – since I began reading and following news reports about it all, round in about 2002 – that the Kurds were the most promising part of Iraq. They had ten years head start on building themselves up under the protection of the no-fly zone after the First Gulf War. They had moxie, a sense of practicality, embracing technology without the deadly sense of ‘Inshallah-maintenance’ which dooms so many Middle Eastern enterprises, unless of course, they are rich enough to hire Westerners (the 20th century method) or kidnap them and make them into slaves of the Caliphate (the 18th century version.)
Shouldn’t wonder if there aren’t volunteers and hired experts going into Kurdistan from Western countries, even Israel.
Sort of like the Eagle Squadron of WWII in Britain, or the Flying Tigers in China. That would be interesting, wouldn’t it? Bet it would put Homeland Security’s shorts in a twist.
It is a pretty good bet that the current regime in the US will do little or nothing to help the Kurds, the Israelis, or anyone else traditionally viewed as an ally.
The progressive elite despise this country, have been a fifth column within it and western civilization for over a century, and will have no compunction whatever about allowing the Islamic radicals, whatever their name this month, to overrun anyone anywhere they want to go.
After what we saw them capable of accepting, and even welcoming, in Southeast Asia, I have no illusions about the depths they might sink to in the Mideast.
My geography is a little rusty, where is Armenia in this map, and would they play a role in this reconfiguration? We’re coming up on the 100th year of the genocide, I believe.
“where is Armenia in this map,”
It is northeast of Kurdistan. It is centered on that lake shown above Yerevan. Azerbaijan is farther east and includes Baku on the Caspian Sea. The Kurds and Armenians differ in religion, the Armenians being Christian but they are otherwise fairly tolerant of each other.
In 1969, The Armenian Academy of Sciences founded a Kurdish Studies Department to document and to research all aspects of Kurdish culture but also to study Armenian and Kurdish relations. One of the first Kurdish newspapers was actually established and published in the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. The newspaper was called Riya Teze (Kurdish: The new road). Later on, another Kurdish newspaper was founded called Botan that was published once every two weeks.
Armenian radio station Denge Erivan (The Voice of Yerevan) broadcast in Kurdish for one hour a day, drawing an audience of ethnic Kurds from southeast Turkey. One author writes that he had a childhood friend who was taunted in school for listening to it in the sixties.
Armenia’s Yazidi Kurdish minority
Main article: Yazidis in Armenia
According to the 2001 Census, there are about 40,620 Yazidis in Armenia. According to a 2007 U.S. Department of State human rights report, “As in previous years, Yezidi leaders did not complain that police and local authorities subjected their community to discrimination.”
Armenia fought a war with Azerbaijan in the 1920s and them again in the 1990s. There are still flare-ups to this day.
This combined with lingering grudges and open hostility to Turkey over past atrocities and a generally depressed economy has pushed them into Russia’s camp.
Russian troops are stationed in Armenia, and there was talk of them joining the “Eurasia Union”.
A free and autonomous Kurdistan can’t be anything but good news for them because at the very least it gives them another option in the region.
Thanks. I’d thought it was close to the area. Hope they won’t be sacked as so many of the non-“Isis” regions locally are undergoing.
At one time, when Turkey was our ally, there was a good reason to downplay the Kurds. Now that Turkey is our ally in name only, pushing Kurdish independence will punish the Turks. Sounds good to me. Not to mention Iran.
“Now that Turkey is our ally in name only, pushing Kurdish independence will punish the Turks. Sounds good to me. Not to mention Iran.”
Certainly, there is no reason to hesitate. The Turks can only stab us in the back a few times. It would make an interesting alliance between Israel, the Kurds and Armenia. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they are already in touch., The Israelis know how to keep a secret.
I remember reading that Israel had or has developed economic ties with Cyprus, which if I’m not mistaken has also been at odds with Turkey for years. Years ago, I had an elderly neighbor from Lebanon, he would speak wistfully about how beautiful the coastal part of the country was…and then wave his hand dismissively and say “ah, they’re all crazy over there now”. My wife and I were in Paris some years ago, and we encountered a Kurdish protest near Sacre Coeur. We had to take a side street and move out of the area, nobody was smiling, them or the gendarmes. Didn’t know much about them at the time, guess I’ll be learning…
I wouldn’t be surprised either to learn of a Kurdish-Armenian-Israeli alliance. Bet it is going on right this minute. Imminent peril does have the power to concentrate adaptive minds on the reality of a situation – and not be distracted by the glorious fantasy.
Israelis are too wise to blab about it. If it is going on, we will not hear of it unless somebody attacks somebody, and maybe not even then. Israel takes care of business unlike some countries that are all talk.
In fact, this administration doesn’t even know what it doesn’t know.
Two days ago, Josh Earnest argued the fact that the US was evacuating the embassy didn’t mean the administration strategy wasn’t working.
ED HENRY, FOX NEWS: In terms of decisive action by the president, how can you cite as a success Yemen when the country is falling apart?
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE: Because, Ed, what we have seen is the effective deployment of counter-terrorism strategy that involves building up the capacity of local forces, on occasion backed by American military forces, to counter extremist threats that are emanating from that country.
HENRY: If it has been so successful why are we pulling our embassy personnel out of there?
EARNEST: Ed, what we have been focused on is mitigating the threat from extremists and denying them the kind of safe-haven that would allow them to plot –
HENRY: The embassy said we are pulling out. We have to get our people out of there.
EARNEST: Ed, what we have seen in Yemen isthe effective deployment of a counter-terrorism strategy to put continual pressure on extremist groups that seek to do harm to the United States.
HENRY: If there is so much pressure why are we leaving?
EARNEST: What that has done is it has prevented those extremist groups from having to plot and plan and carry out, successfully, attacks against the U.S. homeland. That requires vigilance. If we take a day off, they could build up capacity in such a way that would be very dangerous to the U.S. or our interests around the globe.
Today there is more evidence of Turkey’s treachery in the ISIS fight .
Suspicions remain regarding possible collusion between Turkish authorities and Islamic State. The Kurds have long maintained that at least in its initial phase, Islamic State was the beneficiary of Turkish support. Evidence has emerged of Turkish forces permitting Islamic State fighters to cross back and forth across the border during early clashes with the YPG.
The subsequent picture remains shrouded in ambiguity, as Turkey officially denies any relationship with Islamic State. But the release of 49 Turkish hostages by the terror movement this week under unclear circumstances has once more cast a spotlight on the possible complex connection between the two.
Turkey is no ally even though the nice Turkish girl at my bank is very friendly.
More evidence of Obama’s disinterest in the Kurds.
some 400,000 Kurds in and around the town of Kobane in northern Syria, on the Turkish border, are being besieged and assaulted by massed legions of Islamic State killers armed with scores of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery. Against these, the Kurdish defenders have only AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The Kurds have called on the U.S. to send in air strikes to take out the jihadist forces. In response, the administration sent in two fighter jets Saturday, which destroyed two Islamic State tanks and then flew away. The Kurds are begging for arms. The administration has not only refused to send arms, but is exerting pressure both on our NATO allies and on Israel not to send any either. Over 150,000 Kurds have fled their homes to try to escape to Turkey, but they are being blocked at the border by Turkish troops. Meanwhile, Turkey is allowing Islamist reinforcements to enter Syria to join the Islamic State, while Islamist elements of the Free Syrian Army, funded and armed by the United States, have joined forces with the group in the genocidal assault on the Kurdish enclave.
More on the math of the epidemic. It is getting out of control.
The article quoted is one I linked to a couple of weeks ago.
When one of the most senior disease detectives in the US begins talking about “plague,” knowing how emotive that word can be, and another suggests calling out the military, it is time to start paying attention.
Is anyone still interested in Obama’s betrayal of the Kurds ?
As these lines are being written, some 400,000 Kurds in and around the town of Kobane in northern Syria, on the Turkish border, are being besieged and assaulted by massed legions of Islamic State killers armed with scores of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and heavy artillery. Against these, the Kurdish defenders have only AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. The Kurds have called on the U.S. to send in air strikes to take out the jihadist forces. In response, the administration sent in two fighter jets Saturday, which destroyed two Islamic State tanks and then flew away. The Kurds are begging for arms. The administration has not only refused to send arms, but is exerting pressure both on our NATO allies and on Israel not to send any either. Over 150,000 Kurds have fled their homes to try to escape to Turkey, but they are being blocked at the border by Turkish troops. Meanwhile, Turkey is allowing Islamist reinforcements to enter Syria to join the Islamic State, while Islamist elements of the Free Syrian Army, funded and armed by the United States, have joined forces with the group in the genocidal assault on the Kurdish enclave.
Turkey is Sunni and an ally, although unspoken, of the ISIS Sunni forces. Maybe Biden can explain.
Ok, they’ve been sold out. The question is: in exchange for what? This goes to the very heart of any cynical (and I know dear readers that you have no objection to cynicism per se) appraisal of betrayal. Who’s is the shafter and who are the shaftees? Are the Kurds being betrayed for some possibly greater good, which Obama will doubtlessly identify by and by, or is Washington just the flunkey for the men in the flowing robes?
Perhaps the answer is provided by the New York Times. Joe Biden said in response to a question at the Kennedy School that America has to proceed warily against ISIS, lest it tread on Turkey’s toe. Or on the sandaled feet of the Saudis.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has one more stop on what has become a Middle East apology tour in the wake of his impolitic answer to a Harvard student’s question: Saudi Arabia.
After apologizing to officials from Turkey and the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, Mr. Biden is trying to connect with Saudi leaders, a senior official said, to clarify that he did not mean to suggest that Saudi Arabia backed Al Qaeda or other extremist groups in Syria.
The vice president’s troubles began Thursday when he declared, in a question-and-answer session at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, that the biggest problem the United States faced in dealing with Syria and the rise of the Islamic State was America’s allies in the region.
Turkey, Mr. Biden said, has admitted allowing foreign fighters to cross into Syria, while Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia funneled weapons and other aid to Syrian rebels that ended up in the hands of the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda and other extremist groups.
Anyone who trusts this administration should be committed to an insane asylum.
Everything makes sense if you assume that the Obama administration is allied with Iran, Turkey and Qatar.
Even the LA Times is noticing and that takes some doing.
In Kobani, Kurdish fighters had been battling militants for months without help from the U.S. or neighboring Turkey, to which tens of thousands of refugees have fled.
The U.S. stepped up bombing after it became clear that the militants had moved large amounts of equipment and fighters to the outskirts of the city, one of the last areas not under their control along the Syria-Turkey border.,/i>
Meanwhile the Marines are landing in Liberia today to fight Ebola. This is where Obama’s priorities are. He was forced into attacking ISIS and it shows.
We’ve already heard Jesse Jacksons comments on the ebola game, so it’s safe to assume the cat’s out of the bag on this one. I’d also imagine that given his hostility to the military, they are landing to contract ebola, not fight it. By rights this would be a UN gig normally, no? Why on earth would you need combat troops to “fight” a disease? Plus, those infected will return home, necessitating a health care crisis, that should “nudge” the masses to beg for a big-time Federal solution. The ends justify the means, if you have to kill a few million people to institute National health care, so be it. Get the ball rolling in those states that resist it most. Plus, the other side of the coin is that we are talking about it, and not the dozens of other unprecedented scandals surround this corrupt regime.
As usual, Belmont Club has the best analysis.
In blocking the resupply of the Kurdish fighters who are trying desperately to hold off a siege by Islamic State in Kobani, Syria, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is making a decision that may haunt Turkey for years to come.
This is not just about Turkey’s failure to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State. It also threatens Turkey’s fragile truce with its Kurdish minority, many of whom are growing impatient with the sight of Turkish soldiers watching, from their side of the border, as Islamic State attacks Kobani.
The Turks are imitating the Soviets in WWII as they watched the Nazis massacre the Poles in Warsaw.
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