Is ISIS accomplishing what we couldn't by uniting Iraq?
Baghdad's air force and Kurdish fighters from Syria joined forces with Iraq's embattled peshmerga Monday to push back jihadists whose latest attacks sent thousands of civilians running for their lives.
The Islamic State, or IS, raised its black flag in Sinjar on Sunday after ousting the peshmerga troops of Iraq's Kurdish government, forcing thousands of people from their homes.
The conquest of Sinjar and several other towns at the weekend threatened to further integrate the Iraqi and Syrian halves of the "caliphate" IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed in June.
But the peshmerga declared they were mounting a counter-offensive and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Monday ordered the air force to provide them support.
"The commander in chief of the armed forces has issued orders to the leadership of the air force and the army's aviation units to provide air support to peshmerga forces," army spokesman Qassem Atta said in a statement.
At first blush this doesn't seem like much, but the fact that Iraqi air assets are being used to support Peshmerga soldiers is just astonishing. The Kurdish Peshmerga have always been supportive of the US, and Maliki and the Iraqis are at least trying to play nice with us, but the Pesh and the Iraqi gov't getting along is like cats and dogs living in some nirvana together.
The article goes on:
Government forces completely folded in the face of the advance and the peshmerga filled the vacuum to gain long-coveted areas they had been in dispute with Baghdad over and expand their territory by around 40 percent.
"The peshmerga are well-trained, well-equipped and motivated, but definitely more efficient fighting in defensive positions, on their own terrain, than projecting into the plains of Arab Iraq," said Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group think-tank.
Funding has also been a problem. The autonomous Kurdish regional government has not been receiving the 17 percent share of national oil revenues it is owed by Baghdad and is struggling to sell its own, smaller production independently.
The Kurds are really eager to get the financing so they can set up a legitamite government in the region. They are semi-autonomous now, but they need funding bad.
Even the Turkish Gov't, not generally supportive of the Kurds seems to be warming to them being a buffer between Turkey and the nonsense going on to the south:
The Kurds of Iraq have the right to decide the future of their land, said Huseyin Celik, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on Friday.
“The Kurds of Iraq can decide for themselves the name and type of the entity they are living in,” Celik told Rudaw in an interview to be published soon.
The AKP is the party of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan under whom Ankara and Erbil have built strong economic and diplomatic relations.
In case Iraq gets partitioned, said Celik, “the Kurds, like any other nation, will have the right to decide their fate.”
Meanwhile (back to original article) ISIS is definitely talking tough:
In a statement boasting their latest victories, IS warned they could seek to push further into Kurdish-controlled areas.
"Islamic State brigades have now reached the border triangle between Iraq, Syria and Turkey. May God Almighty allow his mujahedeen to liberate the whole region," it said.
I was talking to some friends a few weeks ago and said I though the Pesh would absolutely crush ISIS when it came to it. And then earlier this week I looked like an imbecile when ISIS grabbed the Mosul dam. But the Pesh are seriously tough, and some airpower would go a LONG way.
Exit question, you think the US has any "advisors" on the ground up there? I certainly hope so. Despite their ferocity, calling in close air support isn't something that most Peshmerga know how to do. They just don't have an air force, so our guys will be needed.