As Pesh­merga con­tinue ad­vance on Mo­sul, Kurds re­paid with no seat at in­ter­na­tional anti-Is­lamic State con­fer­ence

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

When the Is­lamic State (IS) launched rapid at­tacks on Mo­sul, Tikrit and large swathes of Iraq, the welle­quipped and size­able Iraqi army wilted away. Iron­i­cally, IS took large quan­ti­ties of US-sup­plied heavy weaponry and laid siege on more Iraqi ci­ties and then Kur­dis­tan.

The United States led coali­tion has spent bil­lions and sev­eral hun­dred airstrikes de­stroy­ing a large pro­por­tion of their own weaponry.

As the Iraqi army evap­o­rated, the Kurds took cen­ter stage in the bat­tle against IS. The sac­ri­fices of the Pesh­merga have di­rectly re­sulted in the IS stay­ing largely on the back-foot and on the de- fen­sive.

It was highly sym­bolic that in the same week that Kur­dish force took con­trol of sev­eral towns and vil­lages in an of­fen­sive west of Mo­sul bring­ing Mo­sul cen­ter firmly within range, that Kur­dis­tan lead­er­ship was not even rep­re­sented at the in­ter­na­tional anti-IS con­fer­ence in London.

Kur­dis­tan forces have gained in­ter­na­tional-wide cov­er­age and re­spect as the cham­pi­ons of the war against IS and Western pow­ers, see­ing the strate­gic im­por­tance of the Pesh­merga in the fight against IS, have sup­plied heavy weaponry and am­mu­ni­tion to the Kurds.

The Kurds hoped that their ever in­creas­ing stra- te­gic stand­ing would have en­shrined their quest for in­de­pen­dence. After all, they were the real de­fend­ers of the so-called dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries in Iraq, it was their forces that led the push-back against IS and it was their bas­tion of peace and tol­er­ance that IS wanted to break.

The Kur­dish role took on greater sig­nif­i­cance for the West but yet again it ap­pears that the Kur­dish ef­fort is di­luted by the Western ob­ses­sion of a united Iraq. It was as though, Iraqi Prime Min­is­ters Haider al-Abadi pres­ence was all that was nec­es­sary.

Bagh­dad has proven any­thing but a true rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Kurds. When IS at­tacked Kur­dis­tan and the dis­puted ter­ri­to­ries that Bagh­dad so stub­bornly re­fused to hold ref­er­en­dums over, the Iraqi army was nowhere in sight. In fact, for over a decade Bagh­dad has re­fused to fund the Pesh­merga forces even though they have pro­tected Iraqi ci­ties amidst alQaeda and in­ter-sec­tar­ian con­flict, never mind the fight against IS to­day.

Kur­dis­tan Pres­i­dent, Mas­soud Barzani, who ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment at the or­ga­niz­ers of the con­fer­ence, stated “it is un­for­tu­nate that the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan do the sacrifice and the credit goes to oth­ers.” Barzani high­lighted that the Pesh­merga “are the most ef­fec- tive force coun­ter­ing global ter­ror­ism to­day” and that “the peo­ple of Kur­dis­tan bear the brunt of this sit­u­a­tion and no coun­try or party can rep­re­sent or truly con­vey their voice in in­ter­na­tional gath­er­ings.”

Mean­while, Abadi pleaded for more weapons. The prob­lem is not pro­vid­ing heavy weaponry to the Iraqi army, they have al­ready re­ceived plenty. The un­der­ly­ing prob­lem is that sec­tar­ian an­i­mos­ity, lack of belief in a na­tional cause and no common loy­alty, means that such pro­vi­sions were quickly wasted.

It is time for the Kurds to re­ceive mil­i­tary as­sis­tance and the due credit they de­serve. The con­tin­u­ous illu- sion of US and Euro­pean pow­ers of a uni­fied Iraq was one of the main rea­sons for the IS on­slaught in the first place. If Iraq as a na­tion was frac­tured be­fore the events of 2014, it is now firmly beyond re­pair.

Sta­ble, sec­u­lar and proWestern forces are val­ues and al­lies that the US should be run­ning to pro­tect and en­dorse, they have hardly got them in abun­dance in a rapidly de­te­ri­o­rat­ing Mid­dle East.

With a ma­jor as­sault to re­take Mo­sul mooted for the spring, al­ready hes­i­tant Kurds must be think­ing twice of fur­ther sac­ri­fices in fight­ing Bagh­dad’s war.

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