An army of 100.000 com­bat troops must be built to de­feat Is­lamic State

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - Dr Twana Faris Bawa *

Ev­ery day that passes in the bit­ter bat­tle for ter­ri­tory in Kur­dis­tan and else­where in Iraq, the in­ad­e­quacy of the US-led coali­tion forces’ re­sponse to the chal­lenge posed by Is­lamic State (ISIS) be­comes in­creas­ingly ob­vi­ous. The Kur­dis­tan Re­gional Gov­ern­ment (KRG) and Iraqi cen­tral gov­ern­ment have be­come deeply alarmed that ISIS ter­ror­ists have been able to en­ter the out­skirts of Er­bil and Bagh­dad, de­spite reg­u­lar airstrikes by coali­tion war­planes. In ex­cess of 950 airstrikes have been launched inside Iraq, since; Er­bil was briefly threat­ened last sum­mer. The sit­u­a­tion on the ground, is that the Kur­dish Pesh­merga are bravely fight- ing off the heavy Is­lamist of­fen­sives ex­pos­ing the ur­gent need for a well-equipped and highly trained ground force to iden­tify and de­stroy ISIS. The KRG and US-led coali­tions war on ter­ror could go on for many years, un­less a 100,000 strong ground force, con­sist­ing of Pesh­merga, Iraqi army and US-led coali­tion forces com­bat troops, must be as­sem­bled in or­der to de­feat ISIS. The ISIS fight­ers have quickly adapted on how to con­ceal them­selves from air strikes which has re­duced the dam­age to them and even with mod­ern tech­nol­ogy, the coali­tion forces war planes can’t be ev­ery­where in or­der to strike ev­ery po­ten­tial ISIS po­si­tion. Sim­i­larly, ac­cord­ing to Bri­tish Min­istry of De­fence, war planes have come back not dropped any­thing be­cause they can’t find de­cent tar­gets, yet we know they are there. The se­cu­rity of the Kur­dis­tan re­gion and of Iraq as a whole, has been trans­formed. ISIS ter­ror­ists now con­trol vir­tu­ally the whole of Iraq's Sunni Arab heart­land, from the Syr­ian bor­der to the out­skirts of Bagh­dad. ISIS's ad­vance ex­posed appalling weak­ness in an Iraqi army; strong on pa­per but very weak in re­al­ity. The Iraqi army's sud­den re­treat left a vac­uum along the Kur­dis­tan re­gion's bor­der with the rest of Iraq, which the Pesh­merga rushed to fill im­me­di­ately. As a re­sult, KRG finds it­self in con­trol of swathes of ter­ri­tory dis­puted with Iraqi cen­tral gov­ern­ment over many years, in­clud­ing the Kur­dish city of Kirkuk, but the price of th­ese gains is a treach­er­ous 1050 kilo­me­ter fron­tier with ISIS ter­ror­ists. How­ever, the tide could be turned against ISIS if the US, UK and its al­lies in­clud­ing Kur­dish Pesh­merga and Iraqi army fo­cused on build­ing and sup­port­ing a re­li­able trained and well equipped 100,000 strong ground force.

*Se­cu­rity and Stud­ies

Univer­sity of Buck­ing­ham

In­tel­li­gence

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