The US Should Support the Kurds in the Fight Against ISIS PDF Print E-mail

Tera Dahl, Executive Director of the Council on Global Security, reports on the ground in Iraq with Kurdish troops

on why the US should support their fight against ISIS. Video and Report:

 

We believe in protecting our morality, our life, our people. The reason I am carrying this gun is to protect and defend our honor. We are believing in God that we will win. Our only help is America.”— 7o year old Peshmerga fighter

During a recent fact-finding trip to the Kurdistan region in Northern Iraq, I met with members of the Kurdish Peshmerga on the frontlines, 20 kilometers from ISIS strongholds. To my surprise,I met Peshmerga soldiers that were over 70 years old. The majority of the Peshmerga I met were retired and have been volunteering in their fight against the Islamic State since August.

The Kurds are the largest people group with no independent state of their own with over a population of 30 million. The Kurdish population spans from northern Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. The Kurds have been fighting for independence for almost 100 years and have persevered through extreme persecution.

After WWI with the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Kurds were close to getting their own state with the Treaty of Sevres in 1920. However, their hopes were stripped from them three years later with the Treaty of Lausanne that set the boundaries for modern Turkey.

The Kurds have lived a life of persecution and oppression. In 1988, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds killing between 50,000-100,000 people. This was immediately after the United States provided Saddam Hussein up to $1 billion in military and economic aid to defeat Iran in the Iran-Iraq War.

Speaking to members of the Peshmerga who range from 75 yrs old to under 20 yrs old, the dominating message was “we need more equipment and weapons” and they feel that America is their only friend.

The Kurds love America and the American people. They are so appreciative for the current airstrikes against ISIS. They have been grateful and loyal friends to America since the no-fly zone was created in 1991 after the brutal crackdown by Saddam Hussein.

A Peshmerga soldier talked about how IS are changing their tactics due to the U.S. airstrikes and are now hiding in taxi cars or underneath sheep trucks so as not to be seen by the U.S. He said that IS has been taxing the citizens of Mosul for over 6 years—one way that they get their funding.

One Peshmerga officer talked about how the Kurds want democracy and are trying to build democratic principles and institutions. He talked about the irony of America’s position on democracy, saying, “The European Union and America gave democracy to a people who don’t want it—Iraq pushes it back to the U.S. The Kurds are asking for democracy and they [U.S. and EU] are saying to us you can’t do it.” He said the Iraqis have been fighting and killing each other for 1,400 years, “Why should we have to live with them?” he said.

“We are fighting terrorism on behalf of the world,” said one Peshmerga soldier. The Kurds have been taking back territory from ISIS town by town and village by village. Last week, Peshmerga forces retook the city of Zumar along with 17 towns and villages. They are fighting against ISIS and succeeding with very old and limited military equipment and weapons. They are losing lives due to the lack of technology to defuse IED’s and bombs that detonate from cell phones.

The Kurds have not received any of the billions of dollars the United States has given to Iraq in military equipment and support since 2003, when we invaded Iraq. ISIS is now using American weapons, artillery and tanks against the Iraqi and Peshmerga forces.

Facts you should know:

  • There are currently 5.2 million displaced people throughout Iraq due to the advance of IS
  • Kurdistan is a refugee for over 1 million refugees from Iraq and Syria—over 800,000 from Iraq
  • $2.2 billion dollars is requested to meet the immense needs of the Iraqi refugees
  • 2.8 million Iraqis are in need of food assistance
  • 800,000 are in urgent need of emergency shelter
  • 1.2 million are in need of assistance before winter

The needs are overwhelming and this is due to the barbaric Islamic State.

IS must be defeated using all absolute force necessary so people can go back home. The United States is already years behind in establishing a strategy to defeat global jihad—there can be no tip-toeing around in this war, it is one common enemy to all humanity and the necessary means of force need to be implemented.

By law, the Kurds are suppose to receive 17.5% of the Baghdad budget but Baghdad has not paid the Kurds their percentage of the budget for 9 months due to the controversy on the Kurds exporting their oil. The Kurdish government’s salary is 2 months behind. The Kurds are increasing their oil export every month but are still not selling to U.S. companies due to lawsuits against the companies from Baghdad. The Obama Administration has discouraged the Kurds from exporting their oil to U.S. companies.

The Kurds do not own their own air space and are not allowed to buy their own weapons and military equipment because any agreement must go through Baghdad. The Baghdad government refuses to sign the End User Agreement, which governments and companies require for any weapon deal—stonewalling the Kurds from purchasing their own weapons and equipment.

I spoke with several of the elder Peshmerga, some over 70 yrs old, who have been fighting for over 30 years for their independence. One of the men said that America was their only friend. “We believe in protecting our morality, our life, our people. The reason I am carrying this gun is to protect and defend our honor. We are believing in God that we will win. Our only help is America.”

The Kurds are the fiercest fighters and have proven to be loyal friends to America. Another elder Kurd told me that he wishes they could “build a highway between Israel and Kurdistan.” He also said that everyone is against them because they call us “your second Israel.”

The US Should Support the Kurds





 

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