Picture 2

Picture 2

Aug 11, 2014

Time to Arm the Kurdish Peshmerga

The Kurdish Peshmerga is a light infantry force.  They don't have a lot of artillery, tanks or heavy antitank weapons.  They were supposed to get these things from the central government in Baghdad.  The US gave the arms to the Maliki government, but the Maliki government kept all of them in politically reliable Shiite units lead by commanders chosen for political reliability rather than military competence.  Maliki gave the Kurds nothing and the secular Sunnis nothing.  Then the all-Shiite Maliki army ran away and left all of their tanks, artillery and ammunition for ISIS to use on the Kurds and Sunnis.  The Kurds will fight, but they had to retreat from their positions protecting the Yazidis because they ran out of ammo, according to what I heard on CNN on 5 August 2014.  The Kurdish Regional Government has been begging for weapons for months.  However, the State Department refuses to give the Kurds any armaments directly.  Everything has to be approved by Baghdad, which is to say Iran.  Iran has Kurdish provinces that have rebelled in the past so don't expect the Maliki government to approve any weapons for the Pesmerga.  The administration is worried that the Kurds might declare their independence from Iraq.  To borrow a phrase, at this point, what difference does it make?  The Peshmerga are the only possible army that can defeat ISIS.  They need to have the same kind of weapons that the Maliki government's incompetence gave to ISIS.   Dithering at this point will just give ISIS enough time to get all of the Peshmurga killed.  That would be one heck of a legacy for the Smartest President Ever, Hillary the Inevitable and Swift Boat Johnny.  I guess that because the Kurds are pro American and pro Israel that the administration can't possibly support them.  Perhaps the State department has already told the Kurds, "If you like your country, you can keep your country, period.”  

On Thursday night, 5 August 2014, CNN interviewed a retired US general and a former Undersecretary of Defense.  They were in "violent agreement" (their words) that the Kurds were not getting any arms from the US as of that time.  They also said that an emergency effort of 72 hours could make a big difference in the level of arms and ammo the Peshmerga would have to use.  I agree with other commentary that the US would need an airfield in Kurdistan  to land supplies and as a base for air support, but I think the Kurds would welcome that.  I also think the Saudis would probably help pay for construction.  If all of this ticks off the Turks, I think we will need a new airbase anyway to replace Incerlik.  The Kurds are very motivated to learn to use any new equipment they get quickly.  The wolf is at their door.