Skip to comments.Report: Kurds offered to help stop ISIS months ago ó but didnít hear back from the White House
Posted on 06/24/2014 9:19:07 AM PDT by PoloSec
Its not some shadowy anonymous source from the peshmergas middle management whos claiming this, do note. Its Nechirvan Barzani, the Kurds prime minister. Thats the second time in four days that a major foreign official has accused Obamas America of being a fickle, disengaged ally.
Thoughtfully considering the Kurds offer and declining so as not to get sucked back into Iraq would be one thing, but thats not what happened according to Barzani. Apparently, we simply didnt respond.
The Kurds became especially alarmed at signs that ISIS had already formed a shadow government in Mosul, weeks before initiating the carefully preplanned takeover of the city 10 days ago. According to the same Kurdish military sources it was accomplished with ease and without serious fighting after local Iraqi commanders agreed to withdraw.
The prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, says he warned Baghdad and the United States months ago about the threat ISIS posed to Iraq and the groups plan to launch an insurgency across Iraq. The Kurds even offered to participate in a joint military operation with Baghdad against the jihadists.
Washington didnt responda claim that will fuel Republican charges that the Obama administration has been dangerously disengaged from the Middle East. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki dismissed the warnings, saying everything was under control.
The Kurds intelligence head, Lahur Talabani, says he handed Washington and London detailed reports about the unfolding threat. The warnings fell on deaf ears, he says.
Those ears werent really deaf, though. Remember, even American intel officials were sounding alarms about ISIS last year. Obama knew the threat existed. He just declined to address it, either because he thought there was nothing the U.S. could do to stop ISIS or because he badly misjudged the Iraqi armys willingness and ability to repel the jihadis themselves. Ive got to believe its the latter; if its the former, that America was powerless to damage ISIS, why on earth is Kerry hinting about U.S. airstrikes now when ISIS is stronger and richer than it was before? Logically, the time to start bombing was before they became entrenched in Mosul and started eyeing Baghdad, not after.
Theres a third possibility: Maybe O knew ISIS was a major threat, thought a joint U.S./Iraqi/Kurdish operation could do something to neutralize it, but decided he wasnt going to get involved in Iraq again unless and until the country faced an existential crisis and even then, hed do the bare minimum. (Says one Special Ops vet of the 300 troops being sent in, These guys are being given an impossible mission. What are they going to do? Host a dinner party?) His genesis as a national figure was his opposition to military action in Iraq; hes not going to spend his last two years as president cleaning up a mess he didnt personally make, whatever responsibility his country may have had in making it. Except that he did help make this mess, whether he realizes it or not. Read Peter Beinarts indictment of O for refusing to do anything over the past five years to pressure the Iraqi government to reconcile with the Sunnis and Kurds. This is a guy who swept to office in 2008 promising that hed use diplomacy and economic levers smart power to achieve Americas goals, yet when it came time to put a little diplomatic pressure on Maliki, he passed on every opportunity.
For the Obama administration, however, tangling with Maliki meant investing time and energy in Iraq, a country it desperately wanted to pivot away from. A few months before the 2010 elections, according to Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker, American diplomats in Iraq sent a rare dissenting cable to Washington, complaining that the U.S., with its combination of support and indifference, was encouraging Malikis authoritarian tendencies.
The decline of U.S. leverage in Iraq simply reinforced the attitude Obama had held since 2009: Let Maliki do whatever he wants so long as he keeps Iraq off the front page.
On December 12, 2011, just days before the final U.S. troops departed Iraq, Maliki visited the White House. According to Nasr, he told Obama that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, an Iraqiya leader and the highest-ranking Sunni in his government, supported terrorism. Maliki, argues Nasr, was testing Obama, probing to see how the U.S. would react if he began cleansing his government of Sunnis. Obama replied that it was a domestic Iraqi affair. After the meeting, Nasr claims, Maliki told aides, See! The Americans dont care.
Obama even looked the other way at Iraqs tainted election four years ago, brokering a settlement that kept Maliki in power while doing nothing to ensure that the secular Shiites who were supposed to receive cabinet posts in the deal actually got what they were promised. The next time you see him on TV wheezing that Iraqs problems cant be solved militarily but only through sectarian reconciliation, ask yourself why he didnt give a wet fart about nudging Maliki on reconciliation until ISIS was at the gates of Baghdad. His disengagement made it easier for jihadis to seize Anbar province, which means well be dealing with terror camps in Iraq for years to come. (Heres a sneak preview from across the border, although theres really no meaningful border at all anymore.) Thats what Obama is Americas done with Iraq policy has produced. Were less done now than we were after withdrawal. Why didnt he at least pressure Maliki to accept the Kurds offer of joint operations with Baghdad against ISIS when they offered?
In lieu of an exit question, read the entire Daily Beast piece on what the Kurds told Washington and London. Theres an interesting digression in there about Assads role in creating ISIS, even though theyre desperate to kill him and every other Shiite in Syria. Per Jamie Dettmer, Assad went easy on ISIS at first and focused his military attention on Syrias more moderate rebels instead. His thinking, I guess, was that if the most insane jihadis took over Syrias Sunni areas, the local Sunnis might conclude that rule by Assad wasnt so bad by comparison. Or maybe Assad thought that the more ISIS succeeded, the easier itd be for him to argue to the west that the Sunni rebels in Syria were really the same sort of Salafist cretins that knocked down the Twin Towers. Either way, Frankensteins out of the lab now.
Kerry and Barack were too busy opening the (back?) door to homosexuals into Ambassadorships.
Obama’s foreign policy screws it up yet again.
Well hell ... we all KNOW the State dept is useless ... maybe y’should’a called Ted Cruz
Polls aren’t in yet...
Obama to make a statement that the White House did respond, via email, but the cheap government computers lost them.
Like with the Tsarnaevs, this poshitus sure likes to give our enemies elbow room and peace and quiet to work.
The Kurds deserve their own country a LOT more than the so called palestinians ever did....
That's because Obama has been a fickle, disengaged President.
I remember Christopher Hitchens (famous atheist and Iraq-war supporter) saying from the beginning that the Kurds were the only reasonable actor in that region, and that from the end of the First Gulf War in 1991, they were the only ones who were naturally developing a relatively normal system of government that wasn’t based solely on Islam or the utterings of some crazy Imam.
yeah yeah yeah but lets stick to important things like what has the administration done for homos and homo marriage lately
1. Obama and his entire administration are totally incompetent.
2. Their foreign policy is working according to plan.
I worked PSD in Iraq for a few years. Used to take folks to see Barzani and other high ranking Kurdish officials. The differences between the Kurds and the arabs were ridiculous. They were so hospitable and friendly. Of course, all the Kurds were guarded by the Peshmerga, who’d chop your head off just as quick as they’d offer you some chai. But, they saved all that aggression for the arabs. When we went to the other Iraqi compounds it was gross.
They took offense to foreign PSD teams having visible weapons, so teams were required to leave their rifles in their vehicles and had to conceal their pistols. As far as the Peshmerga was concerned, they could and did handle their problems.
What’s interesting, is that right before I gave up working over there, three of the big hotel chains were in the process of building hotels in the Kurdistan. The Kurds are normal and want normal relations with the rest of the world, unlike the savages/idiots to the south.
"Thats the second time in four days that a major foreign official has accused Obamas America of being a fickle, disengaged ally. "
Obama may be fickle. But that is not why he ignored the Kurds. He is a Sunni. He is pulling for the Sunnis. ISIS is Sunni.
Connect the dots. There are dots in Syria. There are dots in Egypt. There are dots in Libya. There are dots in Afghanistan. And now there are dots in Iraq.
This is not Rocket Science.
If ISIS is more radically moslem than the kurds, then obama will back ISIS. he ALWAYS supports the most radical, most anti-American side in any conflict
I had not thought about that, and you are correct, the preponderance of the evidence is solid, obama is a Sunni!
When Iraq, in concert with their Iranian and Russian allies, finally clean out ISIS their next target will be the Kurds. Obama will not care.
Yes. Just compare where the Sunnis stand now compared to 2009 in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and, until several months ago, Egypt.
The Sunnis are making great progress under the "leadership" of Obama. Egypt was a setback. But be assured, the Caliphate is, slowly but surely, reemerging.
It wasn’t on TV so 0bungles didn’t hear about it.
Seems like JonF’nKerry b stuk in Iraqu.
THAT will be the deal breaker... always assuming this administration is capable of making/holding to agreements of ANY kind with leaders IN or OUT of the ME!
HOWEVER, given the track record of this President, it is always entirely possible that, for whatever reason (or for NO reason at all) any perfectly sound and logical plan for US involvement/non involvement will be turned into a dog's breakfast by this a$# hat in the White House. This is what you get when you put treasonous and un vetted idiots in power.
Thanks for that info—velly intellesting!
obama is not disengaged, but probably working to help help ISIS behind the scenes any way he can, so I doubt there will be any serious military action that would, in reality, damage their cause. Whatever he does will be designed for public consumption so he can claim to be helping, while really doing nothing. We will probably see pictures of bombs harmlessly going off in the desert or on abandoned buildings. They are just trying to figure out how to stage the illusion.
The Kurds in Syria (separate from the KRG) already had "put together an impressive fighting force to defend its territory from . . . ISIS"
". . . Ankara has entered into energy deals with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), something which has infuriated the central Iraqi government in Baghdad but which has helped the Kurds further build a foundation for their independence [yes true that] Ankara has been so alarmed by the growing Kurdish autonomy [in Syria and tolerated by Syria, I believe] that it reportedly has provided support for [ISIS] in their fight against the Kurdish militia that controls the region [of Syria],which is affiliated with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK)." [my emphasis]
". . . the takeover by ISIS in recent days of Mosul and other cities . . . Ankara will likely not only have to deepen its relationship with the KRG . . . but also alter its approach to the Kurds in Syria"
"Explains Lehigh University professor and Turkey expert Henri Barkey in an analysis piece on Al-Monitor website: The crisis may force the Turks to rethink some of their policies in Syria. To date, Ankaras friendship with the Kurds stopped in Iraq; Erdogan and his government have taken an uncompromising position against Syrian Kurds led by the Democratic Union Party of Kurdistan (PYD), an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish insurgent group the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The PYD has emerged as the strongest Kurdish group in Syria and has put together an impressive fighting force to defend its territory from both ISIS and the regime. The idea of another autonomous Kurdish region on its borders after the KRG has been anathema to Ankara. Paradoxically, the PYDs armed elements are some of the only ones that have scored blows against the jihadists. In the face of the ISIS sweep, the PYD and the KRG, which have also had antagonistic relations, appear to be cooperating on defensive measures against ISIS. Turkey may have to reconsider its boycott of the Syrian Kurds to enlarge the anti-ISIS coalition." [my emphasis]
While the origin and basis for the current strength of ISIS in Iraq can be laid squarely at the feet of the Iraqi prime minister, Maliki, due to the Shia partisan functioning of his regime and how it has helped young Sunni men and some Sunni tribal leaders to make alliances with ISIS, for now, it also shows ISIS understood the many weaknesses of the Iraqi government better than did the Obama administration of at least better than the Obama White House was willing to admit.
At this juncture I think there is only one set of people and forces the U.S. should aid in countering ISIS - the Kurds. The rest of Iraq ought to be left dependent on Arab Iraqi Shia and Sunni reaching their own accommodations, or not.
baraq: “my muslim faith”.
Guess he meant it.
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Politically and economically stable? Americans unlikely to get killed there? Kurdistan? It’s just in the whey.
Oh, but now they’re playing catch-up:
Kerry to Kurds: Help Save Iraq from Total Collapse
You don’t have to be an expert or even do a lot of studying to figure out that this is the way many, if not most, of the men in Iraq, and even in Afghanistan, behave. They quickly and easily change allegiances as a survival tool.
To say the WH did not expect this is laughable.
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Huge surprise, eh?
Since Zero and Plugs want to normalize relations with Iran, anything that potentially benefits Iran — like not actually supporting anyone trying to overthrow Assad, or like not doing anything to stop a new jihadist group attempting to destroy some others trying to overthrow Assad, or like getting 30 year old sanctions lifted and releasing billions to the mullahs, or like helping Iran’s client Hamas back onto its feet, or like a laissez-faire approach to Iranian nuclear bomb projects — shouldn’t come as any surprise.