The above link is a report that has been oft repeated over the past few days. The UK Foreign Secretary joins the chorus of diplomats stating that the Kurds should be armed to provide a bulwark (and an in-place army) against the Islamic State (IS).
Sounds like a good idea? The Kurds have long been our allies. They are the only credible fighting force in the region that share our values and can stand against IS.
The entire train and equip programme, for the Iraqi Army, on which billions was apparently wasted/squandered has proven to be a lame duck. Iraqi command and control is a joke. Tactical operations on the ground are weak. The Iraqi’s refused the Status Of Forces Agreement (SOFA) which led to the complete withdrawal of US forces from the country at the end of 2011. Have they not now reaped what they have sown?
The Kurds are surely our best and safest bet for the region? The Kurds would like to secure their land and influence in Iraq and could feasibly provide both a block to advancement and a maneouvre force to push IS from the borders of Iraq.
The question which does not seem to have been asked is … What are Turkey’s thoughts to a strengthened Kurdish state? The risk of future Kurdish insurgency into Turkey as they form a greater Kurdistan is definitely present and the Turks will not stand idly by as that risk becomes more and more likely of manifestation.
Such was Turkish concern during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that they had two operations (Op RAIN and Op CARTRIDGE) designed to prevent Kurdish expansion and to deny Kurdish long term possession of the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk. Such operations were to manifest themselves as a large Turkish deployment AGAINST Kurdish forces in Iraq and within the borders of Turkey.
The Turks, the USA and many other countries have long claimed that The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) – presently engaged against IS forces in Iraq, is a terrorist group for waging its separatist campaign in Turkey. Yet it is these who will be armed!
Turkey is NATO’s ONLY islamic member.
Iran has also faced many issues with Kurdish separatists in the past.
Is it therefore the wise and prudent thing to do, to arm the Kurds and create another major player in the region that could feasibly add to future destabilisation? Previous experience of the West’s tinkering in such things has not proven to have been of long term help. The West does not fully understand the mechanics of the region and perhaps (as unpleasant as it may appear) their direct involvement should therefore be limited to Humanitarian operations?
Yes – the IS behaves in a manner that is abhorrent to our values. Yes – the IS needs to be stopped and rolled back before it gains more traction. Yes – Iraq should retain control of its own borders and cities. Does the answer really lie in arming the Kurds and creating future instability within NATO and the entire region?
Perhaps – controversially – we should have foreseen the present turmoil in Syria and assisted Assad? The short term effects would have been deplorable, but the longer term benefits might have proven far more beneficial to the region as a whole.