US ploy to use Kurds to increase regional influence and stem rise of Iran disintegrates.
On 6th October 2017 – less than two weeks ago – I wrote a lengthy article for The Duran explaining how the US, having failed to achieve regime change in Syria (“Plan A”) and having failed to engineer the partition of Syria on sectarian lines (“Plan B”), was now seeking to use the Kurds to destabilise both Iraq and Syria by supporting the setting up of quasi-independent Kurdish statelets in these two countries, in order to stem the rise of Iranian influence there.
In that article I predicted that this Plan C would fail, just as Plans A and B have done, and that its effects would be to alienate Turkey further from the US, bring Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq closer together, and would isolate the Kurds in a region where they were already in danger of becoming over-extended.
What I did not imagine when I wrote that article was that it would take all of two weeks for Plan C to start to fail. This was because I seriously overestimated the strength and coherence of the Kurds, especially those of Iraq, whose Peshmerga militia it is now clear was grossly overrated, not just by me but by many other observers of the region.
Iraq’s effortless recovery of Kirkuk, and the rapid collapse of Peshmerga resistance in the surrounding areas of the city came to me – as I suspect it did to many others – and as it certainly did to the US and to the Kurds themselves, as a total surprise.
I suspect the main reasons for this collapse are threefold:
(1) The Peshmerga does not appear to be the formidable and disciplined force it once was or was reputed to be.
In saying this some qualification is needed since the Peshmerga has never really been tested in a serious way ever since Saddam Hussein’s defeat in 1991, and it consistently failed when pitted against his army both before and after that defeat.
However it did appear following the collapse of the Iraqi state following the 2003 US invasion that the Peshmerga was the only coherent ‘Iraqi’ force left in the country, and the fact that in 2014 ISIS appeared to make little headway against it, whereas whenever the US trained Iraqi army fought ISIS it immediately collapsed, reinforced that impression.
Possibly the long years of apparent peace in Iraqi Kurdistan made the Peshmerga complacent, and perhaps its internal cohesion has been undermined by the notorious corruption of the Barzani regime it answers to; or perhaps the Peshmerga was never as strong as it seemed, and the impression of strength it gave was simply a mis-impression caused by the earlier weakness of all other Iraqi players.
Regardless, the contrast between the abject rout of the Peshmerga units in Kirkuk and in the surrounding region which has taken place over the last few days, and the fanatical resistance put up over many months by ISIS in Mosul speaks for itself.
(2) The Iraqi army has been transformed, and is a far more determined and effective force than it was just three years ago.
As to that, the Iraqi army’s victory in the face of fanatical resistance against ISIS in Mosul, and its effortless victory against the Peshmerga in Kirkuk and the regions surrounding it, speak for themselves.
I will here express the view that the reason for this sudden dramatic improvement in the combat capability of the Iraqi army is not the flood of US weapons and training it has received since its ignominious collapse before ISIS in 2014. After all the US has been trying to rebuild the Iraqi army in its own image continuously ever since it invaded Iraq in 2003, with no indication prior to 2014 that it was achieving any success.
Rather I suspect that the reason for the Iraqi army’s transformation since 2014 is the less visible but far more effective help it has had since 2014 from Iran.
The result is that though the Iraqi army still uses US weapons, it acts in battle with a determination and discipline it never showed before.
(3) The failure of the US to support the Peshmerga.
I suspect that this is the single most important reason for the Peshmerga’s sudden collapse.
As I wrote in my article of 6th October 2017, I think it is most unlikely Masoud Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan’s ‘President’, would have dared to hold the independence referendum that he called without receiving at least an amber light from Washington.
That probably made him and the Peshmerga leadership think that the US would step in to save them if Iraq reacted in a way that put them in jeopardy. This presumably explains why they seem to have failed to prepare even in the most basic way for the Iraqi army attack, which Baghdad publicly warned them was coming.
In the event when the Iraqi attack came the US did nothing, and in its absence Peshmerga resistance disintegrated. ...
See the full article @ The Duran