Iraq Crisis: Islamic State Savagery Exposes Limits of Kurdish Authority

Iraq Crisis: Islamic State Savagery Exposes Limits of Kurdish Authority

Another insightful report by The Guardian about what is really going on in Iraq.

Special report: Narrative of peshmerga uniting to fight Isis is splintering as factional feuds and pay rows threaten quest for Kurdish statehood

The men on the frontline of Iraqi Kurdistan’s fight for existence have been there before; many wearing the same uniforms, carrying the same ageing weapons, and championing the same cause.

“I have fought three enemies in my lifetime: Saddam’s Ba’athists, [former prime minister] Nouri al-Maliki, and now Islamic State,” said Rashid Tarjani, a veteran member of the Kurdish peshmerga forces, standing under a shelter 30 miles south-west of Irbil and two miles from the village where his latest foe lurked behind homes abandoned several days earlier. “Of all of them, Maliki was the worst.”

A portly middle-aged fighter stood next to him, four rust-tinged rocket-propelled grenades protruding like arrows from a quiver on his back. The weight of the munitions had reduced his swagger to a stoop. “I don’t know about that,” he said, challenging his fellow fighter’s claim. “If the Americans hadn’t helped us, Da’ash would be in our houses by now,” using the colloquial term for the group also known as Isis.

Both men had been members of the peshmerga for more than 30 years, and each had stories of struggle and sacrifice that were true to the Kurdish force’s legend. But here and across the fractured series of battle lines of the latest war, the well-worn narrative of vaunted fighters uniting to defeat all-comers was starting to splinter. In its place rose a picture of fragility; there were limits to Kurdish authority that had been badly exposed by an unprecedented foe.

Earlier this month, the Isis militants who had caused carnage in Arab Iraq had turned their guns on the Kurds, a group who had until then kept their distance from the central government’s problems, while steadily building a state and a fortune. But rather than turn the insurgents back, as it had in the past, the peshmerga withdrew from areas inside Iraq that it had held since the Iraqi army fled in June.     Read More

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