Liberating Mosul: Why Should the Kurds Care?

By Goran Abdulla:

Kurdish peshmarga

Peshmarga forces

The fall of Mosul to the barbaric Islamic State of Iraq and The Levant (ISIL) was seen by many Kurds as a golden opportunity to finally achieve our ancient dream of statehood. The embarrassing collapse of the US armed and trained Iraqi army in Mosul, they argued, heralded the dismantling of the Iraqi state. It paved the path for the largely independent Kurdistan Regional Government to officially declare independence and draw its borders on the new map of the Middle East. After all, who would have prevented the Kurds from doing so? Up until that moment ISIL seemed not in the mood of picking up a fight with the Kurds. They were more interested in their arch-enemy, the Shiites. The Iraqi state was reduced to unorganised groups of Shiite militias coordinated mainly by Iran. So why not go for it and translate secession from a dream to reality?The Kurdish leadership seemed serious about secession. The President of Kurdistan region unequivocally talked about it to CNN’s Amanpour. Many other Kurdish officials gave the impression that the birth of a new nation-state in the Middle East was imminent. Local, regional and global media outlets were talking enthusiastically about it. But all of that changed as quickly as it surfaced. ISIL, drunk with their lightening speed advance into Iraq, decided to attack Kurdish territories. The greatly respected and widely celebrated courage of the Kurdish Peshmarga forces seemed not enough in the face of the brutality of ISIL maniacs. The Peshmarga had not been tested in a battlefield for nearly two decades. Their weaponry was and is still largely light and archaic and their organisation and coherence was undermined by political affiliations and divisions. So ISIL came as close as few miles of Erbil.

Instead of working hard on midwifing their own state, the Kurds found themselves helping Iraq have a new government. They brokered the political stalemate in the country and supported the new Prime Minister Abbadi. They offered their most experienced and talented politicians to fill the deputy prime minister, minister of finance, minister of displacement and migration, minister of women affairs and minister of culture. This, however, does not seem to have contributed to building trust and forging a genuine partnership between Erbil and Baghdad. The latter refused to provide the Kurds with badly needed cash due to disputes over oil revenues. Civil servants, contractors and foreign companies have not been given their wages and dues for months now. Apart from the meager and inconsistent flow of weaponry, the Peshmarga remains in critical need of help to fight back ISIL. All of this was complicated by the 1.5 million refugees and IDPs that have stretched the KRG’s already fragile service infrastructure. To add insult to the injury, the international community seemed more obsessed with the ‘unity and integrity’ of Iraq rather than the facts on the ground. It, by omission or commission, marginalised the Kurds in important discussions about ‘degrading and ultimately destroying’ ISIL, as happened in the recent London summit.

Now that all eyes are on liberating Mosul, why should the Kurd care? The Peshmarge is already fighting back ISIL along 1500 Km. It helped our brothers in Syria to liberate Kobani. It should be able to protect the KRG from further ISIL advances. Besides, the Iraqi army and Shiite militias should by now be strong enough to retake the second largest city in Iraq. Many in Kurdistan, therefore, feel that it is foolish to engage the Peshmarge in a fight for Mosul at a time when Baghdad is refusing to abide by its constitutional duty to fund basic services in the KRG. To win the Kurds as a faithful partner, they should give something in return. This should be more than just their constitutional rights of the share of oil revenues.

Dr. Goran Abdulla, a doctor from Kurdistan, is doing his PhD in International Public Health Policy at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social and Political Science:

One Response to Liberating Mosul: Why Should the Kurds Care?
  1. fred bond
    March 2, 2015 | 18:01

    Training the Iraq army is another big disappointment to the American people,seems our government refuses to do the will of its people, and that is to militarly and economicaly help the kurds.kurds are the only people in the mid east willing to help themselves and its peacfull neighbors.a powerfull undivided Kurdistan will bring peace to the mid east more than anyone including turkey,iraq and Syria.

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL