Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment


Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using





Peshmerga and YPG fight the same enemy, why not directly arm both?

By Paul Iddon 18/10/2015
Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers. AFP photo
Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers. AFP photo

The US has finally started directly arming the most competent on-the-ground force against the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria and that is the Syrian Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG). US military transport planes airdropped to them arms and ammunition last week in Hassakeh so they could continue fighting a mutual enemy, ISIS.

So on the one hand we have the US directly arming an allied force whose alliance is predicated solely on the necessity of the fight against ISIS while continuing to indirectly arm its long-time Kurdish allies in Northern Iraq through the central government in Baghdad in the name of upholding the 'One Iraq' policy.

Obviously in Syria the United States does not recognize the authority of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and in Iraq it sees the government as legitimate. But at the same time in regards to the Kurdish territories in Syria the US State Department stresses that it doesn't recognize their autonomy and is committed to maintaining Syria as a unified nation state. Indeed Washington has said it is against Syrian Kurds connecting their separate territories across Northern Syria to form a contiguous polity and has reassured the Turks that it is opposed to the YPG advancing west of the Euphrates to link-up with their westernmost canton of Afrin.

Tough times call for tough measures and a lot of outside the box thinking. Sadly the One Iraq policy has its many faults and shortcomings. As it persists we're seeing to a situation unfolding whereby the YPG have arms dropped directly to them while the KRG has to sit tight and wait for the often cumbersome bureaucracy that comes with the One Iraq policy to deliver the arms the US has allotted to them.

The KRG is currently defending a very large front against ISIS and its Peshmerga have had successes against ISIS and have also made great sacrifices (an estimated 1,300 killed-in-action is no small number considering Iraqi Kurdistan's relatively small population) in this fight. Doubtlessly if the day comes when a joint task force is allotted the unenviable task of forcing ISIS from Mosul the Peshmerga will be expected to do their part and sacrifice yet more men. 

Concerns about where exactly the arms are allotted in the KRG and the advocation of more practical measures on the part of Washington so it can be reassured that arms allotted to the KRG arrive exactly where they need to be (or where they deem them to be needed) strike me as trite when you consider the conspicuously large number of former American-made hardware and arms in the hands of Shia militias the U.S. is opposed to. And the salient fact that in the vacuum left by the failure of the Iraqi Army to reverse most of ISIS's gains since the summer of 2014 Baghdad has relied upon, and tolerated, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to confront the group. Surely with a situation like that in the rest of Iraq Washington can deliver the KRG the arms it needs directly to Erbil while simultaneously keeping Baghdad in the loop by showing them that the arms are for the broader fight against ISIS and are only being shipped directly to the KRG due to the challenging circumstances faced by the KRG. That way Washington would still be adhering to, and upholding, the principle of One Iraq while also ensuring that the KRG gets the vehicles and weapons they need to keep defending themselves and confronting the ISIS threat in their midst.

And if lack of training really is the reason Washington is reluctant to give the Kurds more than a paltry few weapons and vehicles then they should in send advisors in to train their allies (they have advisors assisting the offensive in Anbar after all). Not simply neglect them when their backs are to the wall against such an unrelenting foe.

Reports about how few armored vehicles the KRG has received to defend their lengthy and porous front against ISIS are truly depressing. A reported 30, out of a required 400, mine-resistant armored vehicles for defending the front have only been delivered to the Peshmerga. And it has even been said that the Americans stripped a lot of the toughest armor from them in fear the vehicles might be either captured by an enemy of the US or passed on and consequently compromised, which in turn implies that high-value targets to the enemy are in fact much weaker than they look.

30 vehicles to guard such a lengthy front against a group who captured, by the Iraqi governments own estimates, approximately 2,300 Humvees, many of which are armored and which ISIS have used as lethal suicide vehicles against their adversaries.

Critics of the KRG argue that the US should be reluctant about non-specific transfer of weapons if it enables both parties in Kurdistan to enlarge their own arsenals in lieu of taking the fight directly to ISIS. But surely parties beefing up the security in their own areas is a justified use of these arms. The rest of Iraq have been using the armaments it has gotten from the US to consolidate control over their own communities and to guard their major cities. The government has essentially maintained a front-line defense against ISIS's presence in Anbar and their ongoing offensive there is limping forward ever so slowly. Similarly the KRG has mounted offensives where they can in order to further secure their territories and should, accordingly, be earnestly supported in these endeavours by Washington. 


Data pager
Page size:
Pete | 18/10/2015
Acording to PUK the PDK keep the Nato guns for them self and YPG is the only force in Rojava, they are clever that nobody can come and split them like you guys in KRG. People where laughin about PKK when KRG was almost a state and Rojava is almost there. lol
Hi | 18/10/2015
Pete, wtf are u on? Are u stupid?
| 18/10/2015
I whole hardly agree with the author.
Corrections | 18/10/2015
To Pete, You're taking some PUK officials words for their propaganda face value. I have been to all of the war fronts from Shingal to south of Kerkuk (a PUK stronghold) and the Pehmerga suffers equally from lack of heavier equipment. As for Rojava, 8000 strong fighters, well trained for over a year have not been allowed to enter Rojava to join the fight, only because they belong to KDP-Syria and are trained by KRG.
kurdo | 18/10/2015
kurds do not deserve a country, do not arm or help any of us. i support iran and bashur should be part of persia. even rojava.

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

FAUthman | 7/22/2017 2:23:51 PM
This referendum will not effect Abadi's reelection one bit. It is six months before Iraq's parliamentary elections are held and only one month before...
FukUS | 7/22/2017 2:30:04 PM
Why you ask? Because Americans are liars trust them and you will lose they just use everything for their purpose. They said the same every year even...
Why America wants Kurds to postpone the referendum
| 3 hours ago | (4)
morteza | 7/22/2017 12:48:01 PM
99% attacks on america and trump from social media comes from iranian facebook and twitter accounts.
Yam | 7/22/2017 2:05:26 PM
@mortrza, that's just the thing, the American's are clueless about how active the Iranian-American community really is. Not saying all Iranians work...
US threatens Iran with 'serious consequences' if American citizens not released
| 9 hours ago | (3)
Muraz Adzhoev | 7/20/2017 9:49:22 PM
Certainly the threat should not be underestimated, but at the same time it should not be dramatically overestimated. This is the matter of efficiency...
Muraz Adzhoev | 7/22/2017 1:04:01 PM
I would recommend Lahur Talabani to advise Aso Talabani, the official representative of the KRG in Russia not to make unacceptable and public...
With retaking of Mosul, ISIS sleeper cells and guerrilla warfare biggest threat
| yesterday at 10:30 | (3)
Kurds are their oen worst enemy | 7/22/2017 12:37:17 PM
You know if Baghdad was any less corrupt, or more democratic or better in any way I would understand the argument. Not only are they not but we all...
The realist Kurd is here | 7/22/2017 12:58:51 PM
The Kurds still live in a tribal society...!!! Why? It's simple. After years of fighting for the Kurdish people's rights in Iraq, they (polititions)...
Have Kurds Moved Beyond Tribalism?
| yesterday at 03:32 | (12)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

French charity replaces Virgin Mother statues destroyed by ISIS in Iraq 1 hour ago |

French charity replaces Virgin Mother statues destroyed by ISIS in Iraq

The 15 Virgin Mary statues, which are 1.5 meters more
Why America wants Kurds to postpone the referendum 3 hours ago | (4)

Why America wants Kurds to postpone the referendum

The US has been giving Iraq one chance after more
Yezidi mother in Canada hopes to reunite with son she thought was dead 6 hours ago |

Yezidi mother in Canada hopes to reunite with son she thought was dead

A campaign is underway to help the family reunite more
0.187 seconds