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Iraq's Kurdish Firewall

Iraq’s Kurdish Peshmerga forces worked with the Iraqi branch of Hezbollah to oust Islamic State fighters from the town of Amerli, but now they’re told they are no longer welcome. “We fought for three months here, and now we have to fight these bastards,” one of the Kurdish fighters told Greg Jaffe at the Washington Post. “If this continues, we’ll have another war.”

I doubt the Kurds will get sucked into a war with Iraq’s Shia population, but it’s possible. What’s more striking about this and other recent developments is that Iraq’s Kurds are frequently fighting outside their autonomous region in the northern three provinces.

They’re doing it defensively—they have no interest in conquering and annexing Arab parts of the country—but they’re doing it nevertheless.

They’ve long wanted out of Iraq and they plan to hold a referendum on independence, but for now, thanks to IS, they’re intricately and militarily involved with the country they want to leave.

The Kurds of Iraq and Syria are not strong enough to demolish the Islamic State by themselves or even with help, but they’re perfectly capable of keeping hostiles out of their well-guarded autonomous region and can even push back beyond their own borders with help from their friends in the US and even enemies like Iran and Hezbollah.

The Obama administration is currently looking for allies in the region who are willing to fight the Islamic State and the Kurds are without a doubt the best we’re going to find. They are allergic to radical Islam, they’re more pro-American than even Israelis, and they fight competently and hard.

Washington has been mostly neglecting these people for more than a decade now. Their autonomous region has been stable since the 1990s and they sat out most of the fighting after Saddam Hussein fell, but their holiday from history is over.

The Iraqi Army dropped its weapons and ran when IS approached, and Syria’s ludicrous “president” Bashar al-Assad Syria left IS alone for years since they make him look almost respectable by comparison, but the Kurds are not screwing around. Give them whatever they want and whatever they need—including recognition when they declare independence.

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