Oops!

So the weapons we dropped to try to help the Syrian Kurds in Kobani ended up in the hands of ISIS instead.

I’m sure they’ll recognize the mistake and give the weapons back.  I bet UPS is on their way right now…

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The Power of Air Power

The NYT describes how, when the Kurdish pesh merga retook the town of Gwer, ISIS had hidden three trucks with machine guns north of the town to attack the Kurdish fighters from the rear.  But when the trucks appeared, they were blown up by U. S. air strikes.  If we hadn’t been there, the Kurds would have been ambushed and slaughtered.

Finally!

So we’re finally arming the Kurds.  At this point, it appears that the weapons are coming from the CIA, but plans are in the works for the Pentagon to supply them directly, rather than sending weapons to Baghdad that never ever get to the Kurds.

The Kurdish Peshmerga are as tough and determined as they come, but toughness and determination without weapons and ammo won’t win against ISIS and their captured state-of-the-art American weapons.

I’m tired of seeing this ISIS sweep falsely spun as an Iraqi civil war.  This is a multi-state terror movement that must be destroyed.  We need to go after ISIS full bore, not just to protect the Yazidis and Kurds and Baghdad, but on both sides of the Iraq-Syria border (such as it now is) and in Lebanon and Jordan.

The combination of intelligence failures about ISIS’ strength and a president who didn’t want to hear the news anyway have made the task much harder than it would have been if we’d nipped them in the bud.  Now it’s time to mow them down before they flower further.

It’s not up to the Iraqi Shiites to get their act together because they can’t and won’t.  It’s up to us to keep an enormous swath of the Middle East from falling to barbarians.

Blame the British and French

As Iraq disintegrates, Dems are blaming Bush and Republicans are blaming Obama.  And the same arguments will take place when we finally leave Afghanistan and that God-forsaken place falls apart.

But as we apportion blame, let’s not forget the British and the French.

One of the huge problems we’ve had fighting in Afghanistan is that when we pursue the Taliban, they cross the border into Pakistan, where our ability to follow them is severely restricted.  The Afghans have a save haven there because the people are Pashtun on both sides of the border.  Rather than think of themselves as Afghans or Pakistanis, they think of themselves primarily as Pashtuns.  A sensible border would have all the Pashtuns living in the same country, but noooooo.  Back in 1893, a British colonial official created the Durand Line to separate British India from Afghanistan.  When that part of India became Pakistan in 1947, the absurd border remained, irrationally dividing the Pashtuns.

As for Iraq, the British and French arbitrarily drew the Sykes-Picot line in 1916 (and implemented it after WWI), which falsely divided Ottoman Empire territory into Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, separating Sunni tribes with a purely artificial border.  The Iraq side was for the British, and the Syrian-Lebanese side was for the French, with no regard for the Sunnis who should have been assigned to the same country.  If ISIS weren’t welcomed and joined by Maliki-hating Sunnis as they come from Syria into Iraq, they wouldn’t have been able to make the swift conquest they have.

And don’t get me started on the Kurds, who have really gotten the short end of the stick.  They are a distinct people, Muslim, but not Arab.  They should have an independent Kurdistan (and maybe will when this mess get resolved) that unites the Kurds now divided among Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.

Remember the Biden Plan?

Way back in 2006, Joe Biden said we should carve up Iraq into three parts — Sunni, Shiite, and Kurd.

That’s what’s happening on the ground right now.  If Maliki can hold Baghdad and the Shia provinces in the south (a huge if), how is he going to dislodge ISIS from the Sunni areas, how is he going to dislodge the Kurds from Kirkuk, which they’ve long claimed as their “capital,” and now completely control.

The Biden plan is being implemented de facto, if not de iure.

On his 90th birthday, let’s remember that George H. W. Bush kicked Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, but refused to kick him out of Baghdad.  Bush knew Saddam was a monster, but he was a bulwark against Iran who ran a secular regime with a strong, educated middle class.  Bush 41 knew that we were better off keeping Saddam, so long as that meant keeping him from expanding his borders and from gassing the Kurds.

What’s happening right this minute is the fault of Bush 43 for going in, not of Obama for getting out.

New Maps for a New Middle East

I have long believed that there should be a Kurdistan.

From “Letter from Syria,” Thomas Friedman, NYT:

“Syria is the keystone of the Middle East.  If and how it cracks apart could recast this entire region.  The borders of Syria have been fixed ever since the British and French colonial powers carved up the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire after World War I.  If Assad is toppled and you have state collapse here, Syria’s civil war could go regional and challenge all the old borders — as the Shiites of Lebanon seek to link up more with the Alawite/Shiites of Syria, the Kurds of Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey try to link up with one another and create an independent Kurdistan, and the Sunnis of Iraq, Jordan and Syria draw closer to oppose the Shiites of Lebanon, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.”  Emphasis added.

Certainly a messy and difficult process, but one that’s worth going through to try to get it right a hundred years later.

Iraq Is Already Falling Apart

Five minutes after we left, the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds in Iraq are already going at it.

Shiite Prime Minister Maliki is warning the Kurds not to give refuge to Sunni vice president Hashimi, whom Maliki wants arrested on terrorism charges.

Nine years and $1 trillion and 4,500 American dead, and we were unable to create a stable society there.

All good news for Iran and its ambitions for regional hegemony.