The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Iraq Army Attacks Peshmerga Near Kirkuk

Peshmerga Flag

As seemed likely last week, the fighting has started. Kirkuk controls over half Iraq’s oil, and Iraq was unlikely to let them keep the oil. Both sides do need the revenue it represents.

Iraq claims to be attempting to take control of military positions around Kirkuk without entering the city proper. Whether that’s a viable strategy, we will see, but it makes sense: If this moves to city fighting, there will be a lot of civilian casualties and various atrocities will occur, making the rift (aka: hatred) between Iraq and the Kurds even more severe.

Understand that this rift exists on both sides: Many Iraqis feel that the Kurds betrayed them in the Iraq war, cooperating with the invaders, and want revenge. Kurds feel that Iraq has occupied them and committed atrocities against them. There is no love lost on either side.

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Update: I see that Iraq’s PM wants more than just control of Kirkuk, he’s now stating that he wants control of the Peshmerga. I can’t see the Kurds doing that unless they’re 100 percent sure they’ll lose an all-out war, and maybe not even then. Granted some could stand down and become effectively militia on-call, so all would not be lost, but a great deal would be.

Update 2: It looks like a some of the Peshmerga have withdrawn, rather than fight. Remarkable. Without Kirkuk, Kurdistan is not viable. Period. Looks like this may be turning into a non-battle, and the unwillingness to fight has emboldened Iraq to demand control of the Peshmerga.

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  1. Tom

    And PMU are now in the city, as I expected, the Kurds folded quickly without massive airpower to backstop them.

  2. CMike

    Here are three minutes of video from a book talk given by the historian Margaret MacMillan (who is a great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister David Lloyd George).

  3. I thought everybody already figured out we can’t be depended upon.

  4. Tom

    PUK is basically giving its positions to ISF and preventing KDP from trying to escape. Given the President of Iraq is a member of PUK and an Iranian Client, I suspect Qassem’s presence in Sulaymaniyah a few days ago was a secret deal with PUK to backstab Barzani’s KDP.

  5. Shared on facebook.

  6. V. Arnold

    I thought everybody already figured out we can’t be depended upon.

    Some are a bit thick…

  7. Tom

    Kirkuk has completely fallen to the PMF.

    Iraqi Forces have also begun seizing territory from the KRG in Ninevah Province as well and rumors that another column will be heading towards Erbil itself to arrest Barzani. Peshmerga there are already fleeing:

  8. Synoia

    “It looks like a some of the Peshmerga have withdrawn, rather than fight. ”

    “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”

    The Iranians also do not want a Kurdistan, as they too have a Kurdish region. There are Kurds spread over Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

    While the WW I post Ottoman Empire borders are considered bad, changing them is considered worse.

  9. DMC

    And Syria. Perhaps this is where the wheels start to come off Sykes-Picot for good and all. There’s 30-40 million Kurds spread over the region and they’ve been tired of being an oppressed minority in their own land for some centuries now. Nations have been formed from far smaller populations, though few with 4 other nations opposing the move.

  10. A1

    Sorry DMC but given the Kurds role in the Armenian Genocide, tough. The Kurds are mountain bandits and have contributed and built nothing. If a Kurdistan were to be established civil war the next day – which is why Israel is in favour of Kurdistan.

  11. Chris Dobbie

    PUK was always going to fold, you don’t lay down your life for the corrupt.

  12. AC

    Hopefully this means an end to the gangster rule of the Barzani family, his independence dog and pony show was just an attempt to cling on to power a bit longer. They were always self serving corrupt creeps but after he had the KDP/Pesh coordinate with ISIS around Sinjar that really should have been the end of any good will for them.

  13. Peter

    A real shooting war may be beginning between Israel and Hezbollah/Syria/Iran. The AP is reporting that a Syrian A-A battery fired missiles at Israeli jets flying recon over Lebanon, for the first time during the civil war. The missiles were avoided and the Israelis responded by destroying the A-A battery deep in Syrian territory.

  14. One faction of the Kurds sold out the other faction to the Iraqis.

    The Kurds are a people, but not yet a nation.

  15. Tom

    PUK turned over Khanaqin to the PMU. The Iraqi Presidential Brigade has also entered Kirkuk, composed of Kurdish troops loyal to the President of Iraq and who by law comes from the PUK, the backstabbing of KDP is complete.

    Sinjar has also fallen to the Yezidi PMU without a fight. These guys are Yezidis loyal to the Iraqi Government and distrust KDP who they blame for the fall of Sinjar to ISIS.

    Also Peshmerga are reported retreating from Rabia Border Crossing. Bashiqa has also fallen to PMU without a fight.

    The KDP are just falling apart.

  16. different clue

    I remember many years ago a Turkish acquaintance reminded me that the different bunchloads of Kurds are too different from eachother to for a single country. The PKK are semi-maoistic marxist ideologues. The Barzanists and the Talebanists are retro-medieval feudal warlords. How does one make a country out of that? . . . was his point.

    If the ShiArab Supremacist Iran-backed government in Baghdad wants to control the Pesh Mergas, it will have to earn that control by defeating the Pesh Mergas so comprehensively that the Pesh Mergas agree to abase themselves and serve the ShiArab Baghdad regime. How many times in the past has any Mountain People surrendered to ” Goal Dumm Flatlanders” without the bitterest of battles?

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