Dec 12 (2/2): Iraqi Kurdistan: Business as Usual

Since the coalition’s Operation Inherent Resolve stages out of northern Iraq, it’s worth mentioning that there has been steady messaging on the fight against ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan across the border from Syria, and especially the importance of local allies.

I think it’s been going on awhile, but this needs a bit of explanation.

First, as per above, they go out of their way to emphasize partnerships and how much work they’re all doing together.

As per that last Tweet, they frequently fold Syria into the mission. They pretty clearly make a point of it.

This is all standard, of course. But in a non scientific view, it feels like there has been increased emphasis on linking the ISIS fight to the Kurds, and they can do this “safely” with respect to the politics in northern Iraq.

So the US has been hammering its work with Kurdistan and other Iraqis in fighting ISIS. Middle East media covers it a lot too.

The balance they seem to want to strike is to emphasize the US/coalition role there without threatening to interfere with the protests and politics to the south, where the protesters are emphasizing the reducing of foreign intervention in Iraqi affairs.

Northern Iraq is a kind of Venn diagram intersection of a lot of issues for Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, to say nothing of Russia.

map iraq oir

It’s right between Iran and Syria, so yeah, it’s important. And that location is in delicate balance with the political instability to the south.

Iraqi Kurdistan is remarkably stable for all that. And it’s being offered as a kind of beacon of a working democracy to the south. And the protesters have a kind of “Why not us?” attitude going, so the restrained approach of just looking stable and working on being prosperous works.

The protesters have, among other things, realized that Iraq is rich but the people are poor. Why not them, indeed, eh?

It is striking, in this vein, that Sec. Pompeo was much more visible in his recent meetings in Kurdistan than he was with respect to his meetings with political leaders in Baghdad; I think I learned of those latter meetings from his speech in Kurdistan, in fact.

Around that time, this showed up which struck me as new—conducting training in Baghdad.

It seems like the US military wants to make clear: We’re still training you for the fight, but you can trust us not to interfere even when we’re in Baghdad, and oh, HAI IRAN!!

That last part appears not to have gone unnoticed, what with the recent rocket attacks on an American installation near the airport in Baghdad.

The US military currently wants everyone to know where they are. They keep saying so. Except when they don’t. It’s a powerful thing.

One way or another, the US threading the needle on being in Iraq but not intervening in Iraqi politics is a close fit, but they seem to be doing a remarkably good job.

Just my opinion, obviously, and it might be annoying to see how good they are at threading the needle when our leaders  actually want to given how often is seems that they don’t. But it looks like good work from my big comfy chair in America, anyway.

But yeah, they like to be noisy about the fight against ISIS. They even just celebrated their own special holiday.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the same day a report came out about Kurds playing an important role in finding and fighting ISIS.

So yeah, they do this “emphasize the working with the Kurds and fighting ISIS in Syria” thing a lot. Seems like a good thing.

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