The Kurdish Antidote to ISIS

kurdish fighterThe Bush/Rumsfeld doctrine of sending a heavy American army (then backed by Australia) to drive Saddam out of Iraq is now widely seen as a mistake. But more than that, it has become a convenient straw man for the isolationists who support passivity in the Middle East. Opposition to ‘boots on the ground’ is the catch cry of both those on the isolationist right and what might be termed the Mike Carlton/John Pilger left, which leverages the West’s understandable weariness of military involvement in the Middle East.

But the question is not ‘boots on the ground’. The real question is, ‘whose boots on the ground?’

In the last few weeks Turkey has supposedly sealed its borders against ISIS infiltrators going backwards and forwards. Ankara’s Islamist leadership has a lot to answer for the backing of fundamentalists in Syria and Iraq, the resultant disasters, and concomitant refugee outflows of millions of desperate Sunni Muslims.

Just 38 miles away from the centre of the spreading evil of ISIS, whose headquarters is in Raqqa in eastern Syria, is the perimeter established by the Kurds and their new allies, the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF). Led by the Kurdish Peshmerga, this SDF includes Yazidi, Assyrian and Turkmen allies, as well as local Sunni Muslims driven out of Raqqa and who supported the Arab Spring’s democratic revolution against Assad. So far they are only lightly armed and largely untrained but, unlike the Iraqi army, whose three divisions fled Mosul at the sight of a few hundred members of ISIS, the Kurds have shown they are willing to fight.

For several weeks in September last  year, we saw on the nightly news the sight of Turkey’s tanks sitting idly in the hills above the Kurdish village of Kobane, which was being assaulted by the black banners of ISIS. The Kurds fought an Alamo-style battle to hold out. Except, unlike the Alamo, they won. Eventually, the Turks were embarrassed into allowing a small column of lightly armed Peshmerga to come from Iraqi Kurdistan to relieve Kobane.

Since then, together with American airstrikes, the Kurds and their allies have progressively driven ISIS back in eastern Syria and western Iraq. Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) have since cut the supply lines between ISIS’s headquarters in Raqqa and the other big population centre the Islamists conquered in Mosul. The Peshmerga have pushed ISIS back further at Hassakah on the Mosul–Raqqa road. Imagine what they might do if properly armed and trained.

As Australia is the second-biggest contributor to the effort against ISIS, one wonders if the taxpayers’ dollar might be used more effectively if Australia’s trainers were sent north to the Kurdish areas where they could be trained properly, equipped by American largesse with armoured vehicles, Humvees and TOW missiles to take on and destroy ISIS in the desert badlands that straddle the Syrian-Iraqi frontier. That’s what the visiting foreign minister of the Kurdish regional government asked for when  in Canberra recently.

After the latest Paris massacre, it has become clear that the passivity of the Obama Administration will no longer do. Like the Barbary pirates in the 19th century, the rapists, vandals and crucifiers of ISIS cannot be left free to plan their next terrorist attacks. They have promised a mass casualty attacks in Washington and Rome. The lone-wolf incitement by ISIS operatives, like Australian expatriate terrorist al-Cambodi (Neil Prakash), continues apace. Prakash was at least partially responsible for inciting the attacks on two policemen in Melbourne’s Endeavour Hills in September last year, and October’s ambush murder in October.

The reach of ISIS isn’t just into Australia. There is an increasing phenomenon of people in Gaza, Sinai and even in the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel associating with the ISIS brand. Decoupling ISIS from all territory it currently controls by intelligently supporting local allies like the Kurds, Yazidis, Assyrians and Sunni democrats is something that is in the narrowest definition of our national interest, as ISIS is using this territory to organise attacks far and wide. Ultimately, behind the lines, as the US Secretary of Defence has said, a small number of special forces might assist a Kurdish-led advance by calling down airstrikes and ensuring good communication.

After the slaughter in Paris, France’s Francois Hollande correctly explained that, although we didn’t initiate it, “we are at war.” Western publics won’t want American, British or Australian boots on the ground again, but they also won’t tolerate the prospect of ISIS inspiring additional murderous around the world. We should be proactively generating support from this US administration or the next, for an alliance with local allies in order to “wipe out” ISIS.

Michael Danby is the Member for Melbourne Ports. He is past chair of the Joint Committee for Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

4 thoughts on “The Kurdish Antidote to ISIS

  • en passant says:

    Thank you for speaking out against almost all of the armchair bound PC Politicians and MSM groupies.
    If you want to take your line of thought to its logical conclusion, then we must support Al-Sisi in Egypt and Assad as well as the Kurds.
    It would require a full article to explain, but every time you destroy a murderous regime in the M.E. (Gaddafi & Saddam) you create a vacuum that makes things worse. Pick your bad guy before rushing in.
    Also, be careful what you wish for as Turkey (and hence the USA), Iraq and Iran will completely oppose any form of support for the Kurds because once the Kurds have carved out a safe base in Syria they will use that safe base to start / continue guerrilla operations to ‘free’ their fellow Kurds in those three countries and found the new nation of Kurdistan. Check your history and you will find that they have a much better claim to do so than the so-called ‘Palestinians’

    • Lawrie Ayres says:

      We have seen many young men of fighting age leave their homelands and immigrate, often illegally, to Australia and Europe while soldiers from those countries fight to secure those same homelands. Why should an Australian, German or US soldier give their lives for a country where the inhabitants are too cowardly to fight for their own freedom? On the other hand we should support in a material way those who are prepared to defend themselves; in this case the Kurds and their allies. It’s obvious we are wasting our efforts in Iraq.

  • acarroll says:

    NB as it wasn’t mentioned, Michael Danby is a strongly identified Zionist, so keep that in mind when he talks about solutions in the middle east.

  • dchawcroft@yahoo.com says:

    I think the article is altogether too blasé about both Daesh and the USA.

    The Daesh thing is an apocalyptic cult at bottom and this makes suicide bombers potentially out of all of them. And it means soldiers flocking there and giving them a trouncing only convinces them they are on the right track.

    And the USA has never, from the beginning, done anything truthfully. They did not, have not and are not prosecuting the war against Daesh with any vigour at all.

    No attempt even to look like it. How can you let oil exports continue? How can you leave oil wells flowing? How can you fail to follow the money trail? How can drop supplies to Daesh?

    The litany goes on and on.

    Now Syria and Bashar al Assad. He must go they say. Why? What happens if he goes?

    In come the Sunni. And they annihilate all the remaining Alawites and Christians and Shia. They exterminate everyone and everything.

    With the Sunni, of course, come Daesh. How could that ever be stopped? How can a Muslim ever know if at his shoulder stands a Daesh or a moderate Muslim? He cannot. There is no way.

    The USA wants Assad out in order for the Sunni to come in.

    The USA does not tell the truth about Sunni Saudi Arabia being behind everything because they are wedded together somehow.

    It seems obvious that the USA wants and Islamic State in the Middle East. A Sunni Islamic State.

    That will be controlled, covertly probably, by Saudi Arabia. Which is Wahhabi as are the Daesh.

    This will act as a buffer and a blockage of Iran, limiting and isolating Iran and removing Iran from Russian influence.

    The whole thing seems to be simple geopolitics on a rather large scale.

    The USA wants the ME under their thumb and this is the way to do it.

    Quite possibly Obama doesn’t even know what’s going on.

    Assad dumped the yankee dollar. That’s what he did.

    Everything seems quite clearly to be about keeping the status of the yankee dollar as the petrodollar. And preventing the growth of any alternatives. Hence Iran, Russia with Assad.

    The whole effort callously killing hundreds of thousands and destroying whole nations and doomed to failure.

    Seeing I am on the western world side of all this, profit, enjoy my way of life, because of the ascendancy of the yankee dollar I’d like to be in accord with all this.

    But it is too insane.

    At least if they came clean about it all and put if before us, these mysterious monsters organising all this, perhaps we could go along with some of it. After all we are greedy, we are spoiled, we do want to remain in the rich club.

    But they won’t even level with us. They treat us with total contempt, feeding us pigswill for truth.

    If you want to write an article about Daesh and the USA get to grips with all of that for that’s where the story is.

    And add a footnote, as I will: our natural friends should be Russia and Alawites and the Persians.

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