It wasn't long ago when Obama administration officials planned to use drones to take out the core leaders of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), as a favour for the Turkish government.
In December 2012, Kevin McKiernan reported in The Huffington Post that, "Francis J. Ricciardone, Jr., Obama's ambassador to Turkey, revealed that the U.S. had secretly offered Turkey what was, in effect, a bin Laden-style assassination of the top leadership of the PKK."
That was before the Islamic State stormed its way into Mosul and marched across Iraq's Sunni heartland. Since June, everything has been flipped on its head. U.S. policy towards Iraq is in a tailspin. Removing Prime Minister Maliki from office won't turn back the clock in Iraq. Journalist Patrick Cockburn said on Democracy Now on Wednesday, August 13:
But I think what is wrong is to think that—almost everything now is being blamed on al-Maliki, both inside and outside Baghdad, that he was the person who provoked the Sunni uprising, he was the hate figure for the Sunni, he produced an army that was riddled with corruption. But I think that it’s exaggerated, that it’s as if there was a magic wand that would be used once al-Maliki had gone. But there were other reasons for this uprising, for the creation of ISIS—notably, the rebellion in Syria in 2011. This changed the regional balance of power. That was a Sunni rebellion, which Iraqi politicians over the last couple of years were always telling me, if the West supports the opposition in Syria, this will destabilize Iraq. And they were dead right. It wasn’t just al-Maliki.It is irrelevant which US-Iranian backed political figurehead is in charge in Baghdad. History can't be undone. Iraq as a unified and stable country was over with the invasion in 2003. The process of disintegration has taken over a decade, but it was inevitable when the controversial decisions to disband the Iraqi army and de-Baathify the Iraqi government were made back in 2003. The decision to destabilize Syria and support the Jihadist opposition against Assad in early 2011 is also a major reason why Iraq has unraveled.
Today, northern Iraq is up for grabs. Persecuted minorities are on the run. Members of the Islamic State, who continue to receive support from the Gulf States, Turkey, Israel, as well as the U.S. and Western countries, won't let a few U.S. airstrikes get in their way.
The Islamic State declared the end of the Sykes-Picot Middle East map when they conquered Mosul. But it is still a long way away before any new map can be definitively drawn. The war for the post-Sykes-Picot Middle East is in its early stages.
On Monday, fighters of the PKK faced off against the Islamic State and helped rescue thousands of besieged Yezidis from Sinjar mountain in northern Iraq, aided by U.S airstrikes.
Mitchell Prothero wrote in an article published by McClatchy on Monday, August 11:
Visits to front-line positions Monday made it clear that an influx of fighters with links to the Kurdish Workers Party, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, had played a major role in driving the Islamic State from key areas within a 30-minute drive of Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government. It was Irbil’s possible fall last week that ended weeks of Obama administration inaction on Iraq.The contradictions in U.S. policy towards Iraq and Syria couldn't be more apparent than it is today.
“The PKK took Mahmour,” a peshmerga fighter at a checkpoint outside Mahmour acknowledged, shaking his head in admiration. Then, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, he offered an explanation: “They’re very experienced from fighting Daash in Syria and are true guerrilla fighters from their time in Turkey. They have more experience and training than we do.”
There was plenty of gratitude for the U.S. intervention, which since Friday has included at least seven announced airstrikes on Islamic State targets near Irbil.
Washington is assisting two terrorist organizations in two separate countries, but what is really one battlefield. In Syria, it is financing, training, and arming ISIS along with its regional allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Israel. While in Iraq, it is providing air cover to PKK militants as they engage their Jihadist proxy as part of a humanitarian rescue mission.
If anyone says U.S. foreign policy towards the Middle East is rational, they're lying.