- - Tuesday, January 23, 2018


In several U.S. State Department statements, and interviews with senior administration officials the response to inquiries over U.S. policy in regard to our allies the Kurds and our declared enemy, Iran, we hear the same answer, that we must continue our focus on ISIS.

This response is becoming less declaration of strategy and more a knee-jerk go-to excuse for a lack of a strategy. ISIS is not the major threat to the region it was up to a year ago. Does it still exist, yes. Can it still attack the United States and U.S. regional interests, yes, but in realm of al Qaeda not as a military force intent on holding specific areas.

Those entities in the region that are performing as military forces and killing innocent civilians are Iran and Turkey. I could include Iraq in this, but they are merely acting as a vassal state to Iran. Turkey, once a shining example of a democratic government of a predominantly Muslim country and an ally of the West, has devolved into a dictatorship with visions of a return to the days of the Ottoman Empire.

Iran has used its leverage and military, in the form of the IRGC, to take control of Iraq’s government and military. Iraq’s military did defeat ISIS while under control of Iran and with the use of Iranian controlled militias, as well as with the aid of the Kurdish Regional Governments internal forces known as Peshmerga.

Iranian backed militias then went on a rampage of murder, indiscriminately killing Sunni civilians. ISIS as a force is eliminated from Iraq, yet when the Kurds said they were going to hold a referendum the United States said it was not the right time since we had to keep our focus on ISIS.

Following the referendum in which more than 95 percent of Kurds voted for independence the government in Baghdad used its army, with the continued assistance of the militias, to attack the Kurds with emphasis on the oil fields of Kirkuk. Iran then made a deal to receive the oil from Kirkuk.

Turkey’s army, the second largest in NATO, is attacking the Kurdish enclave in Afrin, Syria, claiming the Kurdish forces were terrorists aligned with a Turkish Kurdish terror group known as the PKK. While possibly aligned, they are not under PKK control.

The Kurd’s Democratic Union Party (PYD)’s military wing, the YPG, has never entered Turkey or attacked Turkish forces or land, except while in the defense in Syria. The YPG was also the largest force in Syria to fight ISIS and have been allied with U.S. forces in the process. The response from the United States to the Turkish attack on our ally the YPG is that we deplore it but must not take our eyes off the main problem: ISIS.

ISIS is a terrorist group that must be contained, and we must continue to attempt to keep our country safe from it. They are not, however, the main threat. Iran has positioned its proxy forces across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon to ensure a land bridge to the Mediterranean and the border of Israel. Turkey will continue its racist genocidal attacks on Kurds wherever they can reach them. In the short-term, diplomacy and sanctions are not a deterrent, the legitimate threat of force maybe. It is time to push aside the ISIS bogeyman and face up to the real enemies.

Paul Davis is a retired military intelligence analyst for the Middle East with emphasis on Kurdish region. He is president of Janusthink LLC.

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