The Iraqi army was more a police force than a military.
8/23/14, "Kurdish Forces Say They're Waiting For U.S. Weapons," NPR, Peter Kenyon
"Iraq's ethnic Kurds are longtime U.S. allies and have put up the
toughest resistance to the Sunni extremists in the so-called Islamic
State that has captured swaths or Iraq's north and west.
getting help from U.S. air strikes, but also need heavier weapons of
their own to match the firepower of the Islamic State, also known as
ISIS. Weapons have been promised by the U.S. and other countries, but
getting them through the central government in Baghdad has hampered the
mission, according to Kurdish commanders.
"We have heard
weapons are coming, but so far we haven't seen any. As you know, the
Iraqi Ministry of Defense doesn't give us any weapons. And that just
encourages ISIS to attack us," says Esmat Rajab, a commander in the
Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga.
Rajab speaks on a
hilltop overlooking the terrain that's at stake in the Islamic State
onslaught. Before him is the village of Bashiqa, which minority Yazidis
fled as the Islamic State took over. They still hold it. Beyond the
village is the large city of Mosul, which the Islamic State took over in
The Pentagon said this week that Baghdad is shipping some "equipment
and assistance" to the Kurds, but the U.S. is exploring more direct
In Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish northern region,
peshmerga spokesman Helgurd Ali says morale is strong since the Kurds
retook the Mosul dam from the Islamists. But he's frustrated at
Baghdad's attitude toward arming the Kurds.
"In the face of
this crisis, if Baghdad still says 'no' to international weapons, then
let them send us the weapons. We've waited for 8 years; they didn't send
anything. Not one belt of ammunition," he says. "We can't trust
Baghdad, and that's why we have to turn to the international community."
Baghdad's Mistrust Of The Kurds
countries have been reluctant to ignore Baghdad's objections and arm
the Kurds directly — though the Kurds say a small amount of arms has
started coming into Erbil's airport.
Ali says they need heavier
weapons, including something strong enough to pierce the armor on the
U.S.-made vehicles the Islamists captured from the Iraqi army when its
fleeing soldiers left them behind.
Baghdad's reluctance to see
weapons flowing to the peshmerga — which is widely considered the most
able fighting force to counter the Islamic State — seems
counter-productive. But analysts say there's some logic to it.
Dodge, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of
Economics, says one reason for Baghdad's distrust of the Kurds was
apparent as the Islamic State took Mosul in early June.
the confusion and fear of the Islamic State advance, Kurdish forces
swept into the city of Kirkuk and took over. Control of the oil-rich
city has been contested between Baghdad and the Kurdish Regional
Government (KRG) for a decade. Dodge says that overall, the Kurds have
expanded their territory by some 40 percent recently.
what's worrying Baghdad. The KRG has expanded its territory by 40
percent by force of arms," he says. "Once ISIS has been defeated, that
will become a profound problem going forward for all parties concerned,
the Kurds as well as the government in Baghdad."
A 'Coup-Proof' Iraqi Army
dispute complicates any sustainable solution to the security problems
in the north. Dodge says the mistakes date back at least as far as the
Bush administration, which rebuilt the Iraqi army more to police the
country internally than to handle military offenses or protect the
Outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki made things worse,
according to Dodge.
"In effect what he did was to 'coup-proof'
the army by breaking the chain of command, rubbishing its esprit de
corps, and placing of men loyal to him at the senior ranks," Dodge says.
"Which explains, along with the profound corruption, why the Iraqi army
collapsed so quickly in Mosul."
The Kurdish forces are
one-fifth the size of the Iraqi army. They can be increased somewhat,
but are not suited to fighting a mobile, opportunistic adversary like
ISIS. Once the peshmerga ventures out of areas populated by Kurds, they
are off their familiar home turf and surrounded by suspicious locals.
says that what Iraq needs is a new government in Baghdad, which is
currently under negotiation, that can undo the damage caused by Maliki's
"(They need to) refocus on restructuring the Iraqi army,
to make it a fighting force that can defend the territory of Iraq for
all of Iraq's citizens, not just for its ex-prime minister," Dodge says.
That's essentially what American forces thought they were on the way to doing before they pulled out of Iraq." via Free Rep.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Kurdish forces in Iraq still await US weapons, need something to fight US made vehicles ISIS obtained from defunct Iraq army. If US sends weapons to Baghdad, Kurds will likely never get them-NPR
Posted by susan at 8:19 AM