This is a translation of the text that originally appeared at Colonelcassad Blog
Iranian “proxies” [as the Popular Mobilization Units are described by MSM] and the Iraqi Army emerged near the last border crossing between Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan. This border crossing has not been under Baghdad’s control before.
Taking control of Faysh Khabur is both strategically and symbolically meaningful, as it defines the border between Rojava [an area controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria] and Iraqi Kurdistan along the Iraqi-Syrian border, and it is gradually falling under the control of Iraq and Iran.
Iraqi high command plans on capturing the border when Barzani refuses to hand control over the border and the oil facilities to Baghdad. It’s worth remembering that Turkish Army troops have been stationed near Silopi since September, and they would likely act according to the agreement with Baghdad. Most probably, the operations of Iranian and Iraqi troops have been coordinated with Erdogan.
For now the operation is still ongoing despite the US urging to stop the advancement on the Kurds, and Erbil being ready to make concessions, including abandoning the idea of independence. Both sides are taking casualties. The clashes to the north of Kirkuk, to the north of Mosul, and near the border reflect the desire of Iran and Iraq to take control of as much territory as possible before starting negotiations with the Barzani faction. Of course, the situation would have been much more challenging for Baghdad and Tehran, if Soleimani hadn’t had reached an agreement with the Talabani faction, which undercut the Kurdish unity and stopped them from opposing the Iraqi Army efficiently.
Consequently, sporadic clashes between the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga have slowed down, but haven’t put a stop to Baghdad’s and Tehran’s plans. If the Kurds let them take Faysh Khabur, Iraqi and Iranian forces will be in control of road traffic to Rojava, and they will be able to blockade both Iraqi Kurdistan and Rojava at the same time. In this scenario, the only way to reach the outside world would be by air, with US help. This will be a distinctive move for Iran in the hybrid war against the US on Syria’s and Iraq’s soil. Taking control over the border will further develop the “Shi’ite Bridge” and put a stop to the Kurdish projects.
The Kurds understand the consequences of losing Faysh Khabur, hence the clashes between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi Army near the checkpoint. If the Kurds lose and withdraw, the hypothetical Great Kurdistan will be aborted, and the US influence both in Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan will diminish substantially.