Iraqi forces had taken the cities of Kirkuk and Sinjar as well as many other villages from Kurdish Peshmerga forces as they pressed a campaign to take back contested terroritores from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) following the Kurdish independence referendum.
KRG forces are losing control of the areas outside their autonomous region, but what about the US? The US-led coalition against ISIS backed both Iraqi Army and Peshmerga, after all. The US did not cast its lot with any of the sides. Despite the KRG pleading for help, the US has stated that they “strongly urge all sides to avoid escalatory actions,” and has not shown support for either side of the conflict. In other words, the pleas for help are falling on deaf ears.
The derogatory silence from the US speaks volumes: it says the KRG has to deal with its own problems now. It looks like US “local allies” in Syria and Iraq may be hung out to dry in the end. Both the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces and the KRG share the myopic outlook that they have the “unrelenting support of international community” and, most importantly, are unconditionally backed by the US. They try to speak with the regional players – Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq – like they are in a position of power. But that power is fickle, if you consider that they depend heavily on the military, logistic, material and reconnaissance support from the US. Without aviation support, without the US Special Forces deployed in order to assist them, SDF and KRG forces may find themselves in a dire situation with no easy way out.
The SDF and the KRG are not Israel. Their lobby in Washington is not at all as efficient as Israel’s. Their influence is lacking: the Trump Administration won’t send American soldiers to die if the only goal of the move is to help the SDF and the KRG to create own Kurdish states.
The other matter is whether the US even has the intention to help anymore. The world superpower might just have its hands full right now with other matters both inside and outside the country. The North Korea situation escalates by the day. China doesn’t relent. The relations with Iran may go completely haywire. Turkey is being difficult. Toppling Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria didn’t go so well. The Ukraine situation is still unclear. The diplomatic and military resources are much better spent in order to deal with all these problems, rather than creating a possibly wayward independent Kurdish state. It is obviously not a top priority right now.
The SDF and the KRG are going to have to take care of themselves in the end.