Iraqi Kurds seize Kirkuk as army flees

posted at 8:01 am on June 12, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

How bad has the situation in Iraq become? The city of Kirkuk has long been a point of contention between the Kurds and the Iraqi government. Saddam Hussein expelled the Kurds from the city, and ever since the Kurds have laid claim to it — and its oil resources. The new government in Iraq similarly refused to cede the territory to the Kurds, and for the same reason.

Now they’ve run away from Kirkuk, and the Kurds have it again by default as the Iraqi army collapses:

Iraqi Kurdish forces say they have taken full control of the northern oil city of Kirkuk as the army flees before an Islamist offensive nearby.

“The whole of Kirkuk has fallen into the hands of peshmerga,” Kurdish spokesman Jabbar Yawar told Reuters. “No Iraq army remains in Kirkuk now.”

Kurdish fighters are seen as a bulwark against Sunni Muslim insurgents. …

Under Saddam Hussein’s programme of “Arabisation”, Kurds were driven from Kirkuk and replaced with settlers from the south, and the Iraqi government continues to assert control over nearby oilfields, with the backing from the local Turkmen community.

That won’t last long now, as the Iraqis still fiddle while Anbar and Nineveh burn. The parliament has postponed a vote on Nouri al-Maliki’s declaration of emergency, which delays any cohesive response. They can’t delay for much longer before ISIS comes knocking on their doors in Baghdad:

Insurgents inspired by al-Qaeda rapidly pressed toward Baghdad on Wednesday, confronting little resistance from Iraq’s collapsing security forces and expanding an arc of control that now includes a wide swath of the country.

By nightfall, the militants had reached the flash-point city of Samarra, just 70 miles outside Baghdad, after having first seized Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town, and other cities while pressing southward from Mosul. …

It appeared that the militants were facing more robust resistance as they moved south, where Iraq’s Shiites have a stronger presence. But several experts said it would be wrong to assume that heavily fortified Baghdad, with its large Shiite population and concentration of elite forces, could easily fend off an ISIS attack.

On Thursday, the militant group vowed to march on to Baghdad . A spokesman for the Islamic State of Iran and the Levant says the group has old scores to settle with the Shiite-led government in Baghdad, the Associated Press reported.

The spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, also threatened that ISIL fighters will take the southern Iraqi Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, which hold two of the holiest shrines for Shiite Muslims. The statement, which could not be independently verified, came in an audio posting Thursday on militant Web sites commonly used by the group, the AP said.

The Peshmerga will hold off ISIS in the north, at least for a while. The BBC notes that ISIS has bypassed the Kurdish areas for fear of the well-seasoned Peshmerga, who aren’t going to run in the face of an inferior force of Sunni terrorists. The ISIS move toward the Shi’ite cities might end up backfiring, though, as it will encourage Iran to come to Maliki’s rescue and turn all of Iraq into a battlefield. In that scenario, the US will lose all influence and power in Iraq, and perhaps throughout the entire region as the other states start cutting deals with Tehran or lining up against it in the ground war.

This is turning into a rout, and Iraq is getting dismembered as we watch. Unless the West intervenes in a big way soon, it won’t be long before we have to start evacuating from that large, expensive US embassy — and we get another iconic image of the last chopper to leave Saigon, er, Baghdad.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

Unless the West intervenes in a big way soon, it won’t be long before we have to start evacuating from that large, expensive US embassy — and we get another iconic image of the last chopper to leave Saigon, er, Baghdad.

The radio broadcasts from the new Baghdad Bob are already being picked up around the country. But it appears to be an audio loop:

The world is less violent than it has ever been.
The world is less violent than it has ever been.
The world is less violent than it has ever been.
that it has ever been.
ever been.
ever been.
ever
ever
ever

de rigueur on June 12, 2014 at 11:26 AM

ISIS and ISIL are the same group.

Resist We Much on June 12, 2014 at 11:28 AM

it won’t be long before we have to start evacuating from that large, expensive US embassy — and we get another iconic image of the last chopper to leave Saigon, er, Baghdad.

I guess we’ll get plane loads Iraqi refugees landing at our air force bases too. Those border kids will have to make room.

hawkeye54 on June 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM

but obama says al-queda is decimated and the world is safer, kinder and less violent than it has ever been. how can this be? I wonder if anyone in the white house dares to tell him the emperor has no clothes.

warmairfan on June 12, 2014 at 11:35 AM

The world is less violent than it has ever been.

That is generally true, resulting from Pax Americana and nukes.

People are spoiled. They have forgotten that war and slavery are the natural states of humankind, not genuine peace with political freedom.

Nature is a savage b*tch.

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 11:38 AM

The photo now front and center on Drudge’s home page shows al Qaeda insurgents symbolically advancing on Baghdad.

What is this irresistible fighting force? A column of pickup trucks in single file on a road, ridden by guys holding guns and black flags. One good strafing run wipes out the lot of them. Yet, this is the foe before which the U.S. trained Iraq military throws down their weapons, sheds their uniforms, and runs into the night as if attacked by The Walking Dead.

Impressive.

IndieDogg on June 12, 2014 at 11:39 AM

The US can’t take another two and a half years of Obama.

BuckeyeSam on June 12, 2014 at 10:22 AM

I’m concerned the US might not be able to take another two and half months of Obama.

hawkeye54 on June 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM

The parliament has postponed a vote on Nouri al-Maliki’s declaration of emergency, which delays any cohesive response.

This is actually good news. Maybe the only good news you’ll hear today. They’re in negotiations to form a new government right now. Emergency powers would give Maliki the opportunity to shut down the process (because Unity!) and become a true dictator.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

ISIS and ISIL are the same group.

Resist We Much on June 12, 2014 at 11:28 AM

Yes. I wish I would have realized that before I posted.

ReaganWasRight on June 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM

This is actually good news. Maybe the only good news you’ll hear today. They’re in negotiations to form a new government right now. Emergency powers would give Maliki the opportunity to shut down the process (because Unity!) and become a true dictator.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 11:42 AM

And the practical result/stalemate on the ground will be the very same division of Iraq I was calling for as we closed in on Baghdad in 2003.

We could have cut it into three parts by making one slice (the Kurds were already separated) and thereby avoided spending the trillion dollars and losing thousands of lives of our finest fighting to keep the fake ‘nation’ of Iraq in one piece.

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM

obama always helps his wild muzzie bros.

obama hates the children of the world.

Schadenfreude on June 12, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Joe Biden’s partitioning of Iraq into three states: Sunni, Shia, and Kurd.
Hope & Change, Fundamentally!

Another Drew on June 12, 2014 at 11:54 AM

What is this irresistible fighting force? A column of pickup trucks in single file on a road, ridden by guys holding guns and black flags. One good strafing run wipes out the lot of them. Yet, this is the foe before which the U.S. trained Iraq military throws down their weapons, sheds their uniforms, and runs into the night as if attacked by The Walking Dead.

Tell me again why we’re retiring the Warthogs?

Another Drew on June 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Another Drew on June 12, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Yes, Biden the Fool was the only one in D.C. who got it right back then.

What does that tell us about the real level of intelligence in D.C.?

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Tell me again why we’re retiring the Warthogs?

Another Drew on June 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Because Bammy wants the money for maintaining them to pay for the slew of foreign kids he’s invited in, among other more important uses of our tax revenue. Besides, they gave our military a decided advantage that wasn’t in line with his concept of war inequality.

hawkeye54 on June 12, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Another Drew on June 12, 2014 at 11:56 AM

I like the way you think. Probably wouldn’t take more than two or three passes.

ElectricPhase on June 12, 2014 at 12:10 PM

Mostly Sunni, but I don’t think one branch of the murdering death cult is any better than the other.

ConstantineXI on June 12, 2014 at 8:46 AM

No but he might be supporting one or the other.

crankyoldlady on June 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM

The Obama doctrine in the middle east appears to be assisting Islamic extremists and allowing the spread of radical Islam, whether it’s in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen.

There will be a period of great peace if we all just submit to the coming worldwide Islamic caliphate. There’s only that small matter of beheading all the infidels – but things should be really peaceful after that.

TarheelBen on June 12, 2014 at 12:16 PM

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 11:47 AM

I’m not sure what there was in my comment that would lead you to the conclusion that the country needs to be partitioned.
In any case partition on the Arab territory is a bad idea for two reasons:

1 – There’s been a huge amount of migration since the British drew the county’s borders. Most of the major cities are religiously and ethnically mixed.

2 – The domestic conflict is tribal rather than religious in nature. Even if you could split the Sunni and Shia Arabs, you’d still have the same problems since and partitioned states would have multiple tribes.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 12:26 PM

he Obama doctrine in the middle east appears to be assisting aiding and abetting Islamic extremists and allowing the spread of radical Islam, whether it’s in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan or Yemen.

No “appears to be” about it.

There will be a period of great peace if we all just submit to the coming worldwide Islamic caliphate. There’s only that small matter of beheading all the infidels – but things should be really peaceful after that.

TarheelBen on June 12, 2014 at 12:16 PM

Absolutely. If it means peace and harmony worldwide, I, for one, will welcome our Islamic overlords.

Resistance is futile. We WILL be assimilated.

That is hope and change you can believe in!

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on June 12, 2014 at 12:26 PM

that scenario, the US will lose all influence and power in Iraq, and perhaps throughout the entire region as the other states start cutting deals with Tehran or lining up against it in the ground war.

It is almost like someone’s plan came together here, isn’t it? –Barack Obama

18-1 on June 12, 2014 at 12:48 PM

In any case partition on the Arab territory is a bad idea for two reasons:

1 – There’s been a huge amount of migration since the British drew the county’s borders. Most of the major cities are religiously and ethnically mixed.

There’s nothing wrong with some diversity. It can be quite good for a country. Some. A little bit of something being a good thing does not mean a lot of it is even better. Salt is a necessary nutrient. Too much kills you.

2 – The domestic conflict is tribal rather than religious in nature. Even if you could split the Sunni and Shia Arabs, you’d still have the same problems since and partitioned states would have multiple tribes.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 12:26 PM

No, you would not have ‘the same problems.’ The religious difference is huge. People can work out tribal differences.

We know that is how it works in Iraq because we ran an ‘experiment’ on it we called ‘the Surge.’ The Sunni tribes had been cooperating with al Qaeda against us and against the Shia government, even though they loathed al Qaeda, because they saw themselves as having no choice.

Petraeus armed the Sunnis and gave them a great deal of autonomy in exchange for them helping us to root out al Qaeda (effectively achieving what I had been saying we should do in 2003), and they cooperated enthusiastically. Then after we left Maliki rescinded the autonomy.

De facto partition was the correct plan, proved beyond any doubt of having been correct, yet people who have committed to the wrong path cannot see the proof right in front of their faces.

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 12:49 PM

Those of us old enough to remember the collapse and fall of South Vietnam cannot help but to note the parallels:

The South began its descent by gradually losing control to the NVA and Viet Cong of frontier provinces in places like the Central Highlands; Iraq began by relinquishing Anbar back to al Qaeda.

When the South’s collapse happened, it happened quickly. Cities fell without a fight, one after another, as the ARVN fled along with the refugees. Just like we’re seeing in Mosul and Tikrit, with the Iraqi “army” abandoning its weapons and fleeing with the refugees.

And in 1975, Gerald Ford tried in vain to persuade a donkey Congress to help the South… today King Barry pleads, likely in vain, to get donks in Congress to help the Iraqis.

There’s going to be another “last chopper off the rooftop of the US Embassy” moment, and if history keeps on repeating itself, we’re going to see that photo a lot sooner than people may realize.

Then we’ll watch a replay in Afghanistan.

History will repeat itself in no small part because for King Barry, “History” begins when he gets out of bed at 9:00AM and goes to the toilet to pee.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 12, 2014 at 1:07 PM

Yeah, sorry, but I can’t get too bent out of shape over the invasion of another country while we’re enabling, encouraging and advocating for the invasion of our own. And if the Iraqis aren’t willing to fight for their own country, we for damned sure don’t need to waste resources doing it.

xblade on June 12, 2014 at 1:07 PM

In that scenario, the US will lose all influence and power in Iraq, and perhaps throughout the entire region as the other states start cutting deals with Tehran or lining up against it in the ground war.

Not sure we need it. In an all out war scenario between Iran vs. Arab Sunni forces the U.S. will have the advantage of watching two enemies of ours drain themselves in a war.

It will also cause energy costs to spike worldwide, but once again that hurts our competitors more than us. The geopolitical situation has changed due to fracking at home. If anything this will force democrats to stop hindering fracking in this country and make the XL pipeline even a bigger political win for the GOP. Not that it will change the prices that much, but it will look bad for the Dems.

It is possible the Russians and Chinese will fill the vacuum, but these is a chance they will choose different sides making their relationship more difficult. The Russians want more instability in the Middle East, and the Chinese want more stability. Also as we have seen for ourselves with our own adventurers in that part of the world, it is pain in the rear to make that place stable. The Chinese and Russians can have at it if they want…enjoy.

William Eaton on June 12, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Yeah, sorry, but I can’t get too bent out of shape over the invasion of another country while we’re enabling, encouraging and advocating for the invasion of our own.

xblade on June 12, 2014 at 1:07 PM

<– THIS!!!!

David Blue on June 12, 2014 at 1:20 PM

Spurius Ligustinus on June 12, 2014 at 1:07 PM

And what happened after we left Vietnam? The Vietnamese got rid of Pol Pot and ended up in a war with China. All the communists went to war with each other!

The real question would have it not been smarter to have stayed out of Vietnam considering the ancient hatreds between all the people in that part of the world? The U.S. goal was to win the Cold War, not to waste our troops and money over one small piece of real estate of not much strategic value in the “greater war”.

William Eaton on June 12, 2014 at 1:25 PM

“…and Al Qaeda’s on the run… to Baghdad.”

Akzed on June 12, 2014 at 1:43 PM

The real question would have it not been smarter to have stayed out of Vietnam… William Eaton on June 12, 2014 at 1:25 PM

But we had to stop Communism 10,000 miles away. (Please don’t mention Cuba.)

Akzed on June 12, 2014 at 1:45 PM

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 12:49 PM

To answer your first point, we aren’t talking about “some diversity” here. We’re talking about communities with hundreds of thousands (and in the case of Baghdad millions) of people.

To you second point, Shia factions didn’t control the central government when al-Qaeda moved into Anbar and the government didn’t have much presence there anyway. The tribes sided with al-Qaeda because (a)they had money (b)the could help in fights with other (Sunni) tribes (c)they aren’t the kind of people you want mad at you.

The only reason we think of this as a Sunni-Shia conflict is because we use religion as a shorthand for the ethnic/linguistic/tribal differences between north and south. However, several of the larger tribes in Iraq actually have Sunni and Shia branches and in those cases tribal ties trump everything else.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Two Iraqi divisions–30,000 men armed with tanks, APCs, MRAPs, artillery, heavy mortars, and artillery–fled from 800 riflemen with a few Toyota gun trucks.

Behold the difference between Iraqis and Italians.

The narration says this was a platoon of Italian paratroopers. They were therefore outnumbered in the ambush.

So much for Italian excitability. End result: ninety Taliban dead, not a single Italian lost.

A Chair of Some Kind on June 12, 2014 at 1:50 PM

I have a buddy who did a medical mission in “Kurdistan.” He said they are very pro-US because of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

The Smartest Man in the Room better saddle up with them if he wants any presence at all in the Middle East. Jimmy Carter would be so proud.

NoPain on June 12, 2014 at 2:10 PM

To answer your first point, we aren’t talking about “some diversity” here. We’re talking about communities with hundreds of thousands (and in the case of Baghdad millions) of people.

Compared to forcing them all together, it was only ‘some’ diversity. It is a whole lot easier to be tolerant toward an annoying minority small enough you aren’t afraid it is going to rule you. It is a whole lot easier to submit to an annoying majority you know you cannot overthrow.

In the case of Baghdad, during the Surge they actually put up barricades between Sunni and Shia sectors. My thinking was the Republican Guard (Sunni controlled), which should not have been disbanded, would have kept Baghdad, or it would have become an ‘international city,’ or some combination of the two, but even just dividing the city made more sense than expecting the Sunnis to submit to Shia rule and expecting Shia rulers to respect Sunni autonomy.

To you second point, Shia factions didn’t control the central government when al-Qaeda moved into Anbar and the government didn’t have much presence there anyway. The tribes sided with al-Qaeda because (a)they had money (b)the could help in fights with other (Sunni) tribes (c)they aren’t the kind of people you want mad at you.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 1:50 PM

We had a period of relative peace after the invasion as the Sunni tribes tried to figure out where they would stand. As they came to realize we were serious about ‘democracy,’ they figured they had to choose between the al Qaeda they feared and loathed and the Shia’s they feared and loathed even more.

You are overthinking it. People never have all of the information they need to make smart choices. They choose between the choices they can see and understand. When we treated the Sunni tribes with respect, they fought al Qaeda. When Maliki went back to treating them as subjects (an inevitability in the ‘democracy’ we gave them), we got what we see now.

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 2:20 PM

fadetogray on June 12, 2014 at 2:20 PM

We’re well off the original topic and I still cannot for the life of me figure out how you took my statement that the Iraqi parliament is trying to prevent the country from turning into a dictatorship as evidence that Iraq must be partitioned.

In any case, both of the examples you bring up contradict the argument you’re trying to make. Thawra is 3 km by 5 km. Adamiya is only slightly larger. No one believes you could permanently divide the country into such small districts, so we should accept that different factions will be neighbors. Then you state that tribal leaders in Anbar sided with the Americans against their coreligionists because it was in the best interest of their tribe, which undercuts the argument that it was about religion.

Mahna Mahna on June 12, 2014 at 5:09 PM

We deserted the Kurds once before and left them to Sadam’s mercies but we should ally with them against this new group if they will trust the USA enough to do so.

It would upset Turkey but they are already talking with Iran anyway.

Nomas on June 13, 2014 at 8:16 AM

When we left Vietnam, their army could beat the NVA. in fact, that war was won until Democrats defunded S Vietnam.

They like Barack never grasped the cost our nation gave to win the wars. It is ALL about politics. Shameful

archer52 on June 13, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3