Report: Kurds offered to help stop ISIS months ago — but didn’t hear back from the White House

posted at 11:21 am on June 24, 2014 by Allahpundit

It’s not some shadowy anonymous source from the peshmerga’s middle management who’s claiming this, do note. It’s Nechirvan Barzani, the Kurds’ prime minister. That’s the second time in four days that a major foreign official has accused Obama’s America of being a fickle, disengaged ally.

Thoughtfully considering the Kurds’ offer and declining so as not to get sucked back into Iraq would be one thing, but that’s not what happened according to Barzani. Apparently, we simply didn’t respond.

The Kurds became especially alarmed at signs that ISIS had already formed a shadow government in Mosul, weeks before initiating the carefully preplanned takeover of the city 10 days ago. According to the same Kurdish military sources it was accomplished with ease and without serious fighting after local Iraqi commanders agreed to withdraw.

The prime minister of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, Nechirvan Barzani, says he warned Baghdad and the United States months ago about the threat ISIS posed to Iraq and the group’s plan to launch an insurgency across Iraq. The Kurds even offered to participate in a joint military operation with Baghdad against the jihadists.

Washington didn’t respond—a claim that will fuel Republican charges that the Obama administration has been dangerously disengaged from the Middle East. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki dismissed the warnings, saying everything was under control.

The Kurds’ intelligence head, Lahur Talabani, says he handed Washington and London detailed reports about the unfolding threat. The warnings “fell on deaf ears,” he says.

Those ears weren’t really deaf, though. Remember, even American intel officials were sounding alarms about ISIS last year. Obama knew the threat existed. He just declined to address it, either because he thought there was nothing the U.S. could do to stop ISIS or because he badly misjudged the Iraqi army’s willingness and ability to repel the jihadis themselves. I’ve got to believe it’s the latter; if it’s the former, that America was powerless to damage ISIS, why on earth is Kerry hinting about U.S. airstrikes now when ISIS is stronger and richer than it was before? Logically, the time to start bombing was before they became entrenched in Mosul and started eyeing Baghdad, not after.

There’s a third possibility: Maybe O knew ISIS was a major threat, thought a joint U.S./Iraqi/Kurdish operation could do something to neutralize it, but decided he wasn’t going to get involved in Iraq again unless and until the country faced an existential crisis — and even then, he’d do the bare minimum. (Says one Special Ops vet of the 300 troops being sent in, “These guys are being given an impossible mission. What are they going to do? Host a dinner party?”) His genesis as a national figure was his opposition to military action in Iraq; he’s not going to spend his last two years as president cleaning up a mess he didn’t personally make, whatever responsibility his country may have had in making it. Except that … he did help make this mess, whether he realizes it or not. Read Peter Beinart’s indictment of O for refusing to do anything over the past five years to pressure the Iraqi government to reconcile with the Sunnis and Kurds. This is a guy who swept to office in 2008 promising that he’d use diplomacy and economic levers — “smart power” — to achieve America’s goals, yet when it came time to put a little diplomatic pressure on Maliki, he passed on every opportunity.

For the Obama administration, however, tangling with Maliki meant investing time and energy in Iraq, a country it desperately wanted to pivot away from. A few months before the 2010 elections, according to Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker, “American diplomats in Iraq sent a rare dissenting cable to Washington, complaining that the U.S., with its combination of support and indifference, was encouraging Maliki’s authoritarian tendencies.”…

The decline of U.S. leverage in Iraq simply reinforced the attitude Obama had held since 2009: Let Maliki do whatever he wants so long as he keeps Iraq off the front page.

On December 12, 2011, just days before the final U.S. troops departed Iraq, Maliki visited the White House. According to Nasr, he told Obama that Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, an Iraqiya leader and the highest-ranking Sunni in his government, supported terrorism. Maliki, argues Nasr, was testing Obama, probing to see how the U.S. would react if he began cleansing his government of Sunnis. Obama replied that it was a domestic Iraqi affair. After the meeting, Nasr claims, Maliki told aides, “See! The Americans don’t care.”

Obama even looked the other way at Iraq’s tainted election four years ago, brokering a settlement that kept Maliki in power while doing nothing to ensure that the secular Shiites who were supposed to receive cabinet posts in the deal actually got what they were promised. The next time you see him on TV wheezing that Iraq’s problems can’t be solved militarily but only through sectarian reconciliation, ask yourself why he didn’t give a wet fart about nudging Maliki on reconciliation until ISIS was at the gates of Baghdad. His disengagement made it easier for jihadis to seize Anbar province, which means we’ll be dealing with terror camps in Iraq for years to come. (Here’s a sneak preview from across the border, although there’s really no meaningful border at all anymore.) That’s what Obama’s “America is done with Iraq” policy has produced. We’re less “done” now than we were after withdrawal. Why didn’t he at least pressure Maliki to accept the Kurds’ offer of joint operations with Baghdad against ISIS when they offered?

In lieu of an exit question, read the entire Daily Beast piece on what the Kurds told Washington and London. There’s an interesting digression in there about Assad’s role in creating ISIS, even though they’re desperate to kill him and every other Shiite in Syria. Per Jamie Dettmer, Assad went easy on ISIS at first and focused his military attention on Syria’s more “moderate” rebels instead. His thinking, I guess, was that if the most insane jihadis took over Syria’s Sunni areas, the local Sunnis might conclude that rule by Assad wasn’t so bad by comparison. Or maybe Assad thought that the more ISIS succeeded, the easier it’d be for him to argue to the west that the Sunni “rebels” in Syria were really the same sort of Salafist cretins that knocked down the Twin Towers. Either way, Frankenstein’s out of the lab now.

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Name one people/country, I triple dare anyone, which are better off due to obama/Hillary/Kerry.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Somebody at Fox is reading your posts Schad. I can’t remember who it was, but yesterday they rhetorically asked that question to a guest, almost word for word.

can_con on June 24, 2014 at 1:49 PM

Great article. But did we have to use the wet frat term?

gwhh on June 24, 2014 at 1:51 PM


Schadenfreude on June 24, 2014 at 2:38 PM

Check King Putt’s schedule when the Kurd’s offered their advice and assistance in keeping Iraq moving in a civil direction. Good possibility that Dear Liar had a highly coveted course T-time scheduled.
And we know who President Present (THE World Class Narcissist) considers most important when it comes to worldly decisions.

Missilengr on June 24, 2014 at 2:45 PM

Was 0bama out golfing when the calls came through? HE CAN’T CONCENTRATE ON anything but fund raising/vacations/golfing! Beware! This is what happens to a brain on DRUGS!!!!!!!

Bambi on June 24, 2014 at 2:50 PM

There’s a forth possibility: Obama supports ISIS and the coming caliphate, because he wants to be the next caliph.

redguy on June 24, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Secretary of State John F. Kerry


Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

should both be providing statements about this claim.

Which media outlet will be the first to ask them what they knew and when did they know it?

wren on June 24, 2014 at 3:19 PM

UnOfficial Bombings in Iraq???

Iraq violence
Pentagon spokesman says there is ‘no truth to rumors’ today that US drones struck ISIL targets in Iraq – @PentagonPresSec
see original on
Rear Adm. John Kirby @PentagonPresSec · 6h

No truth to rumors in media today that US drones struck ISIL targets in Iraq.

Al Arabiya EnglishVerified account [email protected]_Eng
#BreakingNews: White House denies report that US planes bombed #ISIS positions in #Iraq

Al Arabiya EnglishVerified account [email protected]_Eng
#BreakingNews: Iraqi TV says US planes bombed ISIS positions in northern #Iraq


#BreakingNews: White House denies report that US planes bombed #ISIS positions in #Iraq
— @AlArabiya_Eng

see original on

canopfor on June 24, 2014 at 4:43 PM

But hey, we got Obamaphones so everyone can selfie a picture up to twitter as the World burns around us.

Heftyjo on June 24, 2014 at 5:25 PM

Well we, as a nation ,voted this buffoon and his minions in not once but twice. We are reaping the whirlwind.

Sheerq on June 24, 2014 at 5:50 PM

There is a very good reason why Bush supported the Iraqi government and not the Kurds who are in open opposition to the Iraqi government.

If the US supports the Kurds the US will isolate its self from its NATO allies.

The US and its NATO allies have officially declared and classified all the political parties of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) as terrorist organizations, because of Iran’s long history of funding, supplying, and training, the Kurds:

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), are designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations by the US State Department and all of the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, (except Russia & China), treat them as Terrorist Organizations and the military alliance NATO has declared them to be terrorist groups, the European Union officially lists them as having “been involved in terrorist acts” and proscribes them as part of its Common Foreign and Security Policy.

Also the UK Home Office lists them as terrorist groups who have commited the following crimes;

Assassination, Bombing Attacks, Chemical Warfare, Drug Trafficking, Extortion, Human Trafficking, Kidnapping, Sabotage, Suicide Bombings.

Additionally, France, Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, and dozens of other countries have listed them as terrorist groups.

They have been heavily criticized by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Committee to Protect Journalists for corruption, nepotism, and violence against dissidents.

The political parties that jointly rule Iraq’s three Kurdish provinces continue to operate armed militia which act almost as a law unto themselves and have been permitted to commit human rights abuses with impunity.

War between Maliki’s Iraqi central government & the Kurdistan Regional Government is about to break out.

Maliki’s Iraqi central government has refused to set the final boundaries of the autonomous region of the Kurdistan Regional Government as stipulated in the Iraqi constitution!

A number of referendums were scheduled to be held before the end of 2007, as stipulated in the Iraqi constitution, but have been continually postponed which has led to several combat clashes between Baghdad and Kurdish-Irbil military units over the last 8 years.

The Kurdistan Regional Government currently has constitutionally recognised authority over the provinces of Erbil, Duhok, and Silemani, as well as “de facto” authority over parts of Diyala and Ninawa and provinces as well as Kirkuk Province including the largely Kurdish cities of Mosul and Kirkuk.

JustTheFacts on June 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

JustTheFacts on June 24, 2014 at 6:02 PM

JustTheFacts on June 21, 2014 at 4:47 PM

You seem to delight in copying & pasting the same comments over and over again as if they are/were writings based upon your own thoughts, without giving the proper citation/credit to the actual source(s). Do you know what one, single word defines your method?

tanked59 on June 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM

tanked59 on June 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM

My post is relevant to both the topic and the comments on this thread.

My comment was an attempt to inform those commenters, whom erroneously think that the US should have simply aided the Kurds to overthrow Saddam, that the US could not help the Kurds either overthrow Saddam or establish its own country because doing so would help Iran and isolate the US from its allies.

Your comment on the other hand has NOT added anything constructive to the discussion.

If you feel that I should not have posted some of the information from the US State Department, NATO, the UK Home Office and etc., then that’s fine as long as you say why. But claiming that I should not have posted my comment above because of plagiarism is in fact NOT true.

My comment above is definitely not plagiarism and I believe the State Department appreciates that I was posting their information as it relates to the topic and discussion on this thread and clarifies many peoples misunderstanding of the subject.

JustTheFacts on June 24, 2014 at 7:58 PM

tanked59 on June 24, 2014 at 7:08 PM
Thanks for taking this fool on. Troll is a Paulbot and it’s lies are it’s bread and butter. The ugly truth is big war is coming in the region, and we can not stop it. But we might be able to contain the worst of it. Either way, this is going to be costly for us, both in blood and treasure.

flackcatcher on June 24, 2014 at 8:34 PM

The ugly truth is big war is coming in the region, and we can not stop it. But we might be able to contain the worst of it. Either way, this is going to be costly for us, both in blood and treasure.

flackcatcher on June 24, 2014 at 8:34 PM

What exactly do you recommend? Do you agree with McCain on arming the moderates or do you want to help the Iranian-lead, Shiite, Iraqi regime? Maybe you want the US to isolate itself from its allies by helping the Kurds? Please explain what the US should do exactly?

It’s clear you learned nothing from the last ten years.

In a war between the proxies for Al Qaeda-like militants and Iranian-backed militias, there is no side the U.S. should support and helping one to defeat the other gains us nothing.

Pincher Martin on June 23, 2014 at 6:17 PM

I sure hope they don’t want to send troops back to that place. Because if that is what they want it would mean that 52% of republicans are crazy.

coolrepublica on June 23, 2014 at 6:19 PM

If you are for a robust American response in Iraq you are setting the GOP up to be the party of crazed interventionists, and people who love foreigners more than Americans. In other words the GOP would be seen as a party more willing spend money on Iraqi roads, schools, bridges, and really big super embassies (as we did in the last round in Iraq) than on American roads, schools, etc. That leads to more Presidents like Obama in our future, not less.

The reason why is any response we do in Iraq will be a failure unless we plan to simply wipe it out completely, and I know Rubio, Bush, and McCain are not advocating that…they are advocating saving the place like the first time around. They want stability! Well the only way for that to happen is to put a strong man(aka a dictator) in.

This is an Islamic country, don’t these fools understand what that means!

William Eaton on June 23, 2014 at 6:21 PM


Pincher Martin on June 23, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Are some of you just bound and determined to prove Democrats right when they claim the GOP is the stupid party?

You’ve had ten years to get this right, and you’re still not getting it. We have no solutions for the problems in Iraq.

If we have proof they’re trying to kill us, then we kill them. Otherwise, leave them alone and let them get to killing each other, pronto.

Pincher Martin on June 23, 2014 at 6:30 PM

The sad part is I consider myself a hawk. If it was up to me half of our navy would be sitting off the Chinese coast right now…does that sound dovish?

But it appears I am a neo-isolationist madman all because I think wasting tax dollars (and fighting men) in the resumption of a thousand year old Islamic civil war in Babylon is not worth it. Maybe at some point it will, but right now….no.

William Eaton on June 23, 2014 at 6:38 PM

Americans have no interest in a decades long commitment to reinforce Shia domination of Iraq.

You should probably just go ahead and internalize that now. Actually you should have internalized it a decade ago…but whatever.

Tlaloc on June 23, 2014 at 6:40 PM

I’m a hawk, too. I voted for Bush twice and supported the decision to invade Iraq. I thought there were WMD, and I couldn’t see how getting rid of Saddam could be a bad decision.

But I can’t support reoccupying that country. It’s waste of our blood, time, and resources. We need to focus on smarter ways of fighting the war on terror. Nation building n that region doesn’t work. In the time Bush wasted trying to get Baghdad up and running as the capital of a secure Iraq, the North Koreans went nuclear and the Iranians made good progress on going nuclear.

Pincher Martin on June 23, 2014 at 6:44 PM

If only you had thought about that before invading.

This was always the inevitable result of our knocking out Saddam. The surge was merely to delay this, and it did, but we couldn’t sustain it (hence ‘surge’).

Tlaloc on June 23, 2014 at 6:44 PM

*spit take*

seriously, you guys are still defending the mass of lies Bush sold congress? I thought even the deadest of dead-enders had finally given up fighting history on that one.

Tlaloc on June 23, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Maybe you should figure out our system of government. That is way it as always been in American history. You have four to five years to win the war…that is it.

Japan and Germany are different because we are (or were) welcomed there (even after we were enemies) to prevent them from being overrun by Russians and Chinese. Our national interests were the same.

Iraq is a Islamic country and we have very little in common with them, even worse they are a disunified country. The Ottoman Turks were always putting down revolts there and fought with the Persians (Iranians) for control of the place for hundreds of years.

The commitment from America to stabilize Iraq would require us to be there putting down one revolt after another for hundreds of years and we don’t have the stomach to be like the Ottoman Turks in putting down those revolts.

William Eaton on June 23, 2014 at 6:46 PM

I am as conservative as they come and I say both GW and Obama screwed up. We had a strongman there – sure he was brutal, but how else can you deal with an opposition that would gladly behead women and children in the name of allah?

Mistake #1 was going there in the first place, mistake #2 was leaving there thinking these same people wouldn’t be back.

No more nation building..let em kill themselves on both sides. Probably a trillion dollars spent and good lives lost for can’t change these people.

celt on June 23, 2014 at 6:48 PM

Because no democracy is worth defending which won’t stand up and fight for itself against an enemy which it is more than capable of defeating.

The government there is a sham. It’s not worth another American life.

Pincher Martin on June 23, 2014 at 6:51 PM

The psychos in the Bill Kristol ultra-interventionist camp really overplayed their hand on that one. They’ve destroyed the word “isolationist” as a meaningful term of debate. When isolationist means “anything short of American airstrikes and boots on the ground in every conflict zone everywhere forever”, people rightly stop listening to those bandying it about.

You’re not an isolationist. Rand Paul isn’t an isolationist. And the Iraq War apologists are so deep in denial that al-Sisi will need to dredge to find the bodies…

Inkblots on June 23, 2014 at 6:52 PM

But if we just believe hard enough, of course we can remake a tribal culture into a pluralistic Western-style democracy in just a few years. Stop doubting! You’re killing the magical thinking we need to make this happen.

All we need is to add a few billion dollars worth of pixie dust to next year’s defense procurement, and Iraq will be stabilized forever!

Inkblots on June 23, 2014 at 6:56 PM

Poll: 52% of Republicans think Obama should be in Iraq. Forever.

Rix on June 23, 2014 at 8:54 PM

and etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.

JustTheFacts on June 24, 2014 at 9:16 PM

I have an alternative theory regarding the ME foreign policy. The “deep game” is this: the deliberate destabilization of the governments in the middle east, the arming of the radical Sunni groups, and the green light for Iran to get the bomb are all part of setting up a Sunni-Shiite regional war that will last 20+ years.

Obama is just a dumb puppet. He didn’t think this up. Neither did Valerie Jarret. There are people behind the scenes who have decided the way to handle the “Islam problem” is to get Islam to fight itself, and the way to do that is to ensure that there are no strong governments in the ME and all the crazies have a ton of weapons available so they can all slaughter each other until they run out of ammo.

SunSword on June 25, 2014 at 8:04 AM

Lead from way behind!

Herb on June 25, 2014 at 10:39 AM