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[personal profile] dexeron
As with the previous post, I'm leaving this public because I think it will continue to have currency.

This is another post by Tim Clancy, and I think it's worth sharing as well. It's related to what was said in the previous one. Here is the link to the original post:

His words follow:


"(#INS) Information Mullet: For any who ask "where can we find Muslims confronting ISIS" I offer as one of many possible answers the coallition of Islamic Kurdish forces that are in the process this weekend of retaking Sinjar; occupied by the Islamic State for 16months. It's a notable military defeat of ISIS in Iraq and easily overlooked in a weekend where so much attention is focused on the tragedies and horrors inflicted by ISIS elsewhere.

As part of the Anbar Offensive in mid 2014, shortly after the collapse of Mosul - ISIS took Sinjar and percipiated a humanitarian crisis on Sinjar Mountain where ethnic Yadzi refugees while simultaneously advancing on the Kurdish capital of Irbil. (1) In response President Obama ordered air strikes against ISIS in Iraq with a twin focus of creating a safety corridor off the Sinjar mountain and relieving the pressure on Irbil for fear ISIS would collapse the semi-autonomous Kurdish state.

At the time of the ISIS offensive Kurdish interests were both politically and geographically split between different factions. The largest and most well known was the PUK Peshmerga,(2) who had been operating under the US no-fly zone in an semi-autonomous region since Gulf War I, and provided significant support to the US during the second Iraq War taking Mosul. An opposed faction to the PUK, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) was outlawed by Turkey, designated a terrorist group and also occaisonally sparred with the PUK.(3) Across the border in Syria and in Iraq all-volunteer citizen self-defense militias named the People's Protection Units( YPG) (4) were being created to oppose ISIS and Al-Nusrah attacks on Kurdish villages. The most well known of these defenses occurred in Kobani in the fall of 2014, which gained a lot of attention in western media due to successful social media campaigns..

Fast forward to December 2014 and the PUK, PKK and YPGs have all set aside their differences to work together under the umbrella Kurdistan Regional Security Forces (KRSF). (5)This force over the course of 2015, with some setbacks, has fought village by village and town by town to territory from ISIS in a broad encircling strategy to isolate, and eventually liberate Mosul. They have been joined by Yazidi fighters, an ethno-religiously distinct population who traditionally lived in Sinjar under general repression, but were specifically targeted for genocide and ethnic cleansing by ISIS.

It's hard to overstate how remarkable this coallition of forces is - the PUK and PKK have fought numerous times over the years with a lot of blood spilled on both sides. It also complicates a great deal of diplomacy. PKK and Turkey have been at odds for a generation or more, with a brief peace purchased by the imprisonment of their leader Occalan. However distrust and division related to the siege of Kobani led to attacks on both sides and Turkey and the PKK are now in open conflict. Meanwhile Turkey did allow the Peshmerga to cross through Turkey and enter into Syria to help relieve the Kurdish villages there, which is where the YPG's linked up. The YPG's have long been accused by Turkey of being in cahoots with the PKK, a charge they deny. (If anyone has seen the "Kurdish women fighters" made semi-famous last summer they are all volunteers in the YPG.)

If it sounds complicated - it is. But the simple truth is four groups, all Muslim, who shared a common ethnic identity but vastly different political goals, set aside their differences and combined to take on ISIS, with the help of US and coalition airstrikes, and are succeeding.

Sinjar is a strategic city - the "gateway" to northern Iraq and lying along a key route that connects Iraq and Syria which ISIS has used to exert influence on both sides of the border. Reports the LongWarJournal:

"Assuming Peshmerga forces can hold Sinjar, it would be the third major loss for the Islamic State inside Iraq this year. Iraqi forces, heavily backed by Iranian-supported Shiite militias, seized control of the cities of Tikrit and Baiji in central Iraq from the Islamic State over the past six months. Iraqi troops and the militias are also attempting to retake Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar."

For western readers more familiar with WWII - the victoris this year are like the Allies taking North Africa, Sicily and Italy...vital stepping stones for an eventuall continental invasion. Taking back Mosul would be akin to the Normandy invasion and removing ISIS from Ar-Raqqah and Fallujah would be akin to invading Germany.

So this isn't the end of the conflict by any means, but it is positive news in light of the tragic events this weekend. It also serves as a great counterpoint to the rather uninformed meme of "what are Muslims doing" and "why aren't they taking care of their own mess" which is just wrong on so many levels...but at least for this one it is easily rebutted with the facts on the ground.

Also for those who asked - I generally avoid commenting on specifics of a particular event for a few days. So I haven't and probably won't get into discussions about Paris itself. I do this both out of respect to the victims and those grieving. I've also learned the hard way information is so rapidly changing that its wiser to keep your mouth shut and let people think you may be an idiot, then make bold pronouncements on rumors and confirm it.







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Daniel Lustig

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