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Kurds to the Rescue
How to Get the Kurdish Regional Goverment to Take on ISIS
DOV FRIEDMAN is a graduate student at Yale University's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. Follow him on twitter @DovSFriedman. CALE SALIH is a researcher specializing in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Follow her on twitter @callysally.See more by Dov FriedmanSee more by Cale Salih
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) now occupies a territory the size of Jordan, stretching from the edge of Aleppo to the outskirts of Baghdad. From there, it poses a grave threat to regional and U.S. security interests. Yet those who seek to stop it have few options. ISIS easily trounced the Iraqi security forces, which outnumbered the jihadist group 100-1. And it could likely do the same to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that have trickled over the border to bolster the Iraqi forces; Iran’s elite fighters are simply spread too thin across Syria and Iraq. Meanwhile, the United States seems unwilling to send U.S. troops back into the fray at all.
Enter the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and its skilled (and intact) peshmerga forces. The Kurds field the only proper army left in Iraq, and, for that reason, the United States and Iran will each attempt to draw the Kurds into the conflict. Yesterday, during a meeting in Tehran between Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Iranian officials reportedly asked the Kurds to join the fight against ISIS. U.S. officials apparently hope that the Kurds will step in as well. Indeed, if Washington wants to quell ISIS, the peshmerga are its best bet.