If US abandons Kurdish allies, Iran will run roughshod over region

If US abandons Kurdish allies, Iran will run roughshod over region
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Who Lost Kurdistan? That’s the question that now has to be asked.

Who among president Trump’s national security team is responsible for the incredible disaster that has just befallen us and our Kurdish allies in Iraq?

For make no mistake: the Iranian-supported expulsion of Kurdish authorities from Kirkuk — and on Monday, from and Sinjar other areas close to Mosul — is a huge defeat for U.S. interests and U.S. allies in the region, and for American prestige.

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Making nice about a major U.S. strategic loss just doesn’t cut it. As the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia and U.S.-trained Iraqi army units were preparing to march on Kirkuk, the Pentagon pretended it was just a just a bit of maneuvering among friends.

Secretary of Defense Mattis told reporters on Friday that the U.S. was urging its allies in Baghdad and Erbil to keep their eye on the prize, which in his view was the fight against ISIS.

Asked about the potential for fighting between the U.S.-backed Iraqi government and the U.S.-backed Kurdish peshmerga, Mattis acknowledged there had been “movement” along the line of demarcation, but no “movement to contact.”

“When you — when you're going into combat, you organize, and you move to contact.  We have not seen that kind of movement on either side,” he said.

The only reason an all-out war did not break out over the weekend is because the Kurdish Regional Government backed down when faced with vastly superior forces, reportedly led in person by the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

A reporter from pro-Kurdish media also claims the the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militia, known in English as the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), beheaded a number of Kurdish peshmerga on Monday when they entered Kirkuk. After that, organized armed resistance to the Iranian-backed onslaught melted away.

Now Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, who pushed through his referendum on Kurdish independence on September 25 despite strong warnings from the U.S., Iran, and Turkey, is blaming his erstwhile partner in government, the Popular Union of Kurdistan party, the PUK, of conspiring with Iran to wrest control of Kirkuk away from the peshmerga. PUK leaders deny the charge.

President Trump has said that the U.S. is “not taking sides” in the conflict. This is undoubtedly what his national security team has advised him.

But the president has already taken sides, and done so with all the authority of his office and the prestige of the United States, when he announced a new “get tough” policy on Iran on Friday.

The response from Tehran was swift, resolute, and ruthless. After a week of warnings from Iranian leaders that they would respond if the U.S. announced such a policy, they acted.

They were able to move so quickly because Qassem Soleimani has outclassed us on the Iraqi chessboard, advancing his pieces with skill and with no apparent counter-moves from the U.S. Now, when he wants to operate inside Iraq, he effectively has his own personal militia.

And let’s not forget Soleimani’s stranglehold on the Iraqi government in Baghdad, which consults with him as if he were Pro Consul on matters great and small.

The battle for Kirkuk and Sinjar is not about ISIS. Pace, General Mattis. It’s about Iran.

Want to really get tough on the Iranian regime? Then bomb the Iranian-backed militias attacking our Kurdish allies in Northern Iraq and send U.S. special forces to capture Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who has the blood of U.S. soldiers on his hands.

And if Baghdad persists in its open alliance with Iran, then cut off all U.S. aid to the Iraqi regime, as Rep. Trent FranksHarold (Trent) Trent FranksAP Analysis: 25 state lawmakers running in 2018 have been accused of sexual misconduct Jordan weathering political storm, but headwinds remain Freedom Caucus bruised but unbowed in GOP primary fights MORE suggested over the weekend, and transfer every single weapon we have to them.

Kenneth R. Timmerman was the 2012 Republican Congressional nominee for MD-8 and is the author of "Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary & Obama Blamed for Benghazi," published by Post Hill Press.