With unified Kurdish forces helping break the siege of Mount Sinjar, are we moving closer to Kurdish independence?by Michael Goldfarb / August 14, 2014 / Leave a comment
Things are moving at top speed in northern Iraq/Kurdistan. A week ago the marauding Islamic State militants were rampant in the region and talk of genocide filled the air. The Kurdish Peshmerga fighters were in retreat, and tens of thousands of the minority religious group the Yazidis were trapped on Mount Sinjar near the Syrian border.
Now, according to the most recent report in the New York Times, the siege of Mount Sinjar is broken. A mere 24 hours after “dozens” of marines and special forces arrived near the mountain, only hundreds of Yazidis are left stranded. How did this happen? There weren’t that many US airstrikes against the jihadists.
Much credit has to go to the PKK, the Turkish Peshmerga fighters. Peshmerga is a Kurdish word that means “those who face death” and is used for any Kurdish fighting band, regardless of country of origin. Throughout the frenzied days of last week, as Iraqi Peshmerga abandoned territory to IS—more territory than the jihadists with a mere 15,000 troops and no administrative corps could possibly occupy—persistent wire service reports filtered onto the internet if not into actual newspapers and broadcast news programmes of the PKK fighting—and winning —against IS.
In Mahmour, a rough industrial town on the road between the Kurdish capital Erbil and the oil-city of Kirkuk, the PKK pushed IS back so that the vital link wasn’t cut.
Even as US warplanes were being ordered into the skies over the region, PKK fighters were leading groups of Yazidis off the mountain and across the parched plains towards the northern city of Dohuk, inside the autonomous Kurdistan region.
The PKK know the area well, they have been fighting IS in Syria for the last few years. The irony here is that the PKK is on America’s terrorist watch list, an historical remnant of the four decades when the group (PKK are Turkish initials for Kurdistan Worker’s Party) fought an insurgency against Turkey in which 40,000 people died. The insurgency started in the 1970’s as a civil rights movement, Kurdish language…