With Whom Among the Kurds Should We Work?

How about with all of them?

President Barack Obama appears, finally, to be agreeable to arming the Pershmerga of the Kurds’ Iraqi Kurdistan in northern Iraq and to be working a little more closely with them in where the US takes its potshots against ISIS forces—the Mosul Dam effort comes to mind in this context.

But that can’t be all of it, if ISIS is to be destroyed. That will require attacking ISIS in Syria as well as more serious efforts against ISIS in Iraq. That more serious effort in Iraq also will require working along the Kurds’ Iraq border with Turkey in addition to working with the Peshmerga to the west of Iraqi Kurdistan.

There are two other groups of Kurds, then, that come into play. One such is

a Kurdish force inside Syria called the Democratic Union Party [the PYD].

We need to deal more closely with this group, too, at least in the context of destroying ISIS. The PYD has been actively fighting ISIS and other jihadist terrorists in Syria for some years, as well as fighting the Syrian government. The US has been reluctant to deal with the PYD because of alleged difficulty telling the good Syrian rebels from the bad ones. Something about needing a scorecard. It’s not that hard, though, except in the minds of the Obama administration.

The other group, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK, is the group of interest along the Turkish border of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Turks object to the PKK, and so the US has too, because of the violent nature of the PKK’s objections to Turkish treatment of them. However, the PKK appears to have greatly moderated its violent techniques (though this isn’t certain), even if they are still zealous partisans for their autonomy. That they still have autonomy arguments with Turkey need not concern us here given that apparent temperance, and given Turkey’s open support of terrorists elsewhere—like on Israel’s southern and eastern borders. In addition to this, the Turks are working an accommodation with the PKK, so Turkish relations with the PKK is rapidly becoming a non-entity as well as merely irrelevant.

In the end, the enemy of our enemy certainly can be our ally, and at least one of those enemies of our enemy can be an outright friend, and at least one of those other enemies of our enemy can continue to be an ally.

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