Two weeks after the Islamic State (ISIS) attacked Iraq Kurdistan in August 2014, former US Secretary of State and current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton proposed a plan to support Kurdish ground forces against ISIS.
In an email to John Podesta, who was then a counselor to President Obama, Clinton wrote: “In Iraq, it is important that we engage ISIS using the resources of the Peshmerga fighters of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), and what, if any, reliable units exist in the Iraqi Army.”
“The Peshmerga […] are aggressive hard fighting troops, who have long standing relationships with CIA officers and Special Forces operators,” Clinton continued.
“However, they will need the continued commitment of US personnel to work with them as advisors and strategic planners,” she said. “The new generation of Peshmerga commanders [are] largely untested in traditional combat. That said, with this US aid the Kurdish troops can inflict a real defeat on ISIS.”
Clinton noted that in the past, the United States did not provide heavy weapons to the Kurds in Iraq, due to an agreement with the Turkish Army. Washington also feared the weapons would end up in the hands of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
“The current situation in Iraq, not to mention the political environment in Turkey, makes this policy obsolete. Also, this equipment can now be airlifted directly into the KRG zone,” Clinton argued.
Clinton said that Peshmerga soldiers could drive ISIS back with coordinated assaults from the ground and air. “This effort will come as a surprise to the ISIS, whose leaders believe we will always stop with targeted bombing,” she added. Clinton also suggested that moderate groups in Syria be encouraged to step up operations against ISIS and President al-Assad’s government.
However, she expressed concerns that Sunni Arabs and Baghdad could react negatively to the expansion of KRG-controlled territory. Recently Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressed concerns that the KRG would use the operation to retake Mosul to expand.
Clinton proposed assuaging Iraq’s then crumbling government: “With advisors in the Peshmerga command we can reassure the concerned parties that, in return for increase autonomy, the KRG will not exclude the Iraqi Government from participation in the management of the oil fields around Kirkuk and the Mosel Dam.”
“At the same time, we will be able to work with the Peshmerga as they pursue ISIS into disputed areas of Eastern Syria, coordinating with Free Syrian Army troops who can move against ISIS from the North,” Clinton stated.
In the latest presidential debate, Clinton twice suggested that the Kurds should be armed in order to hasten the Islamic State’s fall in Raqqa, evincing anger in Turkey.
Also Donald Trump, on July 15, said that he was a big fan of the Kurds, and hoped that America could convince the Kurds and Turks to work together against ISIS.
As previously mentioned, Clinton said during Sunday’s presidential debate that she would consider arming the Kurds, reminding the audience that “the Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq.”
“And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles,” she said, referring to Turkey. “But I think they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground […] take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”
Clinton added that she hopes that by the time she becomes a president, ISIS is pushed out of Iraq. “I do think that there is a good chance that we can take Mosul.”
“There’s a lot of very important planning going on, and some of it is to signal to the Sunnis in the area, as well as Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, that we all need to be in this,” she stated. “And that takes a lot of planning and preparation.”
Moreover, the democratic candidate said she would target ISIS caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “I think our targeting of Al Qaida leaders — and I was involved in a lot of those operations, highly classified ones — made a difference. So I think that could help.”This is the second time Clinton has mentioned the Kurds in a presidential debate.
In the September’s presidential debate, Clinton told the massive audience: “We also have to intensify our air strikes against ISIS and eventually support our Arab and Kurdish partners to be able to actually take out ISIS in Raqqa, end their claim of being a Caliphate.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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