Pathway to defeating ISIS runs through Kurdistan – and starts in America

US must cede operational control to trusted local experts who can vet so-called “rebels” to ensure support is given only to those that seek freedom, peace and democracy.

A KURDISH Peshmerga soldier holds a Kurdistan flag during an intensive security deployment after clashes with Islamic State militants. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A KURDISH Peshmerga soldier holds a Kurdistan flag during an intensive security deployment after clashes with Islamic State militants.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Congress must help the president formulate a “complete” strategy that would “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamists running rampant worldwide; he has proven unable, as commander- in-chief, to achieve this stated goal and, instead, has diminished America’s global potency during the past half-decade with increasingly tragic results.
Seven years ago, we wrote that “The road to Iran runs through Kurdistan – and starts in Syria” due to the need to acknowledge that Kurds (and Israelis) remain America’s staunchest allies in the Middle East; this conceptualization has suddenly, finally become mainstreamed, so it is mandatory that its tenets be clarified. 
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Legislation updating the 2001 “Authorization for the Use of Military Force” would serve as the vehicle by which the Executive Branch would be placed into a type of “receivership,” allowing for the natural potency that built America to be re-released to place Islamo-Fascists into the “ash heap of history”; language-choice is dictated by recognizing that this challenge dates back centuries and that this effort is likely to span multiple presidencies.
Key operational phraseology would supplant reference to the perpetrators of 9-11 by recognizing the need “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by nations, organizations or persons that plan, authorize, commit, or aid anyone seeking to create a global caliphate or harbor organizations or persons espousing this goal.”
Another method by which Congress has attempted to satisfy this urgent need – for the tide could turn suddenly against the Kurds and other minorities – has been through SA-1549, a bipartisan second-degree amendment to H.R. 1735 (the Department of Defense funding bill) proposed by Senators Ernst, Boxer and Graham; it would authorize providing direct aid to the Kurdistan Regional Government.
A third idea being floated is imposition of a no-fly zone over the Kurdistan regions in Iraq and Syria, a multipurpose activity that would partially satisfy the desire of NATO-ally Turkey to restrain the bombings perpetrated by Syrian President Bashar Assad; it must be recognized that he is indiscriminately using anti-civilian weaponry such as barrel bombs, plus chemicals the Russians claim were destroyed pursuant to Obama’s decision to erase his “red line” in the sand.
The humanitarian crisis besetting the Middle East and the Maghreb would instantly be alleviated were the lands relinquished to the jihadis to be reconquered; this will not be easy because the loss of “trust” has driven many tribes in the Sunni Triangle toward the Islamists, but invoking the good offices of leaders such as General David Petraeus would optimize orchestration of this belated initiative.
America would have to expand such efforts through on-the-ground allies such as Egypt (which could initiate a counterinsurgency against Libya and Sudan) and Saudi Arabia (which could re-stabilize Yemen and, along with Jordan, combat Islamic State in western Iraq); such initiatives would be welcomed by African nations struggling to band together against Arabists threatening a swath of nations from Nigeria to Kenya, and they would have to be proffered as well to those claimed to be targeted in this administration’s Asian “pivot” (Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines).
Allowing those who wish to conquer the world no refuge would allow for the “good guys” to attain surcease; America must cede operational control to trusted local experts (such as Kurds) who can vet so-called “rebels” to ensure support is given only to those that seek freedom, peace and democracy.
Illustrative of how the mere gesture of muscle-flexing can yield immediate dividends is what transpired after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government raised the prospect of protecting 800,000 Druse living near the Golan Heights; Netanyahu showed Barack how it’s done, for this demonstrative act led to the Druse having become sufficiently empowered to effect overnight agreements with both the rebels and Assad that, essentially, insulated them from the brunt of the civil war that otherwise has encompassed this country for years.
Naming names
Allies in this fight must include entities such as the Kurdistan National Assembly – Syria (Kurdnas), an umbrella organization serving the Syrian Kurdistan Region that includes political parties, NGOs, civic leaders and tribal leaders; other entities claiming to represent the Kurds must not be dominated by regional powers (such as Iran, Turkey and Syria), as we painstakingly detailed a year ago (in a magazine article published by the Jewish Policy Center).
Two news items that emerged on June 22 illustrate both the opportunities and the challenges derivative of these activities, for the Kurds provide a “micro” paradigm for how America must help “macro” forces in whatever combat theaters the jihadis are conjuring; on the one hand, the Kurds are exploring the ability to sell bonds to “International Fixed-Income Investors” as might a country and, on the other hand, Bloomberg revealed that American and Iranian forces now share the Taqqadum military base in Anbar.
Sadly, Turkey’s Islamist government is threatened by the election of Kurds to its parliament and by Kurdish gains in Syria, for it is revelatory that the supply-line to the IS capital Raqqa recently broken by the Kurds originates in Turkey; its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been among the enemies of Kurdish sovereignty being unmasked when they falsely accuse victorious Kurds of atrocities born of simple efforts to help civilians return to their homes.
On June 13, a spokesman for Turkey’s ruling party told a Kurdish media outlet that the Kurds in Iraq have the right to self-determination; Erdogan should be encouraged to accept Kurds as living in federal Kurdish Region in Eastern Turkey but not threatening Ankara, thereby endorsing their establishing what had been envisioned after World War I (via the Treaty of Sèvres), a homeland carved from north of Iraq and Syria (combining Kurdistan of Iraq and Syria).
The urgency of the situation is illustrated by two recent reports of Islamic State attacks, one asserting that they have thrice gassed the Kurds and another that they massacred Kurdish aid workers in Suruc, Turkey, adjoining Kobani.
Simply put, without sufficient support, the only effective “boots on the ground” in the region that aren’t Iranian are Kurdish... and it cannot be assumed that they will be forever successful against surrounding hostile forces.
On June 15, one of us [S.A.] presented these concerns to a Capitol Hill seminar hosted by the London Center; victory for Western-style freedom can be snatched from the jaws of terrorist Islamophilia by implementing a revamped Obama Doctrine.
America must recognize Kurdistan politically and provide direct, high-quality, full-spectrum military aid to the Kurds – not via Baghdad or Turkey – creating a foundation for how other “players” would return to allying with America; the tragedy of an America that has been reduced to flailing for alliances with shady characters must be reversed.
It must be authorized by Congress and implemented by a POTUS who appreciates the emergency faced by an uncertain “world of hurt,” of which America remains the unabashed leader; this would encompass – recognizing the potency of the social media – the necessity to combat so-called “lone wolves,” no matter how they may have been “inspired.”
Sherkoh Abbas is president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria; he may be contacted at Robert Sklaroff is a hematologist, oncologist and internist; he may be contacted at rsklaroff@