Daashing out of Iraq: Recent Military Maneuvers

The timing of the Kurdish advance west in Daash held territory appears to be a well planned operation. Three events are significant.

The first was that the advance and confrontation of the Kurds did not begin till the return of Former President Jalal Talibani. He is pragmatic and astute as opposed to Massoud Barzani who is Kurdish nationalistic and believed to be close to Israel. A deal was being reported where he, Talibani, allowed the Iranians to send in 200 “Advisors”; this was denied by the Iranian press. But it is possible that the Kurds are now being “advised” by the Iranians.

The second is the death of Hezbollah commander Ibrahim Mohammed al-Haj, who the Hezbollah confirmed was killed/martyred in Mosul, Iraq. This is very significant as the commander was killed deep in Daash territory. Three members of Iran’s Elite Qods Brigade have also been killed in Iraq. Kamal Shirkhani in June near Samarra, Ali Reza Moshajari mid June in Karbala, and Shojaat Alamdari Mourjani in Samarra Early July.

The third is the official backing, at this stage purely symbolic, of the Iraqi government to Sunni opposition groups willing to fight/already fighting Daash in Mosul. Also recent comments made by Sunni politicians that request the Iraqi Air Force to avoid civilian casualties and work closely with the Peshmergas and comments backing Sunni Militias opposed to Daash indicate an aligning of interests.

On a political and military level, the three sides appear to be aligning against their common enemy. The Iraqi Air Force/Army Aviation is now flying sorties for the Peshmergas. However, there is bound to have been some quid pro quo between the Kurds and the Iranians, and in Baghdad, between the Shia and the Sunni. The future of Kirkuk is going to be of great interest. The Kurds will eventually hand over Mosul and Sinjar to the Iraqi government, but control of Kirkuk and other cities with substantive Kurdish populations, such as Jalawla, is going to be contentious.

The Kurds had, like the Iraqi government earlier, requested the United States for air strikes. Obama did not oblige. The Iranians may have stepped in. The movement of heavy equipment and the Kurds investing their armour in the fight suggests that Iran may be willing/or may already be rearming and resupplying the Kurds.

The rebellion by the Shaitat tribe in Eastern Syria has forced Daash to pull back its fighters from Iraq and reinforce its fighters in Syria. This has been of significant tactical advantage to the Kurds. By attacking the Peshmergas, Daash has over played its hand and stretched itself thin. For now, Daash has lost the offensive.

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