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June 01, 2007



As you correctly point out, strengthening ties with the Kurds makes us reliant on a land locked semi-state as a giant lily pad to launch operations from. The supply lines from the south are already tenuous, there are no northern supply lines via ground transportation, and air power promises everything and delivers nothing, including large amounts of supplies. Do we seriously plan on producing a Berlin Airlift capability just to solidify our position within Kurdistan?

All that being the case, seeing as the Turks are starting to mass troops along the Kurdish border, this plan has little chance of being implemented.

Opposition to the Turks denies any hope of northern ground supply access to Kurdistan, results in our military air access being rescinded, and takes our alliance with the strongest and most secular Islamic military in the Middle East and chucks it straight into the shitter.

If this "Korea-DMZ" plan is what is passing for strategy today, I fear for the future. The worst case scenario has us isolated in the North with no way out and no legitimate supply route into Kurdistan except from the South. The Air Force doesn't have the strategic lift capability to sustain any significant troop concentration in Kurdistan for any significant amount of time. The Iranians on our Eastern flank, a neutral perhaps hostile Turkey to the north, a hostile Syria to the West and a multi-faceted insurgency in the south with Iraq. That's a brilliant situation to be in if you're an infantry BCT commander and are worrying about an egress plan to a friendly country.

The road marches from Kuwait to Kurdistan will be miserable at best, simply from the heat, dust, and attrition of vehicles due to maintenance issues. Then add in the IED threat, the ambush threat and the indirect fire threat on top of that.

I need to stop expecting more from these people. I think that's my fault.

Fabius Maximus


Can such gamesmanship snatch success from the current chaos in Iraq? Probably not.

First, why this enthusiasm to see the Kurds as a liberal, democratic people? Their history shows extraordinary tenacity and ferocity, but nobody yet knows what form of government will take hold in “Kurdistan.” Or what role it will play in the region.

Second, realpolitik requires alliances not with small, perpetually threatened weak states, but with the important ones: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. Alliances with the Kurds and Israel put us in serious opposition to all of these. Each of these states – more so their people – wishes to eliminate either the Jewish state or any Kurdish State – or both.

Third, we can ally with the Kurds but that does not make them friends. Not only are we infidels but worse, we are inherently opposed to their generations-long goal of unifying the Kurdish people in a Kurdish State. That is, unless we betray our alliance with fellow-NATO member Turkey.

Under these circumstances, a US-Kurd alliance will likely be weak and temporary – probably giving us more problems than benefits.

December 9, 2006


The idea of doing power protection from a landlocked nation surrounded by hostile countries ins't very bright. The only way to make it at least semi feasible would be building up the oil infrastructure in the kurdish area (refineries,extraction , storage etc) to the point it can support the US military needs of fuel, energy and lubricants using local resources. Coupled with susbstantial storages of ammunitions, food, prepositioned equipment etc. it might be made to work. But it would take years and substantial investments.


Kurdistan is a "success story" because Kurds see the American takedown of Saddam and continued presence as more steps along the road to eventual independence. They will not be satisfied with the status quo that a permanent and large US military presence indicates. This is a bad idea.


A more or less accurate description - but the US military in Mosul and Kirkuk is kept running by fuel ( and other ) supplies trucked in from Turkey. The Turks can close the border and their airspace any time they choose -they've done so temporarily on a number of occasions in the past few years.

Up to this point there has been virtually no US troop presence in the 3 "autonomous" Kurdish provinces; the only foreign troops ( non-combat military engineers ) stationed in this region have been the South Korean contingent. The reason for this is rooted in the 2003 Turkish veto over US forces using their territory for the initial invasion. The Turkish veto is still very much in place - and given that this is a shared, consensus "national" position, there isn't an obvious political route to reversing this.

The idea that bases in the Kurdish "TAZ" could substitute for Incirlik is fanciful at best. For starters, Incirlik is a first-rate military facility, and no such equivalent facility exists in the TAZ - first-rate military airfields don't magically appear overnight and are dependent on additional associated facilities, none of which currently exist in the Kurdish areas. The downside of Incirlik is that its usage ( and the usage of Turkish airspace ) comes with the Turkish sovereign string attached.

In the end this isn't "strategic thinking" - it's political posturing by parties ( US and Kurdish ) who are bluffing with not very promising high-card hands. The Kurdish parties know full-well that the first action of the Turkish government, to what would be an overt, de-facto secessionist move, would be the closure of Turkish airspace to Kurdish air traffic, with the closure of the border the next item on the menu; at the end of the day the Kurds can either have US bases or access to the outside world, they can't have both.


Do the same considerations in the comments above apply to the idea of large bases in the west of Iraq? Jordan should be more pliable than Turkey, but I dont know if the supply lines issue would be more or less serious.


>Why this enthusiasm to see the Kurds as a liberal, democratic people?
I think it is fallout from the Israeli aid to the Kurds that started back when Saddam was in power. The Kurds were the enemy of SH. Israel was the enemy of SH. I suspect they were following the doctrine of "the enemy of my enemy is my ally (for now)." I believe that the fondness for the Kurds is a by-product of their relationship with Israel. The administration sees themselves surrounded by enemies: Iran, Islam, Democrats, etc; so they'll grab anyone who doesn't spit on them, as a drowning man will grab at anything floating.

>At the end of the day the Kurds can either have US bases or access to the outside world, they can't have both.
I don't think that the administration cares. All they care about is keeping their wargasm going until the next president gets sworn in. And I'm not all that confident that they'll leave the whitehouse in Jan 2009.

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