Kurdish fighters, known as the peshmerga, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes emerged as one of the most effective counters to the jihadists in Iraq and Syria.
The Kurdistan Regional Government, which was formed in 1992 and rules an area larger than the Netherlands from its capital in Erbil, is locked in a dispute with Iraq’s central government in Baghdad over the sharing of revenue from oil sales, reported by Bloomberg. Finances already squeezed by the impasse have been further eroded by the global slump in crude prices, which are still falling rapidly.
Iraqi Kurdish leaders consolidated their power following the first Gulf War as the U.S.-led coalition created a partial no-fly zone in northern Iraq to protect the region from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Despite the turmoil in Erbil, Kurdish forces have remained effective. They retook the symbolically important town of Sinjar from Islamic State last month, and have pushed the militants out of other northern towns and cities.
Kurdish fighters in northern Syria have also had battlefield successes against Islamic State. They forced the militants from areas on the Turkish border, and have won strategic victories closer to the jihadists’ stronghold of Raqqa.
The cash-strapped KRG has fallen months behind in paying public-sector wages, which account for more than 70 percent of its budget. An undercurrent of tension erupted into view in October, when five people were killed and 200 wounded in unrest following protests in several towns and cities, reported by Reuters.
If the west does not want to put troops on the ground as NATO confirmed recently, then the least they can do is financially support the locals, as it may go some way to bolster David Cameron‘s 70,000 figure.