Originally Posted by Born_Believer
If you look at the comparative numbers, the Kurdish Peshmerga have been responsible for killing terrorists at a higher rate than any other regional force fighting Daesh by close to 50%, and they've had less casualties than anyone else too, by a similar sort of margin. There are a number of factors that go into these results- for one, the Peshmerga have been asked, in certain situations, to avoid full engagement of a city center. Leave that for a different fighting force, due to concerns over a superabundance of sectarian hostilities. And to my knowledge, they have been cooperating with these sorts of requests. Additionally, however, this may also be the sort of thing that puts their forces in harm's way to a lesser extent than some others, in relative terms.
And for another thing, the Peshmerga forces, from what I understand, are unique in a couple of other ways. They're willing to have US forces embedded with them, side by side and in the closest possible form of cooperation. Other coalition forces are unwilling to do this sort of thing due to their interpretation of certain religious prohibitions (that religion is Islam of course), and quite frankly, this is comparatively detrimental to their fighting forces and advantageous to the Peshmerga. Ah, yes, one other thing that makes the Peshmerga unique is that they have women fighting on the front lines. Not just support, not just for medical purposes, but actual soldiers doing all the same sort of fighting as anyone else. This is a truly unique thing in the region....it doesn't necessarily make the Kurdish forces better, automatically, but it certainly is unique and in this particular situation, it may also provide a strategic advantage against Daesh. From what I understand of how Daesh interprets their religion (which is a toxic interpretation of Islam), they believe that for any of their fighters who are martyred in the cause of jihad, their sexual rewards in the afterlife will be nullified if they are killed by a woman. So in some particular situations where Daesh knows that they are dealing specifically with Peshmerga forces, that sort of belief would pose a strategic disadvantage for Muslims waging jihad while seeking reward in the afterlife.
Additionally, may I also point out that some forces in the region simply have a lot of fighting experience compared to others. The core of the fighting force for Daesh basically consists of Saddam's guys. Of course they did some terrible things when he was in charge, and I obviously like them even less now that they are Daesh, but they do have military backgrounds and a history of professionalism that is useful in a fight. The Kurdish Peshmerga have a similar sort of history (while being far less evil) and the rest of the coalition forces from Iraq (excluding the forces sent in from Iran) have less of a military history, are less experienced, and have less professionalism in a fight. These are the people who threw down their weapons and ran away from Daesh fighters, surrendering territory and weapons to them in the first place. Compared to just about anything, that's not anyone's idea of professionalism in a fight.
Now, that's my overall assessment of how the Kurdish Peshmerga fit in with the rest of the fighters around them. I don't think I would describe them as "great warriors," I would simply say they have a level of experience and professionalism that is equal to that of some other actors in the conflict and significantly better than that of some others. But I would also suggest that the success they're able to have has as much to do with overwhelming US air support than anything else, and with the degree to which they've been cooperating with US forces. The only people in this fight that truly deserve to be called "great warriors" are the US troops. You can compare them to anyone else you want- this is the greatest fighting force in the world.
I will add one other thing. A friend of mine did three tours in Iraq, and I've asked him about the Kurds on several occasions, in slightly different ways. The one word he always comes back to is "honorable." He keeps saying they're honorable people. Nobody told him to say that, this is just a personal idiosyncracy of his. He values honor in people, he has a particular way of assessing it, and he makes a point of talking about it when he sees it in others. And yes, he has told me that the Kurds (in particular their fighting forces) are the most honorable people that he was able to work with in Iraq.
Now, as to the "tearing apart" of a Muslim nation, it's been the stated position of the US that we want to try and preserve the unity of Iraq while perhaps elevating the degree to which certain regions have autonomy. But from my standpoint, I personally think that the Kurdish people got screwed over more than anyone else during the post-WWII partitioning. I also think that the borders of these countries were determined arbitrarily by external forces, and as nice as it would have been for there to be some large countries that functioned well with religious and ethnic diversity inside their borders, that doesn't look like it's going to work out in the long term. Maybe Iraq and Syria will wind up being failed states, maybe not. I would put most of the blame on the initial partitioning if it comes to that; as of right now though I would expect the US and the rest of NATO to try and preserve the present borders just out of a bias for Westphalian sovereignty. We're probably going to be Westphalian just for the sake of being Westphalian. But if the people who actually live there wind up reaching a peacemaking arrangement where new borders are drawn, I would be happiest for the Kurds if they're able to have a state for themselves. To your point though, I think it would be inaccurate to suggest that outside forces, in this instance, are working on tearing the country apart. Daesh has been responsible for effectively dissolving the border between Iraq and Syria, and these outside forces that you have such a negative bias against are working to keep existing borders in place as much as they possibly can, and if those borders are redrawn it will be the result of negotiations and agreements between the people who actually live there. The US, in its official capacity, has a bias in favor of the present borders. I have a personal bias against the process that put those borders where they are in the first place, and I would personally like for some of them to be determined by people who live there, and that may be what winds up happening in the next few years. But that isn't the stated goal of actual US foreign policy at this time, and I don't believe that's what the US and its allies are actively trying to accomplish.