What is IGIL?
Today ISIS is a self-proclaimed state, in essence representing a military-religious organization, rather than a full-fledged state education. Having emerged as a result of the merger of several Arab-Sunni groups of a radical nature, ISIS, due to the political weakness of Iraq and the presence of multiple contradictions between the Sunni Arabs and Arabs - Shiites, Arabs and Kurds, succeeded in raising the rebellion in a relatively short time and seizing a significant territory of Iraq, and then penetrating neighboring Syria, and impressive Syrian lands.
In fact, the creation of ISIL itself was a reaction to the political weakening of Sunni Arabs in Iraq. After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, all the ethnic and religious groups of Iraq, including the Shiite and Kurdish Arabs, received significant preferences, but the Sunni Arabs, who had been in power in the country for a long time and were the backbone of the Saddam regime, were out of work. Naturally, this could not but cause a sharply negative reaction from a part of the Iraqi political, economic, intellectual, military elite of the former regime, which began secretly to support radical organizations. The latter quickly managed to create an extensive network of armed units, which by the autumn of 2014 amounted to at least one hundred thousand militants relying on the support of the Sunni Arab communities in villages and cities of Iraq and Syria. Many ISIL units train or lead professional military personnel — former officers of the Iraqi army and special services who served under Saddam Hussein and went underground after the US-European operation in Iraq.
On the other hand, professional fighters from all over the Islamic world, primarily from Afghanistan and Pakistan, rushed to fight on the side of ISIS. Many of them have significant combat experience, having had time to participate in the latest armed conflicts - in Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and other countries of the East. Much of the militants joined ISIS in Syria, where they had previously fought in anti-Assad opposition units. It is also known that people from the Russian republics of the North Caucasus, as well as from the Crimea, are fighting in the ranks of ISIL. There are quite a few among the militants operating in the territory of Syria and Iraq and the citizens of European states - both immigrants from among Asian and African migrants, and Europeans who adopted the radical version of Islam. The ISIL militants are financed both by outright crime, including the expropriation of banks in the occupied territories, the taking of hostages for ransom, the imposition of a tribute to businessmen, and through sponsorship from interested financial circles of both the Muslim world and West. Another source of funds for ISIL is the extraction and sale of contraband oil in the oil-bearing areas of Iraq that are seized by the organization.
The point of view is quite widespread that ISIS is nothing more than a tool of the American foreign policy presence in the Middle East, which has escaped the control of American special services and turned into a headache for Washington in the first place. We must not forget that the United States since the times of confrontation with the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and in the Arab world has specialized in the artificial production of radical fundamentalist organizations. The latter are considered both as an alternative to the secular regimes of pro-socialist orientation, and as an obstacle to the true socio-economic development of the East. Indeed, by exploiting the most reactionary prejudices and bloodthirsty mood of the socially deprived, deprived population of Muslim countries, the United States condemns the Islamic states absorbed by extremist lawlessness to eternal poverty in poverty, the absence of any modernization development, political weakness and wordlessness. At the same time, the tasks of strengthening the financial and economic influence of the United States themselves are being solved both in the Middle East and in the world as a whole. It can be assumed that the United Kingdom has similar interests in many respects - it was she who in the Middle East carried out the function that belongs to the United States in the Middle East to stir up internal contradictions, stimulate radical sentiments, weaken secular regimes and cultivate medieval theocracies and feudal-despotic regimes. (a typical example is the former British protectorates in the Persian Gulf, which conserved medieval-type feudal relations).
The emergence and sharp strengthening of the positions of ISIL led to the fact that a significant part of the territories of Syria and Iraq was under the control of the militants. Being adherents of extreme religious extremism, ISIS militants launched brutal repressions in the territories they had seized, not only against non-believers - Christians and Yezidis, but also against almost all Muslims who do not share the radical attitudes and lifestyles of the members of this organization. Thus, the leaders of ISIS repeatedly even spoke of their intentions to destroy the Muslim holy Kaaba in Mecca and kill all those who worship him, accusing them of paganism.
Inovers are for ISIS objects of all-consuming hatred. It is known that to date, thousands of people of a different religion have become victims of ISIL militants in Syria and Iraq. On the other hand, recently recognized Sunni theologians from a number of countries in the Middle East and North Africa have come out with sharp criticism of ISIL. It is impressive that ISIS establishes a regime of overt lawlessness in the occupied territories, which it tries to justify by allegedly returning Sharia law and the original Islamic order. Nonetheless, world media have repeatedly reported the appearance of slave markets in ISIL-controlled regions, in which thousands of people are already being sold into slavery. Naturally, there are mass killings, rapes (including children), robberies.
Naturally, one of the key targets of hatred and armed aggression for ISIL militants became the Kurds, who compactly inhabit just the junction of the borders of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran. Kurdish tribes live here from time immemorial, being one of the aborigines of the region. Speaking in several dialects of the Kurdish language, belonging to the Iranian group of the Indo-European language family, the Kurds inhabit a vast mountainous area and, up to the present, do not formally have their own statehood. It is one of the largest nations of the world, deprived of its political sovereignty.
Kurdish land of Iraq
One of the most common versions of the origin of the Kurdish ethnic group is building it history to the ancient Iranian tribes who created the famous Midian kingdom. Whatever it was, today Kurds are reaching numbers, according to various sources, in the 30-40 area of millions of people and live not only in Turkey (13-18 million people), Iraq (6,5 million people), Iran ( 6-8 million people), Syria (2 million people), but also in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Russia, Israel, Turkmenistan, Georgia. The largest diaspora outside the traditional Kurdish settlement area exists in Germany - at least 800 thousands of Kurds live here, primarily those who emigrated from Turkey.
The mountainous areas of Iraq, in the region of the cities of Kirkuk and Erbil, are called one of the epicenters of the settlement of the Kurdish ethnic group in the Middle East. In particular, it is in Iraq that the Yezidi religious centers are located. Yezidis are a special ethno-confessional community, speaking the Kurmanji language and practicing Yezidism - the ancient religion, which is simply called “sun-worship” in some sources. Some of the Yezidis argue that they are an independent nation, differing from the neighboring Muslim Kurds, primarily with their religious views, but also cultural characteristics. Others advocate the integration of Kurds - Muslims and Yezidis, arguing that these are only two religions of the same nation. Naturally, Yezidis, having their own worldview, religion different from Islam and millennial traditions, for ISIS fanatics have become one of the top targets, maybe even more interesting than the Christian minorities of Iraq and Syria - Armenians, Assyrians and Arabs - Orthodox and Catholics.
On the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan is the famous religious center of the Yezidis - Lalesh - the temple of the sun with two sources sacred to the Yazidis of the whole world - Gania Zeml and Gania Sleep. However, the majority of the Kurdish population of Iraq from time immemorial was still Muslim Kurds. The largest Kurdish tribe of Iraq is Barzan, from which comes the famous family of Kurdish political figures Barzani, who led the national liberation movement of Iraqi Kurds for the last century, also professes Islam. However, Muslim Kurds are liberal, much more tolerant than their Arab neighbors. This is explained by the fact that most Kurds practice Sufism, or even religious movements close to Shiism. The Barzan tribe, in particular, refers to the Naqshbandiyya Sufi tarikat.
Barzani at the origins of the Kurdish national movement
The activity of the Naqshbandiyya Tarikata began in the territory of the Barzan tribe in the beginning of the XIX century. The sheikhs of the Sufi order became the religious and military-political leaders of the tribe, largely determining its policy. Actually, they laid the foundations of tolerance of Iraqi Kurds: in addition to the Barzan tribe itself, professing Islam, the Assyrian villages professing Christianity of the Nestorian, as well as Kurdish Jews also belonged to the union under the leadership of Naqshbandiyya sheikhs. Sheikh Ahmed Barzani, one of the first leaders of the Tariqa and the leaders of the Barzan tribe, preached quite progressive views in Iraqi Kurdistan. He forbade groundless killing and attacks on all living beings, ranging from people to animals and trees, prohibited violent marriages and bride price, considered the purpose of human existence a virtuous life, preached toleration.
Since the beginning of the twentieth century, the Barzan tribe stood at the origins of the national liberation struggle of Iraqi Kurds. In particular, it was the Barzans, under the leadership of their sheikhs, who raised the anti-British uprising in 1919, and in 1945-1946. attempted to create the Mehabad Republic in the territory of Iranian Kurdistan. After the fall of the Mekhabad Republic, the Kurds, headed by Mustafa Barzani, escaped by moving to the territory of Soviet Azerbaijan. Initially, Stalin hoped, with the help of Barzani and his associates, to subordinate Kurdistan to Soviet influence, but then he chose to stop training Kurds in military affairs at bases in Azerbaijan and deport them to Uzbekistan. Part of the Kurds settled there and remained, Mustafa Barzani himself returned to Iraq in 1958, where he lived until 1975, and after the defeat of another uprising, already anti-Iraqi, he was forced to emigrate to neighboring Iran, where he died. The current president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Masoud Barzani (r. XXUMX) is the son of Mustafa and nephew of Sheikh Ahmed Barzani. Masud Barzani’s nephew Nechirvan Barzani (r. 1946), in turn, heads the government of Iraqi Kurdistan and is the deputy chairman of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
Naturally, the people of Barzani, who enjoyed great prestige in Iraqi Kurdistan, eventually, after the fall of the government of Saddam Hussein, formed the backbone of the new government in the territory of a virtually independent republic. Indeed, although Kurdistan is part of Iraq, it has complete autonomy, including not only the existence of its own government bodies, but also its own armed forces, called the Peshmerga. It was the Kurdish fighters from the Peshmerga who were destined to become one of the key obstacles to the aggression of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Initially, the Peshmerga were the detachments of the Kurdish tribal militia that had participated in the struggle for independence against the Ottoman Empire since the end of the 19th century. If at first the Peshmerga detachments were still fragmented and poorly organized, after the First World War and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, they received an incentive to develop and sharply increased in numbers. Since then and for more than a century, the Peshmerga has remained the key armed force of Iraqi Kurdistan. The word "Peshmerga" was introduced by the writer and politician Ibrahim Ahmed as a variation of the famous Arab-Persian concept of "fidai", that is, a fighter for the faith (idea or native land).
For more than a century of its existence, the Peshmerga has participated in at least nine wars in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan and neighboring states. These are: the war against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War; war for the Mekhabad Republic in 1945-1946 in the territory of Iranian Kurdistan; First Kurdish-Iraqi war in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1961-1970; Second Kurdish-Iranian war in 1974-1975; Iran-Iraq war in 1980-1988; Gulf War in 1991; Civil war in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1994-1997; US and NATO coalition invasion of Iraq in 2003-2007; war with religious extremists from 2007 to the present day.
Peshmerga - Kurdish "going to die"
Strengthening the Peshmerga as a regular army in Iraqi Kurdistan began in 1961-1975. By this time, during the two Kurdish-Iraqi wars, which lasted a total of fourteen years, Peshmerga had grown in number to 15000 fighters and commanders. At the same time in the units of the Kurdish militia were introduced uniform protective color uniform, salary system. The organizational structure of the Peshmerga was like an army - divisions, battalions, companies, platoons and squads were created. The quality of the Peshmerga weapons gradually improved. Replaced the old guns, rifles, cold arms Czech rifles "Brno-17" came, then - the ubiquitous legendary "Kalashnikovs". In 1963, mortars were put into service with the Peshmerga, then artillery guns.
Certainly, the Russian patriots will not like the fact that during the years of the American-Iraqi war, the Peshmerga took part in hostilities on the side of the US-NATO coalition. However, it should not be overlooked that the Kurdish rebels pursued purely personal goals - the creation of their own state or, at least, broad autonomy with greater powers. Naturally, to achieve this goal, they considered any opportunities, including cooperation with the United States.
The Peshmerga’s participation in the anti-Saddam’s coalition also resulted in the provision of the Kurds ’rights to create their own armed forces in Iraqi Kurdistan. At the same time, the armed forces under the control of Baghdad were forbidden to deploy in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan and even enter its territory. In fact, this indicates the complete independence of Iraqi Kurdistan from Iraq, although formally it continues to remain autonomous within the Iraqi state.
The number of Peshmerga currently numbers approximately 120 thousands of soldiers and officers. They are combined into 12 infantry battalions, several battalions of special forces, heavy artillery and auxiliary units. The Peshmerga battalion numbers 3-5 thousands of people. At the same time, the command of the armed forces of Iraqi Kurdistan plans to increase the number of military units to 200 thousand people. Plans to increase the number of combat units are associated, among other things, with the apparent threat from religious extremist groups fighting in Iraq and Syria.
The armament of the Peshmerga units consists primarily of small arms, artillery pieces and Soviet-made armored vehicles. The following types of military equipment are in service with the Kurdish armed forces - from 150 to 450 tanks T-72 and T-55, captured after the defeat of the military units of the Saddam army; several hundred PT-76. The number of armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles is not exactly known, just as it is not possible to estimate the stocks of artillery weapons. Some units of military equipment delivered by the Americans.
Since 2007, since the end of the US-European military operation in Iraq, the main task of fighting against the numerous organizations of religious extremists operating in Iraqi territory has been laid down. At the same time, the Kurds managed to create a relatively safe region for living in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan, which differed in a favorable way from the rest of Iraq with constant terrorist attacks and armed clashes. In the end, this led to the fact that numerous refugees from other regions of the country began to move to Iraqi Kurdistan, in particular - representatives of ethnic and religious minorities: Assyrians, Armenians, Arabs - Christians, Mandaeans, Yezidis, Jews.
At the forefront of the fight against ISIS
When in the summer of 2014 on the territory of Iraq, the activation of units of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant began, the Peshmerga entered into active confrontation with ISIS militants. The confrontation between Peshmerga and ISIL intensified in June 2014 - first around Kirkuk and Havija, where in the beginning of the month there were several clashes between ISIL militants and Kurdish militia and police. 13 June 2014 President of Kurdistan Masood Barzani addressed a message to the country's population urging Peshmerga and Asaish security forces to protect Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups in Kurdistan.
Naturally, among the Kurdish population, the attempts of ISIS to establish a religious-extremist dictatorship in the territory of Iraqi Kurdistan provoked a sharply negative reaction. Some degree of support for ISIS can only be in villages inhabited by Sunni Arabs who do not like the elevation of Kurds and living under the leadership of Kurdish leaders. But not all Arabs are inclined to support ISIS, knowing full well that this organization is unlikely to be able to provide a decent living in the event of its victory.
However, the actions of ISIL and the almost complete absence of real opposition from the Iraqi army, controlled by Baghdad, led to a deterioration in the relationship between the leadership of Kurdistan and Iraq. 18 June 2014 Nechirvan Barzani, who is the Prime Minister of Iraqi Kurdistan, doubted the reality of further preserving the political unity of the Iraqi state. Around the same days, the armed confrontation between the Peshmarg and ISIS detachments aggravated. A part in complicating the situation in the region was played by the entry into the battle against ISIS by Shiite militants with the support of the Iranian special forces, who arrived in Kirkuk on June 23. One of the Peshmarga leaders explained the Kurds' point of view on the opposition of Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis: “The Peshmarga forces do not want Kirkuk to become a place of sectarian war between Shiites and Sunnis. They can fight these battles in their own areas, and Kirkuk is neither Sunni nor Shiite, it is Kurdish. ”
Since the end of June 2014, world politicians, including Israeli, Turkish and Russian decision makers, have begun to talk about the possible granting of political independence to Iraqi Kurdistan. In the conditions of chaos of the political situation in Iraq, the preservation of Kurdistan as a center of relative stability and peaceful coexistence of Muslim Kurds, Yezidis, Turkmen-Shiites, Christian Arabs, Assyrians and other peoples is of great strategic interest for the Middle East. On the other hand, it is an independent and strong Kurdistan that can constitute one of the key intransitive frontiers for radical militants from ISIS and similar groups. The independence of Iraqi Kurdistan was supported by 17 July and the Kurdish Christians who feel more comfortable in the region than their co-religionists in the rest of Iraq.
Iraqi Yezidis also take an active part in the resistance of ISIS. At the beginning of August, 2014 formed quite numerous Yezidi self-defense units aimed at protecting Yezidis living in the Sanjar mountains from ISIS attacks and trying to hold out until the main Peshmerga forces arrived. Three thousand Yezidi fighters formed a guard for the Sharfadin temple in Shangal, which is considered to be a Yezidi shrine.
The threat from ISIL prompted to unite not only the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional population of Iraqi Kurdistan. We were ready to forget the old grievances and such old opponents of Kurdish independence as the Turks. Not only did Turkish politicians seriously talk about the fact that for Turkey the granting of political sovereignty to Iraqi Kurdistan could have rather positive consequences and therefore is viewed as a desirable act, Turkey decided to supply weapons for Peshmarga. “Turkey sent weapons to Kurdistan at the beginning of the IS attack on Kurdish cities and towns, but the Turkish authorities asked us not to bring this out of publicity because of the internal affairs of the country: it was the time of the presidential election, and besides, their citizens were held hostage by IG militants “- said Masud Barzani, President of Kurdistan, in an interview with an Arab television channel. However, in the end, Kurdish information resources are not particularly pleased with Turkey’s position, which is not in a hurry to intervene in the conflict and could help anti-extremist forces much more significantly than it does at present.
In the autumn of 2014, the Syrian Kurds were also at the forefront of the armed struggle against ISIS. Unlike their Iraqi compatriots, they do not possess enough weapons and such a powerful and trained military organization as the Peshmerga of Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, unlike the Iraqi Kurds, the Syrian Kurds do not have real support from the United States of America, including because, firstly, they gradually ceased to support the anti-Assad opposition in Syria, and secondly, they have close relations with Turkish Kurds from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, who are still considered to be enemies of the country's political order and terrorist organization in Turkey.
In the meantime, we see that the Kurds are almost the only force capable of withstanding ISIS in full measure. The multi-million Kurdish people are well aware that their whole traditional way of life - religion, culture, customs - can be destroyed if the LIH militants win. Naturally, the Kurds are ready to defend their land and personal security to the last, but we should not forget that ISIL is sponsored by the global financial community with very large economic, informational and political resources. Without the help of neighboring states, the Kurds, especially the Syrian, have very slim chance of coping with ISIS. Moreover, if the organization continues to grow in number and receive new sources of support from the interested global financial oligarchy.
The further strengthening of the positions of ISIL in the Middle East and the expansion of the territory of their activities represents a tremendous threat not only for Syria and Iraq, but also for many other states. Currently, ISIS militants are operating directly on the Syrian-Turkish border. Of course, it is unlikely that they will be able to cope with the regular Turkish army, but at the same time it should be noted that so far neither Turkey nor other states of the region prefer not to intervene fully in the confrontation. It should also be noted that a full-fledged war with thousands and even millions of victims will turn the Middle East into a seething sea of blood, splashes of which inevitably reach the territory of the former Soviet Union. In this regard, a natural question arises - what awaits the post-Soviet space, especially its Muslim regions, in case of further spread of ISIL activities throughout the entire Middle East?
Considering that in the republics of Central Asia, with their colossal economic problems, poverty and otkhodnichestvom ’male population to work, aging authoritarian leaders have a very fertile ground for spreading radical ideas, and Afghanistan and poorly controlled Pashtun districts of Pakistan are spreading, the territory of the former USSR is even possible. In this case, Russia should take care not only of peace and war in the Middle East, but also of preserving its own national security, primarily in the direction of countering antiterrorist threats, countering extremist agitation and propaganda in the migrant environment in the republics of the North Caucasus.