Iraqi security forces and Popular Mobilization Forces patrol in Tuz Khormato, that was evacuated by Kurdish security forces, 130 miles (210 kilometers) north of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Oct. 16, 2017. Two weeks after fighting together against the Islamic State, Iraqi forces pushed their Kurdish allies out of the disputed city of Kirkuk on Monday, seizing oil fields and other facilities amid soaring tensions over last month’s Kurdish vote for independence. (AP Photo)

One of the anomalies of the fight against ISIS is that our strategic monomania on suppressing one of the frequent millennia cults that arise in Islam (Christianity has them too, they just don’t kill people–at least on the industrial scale–and tend sit on empty hilltops awaiting the Second Coming) is that we found ourselves allied with a state sponsor of terror: Iran. Today, the Iranian militias we trained and equipped rolled over an ostensible US ally, the Kurdistan Regional Government, began what looks like a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Kirkuk and topped it all off with the beheading of captured Kurdish peshmerga.

This is the background…or at least as best as I can sort it out.

Tony Badran, who is one of two or three absolute “must follow” folks on Twitter to understand what is happening in the Middle East, has two prescient pieces here on Iran’s warnings to the KRG on the dangers of seeking independence. See my post from yesterday for details on the various Kurd factions, their alliances and rivalries.

These quotes are not from today but from three years ago.

In our haste to eradicate ISIS, a course of action that I think was more visceral (they were so Muslim that Obama thought they weren’t Muslim) and political (saying we were destroying ISIS became a substitute for strategic thinking) that we ended up allied not only with al-Qaeda-lite militias in Syria but with actual subsidiaries of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Iraq. These militias, called Popular Mobilization Forces, or PMF, are descendants of the Sadrist Shia militias we fought in Iraq. Only now we have trained and equipped them because they are an official part of the Iraqi Army.

And, of course, by focusing on ISIS we have placed ourselves on the same side as Bashar Assad, who we are allegedly opposing, Russia, and, as I mentioned, Iran.

Because of our support of the PMF and the Iraqi Army, we are now in the position of using Rodney King diplomacy because we have soldiers at risk.

And the German military assistance group is looking for the exits:

Naturally, the Turks have come in on the side of anything that stymies Kurdish independence.

Today, Iraqi forces, with IRGC advisers in tow, rolled into Kirkuk to reclaim it from the KRG and peshmerga.

Note that they are using Turkmen militia here, an ethnic group that is predisposed to disposing of Kurds.

This is the flag raising in Kirkuk.

Who are these people? They are Iranian assets leading forces we have trained and equipped.

And with the victory in Kirkuk, we see some familiar things happening.

What is notable in this is that the PUK, the Patriotic Party of Kurdistan, one of the minority parties in the KRG, has sided with Iraq.

All we can say to the KRG and peshmerga, who have been our most loyal Middle East ally after Israel for the past two decades is

In all fairness, this strategy was developed by the Obama administration and it was developed without any real complaints out of CENTCOM. And the monomaniacal focus on the destruction of ISIS made partnering with the IRGC inevitable, never mind their track record of blowing up American installations. This policy has continued under the current Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser because they were pretty much co-opted by the status quo when they came on board. We’ve kept on staff Brett McGurk–the nimrod who screwed up Iraqi SOFA negotiations while sleeping with a Wall Street Journal reporter (FEMALE, THANK HEAVEN!!) and getting blow jobs from a State Department staffer (FEMALE, THANK HEAVEN!!) on the roof to the US embassy in Baghdad–who has seen this plan through to its unfortunate, though logical and foreseeable, consequences.

ISIS is gone. This romance we have with Iranian proxies, be they the PMF in Iraq or the Lebanese Armed Forces, which are a thinly disguised adjunct of Hezbollah and Iran, has to cease. We need to keep our eye on the main objective in the region which is crushing Iranian hegemony. To do that, we need allies. And this is not how to treat them.