Iraq Kurds reach out to Baghdad to fight surging al-Qaeda.
|Distrust between the security forces of Iraq’s central government and|
forces in Kurdistan help increase al-Qaeda's power in the country.
(File photo: AFP)
Reture | 16 Aug 2013 :: When hundreds of al-Qaeda fighters in armored trucks attacked the northern Iraqi town of Shirqat with machine guns last week, the local army unit called for backup and set off in pursuit.
But after a two-hour chase through searing desert heat, most militants vanished into a cluster of Kurdish villages where the Iraqi army cannot enter without a nod from regional authorities.
It was just one example of how distrust between the security forces of Iraq’s central government and of its autonomous Kurdish zone helps the local wing of al-Qaeda, the once-defeated Sunni Islamist insurgents who are again rapidly gaining ground, a year and a half after U.S. troops pulled out.
“We had to wait more than two hours to get the required permission to go after them,” an Iraqi military officer who took part in the operation 300 Kilometers (190 miles) north of Baghdad said.
“While were we waiting, they simply disappeared.”
The Shi’ite-led Iraqi government and Kurdish authorities are now looking at examples like the Shirqat attack and considering the once unthinkable - launching joint security operations and sharing intelligence - to combat the common enemy of al-Qaeda.
Such cooperation has been extremely rare since U.S. troops left at the end of 2011, while the central government and the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region in the north have been locked in an increasingly hostile dispute over land and oil.
That the two sides are publicly contemplating working together underlines how worried they are about the insurgency and the threat of Iraq slipping back into all-out sectarian war.(Courtesy:Al Arabia)