A former US Marine in the peshmerga-allied Dwekh Nawsha militia, who requested anonymity for security reasons, took it a step further, arguing that the United States is ordering the peshmerga to stay put. “The US has said this line needs to hold,” he claimed.
In light of this, the peshmerga believes that it is ready to take back IS-controlled territories. “We are ready to take back Mosul,” said Mara’an. Ali agreed, saying, “We, as Kurds, are prepared to fight.”
There are numerous possible reasons for the delay. Ali believes that the Iraqi armed forces are preparing for an upcoming offensive. “The rest of Iraq needs to prepare,” he said. Considering how swiftly IS seized territory in Iraq last year, concern for the Iraqi military’s preparedness for such an offensive is not unwarranted. The capture of Mosul in June 2014 springs to mind.
Tensions between Kurdish forces and the Iraqi military factor in as well. “If we go on the offense on our own, there will be problems,” Mara’an declared. “We need to avoid sensitivity between Arabs and Kurds.” On Mosul, one of IS’ largest cities in Iraq, he had this to say: “If we attack Mosul, [the Iraqi government] will say it’s Arab land. Therefore, we need coordination with the Iraqi army.”
Finally, concerns of friendly fire appear to compel the peshmerga and their allies to not move the front line forward. “There are other front lines. If we advance, we will be ahead of other lines. We have to be in one alignment,” said Samer Anwya, a Dwekh Nawsha soldier from the base in Baqofah.