IamA Kurd who was in the capital, half an hour away from the recent ISIS attacks. It was choas. AMA!
My short bio: I am a Kurd who has grown up in the arms of safe Britain all my life. Some of my family live here so I come back to kurdistan regularly to visit them. I'm now in a nearby town but was in the capital through the ISIS saga. It seems there are a lot of misconceptions about ISIS on reddit, and I'm willing to take off my lurker cloak in order to hopefully give a fresh perspective on the matter as a kurd and someone who has family in government AMAA
QUICK UPDATE: We've managed to recapture a strategically important town called guere (I tried pronouncing but failed), which was the main driving point for the potential ISIS attack on the capital. A big thanks in this case to the Americans.
UPDATE 2:Was just at a medical placement and we had peshmerga fighters coming in with bomb wounds. There was also this poor little boy who had lost both of his parents to a mortar blast and was severely injured himself. I came home to hear that the town which they came from, called Jalula, was captured by ISIS.
SEVERELY IMPORTANT INFO: guys and gals as kurds we have always longed for an independant state which has been our right since dinosaurs were around. This is mainly because we enjoying being on Earth and not ending up in the pages of history books only. We'd all be grateful if you could sign this petition for our independance. Thank you. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/support-kurdish-independence/wk7K9SSp
After 12 hours of stepping out of lurker darkness, I'm totally chuffed with all your comments (even those of you who don't agree with my opinions). I'll answer some more and stop before I reddit myself to death like that guy who died playing on the PC for 72 hours straight. If you have any questions just PM me with an at least moderately sexual header followed by the question or insult you have and I'll happily take both. Good night.
My Proof: http://imgur.com/LoG5jxd. Suleymaniyah mountains in the background. http://imgur.com/hJdaSbZ Spot the attack helicopter. http://imgur.com/mcbaVI6 Picture of a humvee going in the direction of the capital.
It's because there are people within the regions they've invaded that support them. They're called the baath party and used to support Saddam. Ironically they're mostly secular (the baath party). Also, ISIS is being supported by Saudi Arabia on the down low.
Also, ISIS is being supported by Saudi Arabia on the down low.
Do you have proof of this?
Although it is an opinion (a very popular one), there is no proof. Ihave no bias but there is absolutely no way they could have got this sort of organisation and artillery without external help and they've managed to challenge tens of thousands of peshmerga who are themselves supposed to be a strong force within the middle east. Saudi arabia is one of the nations who would theoretically support ISIS and have stayed quiet. 2+2=4 but it could equal 5 as well i suppose.
I head they got it by systematically taking over armories and military bases, which gave them tanks, trucks, guns, etc provided by the US. Is that true?
But how did they take them over initially? With what weaponry. They have to be heavily supplied for the Iraqi army to run for the hills when they saw them.
Not really kr. They kind of just showed up with guns in the air like that M.I.A song 'bad girls' and the iraqi army ran. You gotta remember that Mosul has a massive Baath (Saddam McBeard's old party) presence. With that support, Malikis army literally left their army clothes on the floor and ran, to the amusement of the kurdish peshmerga.
They're called the baath party
Why is this? Is it because the Iraqi Ba'athists are still largely opposed to the Syrian Ba'ath party? I just find it surprising that there'd be Ba'ath support at all, considering it seems like quite a lot of the fighters aren't Arab.
This is the thing. The Baath party dont really support them but it's the only way they can rise to evil again. At the moment they have the same mutual interests It's a case of my enemies enemy is my friend.
What is the general feeling about the american air attacks? Are any civilians in danger from them?
I hadn't thought of it till you asked actually. If I were to make an educated guess the answer is yes but only hostages. Everyone else flees the ISIS towns as its a leave or die decision. The media (middle east and west) hasn't alluded to this either.
You didn't say what the general feeling was about the american attacks, from reading below I assume you 100% support it? Same with your family and colleagues?
The people are much less opinionate about Americas intervention than they are about what were are doing from within.
What are some of the misconceptions?
One of the big misconceptions is that this whole ISIS was a massive loss for the kurds. Although it was eventually gonna get to this without American intrvention, It actually helped us regain land Saddam Hussein had taken from us. Especially Kirkuk, which has massive economical leverage (oil again) within Iraq.
The second one, and this is not just for this American intervention, but most western intervention, is people think that there are humanitarian reasons behind it. That's just a overdrawn childhood story the media and governments in the west portray. It's all for money and power in one form or another
I'm surprised people aren't more skeptical about an American intervention after what happened in Iraq, but presumably you would like to see ISIS wiped out regardless of what the reasons behind it are?
The Iraq invasion was good for us though. Until ISIS landed its big footprint here I reckon the quality of life was just as good as the UK. A lot of money was around.
Would you say it Kurd be worse?
I chuckled at this partly from the pun and partly because of the tomato I have in my pocket.
Really? As the uk? How is health care? That's nuts!
As a person climbing up the educational ladder (med student), life is hands down easier in Kurdistan. There's little poverty as the money eventually gets to the people. The people work about 5-6 hours a day and most have supplementary incomes as compensation for oppressed in the past.
Not many countries can beat the UK for equality in healthcare.The healthcare here is subsidised and the rich just go private. As a person who will work for the NHS, I love it like family. Privatisation is already happening though.
Why would we spend all this money (and subject ourselves to enormous risks) to secure your oil when we have more oil in the Bakken fields and off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts that we could get for a tiny fraction of the cost?
Edit: I think some people are misunderstanding my point. My point is that if we were really motivated by oil, there are plenty of easier/cheaper/faster ways to get it. I'm sorry if there are significant numbers of Kurds who really doubt our motives in wanting to defeat ISIS, but I can tell you we really are motivated by humanitarian concerns.
I don't think it's just oil. It's also having some sort of political hold within the region. We're the only real ally in this area now. Say if Iran decides one day that it prefers actions to threats and starts a war with Israel. Kurdistan would be an ideal place to launch attacks from. Another thing is preventing potential threats. I think America now see ISIS as a serious threat.
The humanitarian side of things is most definitely an afterthought but we're still thankful for it.
How likely is the fall of ISIS, considering the current situation and the countries that are attempting to bring an end to the group, or at least what they are doing?
I think the general feeling is ISIS is here to stay, definitely for the next year or so anyway.That might change with the US intervention. The media continues to spew bullshit about how our peshmergas are managing to contain ISIS, which was the view even in the government until shit hit the fan and we realised that we don't actually have that much ammo and expertise (also with the demise of sinjar). The truth is without America, they had a real chance of doing some damage to the kurds. EDIT: I gotta add that I also admire the kurdish peshmerga for bravely defending our land. That's an official statement from the presidential office in my mind.
Have you lost any family members to these events?
Not to these events thankfully but my mum is from Halabja, which was chemically bombed in 1988 by Saddam Hussein. She made it through with injuries but unfortunately a big chunk of her family and 5000 other kurds didn't.
Glad to here you haven't lost anyone to these events. I have family in Mexico where the drug violence has gotten out of hand and my loved ones are always in my mind. Hopefully your family is able to stay safe through the continued struggle their country is going through
Thanks Perseus. I hope the same for you to. I am in a state of perpetual lust with your women and other women of the south american origin.
Are Americans there fighting ISIS right now in Iraq?
Haven't seen one but as I lay my head on the pillow a few nights ago, I could feel the vibrations of jets flying over.
Is there any pressure on the young men of Kirkuk to join the Peshmerga to fight the IS?
There is peer pressure, but I'd say there's more of an innate willingness. Kirkuk has always been subject to attacks and acts of brutality to the people there just pick up their rifles and fight with the peshmerga instinctively. Erbil had rarely seen trouble before ISIS (even through the Saddam years) which is why the people were shit scared.
Have you heard any word about the humanitarian air drops and if they are helping enough? I'm curious if the MREs come with language-specific instructions on how to use the heating elements.
I'm clueless with the second part but they are definitely helping. As Kurds we thank America for this because it was a certain Kurdish parties fault (KDP) who decided they wouldn't even bother trying to defend sinjar and just retreat. The other main party has its own problems as well though.
Scariest experience so far?
It was actually in 1996 and one of my first experiences. Kurds being Kurds, there was a civil war and we managed to somehow get in the middle of both sides fighting. We were heading fr Turkey as the only viable exit point and had to drive through disputed territory. We're bro's with one side as my dad was an old peshmerga general so they found us a safe path through. The other side wasn't as dandy. There were bombs going off in the distance and shots being fired n shit. scary, panty pooping kind of stuff.
Are people leaving Kirkuk to head away from the front lines?
Surprisingly, people are flocking to Kirkuk. The capital Erbil went into chaos when I was there on the night of the guere attack (half an hour away), so the kurds went to their second homes or relative's. The arabs went to Kirkuk. I was at the checkpoint the day after and it was a sight which would bring Arnie to tears.
Do you personally know any Yazidis? Any that you've been worried about?
No but although we say Yazidi, they're also kurds. we consider them as our brothers and sisters and knowing that women have been kidnapped and people killed gives me the goosebumps.
In your experience how does the average Iraqi view America?
I can't share my views for the average Iraqi but the average kurd loves America like a childhood sweetheart that breaks up with you and then returns every few years only to make up and then break up with you again. Except this sweetheart can basically crush you or make you see out your wildest dreams (independance in our case).
I never made it to Iraq but I served in Afghanistan and I lot of my guys had been out there. Every last one of them that I knew had the utmost respect for the Kurds. You'd hear how shitty the Iraqis were at fighting and then it never failed "except for the Kurds, those guys were the shit". They're not at all happy about what's going on and how they feel you all got left out to dry. I know I'm not alone in hoping you guys get the help you deserve. You're a testament to the rest of the world that the Middle East isn't hopeless or a lost cause. Wish you and your family the best.
Thanks man, we love the soldiers aswell. Not just because you've taken Saddam away, but as individuals have been friendly and had a sense of humour even in the toils of war.
Do you think ISIS or similar group is going to pop up anywhere else in the middle east and try to take over a country? I know islamist tried to take over mali but that failed.
The short answer is yes. It's pretty much the same in Syria where the FSA are a group of fanatics (less so than ISIS) that want to take over and make everyone hate the idea of living. The only problem is, Assad is just as bad.
I've heard that they were tensions now between the kurds of iraq and the kurds of syria. Is this true ? Shouldn't this be a great occasion to unify and form a kurdish state ?
The only tension was due to there being too many refugees, so our genius president decides to build a massive ditch to prevent others from crossing over easily. However, this was overlooked as we have open arms for the syrian kurds. In fact, the kurdish faction in Syria (YPG), who are a mix of PKK and other kurds in the region, openly offered to send some bad ass fighters to help our cause. Even without a government and any sort of military technology, the Kurds in Syria amazingly resilient.
Has their been a big influx of Shia/Christian Arab refugees to Iraqi Kurdistan?
If so, how have the locals interacted with the refugees? I've always heard that Arab-Kurdish relations are rocky around Kirkuk... are the two groups getting along?
Let's put this into figures. Kurdistan had about 5,000,000 in population before all this and there have been about 1,500,000 refugees. That's a 30% increase in the space of several months! The ones who've managed to escape ISIS have been given food and temporary shelter but it's a massive burden which I think Kurdistan is taking pretty well.
Do you think the UK should intervene? Do people there want the UK to intervene?
The UK isn't involved in the discussion of intervention between the Kurds or most matters except a possible holiday/living destination. Saying that, the government does consider the UK as a pretty important nation in the big scheme of things.
How much will life in Hawler/Arbil change?
Seeing as it was a very peaceful city and kind of like little Dubai till now...
Also, how is the Christian minority reacting? There is a sizeable community in Ankawa, and I imagine they are kind of scared.
Thanks for doing this AMA!
The economy here has stalled but there is quiet optimism about it kicking into action again.
We hear stories about the christians in Ankawa moving out of Kurdistan which is a sad reality if true. They're absolutely saints most of them and supply us with great booze.
Thank you for the AMA. A couple of questions. You mentioned having grown up in Britain, were you born there, or did your family emigrate? Do you feel at risk where you are now (visiting family)? Did you ever worry about being allowed to enter or leave the region? Sorry if these questions seem misinformed, because I'm not as well versed as many people on this topic.
It's kl. Asking misinformed questions all time is how I got into med school.
My mum was injured in the chemical bombings of Halabja and my dad was a peshmerga fighter against Saddam Husseins regime. They both emigrated to the UK around 1990. I was born there afterwards.
Weirdly enough, not at all. After the initial choas and chinese whispers going around that ISIS had some sort of magical power to take over the world, everyone's a bit meh. This coupled with the media telling us that our fighter have the hearts of lions and playing patriotic songs makes a very tranquil atmosphere.
Not really. They have cancelled some flights but we used to drive from Turkey before planes came in anyway. Could always go back to that.
Who do the locals blame for the current crisis? Maliki, USA, Saudi Arabia?
Maliki is the main culprit. ISIS have huffed and puffed many times and Maliki did squat about it. Maliki himself is a yet to mature dictator. The guy is prime minister, minister for defence AND interior minister. He was barely keeping hold of the territory ISIS is holding now.
I've said a couple of times to friends I was discussing this with that "Maliki isn't competent enough at being Saddam to be a dictator in Iraq, which is why he is doomed to fail". Is that a solid assessment?
He's like a version of Saddam whos not quite sure which brand of terrorism he prefers.
What are you thoughts on fighting with the pashmerga? If your dad was a general, you must have thought about going in his footsteps?
And best of luck, hope everything turns out well for you.
Patriotism has been hammered into me since childhood. But I'm a future medic and would hopefully be able to patch up some peshmerga who have been injured if shit hits the pan. Lets hope it doesn't get to me killing them from rubbish healthcare.
Thanks Larrrsen, I hope the same for you too.
What do you mean by saying that ISIS are mostly secular? They're imposing fanatical islamic punishment aren't they?
I meant the Baath party.
Ok, but why would a secular group of people support fanatical islamists?
It's a case of my enemies enemy is my friend
If you had UN influence what would you suggest to deal with ISIS?
hmmm I don't think that's a great idea as I use to play a lot of command and conquer. I'd first change Maliki through covert operations and then bring in someone who has no as little religious affiliation as possible. Taking back the border is massive as it lets you isolate them in Iraq. I'd get surveillance on their main leader, who has announced himself as a demi-prophet and get him wiped out. I'd also try and get some riffs between them through propaganda. Once him and some of the heirarchy are out the rest usually begin to divide within themselves and then its game over.
Hi fellow kurd here (in sulymani)
Op are there anything that we see right now on the new that are false?
To rephrase that
Are there any false broadcasting of events that are or aren't happening?
Yes. All this peshmerga have everything under control is wrong. we would be in trouble if America hadn't intervened. We have very brave fighters though (due to many years of having to fight against oppression), so I don't believe we would have been invaded.
Do you have any idea how many Yazidi there actually are, and what is likely to happen to them as they are granted passage away from IS held territories?
There's no confirmed figure but up to 500,000. As with Syrian kurds, they'll be welcomed into the safe parts and given basics but it's saddening that they've been treated like this. They are renowned for being very peaceful.
Hey OP thanks for doing this. My question is to get your thoughts on the possibility ISIS goes after Turkey for cutting off Iraqi water supply?
I think ISIS want to do a Genghis Khan but know they can't. Initially they explicity said they were uninterested with Kurds but attacked us as soon as they thought they were at ng enough. Turkey is less likely as they are led by a sunni government and ISIS would rather not piss of every man and his dog.
Am I wrong to predict that once ISIS leave the area, we can expect clashes breaking out between Kurds and the Iraqi army?
Most probobly (no fighting). There has been a very precarious position for a few years between the kurds and the rest of Iraw, to the point where they halted our part of the countries money. That was partly because we went and sold oil without their permission but that was because they didn't give us an adequate percentage (just an endless cycle of buts to be honest). Both sides don't really want to fight and Maliki is already being an overgrown pussy by letting ISIS run around like Iraq's their playground.
It seems you're still answering: Du you think the Kurds of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria would have been better off in this fight against ISIS if they would have been an indipendent state (Kurdistan) for, let's say, 10 years? I mean that in the sense of fighting power and winning-the-war, not the obvous other reasons for indipendece.
Good question. I've got a medical placement now but will answer in full when I'm back in 4-5 hours.
Firstly, I think it's futile to consider all pparts of Kurdistan being independant for 10 years but I actually think it's better that we haven't got it yet. It's probably prevented disputes of power between our party so they can annoy the sunni's and shiaas while developing infrastructure and other aspects needed to truely become a decent indpendant state.
Did you go visit the capital when it was being threatened?
Is your family in a city that could be taken over?
Yeah. It was more of a scare than anything. We were playing table tennis and the boy attendant there ran past us muttering Da'ish (ISIS arab name). The place swiftly emptied and the city became chaotic with a few hundred metres of several rows of cars at each petrol station and people rushing out. I phoned my dad asking about the commotion and his was response was 'don't forget to buy a watermelon'.
Hey, OP. Just provide some proof, k? Cause this could be a great AMA but it won't get upvoted without some proof.
As I'm a reddit nooooob (the o's completely reflect how new I am), I don't know what the best way is to do that.
A photo of your hand holding a reddit note with the region in the background would be a start
Just upload a pic of your username with Kirkuk in the background or sth like that.
There's a whole autobot post explaining the process in the comments.
What do you think are the prospects for an independent, strong Kurdistan?
The info from up above is that it's probably not gonna happen. I think the US (which lets face it means the UN aswell) is comfortable with us having autonomy and a region but not a state. There's no point in giving us independance and annoying the countries against it
I think we've already seen it happen. ISIS flags around several cities in Europe. ISIS is motto is basically 'If your with us, then you can do whatever evil you want' type organisation, which a surprising amount of people really want to do. Unforuntately this means things like taking a vulnerable Yezidi (different religion) and forcing her to convert to islam by putting a hand on their head and spouting words they don't know the meaning of to make them into a newly wedded and then ripping her soul out by raping her. Really puts a dagger in my heart everytime I think abou it.
Why do you call it Kurdistan?
Stan is the general Indo-Iranian term for "Land". Kurdish is an Indo-Iranian language. Kurdi is the adjective for Kurdish in the Kurdish language, thus, Kurdistan- Land of the Kurds.
Sorry, 3rd question, if you have time can you just clarify who are your friends and who are not so friendly in the region? I have a vague impression that you are surrounded by people who aren't friendly (like (non-kurdish part of) Turkey to the north and Ba'athist Iraq to the south)
Friends because of benefits: apparently turkey and Iran ( they both want to eventually wipe us out though). Just friends: Israel and America Kind of enemies: Maliki's lot (who are strong allies with Iran) and ISIS now. The baath Sunnis.
These change as quickly as every few months and is by no means a definite truth. Overall, wed just prefer peace to be honest.
Is there anything we can do? As a woman and a mother, I am devastated by the news what Isis is doing, if you know of someone or some cause/foundation looking after those that need it most, please let me know.
Even your kind words of support are more than enough.
I have attached a petition and would be grateful if you took a few minutes to support us for independance. If not then thats ok.
What has been your role in these recent events? You said "we've managed to recapture". Is the we meaning you were involved, or is it just a general "we" meaning the Kurds?
That 'we' was a sporadic patriotism and unity arising from that mini victory. My role is to lurk and be nosey about the whole situation, exactly like my reddit history.
Thanks for doing this AMA.
My question is this: What are your plans career-wise after you finish your schooling? Will you remain in the UK, set up shop in Kurdistan, or go someplace else?
Definitely finish training (hopefully as an Orthopaedic surgeon) here, but that'll take a big chunk of my life. I really want to then set up a private hospital there and subsidise healthcare for the poor with the profits like a modern day Robin Hood.
Do the Wahhabi offer a sort of religion tax to allow locals to do what they want as along as they pay their tax?
Super fundamentalist Islam, from my understanding.
Honestly never heard of that. Definitely not in the kurdish areas. ISIS isn't devoid of money and there more of a 'either I kill you or put on this rag, prayer is in this direction and start shooting over there' kind of faction. I don't believe they're real muslims though.
How angry are your people at the united states for basically standing back and manipulating everything while your people and others get killed in the place of us soldiers to protect our economy, y'know like the new galaxy 4g with faster internet and a camera? Our solution to all our problems is to pump money in, to "arm freedom fighters" or "stop terrorism" depending on whether we have a puppet regime in place or not. So like Saddam, we put him in to protect our interests, taking away iraqs self-determination, do you hold us responsible for the chemical weapons attacks and general reign or terror?
We kind of have a love/hate relationship with America. I think a misconception is America is losing by getting involved in the middle east. Let's take the recent Iraq invasion. I genuinely believe America is going to benefit from it long term. One example is two cities Mosul and Kirkuk. During and after the war Mosul had a minimal presence of American troops where as Kirkuk was jam packed. Doesn't take a genius to guess which on the oil city is. From my perspective, America does not make moves without it benefitting in some way politically or economically. Whether that's right, I dunno. The sad part is the people losing their lives over this.
Why is it so hard to take this Isis group out?
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