‘We Told Them’

by Rich Lowry

From the long New York Times piece today on how the Obama administration feared another Benghazi in Erbil:

The pesh merga were demoralized, uncertain, underequipped and facing a formidable foe along several hundred miles of border between the Kurdistan region and Iraq’s Nineveh and Kirkuk Provinces, where the militants are now the dominant force.

Several fighters who had fought ISIS said they were daunted when they discovered the militants were traveling in bulletproof vehicles that left the pesh merga’s bullets doing little more than pockmarking the metal.

“It’s our business to see the faces of the soldiers and know how they feel,” said Halgurd Hekmat, the head of media for the pesh merga fighters. “I wouldn’t say they were afraid, but they were a bit nervous,” he admitted. Since the fall of Mosul, the pesh merga leadership had warned the Americans and the Iraqi government that they were ill equipped to hold the militants at the border separating Nineveh Province from Kurdistan.

“We told them: ‘We cannot hold it for very long. We are not a country; we don’t have an army; we don’t have aircraft,’ ” said Lt. Gen. Jaber Yawer Manda, the secretary general of the pesh merga ministry. “I said: ‘We are fighting in the front lines now. You have to help us.’ ”