Janine di Giovanni wrote for Newsweek about the battle against ISIS in Mosul:
“When America needs us, they call,” the woman tells me. “But will they forget what we have done when we need them?”
Khota Kider is a commander of a female Kurdish brigade, and her question resonates here in Iraqi Kurdistan, on the front lines in the war against the Islamic State group (ISIS).
A stateless people of roughly 25 million, Kurds live in oil-rich parts of Iraq, Turkey, Iran and Syria. They’re known for their skill on the battlefield, and they’ve long felt that other countries—especially the U.S.—use them as proxies, then abandon them when they’re no longer needed.
Iraqi Kurds are expected to play a crucial role in the battle of Mosul, which began on October 17 and is being led by Iraqi forces with some help from the U.S. While some worry about another betrayal, most still hope their reward will finally be independence—or at least greater sovereignty. “The independence of Kurdistan is the right of our people,” Nechirvan Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish regional prime minister, told Voice of America last summer. “We will decide the extent of our borders by what has been liberated.”