The Iraqi army and Shiite Hashd Shaabi Brigades militias under Iranian Revolutionary Guards command seized the strategically important northern Iraqi-Syrian border crossing of Faysh Khabur on Saturday, Oct. 28, forcing the Kurdish Peshmerga into another retreat after this month’s fall of oil-rich Kirkuk.
The joint Iraqi-Iranian operation was conducted surreptitiously, masked as an Iraqi military operation “to liberate al Qaim from ISIS” – with which Iraqi Prime Minister Haydar al-Abadi laid a red herring.
This operation, choreographed by Guards General Qassem Soleimani, wrapped up his scheme to round off Iran’s control of the northern sector of that border, in order to achieve four strategic objectives:
- To cut off the overland corridor between Iraqi Kurdistan and the three Syrian enclaves ruled by the YPG militia. The Syrian militia is now barred from coming to the aid of its Iraqi brothers, the peshmerga.
2. To shut the only open door remaining to Kurdish residents wishing to travel outside Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iraqi government has cut all its air links by seizing the international airports of Irbil and Suliemeniyeh and threatening to shoot down any planes using them. The siege of semiautonomous Iraqi Kurdistan is therefore complete.
- Faysh Khabur was also the only land crossing the American army had the use of used for moving supplies to US forces stationed in northern Syria. The US army is now left only with air transit.
- Iran’s overland bridge to Syria via Iraq is now complete unimpeded by either the US or Israel.
Many people in the Middle East are asking again where were the US Trump administration and its pledges not to let Iran build a land bridge through Iraq to Syria. And where were Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and their tough rhetoric vowing not to allow Iran to deepen its military grip on Syria? While they made speeches and tweeted, Tehran with swift cunning ran off with high-value strategic and military assets.