An ongoing war, of many wars combined, is raging along the 500-kilometer border of Iraqi Kurdistan. In the conflict against ISIS, countless interests — business, regional, international, economic, ethnic and religious — are intertwined. But there’s also a decisive, epochal confrontation between a resurgent Middle Ages and the free world with its new social constructs.
Young Kurds, Turks, Iranians and Syrians fighting against ISIS call each other “Heval” (companions). They are poorly armed, but infused with courage, ideals and moral principles, and they smile freely even if they know that in order to beat ISIS, they must fight and destroy incurable local and international metastases.
In the front’s southern leg, in Kirkuk, the K1 base stretches for kilometers, built by Saddam Hussein to protect the largest oil field in the country. Today it is a city of ghosts, abandoned and partially destroyed. In 2014 thousands of soldiers, mostly Shia Iraqis, the new army trained by the Americans, stole everything before escaping without fighting the advances of a few hundred ISIS followers. Among the hundreds of abandoned buildings, some were re-occupied by young PKK guerrillas, the Apo Ocalan Kurdistan Workers Party, which is opposed to the regime of the Turkish satrap Recep Erdogan.
The guerrillas eat a frugal meal with salad and fresh cheese before leaving for the front line. They are mostly women. They are young and very determined.
The K1 base stands next to a highway which hosts all kinds of oil-related trade. A few days ago, a band of pirates “was discovered” inside oil trucks purchased from ISIS through the many Iraqi checkpoints.
After traveling a few kilometers, you come across a petrochemical complex manned by peshmerga, tribal militiamen of the Jalal Talabani Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, a former president of Iraq, historical enemy of Masoud Barzani, leader of the KDP, the Kurdistan Democratic Party, the current president of the autonomous region of Kurdistan.
The petrochemical mammoth surprisingly has not suffered any damages, although it falls within range of ISIS’ missiles and Katyusha.