While it’s not unusual for the US to have at least partially armed both sides of a war, the nascent conflict in Iraqi Kurdistan is unique. Never before have such thoroughly and recently-created US armed factions been heading for an overt conflict.
The US built and trained the Iraqi military from the ground up after the 2003 occupation, and then rebuilt and re-armed the military in the past couple of years after the old force got routed by ISIS. At the same time, the US eagerly trained, armed, and embedded with the Kurdish Peshmerga as another anti-ISIS force, even going around Iraqi government objections to directly arm them.
Now, with both sides at one another’s throats over the Kurds’ plan to declare independence, the Pentagon is slowly backing away from the oncoming disaster, and terming initial reports of clashes a simple “misunderstanding.”
In reality, many on both sides saw an Iraq vs. Iraqi Kurdistan conflict as inevitable even when the ISIS war was ramping up, and the US decision to flood the country with weapons only ensures that this conflict will be fought by adversaries both awash in America’s finest gear.
President Trump insists the US is not “taking sides,” and the administration made some off-hand comments about the war only serving the interest of Iran.” In reality, this is another made-in-America war, and officials are scrambling to deflect the blame they’ve earned in the past decade and a half of building up the armies involved.