The Kurdish military is employing a new weapon in their fight against Islamic State jihadists in Iraq. The Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga, those who allied with the Americans during the War in Iraq in the hopes of finally receiving a homeland to call their own, have been fighting tooth and nail to ensure that their home stays their own. They have been literally on the front line of this war since Islamists poured over the border last summer and have since, constantly dueled for control of Northern Iraq and Syria. Their villages and cities face regular raids and bombings and the ISIS lines have even pushed to within an hour of the capital city of Kurdistan. They have more to fear from ISIS than any of us.
The Kurds, however, haven’t just taken this abuse idly. They have been the force most responsible for the direct losses against ISIS Insurgents in Iraq and Syria, filling the voids created by US and Allied bombs. In recent months, the Kurds have mounted a heroic comeback from a bleak outlook in the early fall. The Peshmerga successfully pushed back insurmountable odds in the Syrian city of Kobane, and are repelling a horde of Islamic warriors with aid from coalition bombings in Iraq. They’ve even managed to achieve this all on shoestring budgets that don’t even equal the transportation budget of many US states. Now, they are unleashing a new weapon, which, for this type of war, might be the most powerful yet.
In perhaps the best display of propaganda since “Loose Lips Sink Ships”, Kurdish television networks have put out a video openly mocking fanatical jihadists. It’s worth a watch. The video made me, a political blogger and military writer, with time served in the contested regions of Iraq with the United States Marine Corps in 2005 and 2007, start thinking.
That the Kurds have become so strong in the endeavor to combat a massive force of fanatics, who themselves have the backing of ex-Saddam military officers, funding from wealthy oil barons of the Saudi Arabian peninsula, and a recruiting pool of virtually every hardened Islamic fundamentalist from the 1.2 billion people of the Islamic world, is a story unto itself. This is especially true, given that only a month ago, few would have imagined Kobane being a successful battle against ISIS. It was, however, and the Islamists know it. There is legitimacy to the Kurds mocking the terrorist regime because, deep down, the Islamic State knows that they have lost that battlefield, along with many others. They also know that every day that they fight there, they send more and more people to their doom.
More so than the fact that Kurds are able to broadcast this piece (free from ISIS or Allah having any ability to stop them) the humiliation campaign marks a quintessential attack on the jihadist’s theory. The message itself, mocks not just the individuals who participate in ISIS, but also attacks the very core beliefs around why many of the Islamic State fighters set off to join the Jihad in the first place. Why is a video like this, with its catchy melody, whimsical lyrics, and low budget possibly the single greatest strategy that the Kurds could be using right now? Answer this question honestly and see if you can figure it out:
“How could someone fight for a religious ideal around a God who would allow them to be humiliated so greatly? Why would God will for his warriors to lose this bad?”
The Kurds are showing us how to fight wars against a determined jihadist enemy. Humiliate and demoralize them completely. Shatter their belief in the legitimacy of their cause. The recent military losses and, as much, the complete fearlessness of the Kurds’ belittlement of the Islamic State forces sends an international message of their impotence. Reports are coming in of ISIS troops surrendering on all fronts. Many, such as a group from England, wishing to flee back home and abandon their jihad ideal in Syria, are being executed for it. The constant stream of bombings from the US and European allies is withering them and stretching their lines thin. When followed by Kurdish Peshmerga assaults, their backs are broken for good. Finally, when all of this happens, with absolutely no divine intervention to stop it, and to face the additional slap in the face that is the Kurdish secret propaganda weapon, we see the ISIS worldview collapse. When that happens, their most valuable assets are diminished. First, the inflow of millions of dollars sponsored by Jihadist international backers wanting results is suddenly questioned. Second, thousands of zealous fanatics are no willing to join their ranks once they see the “glory” that awaits them in Iraq and Syria. Quite honestly, this may be the most important film no one is talking about.
I can’t say for sure when the threat of fanatical Jihadists like those operating in Iraq today will disappear forever, but what I can say is that this new weapon will be a vital part to bringing it down. When your enemy depends on their own sense of self-righteous, unquestionable perfection, poisoning the well may well be more powerful an assault than to die immediate to American bombs, but suffer the utterly demoralizing truth of realizing, “What if God really isn’t on our side?”
Jon Davis is a US Marine Corps veteran writer, focusing on the topics of US veterans and international defense. His work has been featured in Newsweek, Forbes, Gizmodo and elsewhere. He is also a writer of military science fiction with his first book, The Next War, due out early this year. You can follow Jon Davis via his personal blog Jon’s Deep Thoughts, and can support his writing via the web donation service, Patreon.