The killing of two American servicemen and the wounding of 9 others by a Kurdish member of Iraqi special operations unit on Tuesday at Tuz Khurmatu is a real puzzle. The US…
The killing of two American servicemen and the wounding of 9 others by a Kurdish member of Iraqi special operations unit on Tuesday at Tuz Khurmatu is a real puzzle.
The US troops were up at that Iraqi commando base in the mixed Kurdish, Turkmen and Arab town of Tuz Khurmatu escorting American officers who were consulting with Iraqi counterparts on security issues. Soran Rahman Taleh Wali, the Kurdish soldier, is said to have been playing volleyball with the Americans when some sort of dispute broke out between them. He reacted violently. Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the soldier had nothing suspicious in his personnel file.
All this is strange because Kurdish soldiers are typically the most pro-American section of the Iraqi army. Kurds are a minority in the north, inasmuch as they are not Arabs, and they mostly view the Americans as saviors and do not want them to leave. The excellent WaPo article linked to above ferrets out the information that the US military had recently helped target the radical fundamentalist group Ansar al-Sunna in Tuz Khurmatu. That group has typically been mixed, with both Arab and Kurdish members. If Wali had family or other ties to Ansar al-Sunna, he may have been an agent who deliberately targeted the US troops.
On the other hand, people do snap, and it is possible that something the Americans did in the volleyball game set Wali off. It is more noticeable if the person who snaps is heavily a armed.
What does seem clear is that when it gets to the point where US troops are being killed and wounded by Iraqi military allies over minor issues, it is past time for those troops to withdraw from Iraq altogether. Remember that the Status of Forces Agreement concluded by W. with the Iraqi parliament only says that all US troops must be out of the country by the end of 2011. It does not say they could not withdraw more quickly than that.