Publications

Iraqi Kurdistan: Post-Independence Referendum

November 16, 2017 Christine Balling Small Wars Journal

On September 25th, against the urging of the United States and other allies, the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) held an independence referendum within the boundaries of its autonomous region and provocatively, without, in the city of Kirkuk. While the regional response was fast and furious, the United States did nothing, leaving the Iraqi Kurds at the mercy of a revengeful Baghdad: Erbil and Sulaimaniyah airports were closed to international commercial traffic. Turkey threatened to close borders and the Iranian and Iraqi militaries conducted joint exercises on the Iraqi Kurdish border. Baghdad sent the Iraqi army and Iranian-backed Shia Popular Mobilization Front (PMF) militias to retake the disputed territories back from the Kurdish peshmerga. Then, on October 29th, KRG president Masoud Barzani stepped down and suspended the post of presidency, distributing control of the KRG to other branches.

Trump Needs To Examine The Gaping Hole In The Colombia Peace Deal

May 16, 2017 Christine Balling The National Interest

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos at the White House on May 18. The subject of their conversation will undoubtedly have a great deal to do with the peace accord concluded last fall between the Santos government and Colombia's most notorious guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).


Sinjar After ISIS: What The Peshmerga’s All-Female Unit Can Do

February 8, 2017 Christine Balling Foreign Affairs

When I first met Captain Khatoon Ali Krdr, at a peshmerga military base near Dohuk, in Iraqi Kurdistan, last June, her all-female Yazidi peshmerga unit, the Hezi Roj, or "Sun Force," was weeks away from graduating from its first basic infantry training course, which involved military discipline, physical conditioning, and the handling of weaponry such as selective-fire rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Khatoon had formed the Sun Force, the only all-female, all- Yazidi unit in the Kurdish peshmerga, in response to the horrors that the Islamic State (or ISIS) had inflicted on Sinjar, a majority-Yazidi district of Iraqi Kurdistan. In August 2014, ISIS had slaughtered over 5,000 Yazidi men in the district. And in Snuny, a town at the base of Mount Sinjar, where the Sun Force is currently deployed, ISIS had killed unknown numbers of Yazidi residents, dumping their bodies into mass graves before the peshmerga retook the town in 2015.