At the same time, the United States often finds itself supporting nations or groups of fighters in the Middle East who make for rather dubious allies. It supported the mujahideen in Afghanistan, which turned into the Taliban. The rebels the United States supported in Libya committed about the same level and kinds of atrocities (including ethnic cleansing) as the Qaddafi forces. The Shia dominated government of Iraq has used U.S.-trained and equipped forces as death squads against the Sunnis. The Free Syrian Army is a motley crew of defectors from the Syrian Army, many of whom would then go on to join the Nusra Front. Most of these forces turned out to be rather feeble fighters and rather unreliable allies.
In sharp contrast, the peshmerga, the Kurdish forces, consistently proved themselves to be a very effective fighters. Rep. Ed Royce, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, pointed out in December 2015, “The Kurds are the sole US allied force operating on the ground against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. . . . For the last year and a half, we’ve had one effective fighter in this fight: It is the 160,000-strong Peshmerga force.”