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Chat Transcript

Anderson Cooper speaks to NSC’s Douglas Ollivant about the crisis in Iraq

ANDERSON COOPER: Douglas, have you been surprised by some of the set backs that the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have faced just in recent days and weeks? Because obviously they have a much mounted (ph) fighting, you know, fighting force over many years. Is it simply that they are outgunned right now?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT [Director for Iraq at the National Security Council]: It’s hard to say what the truth is in the north as I attended, you know, facts North of Baghdad are in short supply and it’s often hard to know exactly what the situation is. But there is a distinct possibility that the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga aren’t quite as good as they were when most of us encountered them for the first time in 2003 and 2004. On the other hand …

ANDERSON COOPER: Is that because a lot of the leadership is now, you know, who are commanding, you know, battlefield commanders they’ve now have gone to politics, they have gone into business in Erbil?

DOUGLAS OLLIVANT: For all kinds of reasons certainly, you know, when you’re being threatened in 1991 becoming a Peshmerga is a great thing. Now, if you’re a young, ambitious Kurd you want to go into business and make money in the oil industry and not become a Peshmerga. So, it’s not what it once was.

But it could also be about the lack of arms or ammunition and no small parties because ISIL is extremely capable, has a lot of weapons, some of which they’ve brought from Syria, some of which they captured in Iraq. So, this could multi causal. It could be any one or all three of those.

(Transcript courtesy of CNN)