Pesh­merga and the US: Co­op­er­a­tion and Sup­port!

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Gazi Hassan

Up to the 1991 Kur­dis­tan Spring Up­ris­ing, Pesh­merga was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary force de­fend­ing the Kur­dish ques­tion. Af­ter Kur­dis­tan Par­lia­ment was elected and KRG was formed in 1992, ef­forts were made to turn this force into a sys­tem­atic and mod­ern force af­ter half a cen­tury of armed strug­gle. So in­stead of com­bat­ing the op­pres­sions of the Iraqi state, it has be­come a well-trained and strong force for de­fend­ing the gov­ern­ing in­sti­tu­tions, democ­racy, achiev­ing se­cu­rity and pro­tect­ing bor­ders, and sup­port­ing Kur­dis­tan au­thor­ity to es­tab­lish dis­ci­pline and gov­ern­ing and achiev­ing sta­bil­ity for peo­ple. It is a suc­cess­ful image of de­fend­ing the civil so­ci­ety and main­tain­ing se­cu­rity of the coun­try. Although in­sti­tu­tion­al­iz­ing Pesh­merge was de­layed due to some po­lit­i­cal is­sues, but still Pesh­merga forces con­sist of de­ter­mined and en­thu­si­as­tic fight­ers who co­op­er­ate al­to­gether to de­fend Kur­dis­tan and its peo­ple.

Af­ter the fall of Sad­dam Hus­sein’s regime, Pesh­merga was not only sup­port­ing US army, but also was the only suc­cess­ful force to main­tain the se­cu­rity of the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion and sup­port­ing the Kur­dish au­thor­ity to achieve eco­nom­i­cal, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial growth. Pesh­merga has also been the ma­jor con­trib­u­tor of the pro­tect­ing force to se­cure the im­por­tant cen­ters of Baghdad’s govern­ment. But af­ter al-Ma­liki took power as the PM, the sit­u­a­tion turned sour. The bud­get of Pesh­merge was cut. Fi­nanc­ing the lo­gis­tic, in­tel­li­gence and other kind of sup­port such as pro­vid­ing weapons was cut by Baghdad although Pesh­merga is con­sti­tu­tion­ally part of the Iraqi de­fense sys­tem.

Af­ter the events in Mo­sul on June 9, once again Pesh­merga ap­peared as a strong and de­ter­mined force and took con­trol of most of the ter­ri­to­ries out­side the au­thor­ity of Kur­dis­tan Re­gion in­clud­ing Kirkuk. The Kur­dis­tan Re­gion is now con­trol­ling a wide joint border with ISIS. The re­cent de­vel­op­ments in Iraq posed an im­por­tant ques­tion to Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion: whether it is pos­si­ble to aban­don a sys­tem­atic and or­ga­nized force such as Pesh­merga in the mil­i­tary, se­cu­rity and po­lit­i­cal bal­ance in Iraq while the Iraqi army wit­nessed dis­so­lu­tion and col­lapse? Is it pos­si­ble that Pesh­merga, po­lice and se­cu­rity forces in the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion have no share in the mil­i­tary sup­plies pro­vided to the Iraqi army, or in the an­nual bud­get al­lo­cated for train­ing the army and the fed­eral po­lice?

Wash­ing­ton In­sti­tute for Po­lit­i­cal Is­sues raised an im­por­tant is­sue in the past days: the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween KRG and the USA to com­bat ISIS and the rad­i­cal mili­tias and reestab­lish­ing the Iraqi Army. “It’s ob­vi­ous that the US aids cover only eight Kur­dish bri­gades in Kur­dis­tan with an al­lo­cated sum of USD92 mil­lion, while its aids to the Iraqi Army cov­ers 109 bri­gades with an al­lo­cated sum of USD25 bil­lion. A quar­ter of this army dis­solved and col­lapsed in Mo­sul.”

The sup­port for the Pesh­marga and its re­in­force­ment can­not be sac­ri­ficed to the strength­en­ing of the Cen­tral Govern­ment with un­demo­cratic and au­thor­i­tar­ian and eth­nic pol­icy. Strength­en­ing Pesh­merge would not only de­fend the Kurds, but also will block the spark­ing hell of the ISIS and its re­ac­tionary ide­ol­ogy against Chris­tians, Ezidis, Shabaks and other com­po­nents of Mo­sul.

We should bear in mind that Kur­dis­tan is the most ap­pro­pri­ate area to build mil­i­tary, eco­nom­i­cal, cul­tural and se­cu­rity re­la­tion­ships with. It’s the only area in Iraq where over 1 mil­lion Arab refugees (Sunni and Shia), and other eth­nic groups, Chris­tians and Kur­dish res­i­dents from other dis­puted ar­eas of the ar­ti­cle 140, can live with­out any feel­ing of pres­sure, op­pres­sion or threat.

Pesh­merga needs mil­i­tary aid, bud­get and mod­ern­iz­ing of mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties and mod­ern equip­ment in­clud­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies, tanks and even war­planes and rock­ets. We should bear in mind that if the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion Pres­i­dent hadn’t led the coun­try as a de­ci­sive and ex­pe­ri­enced de­ci­sion maker in this sen­si­tive stage, se­ri­ous hu­man­i­tar­ian crises could’ve hap­pened. What’s be­ing car­ried out against the Chris­tians is ac­tu­ally a war crime. Ne­glect­ing the Kur­dis­tan Re­gion will put the in­ter­na­tional so­ci­ety un­der a huge moral re­spon­si­bil­ity. So the new po­lit­i­cal re­al­ity: Baghdad’s fail­ure to reestab­lish a na­tional army and the col­lapse of it in the face of the ISIS have pushed for­ward the need to strengthen the re­la­tion­ships be­tween Pesh­merga and the US army. In ad­di­tion, the re­cent de­vel­op­ments has gen­er­ated new joint po­lit­i­cal ob­jec­tives be­tween the KRG and the US ad­min­is­tra­tion which are: co­op­er­a­tion against the rad­i­cal groups, arm­ing the Kur­dis­tan forces of Pesh­merga, help­ing to form a coali­tion govern­ment in Baghdad as soon as pos­si­ble, and us­ing Kur­dis­tan Re­gion as a base from where to send in­struc­tions and mil­i­tary su­per­vi­sors to Baghdad in order to es­tab­lish a new Iraqi army. At the same time giv­ing pri­or­ity to de­fend and pro­tect the civil­ian pop­u­la­tion of Chris­tians, Ezidis, Shabaks, Sun­nis and any other cit­i­zens that might flee the tyranny and in­jus­tice to Kur­dis­tan.

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