Peshmerga and the US: Cooperation and Support!
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.