Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga Ministry faces reforms amidst tensions and calls for unity

SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — Amid escalating tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) within the Peshmerga ministry, the region’s top leaders have issued a commitment to enact crucial reforms within the ministry.

Last week, Jabar Yawar, former Secretary-General of the Ministry of Peshmerga, issued a stark warning in an interview with Zoom News, urging Kurdish political factions to promptly unite the armed forces of the Kurdistan Region under a single, independent government framework.

Failure to heed Yawar’s call, he cautioned, could lead to the withdrawal of coalition forces’ support from the Kurdistan Region, drawing a parallel to the situation that unfolded in Afghanistan.

In the wake of Yawar’s cautionary statement, reactions from the region’s highest officials concerning the imperative need for Peshmerga Ministry reforms have intensified over the past week.

A delegation from the Peshmerga ministry, accompanied by representatives from the Iraqi defense ministry, convened with officials from the United States in Washington.

During these discussions, it was conveyed that the US is committed to sustaining its support for both the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces, particularly in the context of countering the persistent ISIS threats.

Simultaneously, Kurdistan Region’s Deputy Prime Minister, Qubad Talabani, engaged with Peshmerga Ministry officials, underscoring the urgent requirement for reforms within the armed forces. He cautioned that any further delays in this process could pose a significant threat to the region’s stability.

Talabani urged officials to rise above the political tensions and refrain from engaging in any political interference within the ministry’s operations.

Notably, the Ministry of Peshmerga in the Kurdistan Region has initiated the integration of three brigades from Unit 70, previously aligned with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), into its existing structure. This strategic step is part of a broader reform agenda aimed at unifying the diverse Peshmerga forces.

Furthermore, Kurdistan Region’s Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani, during his meeting with David Burger of the US Embassy, highlighted the significance of implementing comprehensive reforms within the Peshmerga Ministry. He highlighted the alignment of these reforms with the Ninth Cabinet’s agenda and the indispensable removal of all forms of political interference from within the ministry.

Nonetheless, former political military analyst Jonathan Lord, previously associated with the Department of Defense, issued a cautionary message to Kurdish leaders. He called for a resolute commitment to authentic reform of the Peshmerga, transforming it from a factional tool into a robust instrument for state security, accountable to elected leadership. Lord emphasized that its purpose should revolve around safeguarding the wellbeing and future of all Iraqi Kurds, rather than being exploited by individual Kurdish leaders for personal power and gain.

 

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