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Unification of Peshmerga under ministry control requires political agreements: minister

2021-01-25

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SULAIMANI — Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Shorsh Ismail said on Monday (January 25) that the unification of all of the Kurdistan Region’s military forces under the control of the ministry requires political agreements between the ruling parties.

The Peshmerga is infamously divided between units controlled by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Peshmerga Forces 70 Command is controlled by the PUK. Its KDP counterpart is known as Peshmerga Forces 80 Command.

Several brigades operate under the nominal control of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, but individual commanders usually have partisan affiliations.

During a meeting with a delegation of lawmakers from the Kurdistan Parliament, Ismail said that concerns about continued partisanship and disutility within the Peshmerga have been conveyed to the political parties through the International Coalition.

The minister added that the ministry has taken positive steps forward in its reform process with the aid of the Coalition and claimed that there was a strong will to continue working towards establishing a national, modern military force.

On Sunday, Ismail said that the biometric registration process for all ministry employees and soldiers has been completed as a part of the government’s salary and pension reform process, adding that bank accounts will be created for all employees in the near future.

While the KDP and PUK sit in government together and cooperate at various levels, they are also bitter rivals who derive much of their power from their control of the armed forces, which the use to enforce their political will and as a vehicle for patronage.

Both have voiced support for reforming the Peshmerga, but have dragged their feet on the issue for decades, despite outside support from international partners.

(NRT Digital Media)