ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi on Sunday edited his victory speech on the defeat of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq to include the Kurdish Peshmerga Forces in his official Facebook post following a strong backlash in the Kurdistan Region.
In a televised speech on Saturday, Commander in Chief and Prime Minister Abadi announced total victory over the jihadist group in Iraq. He acknowledged the role of all Iraqi forces, including the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, but omitted the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga Forces, a move which caused an uproar among Kurds and led them to boycott Iraqi celebrations marking the end of the war.
The Ministry of Peshmerga also scathingly responded to Abadi’s omission reminding him that the sacrifices of its fighters in the battlefields led to victory over IS. Kurdish forces helped Iraqi forces in an unprecedented way in the battle for Mosul, the self-proclaimed capital of IS in Iraq.
“Mr. Abadi again failed to hide his hatred toward the Peshmerga. We will never understand how he can allow himself to act like that. As the Prime Minister, what will he tell the children and families of 1,824 martyred Peshmerga or the other 10,000 wounded Peshmerga who were injured while defeating Da’esh [IS]? How can he expect the people of Kurdistan to have a sense of belonging to Iraq while receiving such treatment from their Prime Minister?” the Peshmerga Ministry’s statement read.
Following the sudden rise of the jihadist group in northern Iraq in mid-2014, the Iraqi army collapsed and left behind their heavy weapons, which eventually fell into the hands of IS. The Kurdish Peshmerga Forces were the ones to stop the advance of IS and pushed them back, establishing the first lines of defense.
The Peshmerga have been one of the most effective ground troops in defeating the extremist group, according to the former US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.
The five-party Kurdish bloc in Baghdad, known as the Kurdistan Alliance in the Iraqi Parliament, issued a statement saying they denounced the position [excluding the Kurdish Forces], which called for “the record to be set straight and for an apology to be issued.”
After the people of Kurdistan expressed anger and strongly opposed participating in the Iraqi national celebrations, Abadi’s press office amended the victory speech’s transcript on the official Facebook post and added “Peshmerga” in both the Arabic and the English posts.
“I salute all the victorious: our valiant security, police and armed forces, the Popular Mobilization Forces, our counter-terrorism service, our air force and army aviation, the Peshmerga, and all the different formations of our armed forces including engineering, medical and logistics units, as well as all those citizens and tribal leadership who offered support and cooperation,” the statement now reads.
On Monday, the victory speech was also translated to Kurdish and posted on the Prime Minister’s media office page. The official Facebook page rarely posts in Kurdish.
Ties between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq have considerably deteriorated following the Sep. 25 vote. Baghdad has imposed collective punitive measures against the Kurdistan Region, and the sanctions continue.
Editing by Nadia Riva