ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – The number of Kurdish personals abandoning Iraqi army has largely increased since 2007 in general and following the emergence of the Islamic State (IS) in 2014 in particular, according to a source from Defense Ministry of Iraq.
After the removal of the dictatorship system of Iraq in 2003, Kurds were given the right to make 20 percent of the Iraqi Defense Ministry posts and military positions.
But their rate in the Ministry never reached to that level, rather it stayed five to 10 percent maximum, and now it has dropped to one percent of all Iraqi army, Military adviser in Peshmerga Ministry Brigadier Bakhtiyar Mohammed told Kurdistan24.
The number started to decrease in 2007 after many Kurdish soldiers left Iraqi army and joined Peshmerga Ministry of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). In 2011, another wave of Kurdish troops abandoned the Army and became Peshmerga, especially after the US withdrew its ground forces in the country.
Moreover, the third wave begun in June 2014 after the emergence of the IS in Mosul and collapse of the Iraqi army.
“The withdrawal of the US troops in Iraq in 2011 and the negative policies and treatment of the federal government of Iraq toward the Kurdish military officers and soldiers pushed them to abandon Iraqi Army,” Mohammed told Kurdistan24.
He mentioned that now the main components of Iraq such as Kurds and Shia have their forces, except Sunnis.
“Today, Iraq is clearly divided into three parts. Shia has Hashd al-Shaabi [known as Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)], and Kurds have Peshmerga. Only Sunnis don't have their troops,” Mohammed added.
Shia Arabs make over 60 percent of Iraq’s total population while Sunni Arabs and Kurds along with other ethnic and religious groups make the rest.
“Our [KRG] relations have been cut with Baghdad from many aspects,” the head of Peshmerga Committee in Kurdistan Parliament Ari Harsin told Kurdistan24.
“Kurds' decisions to leave Iraqi Army is personal because I am aware if there have been an official requests from KRG or Peshmerga Ministry to invite them,” Harsin added, claiming Kurdish presence in Iraqi army is unnecessary.
Dilshad Maghdid, a former Kurdish soldier in the Iraqi Army, explained to Kurdistan24 that Kurds do not regard Iraqi Army as their representative and do not trust the military. According to him, it is related to the history as well as 2014 when Iraqi army failed to defend people against the IS.
(Karwan Rahman contributed to this report)