ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi Federal Government alters military equipment sent to Kurdistan Region by the international coalition, claims a Peshmerga Commander on Wednesday.
In an exclusive interview with Kurdistan24, Kamal Kirkuki, former Kurdistan Region Parliament Speaker and Peshmerga Commander in western Kirkuk Province, stated that the military aid the coalition sends is insufficient since Kurds defend their shared 1,000 km (622 miles) border with Islamic State (IS) extremists.
“The distribution of weapons to Peshmerga frontlines varies. Some fronts receive more weapons than others, depending on Da’esh [IS] activities in the area,” Kirkuki explained.
Kirkuki mentioned that the issue stems from the fact that the coalition sends weapons to Kurds via Baghdad. “Recently, the coalition sent Peshmerga some military aid through Baghdad, but what we received was all altered arms. They took [many of] the good parts to use for themselves, and the rest was sent to us.”
Additionally, Kirkuki noted that Peshmerga in southern and western Kirkuk have cleared 150km (93 miles) from IS, adding that most strategic locations are now under Peshmerga control. However, he stated that the border remains under threat from IS attacks.
The commander also stated that Peshmerga lacks military cooperation with the Iraqi Army around Kirkuk, further asserting that “the army is unable to stand against extremists.”
Kirkuki said that Peshmerga coordinate and cooperate closely with the international coalition's Central Command (CENTCOM), “We have Kurdish intelligence members observing Da’esh (IS] bases near Peshmerga frontlines and coalition jets quickly target them.”
Commenting on IS tactics and strategies, Kirkuki explained that IS plants many IEDs which has caused the 'martyrdom' of many Peshmerga fighters. Sometimes, he explained, the only solution for clearing an area is to destroy it, “but [this] is always the last choice.”
Regarding the tension in the village of Bashir in southern Kirkuk, he pointed out that Peshmerga would have been able to liberate the village a long time ago if Hashd al-Shaabi militia did not have a presence there already.
“We won’t let them play any role in Kurdistan Region. Wherever they deploy somewhere, they create problems,” he continued. “We don’t need them. Instead, they can go to liberate other parts of Iraq from IS.”
Recently, the Iraqi Federal Government decided to cut 3 percent of the pensions in Kirkuk Province and instead provide those funds to Hashd al-Shaabi. Kirkuki responded, “Baghdad has always been against Kurdistan Region throughout history.”
He also suggested that the best solution to stabilize Iraq is to create three independent countries representing the three largest groups: Kurdish, Sunni, and Shia. Each area would administer their respective territories.
Kirkuki also highlighted the challenges of hosting nearly 2 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Kurdistan Region and expressed that eventually they should return to their homes when their towns and cities become liberated.
“They pose a serious threat to the ethnic balance in Kurdistan Region since they are now over 20 percent of the Region’s population,” he concluded.
Reporting by Mewan Dolamari
Editing by Ava Homa and Benjamin Kweskin
(Ammar Najmaddin conducted the interview in Kirkuk Province)