ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Netherlands will join the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany to support a project for the reform of the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces, the Dutch Consul General in Erbil said on Wednesday.
Willem Cosijn, the Dutch Consul General in Erbil, told Kurdistan 24 that the Dutch government “supports the Peshmerga reform” and “will gladly” join the efforts to unify the Kurdish forces by providing “additional military advisors to support Peshmerga integration.”
“Together with the UK, the US, and Germany, we will find ways to let everybody in the Peshmerga forces operate together,” Cosijn stated.
“That is our goal; that is what we want to [create]: modern, payable Peshmerga forces that are responsible to [the] Ministry [of Peshmerga] and parliament [sic].”
The Consul General noted that Dutch troops already train Peshmerga trainers who, in turn, train other Kurdish forces.
In November 2018 the US, the UK, and Germany – leading members of the Coalition against the Islamic State, formally known as Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) – prepared a reform project for the Ministry of Peshmerga.
The project consists of 35 points, which the Kurdistan Region Parliament approved in 2018. It includes a combination of two missions, 17 from the Ministry of Peshmerga and 18 from the US, the UK, and Germany.
A key objective of the project is to move away from the current division of Peshmerga forces between the two major Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), while institutionalizing a unified command structure.
Lieutenant General Jabbar Yawar, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Peshmerga, said he is confident the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet will ensure most, if not all, of the 35-point project is complete.
“We have a time frame for the project, and we are optimistic that with the new government cabinet we will complete most, if not, the entire 35 points,” Yawar told Kurdistan 24.
There are about 240,000 Peshmerga fighters in the Kurdistan Region. Although some have been unified under the umbrella of the Peshmerga ministry, the majority remain divided, taking orders mainly from the political parties to which they belong.
About 2,000 Peshmerga were martyred during the fight against the Islamic State, and 12,000 others were wounded, according to data from the Ministry of Peshmerga.
Through the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC), the CJTF-OIR has trained over 13,000 Peshmerga since the emergence of the Islamic State in 2014.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany
(Additional reporting by Blessa Shaweys)