ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Federal Government of Iraq are set to form a joint, high-level military committee to increase coordination between both sides and provide security in the disputed territories, a Kurdish Peshmerga official said on Tuesday.
Erbil and Baghdad previously established a high-level joint military committee in 2009 to coordinate in the disputed areas, including the oil-rich and ethnically diverse province of Kirkuk.
The committee was dissolved following the attack and military takeover of Iraqi forces and the Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militia on Kirkuk and other disputed territories in October 2017, which forced Peshmerga to withdraw from those areas.
The attack came weeks after the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum, which saw a landslide majority (93 percent) favor secession from Iraq.
“The Iraqi government has decided to re-activate or re-create a high-level military committee between Erbil and Baghdad, which was previously established under the supervision of the US,” Salar Mohammed Jabar, a deputy Chief of Staff of the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga Ministry, told the Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) website on Tuesday.
“The Kurdistan Region is also planning to work on creating the committee, which will be responsible for facilitating military and security coordination between Erbil and Baghdad.”
Jabar stressed that the establishment of the joint committee would be under the supervision of the US.
“In the past, two military and security members from the Kurdistan Region were among the leadership of the joint committee,” the military official added. “It’s unclear who the Kurdish members will be, but they will definitely be representatives from the Kurdistan Region’s Interior and Peshmerga Ministries.”
The formation of the committee comes as the Islamic State’s activities are on the rise in the disputed territories since Iraqi forces and Shia militias’ attack on Peshmerga forces in 2017.
Over the past years, the US-led coalition against the Islamic State had repeatedly called on Erbil and Baghdad to coordinate and cooperate to prevent the re-emergence of the militant group.
The Secretary-General of the Peshmerga Ministry, Jabar Yawar, told Kurdistan 24 on Tuesday that Erbil and Baghdad had reached “an understanding” to provide “better security and military coordination,” but that no official steps or meetings have taken place in this regard.
Although Iraq declared victory against the Islamic State in December 2017, the extremist group continues to carry out insurgency attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala, Salahuddin, and Nineveh.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany