Iraq to form new military comms center with first official Peshmerga representation
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi on Monday ordered the formation of a new media communications center that will have representatives from each of the country’s various security forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga.
This is the first time the Peshmerga are represented in such a federal entity. The Kurdish Peshmerga were the only official security forces to have been excluded from previous activities of the media communications center known as the “Security Media Center” and before it, the “Military Media Cell.”
The prime minister’s move indicates a strengthening of ties between the central government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), as well as between the national security and the Kurdish forces.
The communications center, as will the new, envisioned “Security Media Cell,” are delegated with the task of collecting all military and security reports from official sources, prepare daily briefings, and relay them to the public, a statement from the office of the prime minister explained.
Brigadier General Mohammed al-Baydhani will reportedly supervise the Security Media Cell, Brigadier Yahya Rasool will act as its spokesperson, and Colonel Osman Mohammed is slated to be the representative for the Peshmerga Ministry.
Administratively, the media center will be linked to the office of Abdul-Mahdi, who is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, the statement continued.
The new center will seek to “establish new practices” in dealing with security statements and reports, including responding to “reckless” reports issued by governmental and non-governmental bodies, especially as it relates to security. It will also work to dispel rumors and raise awareness of the work and operations of security forces across the country.
The Peshmerga have been one of the most efficient ground troops in the battle against the Islamic State since it emerged. They were instrumental in containing and pushing back the jihadist group in the north of the country.
In the military operation to liberate Mosul, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State, in the fall of 2016, Peshmerga forces broke the line of defense the group was holding and advanced in the east and north of the city in coordination with Iraqi forces and the US-led coalition.
Following the Sept. 2017 referendum on independence, however, cooperation between the two forces fell through, notably in disputed areas. Fears the Islamic State would reemerge in vulnerable areas have prompted local and international officials to urge Iraqi and Kurdish forces to return to a united front against the common jihadist threat.
Editing by Nadia Riva