A defense team from the global coalition representing US, UK and Germany has met on Sunday with Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, his deputy Qubad Talabani, Peshmerga minister Karim Sinjari and Peshmerga commanders in Erbil. Photo: PM media office.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A joint defense team from the United States, United Kingdom and Germany has presented a draft plan to Kurdish officials including Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to help build a ‘robust and professional’ Peshmerga force capable of defending the Kurdistan Region against future threats in light of what the PM called Baghdad’s failure to fight the ISIS group in 2014.
PM Barzani, his Deputy Qubad Talabani, acting Peshmerga Minister Karim Sinjari, and Kurdish military commanders met with the joint team from the three foreign countries, described as “international advisory team”, a statement from the office of the PM read Sunday.
It said the plan is part of Erbil’s ongoing reforms in different sectors, calling today’s meeting “an important step” towards reforming the Peshmerga ministry.
“The international advisory team presented their joint [proposal] with regard to the Peshmerga ministry which includes 35 points aimed at creating a robust and professional military force for the Peshmerga in the future,” the statement said.
The statement quoted PM as saying that the Kurdistan Region focused on reconstruction after the fall of the former Iraqi regime in 2003, and not a military might, believing that Baghdad would defend the country against any threat.
“But with the threats and attacks of ISIS, unfortunately all the equations and the conditions had changed. That is why we should think about creating a robust and professional force for the Peshmerga,” PM Barzani said.
A Peshmerga official told Rudaw that the Kurdistan’s Council of Ministers, headed by PM Barzani, will discuss the blueprint next week.
“[It] will be submitted to the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region after it has been approved,” Brigadier General Hazhar Ismael, head of the Peshmerga Ministry’s Coordination and Foreign Relations Office said.
“We will be meeting with the president of the Kurdistan Region for the same purpose, too. It will be executed directly after the president approves it,” Ismael added.
He also said that the international team will continue to work with the Peshmerga ministry until the regular Kurdish forces are “reorganized completely, in a more systematic way.”
“Committees will be formed to review the ministry’s list of employees, unifying the forces, especially the 70 and 80 units,” Ismael said, making reference respectively to Peshmerga forces under the command of the ruling Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), adding that the Peshmerga salaries and rights will be reviewed.
The Peshmerga and interior ministry as well as the Region’s Security Council will “design Kurdistan Region's’ Security Plan,” Ismael revealed.
The US leads the anti-ISIS global coalition which also includes the UK and Germany, all of whom have provided material and military support to both Baghdad and Erbil.
The US State Department approved a possible sale of military equipment to the Peshmerga with an estimated cost of $295.6 million, a statement from the Defense Security Cooperation Agency revealed late April.
The sale would include equipment to fully outfit two Peshmerga light infantry brigades and two support artillery battalions, the statement added.
Jabar Yawar, the Secretary General of the Peshmerga Ministry, told Rudaw then that $100 million of the fund is to equip two infantry brigades.
Another $100 million, Yawar explained, is to form and unify the ministry’s wireless communication network, to buy spare parts for weapons and military vehicles that had been provided to the Peshmerga, and the rest will be dedicated to training programs.