Problems ranged from shortcomings in clothing and food, but that the main issue was far more serious. Photo: AFP
SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has ordered a reform of the Peshmerga forces, sources told Rudaw, following battlefield reports that the troops lack a unified command structure.
The sources said that Barzani has granted the Peshmerga minister six months to carry out the necessary reforms and place the force under a single, unified command.
The decision follows a report by parliamentary committees from the battlefield, in which MPs noted that the Peshmerga ministry did not have authority over all troops.
Bahar Abdurrahman, a member of parliament’s Peshmerga committee who worked on the report following visits to the battlefields, said that the team had made several observations.
She said problems ranged from shortcomings in clothing and food, but that the main issue was far more serious.
“We have clearly mentioned in the report that there are different sources of decision making within the Ministry of Peshmerga,” Abdurrahman said.
She added that, as a first step, the report had asked for the “establishment of a high national board to supervise the battlefields under the supervision of the president of Kurdistan and the minister of Peshmerga.”
“We have also asked for the full implementation of the project and to institutionalize the Ministry of Peshmerga,” she said.
The Peshmerga ministry had long been criticized by lawmakers and Kurdish leaders, but following the recent IS attacks on the Kurdistan Region, and Peshmerga troops rushing to the fronts to defend the territory, the force garnered support and appreciation, both locally and internationally.
But the rapid advances and seizure of Yezidi towns and villages by the jihadist militants earlier this month came as a shocking blow to the Peshmarga, besmirching their reputation as fearless warriors.
“Members of parliament and party officials have become battlefield commanders and high ranking military officers are under their command,” complained one Peshmerga source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A leadership member of the Islamic Union of Kurdistan (Yekgirtu) said that a project has been underway to reform the Peshmerga forces, even before the recent reports of battlefield problems.
He said that, “according to the project, the ministry of Peshmerga and the president of Kurdistan, as the commander in chief, will make decisions and the Peshmerga forces will be under the umbrella of the government.”
Anwari Haji Osman, the deputy Peshmerga minister, urged all political parties to facilitate the institutionalization of Peshmerga forces.
The establishment of joint national brigades in the shortest possible time is a must. The president of Kurdistan Region is in rush to see the implementation of the project.”