Iraq Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gestures during a press conference in Baghdad on Dec. 9, 2017. Photo: AP Photo/Karim Kadim
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has added the Peshmerga to the list of units he congratulated for the victory over ISIS following backlash after he failed to recognize the contribution of the Kurdish forces in his victory speech on Saturday.
On Saturday, Abadi made a televised speech and congratulated all units of the Iraqi Security Forces, including the mainly-Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, on the occasion of the "end of ISIS" in Iraq. He did not mention the Peshmerga
despite their significant contribution to the war on ISIS.
An excerpt from his speech that was posted on his official Facebook page on Saturday did not mention the Peshmerga either. The post, however, was edited Sunday evening to add the "Peshmerga forces."
"I am hailing all the victorious. The brave forces such as the army, police, security forces, Hashd al-Shaabi, counter-terrorism forces, air force, pilots, and the Peshmerga forces and all the divisions of the armed forces who supported us, including engineer and medical teams and our supporters from the tribal forces and people in the liberated areas, those who supported their army,” read the edited post.
The Peshmerga ministry, among others statement criticized Abadi on the omission of the Kurdish force in his victory speech. It reminded the Iraqi government that without the sacrifices and coordination of the Kurdish fighters, Iraq would not have been able to reach this stage.
More than 1,846 Peshmerga gave their lives in the ISIS fight and another 10,000 were wounded. Iraqi forces have not released their casualty figures, but the US-led Global Coalition stated earlier this year that Iraqi security forces lost about 10,000 fighters.
Kaka Hama, a famous veteran Peshmerga who himself was wounded
and lost one of his sons
fighting ISIS in Kirkuk, said earlier in the day that Abadi proved to the world that "they do not want to live with the Kurds."
"That is why the best solution is to enact the will of the people, the referendum on independence," Kaka Hama said in a statement. His full name is Mohammed Haji Mahmud.
He said the Peshmerga sacrificed their lives so that people like the Iraqi prime minister can live in peace.
Kaka Hama pointed out the recent record of the Iraqi forces and its Shiite militia when they advanced into the then-Peshmerga controlled disputed areas in mid-October, including Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu. He said forces under Abadi's command "committed massacres" against the Kurdish population.
The Iraqi government called for the Peshmerga to withdraw to their pre-2003 positions, a military border that is known as the Green Line
and since 1991 had separated Iraq under Saddam Hussein from the Kurdish-controlled territory.
Kaka Hama said people who rose to power in Baghdad with the help of the Kurds have to remember their history.
"The Prime Minister and his friends... have to go back to where they were before 2003, a place thousands of kilometers away from Iraq," he said.
Abadi, like many in the Iraqi opposition under the Baathist dictatorship, was in exile for most of his adult life. He took refuge in the United Kingdom, returning to Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.