April 15, 2019 / 01:07 AM
Peshmerga, Iraqi army relation improving, US not caring Iraqi Kurds: researcher

A researcher at Netherlands’ Clingendael Institute of International Relations believes the relation and mutual understanding between the Kurdish forces of Peshmerga and Iraqi army has improved which he related to their joint fighting against the Islamic State (IS) and noted that the Kurds in Iraq are not a matter of concern for the US.

Al-Hamzeh al-Shadeedi also stated in an interview with KurdPress that the US could turn Peshmerga into a big army in the past 28 years but has never taken a step in this regard.

What follows is his full answers to Kurdpress questions;

How do you describe the relationship between the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga forces?

A person who is not versed in Iraqi-Kurdish affairs would say that the relationship between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army is tense, I would rather argue that despite the events of October 2017, the relationship between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army has substantially improved as a result of the war against ISIS. Both parties were involved in a battle against a common enemy and the U.S. helped push them towards better coordination and cooperation – especially during the last phases of the conflict. The willingness to work together to tackle the security situation in Kirkuk is another indicator of this improving relationship. However, I think that both the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga should try to engage in a trust-building process to redraw the security and the military map of Iraq in a professional manner based on constitutional guidelines. Trust-building and better communication is what the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga need in post-ISIS Iraq to ensure that what has happened in October 2017 will not repeat again, though I genuinely believe that the prospects of conflict between the two parties is quite low.

Can Kurdish forces go back to the disputed territories?

The Iraqi constitution acknowledges the sensitivity of the disputed territories topic, and this is why it set specific articles to deal with this particular issue. For the time being, I believe that the Iraqi Security Forces, the Peshmerga, the local forces and the police of Kirkuk and elsewhere should collectively cooperate in normalizing relations in these areas and invest in trust-building activities between the diverse communities living in the disputed territories. Trust-building is not only necessary among the Iraqi army and the Peshmerga, but it is also equally crucial among Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen, and other communities living in the disputed areas. There is a need to ensure that each community feel safe and secure in their homes and trust one another.  Thus, Erbil and Baghdad need to work on this objective within the constitutional guidelines to ensure that all communities feel safe while being protected by their representative forces. Patience is key when it comes to the return of the Peshmerga to the disputed territories.

Does the U.S. want to make the Peshmerga forces a well-sized army?

This is quite a tricky question. American policies towards the Kurds of Iraq in the past few years do not seem to indicate this. Through working with the Kurds, the U.S. sought to advance its own interests and not necessarily those of the Kurdistan Region, and I believe that this is not only my opinion. The U.S. had the opportunity to make the Peshmerga into a well-sized army since 1991, but there have not been any tangible steps towards this goal in the past 28 years.

Reporter’s code: 40101