As the Islamic State increases their frequency of terror attacks in Kirkuk, the Iraqi Army will soon reluctantly be conducting joint security operations with the Kurdish Peshmerga thanks to pressure from the United States led coalition. High ranking Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official, Rawand Mullah Mahmood, made it known that the United States is encouraging the merge and is excited to have the Peshmerga back in the region they once occupied before the October incursion. He followed with, “This is because they are afraid of the growing ISIS threats.” The Kurdish secret police, the Asayesh (Kurdistan’s equivalent to the FBI), will also return to Kirkuk and commence anti-terror operations in coordination with respective military entities and the central Iraqi government.
Despite this brokered reunion with the city, the Kurdish political parties and officials continue to blame each other for Kirkuk’s loss in October at the hands of Iraqi/Iranian military supported Hashd al-Shaabi militias. The United States has forgone the dispute by forcing Iraq’s hand and bring the Kurd’s back into the fold despite their infighting.
Leader of the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party, Mohammed Haji Mahmood is a Peshmerga veteran who’s son was killed fighting the Islamic State. He has equated the reintegration of the Peshmerga to Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi gaining election votes in the demographically Kurdish held areas. He elaborated with, “The Americans do not want Abadi lose in the elections, as they are afraid of [Nouri al-Maliki] and Hadi al-Amiri, supported by Iran,” adding that, “Any area you lose during battles, you must retake them with battles, not through negotiation,” Mahmood said. “Because at that time, they cannot impose what they want on you.” The U.S. State Department seeks to maintain the disputed areas such as Kirkuk as just that until they can be reconciled in accordance to Iraq’s constitution.
Member of Parliament in Iraq and PUK official, Mohammed Dushiwani, confessed to local media that the KRG (Kurdish Regional Government) and Iraqi central government that both entities disagree on several points. He said, “Baghdad and the Iraqi army have understood that ISIS poses a threat to the triangle of Tikrit – Diyala – Kirkuk and that the federal forces cannot secure these areas, therefore they need the Peshmerga.” When questioned on the Asayesh being deployed alongside military forces in the region he said, “Peshmerga and Asayesh are one force. Thus, we dare say if the Peshmerga returns, Asayesh will also come back.” He said that he spoke with the deputy commander of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, Brig. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, who assured him that their common enemy the Islamic State would be a unify factor between the two militaries.
PUK member Rawand Mullah Mahmood made further observations about the situation within Kirkuk in relation to the joint operations. He said, “Baghdad had initially asked for a joint security center to be established, but we had asked only for joint operations center to be set up,” adding that Iraq would not have any issues getting “a joint operations command to be established.” He also stated that, “The return of the Peshmerga means the redeployment of these Peshmerga Ministry brigades.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Sgt. Lisa Soy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons