Iraqi parliament fails to give confidence to the interior and defense ministers
[16:17] 14 / Sep / 16
Erbil, September 16 / September (PNA) - Iraqi Council of Representatives for Tuesday, September 16th / September vote on the candidates and the interior and defense ministries to next Thursday, after the failure of Riad Ghraib, Jaber al-Jabri to get the confidence of the board.
According to media reports that House Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, in order to vote on the candidates for the security ministries to session next Thursday, after he failed to Riad Ghraib, Jaber al-Jabri obtain the confidence of Parliament.
She reports that the candidate Federation of Iraqi forces Jaber al-Jabri got 118 votes out of 251 fails to take over the Ministry of Defense, after being nominated by the bloc to take on this position, pointing out that the National Alliance candidate Riad Ghraib got 117 votes out of 251, to fail is the other in The Ministry of the Interior.
The Iraqi Parliament Fails to Approve New Security Ministers
Posted by Reidar Visser on Tuesday, 16 September 2014 18:35
New Iraq PM Haydar al-Abbadi kept his promise to present ministerial candidates for portfolios not included in the recent vote on his new cabinet, but the Iraqi parliament proved uncooperative. As a result, only one minister, for water management, was approved in today’s session. Crucially, all key security ministries remain vacant.
The most contentious nominations related to the defence and interior ministries. With respect to defence, the name of Jabir al-Jabiri, an Anbar politician with considerable popular backing and past ties to the former finance minister, Rafe al-Isawi, has recurred for some time as the nominee of the Sunni coalition in parliament. Conversely, it was something of a surprise that Riyad Ghrayb, a Shiite chameleon who has gone from a past with ISCI to the State of Law bloc and the faction of Hussein al-Shahristani, was put forward in the last minute. Before that, it had largely been thought that Badr would present a candidate, even after their original nominee, Hadi al-Ameri, was found by most other parties to be too unpalatable in such a sensitive position. As late as yesterday, a modification of the Badr proposal was presented in the shape of “independents” that might be acceptable to Badr, such as Ahmad Chalabi and Qasim Dawud. Today, the Shiite alliance held a last-minute meeting before the parliament session without being able to agree internally on a candidate.
There are regional and international dimensions involved, too. It has been suggested that the Iraq interior ministry struggle is a reflection of the contradictive relationship between the United States and Iran in the region as a whole, with Iran backing Badr candidates in Iraq and the United States – finally in possession of some real leverage because of the ISIS threat and Iraqi requests for American military assistance, and tacitly in alliance with Iran against ISIS – strongly objecting to this.
It is noteworthy that during the parliament session today, Abbadi implored the chamber to approve the nominees whereas parliamentarians of the Shiite alliance (whom Abbadi himself represents) voiced opposition to a vote, saying the interior minister at least should be internally approved in the Shiite alliance first. Deputy speaker Humam al-Hammudi of ISCI at one point tried to stop the vote according to the official parliamentary record.
Whereas the voting record hasn’t been tied down to individual MPs or even parties, the patterns suggest that parts of the Shiite alliance may have voted No and possibly that there was a revenge No in the vote on the State of Law nominee for tourism (Ali al-Adib). Interior minister Riyad Ghrayb got 117 out of 245 votes, Jabir al-Jabiri 108 out of 251, and Ali al-Adib got only 78 out of 250 votes. By way of contrast, a Sadrist nominee for the water ministry was approved with a more resounding 162 out of 250 votes. Altogether 285 MPs were in attendance, probably a reflection of the realization that a simple majority could have settled the matter of the security ministers and have them approved if those who were against Jabiri and Ghrayb had simply absented themselves.
Parliament adjourned until Thursday 18 September but it is unclear whether Abbadi will come up with new nominees by then. It cannot be stressed enough that these final components of the Abbadi cabinet are among the most important decisions relating to the new Iraqi government as a whole – and as such far more significant than the plethora of international gatherings that are currently going on in the name of defeating ISIS in Iraq. Experiences from Yemen suggest that airstrikes will eventually hit someone that shouldn’t have been hit. In that kind of context, only a durable political coalition in Baghdad can prevent the situation from fragmenting completely. The absence of agreement on security ministers was a key reason the second Maliki government remained so shaky throughout its term, and it is likely this issue, more than anything else, that will seal the fate of the new, so far partial, government put in place by Haydar al-Abbadi.
Saleem al-Jubouri: The House of Representatives granted another chance to al-Abadi next Thursday in order to resolve the issue of security ministers
BAGHDAD / NINA / Speaker of the House of Representatives Saleem al-Jubouri, said on Tuesday that the House granted another deadline for Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ended next Thursday in order to resolve the issue of the security ministers.
Al-Jubouri said in a statement to his press office: "It is in order to complete the formation of the Government of Abadi and in the form which achieves the supreme interests of the Iraqi people, especially in the security side, which has become a concern for all Iraqis after the deterioration that the area had witnessed, the House of Representatives gave sufficient time to choose the security minister after voting on the government last week.
The House of Representatives did not give confidence in its today session for candidates of the ministries of Defense, Interior and Tourism, while it voted for / Muhsen Asfour / as Minister of Water Resources.
UNP MP: Jabiri to be re-nominated for defense minister post
September 17, 2014 by Ahmed Hussein
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) MP Sajida Mohammed of the Union of National Powers assured that “The Union nominated Badr al-Fahal to assume the defense minister post.”
MP Mohammed stated to IraqiNews.com “Al-Fahal is among the candidates for the post after the rejection of the parliament to the nomination of the candidate Jabir al-Jabiri,” noting that “Jabiri will be re-nominated for the same post.”
“We were surprised by the rejection of the parliament for Jabiri since he was our only candidate for this post.”
MP confirms the lack of agreement between the political blocs to nominate candidates for the two Security Ministries
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP for the State of Law Coalition, Haider Mutlaq al-Kaabi said the political blocs have not agreed to nominate candidates for the two ministries / interior and defense /.
Kaabi said in a statement to the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA /: "The National Alliance and the Iraqi forces coalition failed to reach an agreement for naming their candidates for the ministries of interior and defense, indicating that it is likely to postpone naming the two ministers (defense, interior) and vote on them after the Eid al-Adha."
On the meeting of the Council of Representatives today, Kaabi said: "The Council will discuss the work of the council during the past 8 years, in addition to swear oath to a number of MPs who did not perform the constitutional oath."
The House of Representatives has failed to vote on the candidates for the ministries of interior and defense, Riad Ghraib and Jaber al-Jabri in the meeting, which was held on last Monday under the chairmanship of Salim al-Jubouri, head of the Council and attended by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi .
Alliance forces are likely to vote on the ministries of interior and defense after the Eid al-Adha
Sat Sep 20 2014 21:26 | (Voice of Iraq)
Alsumaria News / Baghdad
Suggested Bloc parliamentary alliance of Iraqi forces, Saturday, and vote on the Interior and Defense ministries directly after Eid al-Adha, revealing submit new names to the Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
The head of the bloc Ahmed electrodes in an interview for the program "Khvaya declared," which aired "Alsumaria", that "All agreed on the importance of these two bags and two interior and defense," he said, adding that he "got several meetings with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to resolve this matter."
The electrodes that "coalition forces Iraqi nominated new names, one of them from Mosul, Khalid al-Obeidi and another from a military professionals Nuri forgiving," likely "to vote on the security ministries directly after the feast."
It is noteworthy that each of the candidate Iraqi forces to the Ministry of Defense Jaber al-Jabri, and the National Alliance candidate Riad Ghraib failure in a session last Tuesday (September 16, 2014) to get the confidence of Parliament.
To postpone the vote on the security ministers of the post-holiday
Sun Sep 21 2014 17:43 | (Voice of Iraq) - Add Comment - revealed Deputy for green mass in the House of Representatives, about to go to postpone the vote on the defense and interior ministers of the post-holiday Eid al-Adha.
The MP explained Leila disappeared, in an interview with the site of the Central Council of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUKcc.net), today Sunday, 21/09/2014, that there are differences between the components of the National Alliance, to nominate a candidate as interior minister, referring to the limbs you want to nominate a prime Badr Organization, Hadi Ameri, while the other parties oppose the nomination of Ameri.
She noted that the MP Alborznge to vote on the two posts delayed until after the holiday, pointing out that the Council will hold a regular session tomorrow, will meet with the committees on Tuesday, that the Council will hold next Thursday, his last session before the holiday.
The candidate of the Iraqi forces to the Ministry of Defense Jaber Al Jabri and the National Alliance candidate for the Ministry of Interior Riad Ghraib failed to gain the confidence of the House of Representatives during the session last Tuesday (September 16, 2014).
MP: most of the parties of the National Alliance support Ameri to assume the Interior Ministry and parliament will vote on Jabri for the defense
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP, of the Ahrar bloc, Jumaa Diwan al-Bahadeli said there are no differences within the National Alliance on the nomination of the Minister of Interior, noting that most of the forces of the Alliance support the Secretary-General of the Badr Organization, Hadi al-Ameri to take this post.
He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA /: "The talk about the existence of differences among forces of the National Alliance is untrue, because most of the forces of the National Alliance agreed on granting the Minister of the Interior to Badr bloc, noting that the issue of naming the ministers of interior and defense on its way to be resolved a smooth and easy and it is possible, during the next sessions of the House of Representatives to give Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi names to vote on them. "
He explained that "a number of members of the House of Representatives presented a memorandum to the presidency of the parliament signed by / 50 / MPs or more to re-vote on the candidate of the Iraqi forces coalition, Jaber al-Jabri to the Ministry of Defense, adding that the Presidency of the Parliament approved to re-vote in order to give confidence to Jaber al-Jabri as defense minister ".
The MP, of the State of Law, Haider Mutlaq al-Kaabi expected naming the ministers of defense and interior and vote on them after Eid al-Adha. "
MP: it is difficult to resolve naming defense and interior ministers before Eid al-Adha
BAGHDAD / NINA / MP, of the Iraqi forces coalition, Salah al-Jubouri confirmed the difficulty of resolving the candidates for the defense and interior ministries before Eid al-Adha.
Al-Jubouri said in a statement to the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA /: "There is a need to name the ministers of defense and interior, because of the security problems in the country, which makes it imperative for the Prime Minister to resolve this file in nearest opportunity."
He added: "At the time we request to speed up the nomination of the ministers, we ask for a national consensus on the candidates offered by the prime minister to fill the two ministries."
Jubouri pointed out that "the lack of time will be main reason in the postponement of the subject after the holiday of Eid al-Adha, on the grounds that" the House of Representatives will enjoy a vacation in 26, Sep, for two weeks. "
He said: "The Iraqi forces coalition resented a group of names to the prime minister to choose one of them for the post of Minister of Defense, including Khalid al-Obeidi, Jaber al-Jabri, Nuri Gafil al-Dulaimi and Hajim al-Hassani, and others," pointing out that "some of these figures are backed by political parties, and the other are not. "
Jubouri concluded, "Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi needs professional and accepted personalities to the assumption of the security ministries, and it is difficult for Abadi to come with names to parliament do not get a consensus on them, and we get a new setback.
Alliance Iraqi forces: the re-nomination of Jaber al-Jabri to the Ministry of Defense
Dated: September 24, 2014
Baghdad / Iraq News Network, a parliamentary source said coalition forces in Iraq, said the alliance will bring the nomination to the Ministry of Jaber al-Jabri Aldvaa.oukal source: Iraqi forces that the alliance made a formal request be re-elected Jaber al-Jabri to the Ministry of Defense, and we are waiting for the political blocs agree on it, pointing out that The problem is not in the Union of Iraqi forces, but are in the National Alliance, which did not correspond to mass so far on the candidate and the Ministry of the Interior. "The House of Representatives declined to give confidence to the candidates of the Ministries of Interior Riad Ghraib and Defense Jaber al-Jabri in the meeting, which was held last week under the chairmanship of Salim al-Jubouri, head of Council and attended by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Deputy for mass Badr: Ameri-Jubouri was supported by the Kurds and the electrodes and to take internal
Wednesday 24 September 2014 12:39
Alsumaria News / Baghdad
MP for the Bloc Badr Razak al-Haidari, Wednesday, that the candidate to take over the Interior Ministry Hadi al-Amiri was supported by Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, the head of the Union of Forces Iraqi Ahmed electrodes, while noting that the Kurds do not object to that.
Haidari said in an interview for "Alsumaria News", "Badr bloc discussed with Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jubouri, the candidate of the Multi-Hadi al-Ameri to take over the Ministry of the Interior," noting that "al-Jubouri confirmed his support for the Ameri."
Haidari said that "the head of the Union of Forces Ahmed electrodes also confirmed no objection to assume Hadi al-Amiri of the Ministry of Interior and its support for him," pointing out that "the rule of law and national components all with this trend."
He continued that "the Kurdistan Alliance, in turn, emphasized his support for the Ameri as a candidate to take over the Ministry of the Interior."
The Minister of Human Rights and a prominent leader in the Badr Organisation, Mohammed Mahdi al-Bayati has revealed, the first on Monday (22 September 2014), for a final agreement between the members of a coalition of state law during a meeting held yesterday in the presence of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on the nomination of former Transport Minister and head of the Badr Organization, the take the bag and the Ministry of Interior officially.
The Kurdistan Alliance MP Sarhan Ahmed said, in (13 September 2014), that the Kurds have no objection to the Secretary-General of the Badr Organization, Hadi al-Amiri to the Interior Ministry, while pointing out that they want the interior minister of an efficient and fair and does not differentiate between the components and sections of the people.
Pentagon spokesman Media: air operations in Syria may take more than a year
Pentagon spokesman Media: air operations in Syria may take more than a year
Tue Sep 23 2014 22:45 | (Voice of Iraq) CNN
Said John Kirby, media spokesman of the Ministry of Defense, or what is known as "Pentagon," The air operations carried out by the United States in Syria, may take more than a year.
Said Kirby said in an interview with Alersmalh Christiane Amanpour's CNN: "It will take now between three to five months, to assemble the trainees to Syria and prepare the exercises appropriate for them, and then it will take between eight to 12 months to get them down to the arena are confident."
He added: "For us, the important thing is to complete the training and fully equipped better than the completion quickly."
And about Daash, Kirby said: "We do not turn a blind eye to organize and spread in Syria, we have this military strikes against them, on Tuesday, and will continue to pressure them from now on."
Obama: impossible to know the duration of the operations against the Islamic state regulation
Tue Sep 23 2014 20:47 | (Voice of Iraq)
Said President Barack Obama said on Tuesday it impossible to know how much time it will take the operations led by the United States against militants in the organization of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
This comes while the American forces and directed the first strikes on the militant group in Syria.
Obama said in a message to Congress after the air strikes, "is impossible to know the duration of these operations and redeployment. Will continue to manage such additional actions as necessary to protect and secure the American citizens and interests in the face of the threat posed by the organization of the Islamic state."
America defends airstrikes in Syria, in a letter to the United Nations
America defends airstrikes in Syria, in a letter to the United Nations
Tue Sep 23 2014 21:03 | (Voice of Iraq)
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)
The United States said in a letter to the United Nations on Tuesday that the air strikes led by America against the Islamic state regulation implemented in Syria because Damascus "has shown it can not and will not address those safe havens."
In a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the American ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power strikes are necessary to eliminate the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq, the United States and their allies.
She added that the move justified under Section 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, which covers the rights of individual or collective states in self-defense against an armed attack.
Ban Ki-moon: Militants target air strikes in Syria threaten peace
Ban Ki-moon: Militants target air strikes in Syria threaten peace
Tue Sep 23 2014 21:01 | (Voice of Iraq)
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters)
Said the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday that air strikes of the United States and Arab allies against the Islamic militants of state regulation aimed at extremists represent a serious threat to international peace and security.
Ban said at a joint news conference with French President Francois Olund on the sidelines of a UN conference on climate change, "I realize that today's strikes have not been implemented at the direct request of the Syrian government, but taking into account that the government had informed in advance."
He added, "I also note that the strikes have taken place in areas no longer under the effective control of that government." He continued, "It is undeniable is the subject of a broad global agreement that these extremist groups represent an imminent threat to international peace and security."
(Emad Omar prepare for the liberation of Arab-Bulletin Saifuddin Hamdan)
Barzani: Peshmerga has the initiative and the terrorists in the development of defens
Barzani: Peshmerga has the initiative and the terrorists in the development of defense and retreat
Tue Sep 23 2014 19:39 | (Voice of Iraq)
Alsumaria News / Erbil
The head of the Kurdistan region, Massoud Barzani, on Tuesday, that the Peshmerga forces have the initiative now, pointing out that the "terrorists" are in a position to defend and retreat, while stressing the need to work seriously on the political level within Iraq and countries in the region to combat the organization "Daash" in conjunction with military strikes .
The presidency of the Kurdistan region in a statement received "Alsumaria News", a copy of which, "The regional president Massoud Barzani and the British Ambassador in Iraq, Frank Baker, they discussed victories Peshmerga terrorists and steps the coalition forces and air strikes against Daash inside Syrian territory," pointing out that "the two sides stressed the need not to stay safe havens for terrorists in Syria and Iraq. "
She added that "Barzani and Baker stressed the importance of working seriously on the political level within Iraq and countries in the region to combat the terrorists Daash in conjunction with military strikes", noting that "Barzani stressed that the initiative now, however, the Peshmerga forces and the terrorists are in a position to defend and retreat."
The Barzani, according to the statement, to "the importance of punishing all collaborators with terrorists Daash who have shared in the killings, looting and infringement on people insecure with the distinction between them and the people who did not cooperate with them," stressing the need for "the return of civilians to their areas and protect them from terrorist threats."
Iraq has been exceptional and the security situation since the declaration of a state of emergency in the (June 10, 2014), where military operations are continuing to expel the security organization "Daash" of areas where the provinces of Nineveh and Salahuddin, while continuing military operations in Anbar to meet the regulation.
Hakim visits former president Talabani in Sulaimaniya
Hakim visits former president Talabani in Sulaimaniya
BAGHDAD / NINA / Head of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq Ammar al-Hakim discussed with former President Jalal Talabani, the situation in the country.
A statement by the Information Office of the Supreme Council said today that "al-Hakim met Talabani in Sulaimaniya, and the two sides discussed the situation in the country."
Hakim, during the meeting, pleased improved the health of President Jalal Talabani, stressing the importance of his role in Iraq and coexistence between the components of the Iraqi people, Kurds, Arabs, Shiites and Sunnis r and the rest of the components,, praising his role in serving Iraq and Kurdistan and coexistence and brotherhood between all parties, ".
Alusi confirms Foreign Relations Committee's support for the Iraqi delegation in its
Alusi confirms Foreign Relations Committee's support for the Iraqi delegation in its meetings in the United Nations
BAGHDAD / NINA / The head of the parliamentary committee on Foreign Relations Mithal al-Alusi confirmed "his Committee's full support to the Iraqi delegation participating in the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York."
He told the National Iraqi News Agency / NINA / "All the members of the parliamentary committees that represents the Iraqi people emphasizes its support for the prime minister and the Iraqi delegation in the meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations to ask the national requirements for the war on terror and the criminal organization( IS)"
Alusi added that "this support and backing is based on extensive grassroots that are fighting the terrorist organization and any other organization in all parts of Iraq."
He stressed "the need to make use of the most broad international support for Iraq against terrorism to open new pages of Iraqi relations with the world to service the country in particular, and the region in general."
The Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived yesterday to New York City to participate in the 69th Session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Baghdad (AIN) –The Independent High Electoral Commission announced re-electing Sarbast Mustafa, as its head, Katea al-Zubaie, as his Deputy and Safaa al-Mousawi, as the head of the Electoral Department.
The fronts that the Islamic State (IS) seems insistent on opening in the south and west of Baghdad appear to be linked to the current US-led airstrikes that are being launched against the organization in Iraq and Syria.
Summary⎙ Print IS focuses on preparations to fight off expected attacks to Mosul by identifying secondary locations for headquarters, storing weapons in mosques and planting booby-traps.
Author Mushreq AbbasPosted September 23, 2014
According to local inhabitants in Mosul and Anbar, the main weakness IS can turn to its advantage is the Sunni gunmen originating from tribes and former armed groups. Their final position on whether they will join the international alliance or fight alongside IS is not yet known.
This issue is sensitive for IS, whose basic strategy relies on persuading local Sunni inhabitants that they may become subject to a revenge attack by Iran through the Shiite militias, on the one hand, and to an attack by the “infidel crusaders,” represented by Western countries and America, on the other. But a tendency among the active Sunni clans and armed groups represents a key danger for IS.
News websites have reported on dozens of armed Sunni groups going by various names, but historically there are only five main groups on the ground: the Islamic Army, the Naqshbandi Army, the Mujahedeen Army, Thawrat al-Ishrin Brigades and tribal factions.
The existence and role of these groups on the ground cannot be confirmed, except for some incidents which the websites refer to, such as sporadic clashes that occur between IS and the Naqshbandi Army, especially in Kirkuk, or when the Mujahedeen Army gunmen were expelled by IS from Fallujah towns.
Abu Maysara, formerly of the Mujahedeen Army, told Al-Monitor, “The presence of Sunni armed groups is not clear because they have been working in complex ways since 2003. And it is often not possible to confirm their numbers, nor the continuous movement of fighters among [the groups].”
He said, “The value of the real, traditional armed groups is not in their number of fighters, but in their history and in their leadership and organizational structures, which can enable them to gather thousands of fighters in days, just as they can recover their former fighters who now work within IS.”
A few days ago, there was news that IS was trying to re-attract those groups in anticipation of the expected international war, so much so that IS gave up on its efforts to force those factions to submit to it by force, and began sending them delegations to neutralize their position during the expected war, according to witnesses.
Sheikh Ali al-Badran, an Anbar elder, told Al-Monitor that all the official efforts, either through the Iraqi government or through American envoys, were focused on trying to attract Sunni gunmen to the war front against IS but that this hasn’t happened yet because their demands are still too high.
The Islamic State's preparations are not limited to trying to attract its opponents. Ahmad Shafik [editor's note: Aliases have been used in this article to protect sources], a lawyer who still lives in Mosul, said that he has been watching the Islamic State's movements in the city for weeks and that the group is taking further steps to fight off the expected attacks.
The lawyer summarizes these preparations as follows:
Finding alternative headquarters for the group’s primary and secondary leaders because the current headquarters are expected to be bombed.
Taking advantage of the many mosques in the neighborhoods to store weapons and ammunition, to prevent their being stockpiled in just one place.
Placing large IS centers in residential areas to take advantage of any coalition errors during the war, whereby civilians killed by aerial bombardment will be exploited to gain more supporters.
Making plans to booby-trap roads and houses, a strategy that has proven its effectiveness during the past few weeks, as part of the “scorched earth” theory of engagement.
In the past two weeks, the organization has been strongly trying to bring the fight to new areas. IS is imposing its control over Jarf al-Sakhr and Yusufiya, south of Baghdad.
The areas south of Baghdad are very important for the war against IS. Those areas are religiously mixed, which risks causing massacres if IS succeeds in spreading to neighboring villages with Shiite majorities, such as Musayyib, north of Jarf al-Sakhr, and Mahmudiyah, east of Yusufiya.
Since Sept. 21, IS has started a new chapter in its wars west of Baghdad. IS has taken control of Saqlawiya, is holding dozens of soldiers, and is attacking strategic points that are sensitive for the movement of government forces besieging Fallujah since the beginning of the year, such as al-Sajar, which is considered a main link between Fallujah and Salahuddin province (northwest).
According to security expert Mortada al-Nasiri, IS is trying to move the battle away from its main headquarters in Mosul, where the towns of Saqlawiya and Jarf al-Sakhr are located, to a distance of 450-500 kilometers (280-310 miles) from Mosul.
In an phone call with Al-Monitor, Nasiri said that the expansion of the battlefronts would confuse the American military leaders. Since the strategic IS targets US leaders are preparing to hit are constantly moving, this makes it difficult for the organization to be mortally hit.
But according to Nasiri, Mosul is the group’s soft underbelly today. The group hasn’t deployed large numbers of troops inside the city because it needs fighters at the open fronts, and losing Mosul would constitute a blow for IS morale.
The shape of the war on IS is yet to be determined, as are the content and effectiveness of war plans that have no ground effort. Also, solutions are needed for various problems and complications, such as the participation of the Iraqi army and militias in the battles and the local sensitivities they raise. All these factors are weaknesses that IS is trying to exploit to strengthen its front against the large international war against it.
ZUMAR, Iraq — Standing on a hilltop, Gen. Halgurd Khidir is inspecting through binoculars the situation just a couple of miles farther down in the sea of concrete houses that is Zumar. He appears relaxed, but is keenly aware of the difficult mission his troops are entrusted with: retaking vast territories lost to Islamic State fighters in early August.
Summary⎙ Print Peshmerga forces are slowly but steadily regaining lost territory to the Islamic State, after initial defeats this summer sent shock waves through Iraqi Kurdistan.
Author Mohammed A. SalihPosted September 23, 2014
“Over the past month we have advanced a lot and have cleaned this area from IS,” said Khidir, standing amid a couple of dozen peshmerga fighters. He says his troops are ready to retake the town whenever the order arrives. The Kurdish peshmerga forces have in fact captured around a dozen villages and strategic oil fields on the road between Sihela and Zumar. Signs of IS militants’ defeat can be seen: A a few damaged vehicles, including a Humvee bombed by US aircraft, are scattered by the side of the road.
Zumar and its nearby oil wells appeared firmly under peshmerga control until early August. But then in a lightning strike, IS forces swept through Zumar on Aug. 2 and Sinjar a day after. It was a defeat as much surprising as damaging for the Kurdish peshmerga forces’ image. When the Iraqi army was routed by militants in June, the peshmerga boasted that they were a different army and could keep the jihadists in check. They clearly underestimated the militants’ power.
The fall of Sinjar and Zumar and the strategic areas near Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, Erbil, drove a painful point home to Kurdish leaders and the population alike: that the structure and capabilities of the peshmerga needed an urgent revision.
In Sinjar, the followers of the ancient Yazidi religious community bore the brunt of the defeat. Hundreds are believed to have been massacred and many more, including young women, are believed to have been kidnapped by the Islamic State. The lucky ones who escaped the onslaught blamed the peshmerga for their misery, saying the Kurdish troops did not put up much of a fight.
“They [peshmerga and security commanders] fled before the people did,” said Qassim Shesho, a local Yazidi official in Sinjar who stayed behind and put up what many see as a heroic fight against the self-proclaimed jihadists. Sporting a big black-dyed mustache and surrounded by bodyguards in the lobby of a hotel in Dahuk, a city near the Turkish-Iraqi border, Shesho insists that had the local officials had the will, they could have prevented the fall of Sinjar.
“When someone gets into business and cares about money, they cannot fight. They were afraid for their lives,” he said in an attempt to invoke corruption as the major reason to explain the incompetence of the officials in charge of Kurdish forces in Sinjar.
It remains to be seen whether the events in Sinjar will serve as a real wake-up call for Iraqi Kurdistan’s leaders to engage in a fundamental revamping of the peshmerga. They face the classic challenge that many guerilla and revolutionary forces have had in the past: the transformation from a period of principled resistance against a brutal enemy to actually running a country or entity.
Lack of adequate measures of accountability have also created a system that is easy to exploit by some of those in power.
Peshmerga officials say they have taken steps to address the structural deficiencies. The two dominant parties of Iraqi Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), still retain tens of thousands of peshmerga fighters who receive orders from their respective party leaders and not the Peshmerga Ministry, which is an organ of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Halgurd Hikmat, a spokesman for the ministry, says the minister, who is from another powerful party, Gorran, has started work on integrating those forces not officially under his command into the ministry’s structure.
The chaos in managing these disparate forces was evident in some fronts such as Sinjar, Makhmour and Jalawla. In Jalawla, lack of proper coordination between the peshmerga units that are part of the Peshmerga Ministry, but are essentially affiliated with the KDP and PUK, led to a temporary defeat and the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the town in late July, after they had taken it following heavy clashes with IS militants.
Hikmat said the peshmerga minister is now granted extensive powers by Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani to carry out reforms, but admits the process has been “slow.” However, he insists the peshmerga will not experience defeat again the way they did in Sinjar, Zumar, Jalawla, large parts of Ninevah plains and areas around Erbil.
“In Sinjar, in particular, we have set up committees to find out what happened there. … Three officials are now arrested and some others are being investigated,” Hikmat said. “We are certainly hoping this [Sinjar defeat] will become a lesson and such things would not happen again.”
Apart from the personal failings of some of the senior officials in Sinjar that brought a major tragedy upon the Yazidi community there, Kurdish forces have complained frequently that they are not as well armed as the IS fighters.
When they occupied Mosul and other major areas in the Sunni heartland of western and northern Iraq in June, the jihadists seized advanced and heavy weaponry used by at least four divisions of the Iraqi army.
Since August, a host of Western nations and Iran have delivered arm shipments to Iraqi Kurdistan’s government. Hikmat said Germany and France in particular have delivered some much-needed heavy arms such as anti-tank weapons and large vehicle-mounted automatic machine guns. He said peshmerga officers are now being trained inside Iraqi Kurdistan and abroad on how to use the weapons and that the arms will be distributed at the fronts according to need.
“It’s a great deal of responsibility how these weapons are distributed,” Hikmat said. “They should be handed out to the forces according to a plan and not in a random manner.”
Some Western nations, such as Germany, have made it a condition that the weapons should not fall into the hands of a third party, including the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its affiliates that are currently fighting IS forces in Iraq and Syria’s Kurdish regions.
During a visit by Al-Monitor to the fronts near the Syrian border, a large convoy of heavy weapons, including artillery guns and tanks, were spotted as they were being transferred to peshmerga forces in those areas. In the convoy were several troop-carrying Mercedes-Benz trucks that Kurdish soldiers said were donated by Germany.
Near Zumar, Khidir complained that his troops use outdated weapons, mostly Russian, “that have been used in several wars.” He and his troops were recently lucky to receive some armored vehicles that were left behind by Iraqi troops when they fled the area in June.
But he has a major advantage that has bogged down IS troops for weeks: US airstrikes.
“The US airstrikes have been very helpful. … They [IS fighters] now cannot move around much, fearing they will be bombed,” said Khidir, who, like many other fighters here, was quick to note the effectiveness of US air power in halting IS advances.
For over a month, Kurdish forces have steadily but slowly regained lost ground. They are trying to be careful not to overreach, and are aiming to reclaim their lost territory one front at a time.