Erbil, Kurdistan Region, Iraq (cabinet.gov.krd) – Kurdistan Regional Government, KRG, Peshmerga Affairs Minister hailed the role of France for supporting Peshmerga forces, describing the recent visit of the ministry delegation to France, headed by him, and meetings with French President and senior officials as successful and productive.
KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs, Mustafa Sayid Qadir, in an exclusive interview with the KRG Website, said that France’s support for Kurdistan Region is very important, as it comes at a time when the Peshmerga forces are in a war with an international terrorist organization, the Islamic State, also known ISIS. Sayed Qader stated that it is the duty of all countries to support Peshmerga forces as ISIS is a threat to the entire world.
France Pledged Further Support
The Minister of Peshmerga Affairs said that the Peshmerga Affairs Ministry delegation, which included a number of field commanders from the battle fronts, briefed the French President and senior officials about the conditions of the war against ISIS.
“France has supported us until now by providing arms, ammunitions, and military advisors. French officials pledged more support, and we asked for further military aid, because we are fighting a continuous tough and unequal war”.
He highlighted that the meeting between the military delegation from the Kurdistan Region and the French President came at the initiative of French philosopher and writer, Bernard-Henri Levy, who visited the battle fronts in the Kurdistan Region last February, and vowed he will urge the highest authorities in France to provide better and more military assistance to Kurdistan Peshmerga forces.
Germany and Other Countries’ Role
KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs also shed light on the role of Germany in supporting Peshmerga forces, particularly by providing Milan anti-tank missile which played a significant role in repulsing terrorists’ attacks.
He said that German Defense Minister and several delegations have visited Kurdistan Region, and Germany is currently training the Peshmerga forces.
He also highlighted the participation of the Kurdistan Region delegation led by Kurdistan Region President, Masoud Barzani, at the Munich Conference on international security.
He said that Germany replied positively to several requests by the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, expressing his wishes that Germany and other countries will invite delegations from the ministry.
Ninety five percent of the territories controlled by ISIS, liberated
KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs pointed out that more than 95 percent of the territories which were captured by ISIS in Kurdistan have now been liberated by the Peshmerga forces. However, he said, this does not mean that ISIS threat on Kurdistan has been definitively repulsed.
In another part of the interview, he outlined the duty and works of the Ministry of Peshmerga affairs, particularly during war with ISIS, saying that all Peshmerga forces, alongside with security, police, volunteers, retired forces and military units number 70 and 80, are under the ministry’s authority and led by one command, President of the Kurdistan Region, who is General Commander of Kurdistan Region Military Forces. Any force outside this framework, which may belong to any side or party, is considered illegal according to the KRG and Kurdistan Region’s overall policy.
KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs said that there was a plan for those Yazidi, Christian, Kakayee, Turkman and Shabak citizens who showed interest to form military units to defend their areas like Peshmerga forces. Those unites were formed within the framework of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, and have been trained by the ministry and sent to the front lines.
He reiterated that Kurdistan Region does not need any other force.
Reorganizing Peshmerga Forces
Reorganization and reunification of all the Peshmerga forces under the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs authority have been one of the main objectives of the KRG eighth cabinet.
Mustafa Sayd Qadir stressed that the goal of this plan is to restructure Kurdistan military forces “as a national and governmental force, not based on political party affiliation. Moreover, we want to achieve that any member of the Kurdistan Peshmerga Forces, from any religious, ethnic and political background could be able to reach the highest military rank.”
He pointed out that, despite slowing down of the reunification process of the Peshmerga forces due to war against ISIS, little, but significant, steps have been taken.
KRG Peshmerga Minister considered that the prompt implementation of this task has now become a necessity in order to eliminate the threats which face the Kurdistan Region, and create a one united stance, away from religious, ethnic, and political differences.
Sayd Qadir denied that any political party has tried to hamper the reunification of the Peshmerga forces, saying that some statements, which have been made, reflect only individual opinions.
Regarding the current situation on the battle fronts, Mustafa Sayd Qadir said that ISIS terrorists attack Peshmerga positions on a daily basis, but Peshmerga forces stop their advances.
“Now, Peshmerga forces have learned the tactics of the terrorist of ISIS, and I reassure Kurdistan citizens that the Peshmerga forces are capable to defend Kurdistan Region. They have shown that whenever a security problem occurred, they acted rapidly and restored security”.
Liberation of Sinjar
KRG Minister of Peshmerga Affairs stated that there is a plan to liberate Sinjar, “but it has been postponed until the time that we can be sure that the town could be defended and kept away from the range of ISIS shelling, for that its population can return back safely.”
He reiterated that the anticipated operation for liberation of Mosul will also have a significant impact on the process of liberation of Sinjar. The minister pointed out that defeating ISIS in Mosul will further consolidate stability and security of the Kurdistan Region.
He stressed that Mosul will not be liberated by Peshmerga forces alone.