Iraqi Kurdistan Assumes Responsibility for Security
By streiff Posted in War — Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
If you haven't heard about it, it is because for all intents and purposes a news blackout has been imposed on this event. No Defense press release. No CENTCOM press release.
Why? Who knows?
The three Iraqi provinces that make up Iraqi Kurdistan, Sulaimaniyah, Arbil and Dohuk, took responsibility for their own security operations yesterday.
According to DoD these three provinces join four other provinces, Maysan, Muthanna, Dhi Qar, and Najaf, now completely responsible for providing their own security.
According to Agence France Presse:
In a blaze of pomp showcasing Kurdish military muscle, US forces handed over responsibility for security in Iraq's three northern provinces to the Kurdish regional government on Wednesday.
Iraq's Kurds have long cherished separatist ambitions and, while officials said the region will work closely with the national government in Baghdad, the symbolism of the moment was not lost on the former guerrilla fighters.
"It's a sort of independence," Colonel Shadman Ali of the peshmerga, the Kurdish security force, told AFP. "We are very glad and proud and have been waiting for this day for so long. It gives us a great source of hope."
I was on a conference call this morning with USAF Major General Kurt Cichowski on the security transition in Iraqi Kurdistan this morning and must admit that more questions were raised than answered about the situation in Kurdistan, internal and external.
The role of the peshmerga were played down while AFP's story and photo array highlight it. Maybe the peshmerga, or what is termed CPA-91 militias, were just more colorful.
He and his deputy, British Brigadier Neil Baverstock, denied stories that peshmerga had checkpoints and were turning back all Arabs from entering the area. From the transcript:
BRIG. BAVERSTOCK: I don't know how they can actually close the border. There is no border between the Kurdish region and the rest of Iraq, and there are checkpoints but there are checkpoints in a lot of places, and those checkpoints are there for internal security reasons. They're perfectly legitimate, and we've heard no reports they're actually turning people away on the basis of their ethnicity.
Q Sir, it's with all due respect -- this is David Axe -- I've been to Kurdistan twice and I think that's not true. The checkpoints do turn Arabs away.
GEN. CICHOWSKI: Well, gosh, that would be interesting because I have to tell you that's one of the issues that we have talked a lot about, and there are Kurds on our committee. There are Kurds that have come down and visited us and our going out there -- that's certainly an area that we will look into but I will tell you from the internal that we have not heard that.
Regardless, this is a positive accomplishment. Now seven of 18 provinces are under Iraqi rule for all purposes. The stability and the economy of Iraqi Kurdistan offer a stabilizing influence in Northern Iraq which will allow the local authorities to deal with the PKK problem.
Of course, the transference of security responsibility to these three provinces at once is laden with symbolic independence. But I think the noises being made by Turkey and Iran will probably convince the Kurdish political leadership that their future lies in a unified Iraq rather than in declaring independence and becoming the slowest wildebeest at the waterhole.
Organisers had planned to raise the Iraqi national flag to symbolise the transfer of authority but many Kurds wanted to raise their own regional flag, a horizontal tricolour of orange, white and green with a golden sun motif.
In the end, no flag was raised.
So the jury is still out.