Thursday, July 31, 2014

Budget Restraints On Kurdish Peshmerga Making It Difficult To Secure Iraq’s Disputed Territories

The Kurdish Peshmerga are in a tense standoff with the Islamic State across northern Iraq. When the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) collapsed after the fall of Mosul the Peshmerga moved into the disputed territories that had been abandoned by the police and army. One such place was Jalawla in Diyala, which locals had complained about for years as being an insurgent hotbed. The Kurdish forces have tried to clear the area, but they have been constrained by budget problems.
The Peshmerga have tried to secure Jalawla but have not been able to because of budgetary constraints (NY Times)

The Peshmerga have found it difficult to secure Jalawla, because they don’t have the money to sustain their efforts. June 12 as the insurgents swept across northern Iraq and the Iraqi security forces melted away the Kurds moved into Jalawla, which they had longed claimed as historically part of Kurdistan. Kurds had been targets of militants there for years. Just before the fighting started in Mosul for example the Islamic State (IS) launched a car bomb and suicide bomber against the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan offices in the city killing 20 and wounding 66. Then when the Peshmerga moved in they immediately got into gunfights with the IS starting on June 13. According to press reports at least 47 Peshmerga have been killed in Jalawla and another 90 wounded along with several civilians since then. That caused around 200 families to flee the area to escape the violence. July 24 the district director claimed that two areas had been cleared, but the Kurdish forces could only stay there for a few hours because they ran out of ammunition. Three days later it was reported that IS fighters were infiltrating back in. The quick security operation and then withdrawal from Jalawla was caused by the budgetary crisis that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is suffering from. In January Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki withheld the regions’ share of the national budget to punish it for its independent oil policy. While the regional government has received some loans and two months worth of salaries from Baghdad since then it still does not have enough funds to cover its sizeable costs. That has impacted the security forces as they must now cover a much larger territory and expend more money on supplies and equipment. As one Peshmerga commander told the Washington Post his unit was only allowed to fire upon insurgents if they were shot at first because they had to save ammunition. The effect has been that the Peshmerga are able to hold their current positions, but they are not be able to carry out any kind of sustained operations past that line, which is why Jalawla is still so violent.
Peshmerga firing rockets into insurgent positions in Jalawla June 14, 2014 (AFP)

Both the central and regional government are facing a growing threat from the insurgency, but their political disputes are keeping them from cooperating. The two sides should be working together to help secure the country and take back all the territory that has been lost since June. Instead, the Kurdish parties and Premier Maliki are still arguing over oil, the budget, and the prime minister’s attempt at a third term. The result is that the militants have been able to solidify their hold upon the territory they conquered and threaten places like Jalawla. This is just the latest sign that the political elite is more interested in their petty disputes than the welfare of the country. Not even the de facto division of the country has been able to overcome these divisions and the people are suffering for it.


AIN, "2 Peshmerga officers killed, injured northeast Baquba," 7/15/14
- "3 ISIL elements killed northeastern Baquba," 6/18/14
- "5 Peshmerga elements killed, injured northeastern Baquba," 7/19/14
- "7 Peshmerga elements killed, injured northeastern Baquba," 6/29/14

Alsumaria, “The displacement of nearly 200 families from the neighborhood South Jalawla controlled by “Daash,”” 7/16/14
- “Jalawla announce its purge of the armed groups,” 7/24/14
- "Prominent sniper of Naqshbandi killed and wounding of three Peshmerga in clashes northeast of Baquba," 7/13/14

Associated Press, "Double bombing at party office kills 19 in Iraq," 6/8/14
- "Iraq fights militants as foreigners feared seized," 6/18/14

Buratha News, "The killing of three Daash rats and martyrdom of one of the elements of the Peshmerga in clashes northeast of Baquba," 7/5/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding five of the Peshmerga and killed six Daash terrorists in clashes in Jalawla," 7/17/14
- "Violent clashes between the Peshmerga and Daash terrorist in Jalawla," 6/13/14

Iraq Times, "martyrdom of 4 Peshmerga and the killing of eight Daash in military operations south of Jalawla," 7/12/14

Morris, Loveday, “Iraq’s Kurds want U.S. help to hold off Islamic State extremists,” Washington Post, 7/24/14

NINA, "20 people killed, 40 injured in the bombings targeted PUK headquarters in Baquba," 6/8/14
- "Four elements of Peshmerga and Sahwa forces wounded in Diyala," 7/16/14
- "Two Peshmerga killed, three others injured in a roadside bomb in Northeast of Baquba," 7/28/14

Al Rayy, "3 of the Peshmerga injured by a roadside bomb north of Baquba," 7/2/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding 12 people in a car bomb attack on a Peshmerga police station in Jalawla," 7/27/14
- "Martyrdom and wounding six of the Peshmerga in suicide attack and the bombing of a bridge between Diyala and Sulaymaniyah," 6/23/14
- "Security forces kill four Daash and killed two Peshmerga in clashes amid Jalawla," 7/6/14
- “A security source reveals the infiltration of some Daash elements in the alleys of Jalawla Baquba,” 7/27/14

Rudaw, “ISIS Shelling Kurdish Peshmerga-controlled Areas South of Kirkuk,” 6/12/14
- "Peshmerga Fight in Jalawla, as Iraqi Army Tries to Retake Tikrit," 7/5/14
- "Peshmerga Suffering Losses against ISIS," 7/26/14

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