Formally, the Peshmerga are under the command of the Kurdistan Regional Government
's Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs. In reality, the Peshmerga force itself is largely divided and controlled separately by the two regional political parties: Democratic Party of Kurdistan
and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan
. Unifying and integrating the Peshmerga has been on the public agenda since 1992, but the forces remain divided due to factionalism which has proved to be a major stumbling block.
was the primary political and military leader of the Kurdish cause until his death in 1979.
Peshmerga soldiers in Iraqi Kurdistan, 2016.
The Kurdish warrior tradition of rebellion has existed for thousands of years along with aspirations for independence, and early Kurdish warriors fought against the various Persian empires, the Ottoman Empire
and the British Empire
Historically the Peshmerga existed only as guerrilla organizations, but under the self-declared Republic of Mahabad
(1946–1947), the Peshmerga led by Mustafa Barzani
became the official army of the republic.
After the fall of the republic and the execution of head of state Qazi Muhammad
, Peshmerga forces reemerged as guerrilla organizations that would go on to fight the Iranian
governments for the remainder of the century.
After Mustafa Barzani's death in 1979, his son Masoud Barzani
took his position.
As tension increased between KDP and PUK, most Peshmerga fought to keep a region under their own party's control while also fighting off Iraqi Army incursions. Following the First Persian Gulf War
, Iraqi Kurdistan saw the Kurdish Civil War
between the two major parties, the KDP and the PUK, and Peshmerga forces were used to fight each other.
The civil war officially ended in September 1998 when Barzani and Talabani signed the Washington Agreement establishing a formal peace treaty.
In the agreement, the parties agreed to share revenue and power, deny the use of northern Iraq to the Kurdistan Workers' Party
(PKK), and not allow Iraqi troops into the Kurdish regions. By then, around 5,000 had been killed on both sides, and many more had been evicted for being on the wrong side.
In the years after, tension remained high, but both parties moved towards each other, and in 2003 they both took part in the overthrowing of the Baathist regime
as part of the Iraq War
. Unlike other militia forces, the Peshmerga were never prohibited by Iraqi law.
Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter (KDP) in 2003.
In 2014, the Peshmerga withdrew from the Nineveh Plains which was said by the locals as being a contributing factor of the quick ISIS victory in the invasion, and the widespread massacre of Yazidis, who were rendered defenseless.
Structure and Capabilities
Peshmerga special unit near the Syrian border on June 23, 2014.
The Peshmerga are mostly divided among forces loyal to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and those loyal to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK),
while other, minor Kurdish parties such as the Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party
also have their own small Peshmerga units.
The KDP and PUK do not disclose information about the composition of their forces with government or media.
Thus there is no reliable number of how many Peshmerga fighters exist.
Media outlets have speculated that there are between 150,000 and 200,000 Peshmerga, but this number is highly disputed.
Peshmerga have divided Kurdistan Region into a KDP-governed "yellow" zone covering Dohuk Governorate
and Erbil Governorate
and a PUK-governed "green" zone covering Sulaymaniyah Governorate
and Halabja Governorate
Each zone has its own branch of Peshmerga with their own governing institutions that do not coordinate with the other branch.
As a result of the split nature of the Peshmerga forces, there is no central command center in charge of the entire force, and Peshmerga units instead follow separate military hierarchies depending on political allegiance.
Multiple unification and depoliticizing efforts of the Peshmerga have been made since 1992. But so far all deadlines have been missed,
reforms have been watered down,
and most of the Peshmerga are still under the influence of the KDP and the PUK, who also maintain their separate Peshmerga forces. Following the events of the Iraqi Civil War
in 2014, the United States
and several Europe
nations pressured the PUK and KDP to set up mixed brigades of Peshmerga as a condition for aid and funding. The PUK and KDP united 12 to 14 brigades under the Regional Guard Brigades, which were then placed under the command of the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.
However, officers continue to report to and take orders from their party leaders who also control the deployment of forces loyal to them and appoint front-line and sector commanders
Both the KDP and the PUK rely heavily on irregulars
in times of conflict to increase their ranks.
However, both maintain several professional military
brigades. The following units have been identified within the Peshmerga force:
Due to limited funding and the vast size of the Peshmerga forces, the KRG has long planned to downsize its forces from large numbers of low-quality forces to a smaller but much more effective and well-trained force.
Consequently, in 2009, the KRG and Baghdad engaged in discussions about incorporating parts of the Peshmerga forces into the Iraqi Army in what would be the 15th and 16th Iraqi Army
However, after increasing tension between Erbil and Baghdad regarding the disputed areas, the transfer was largely put on hold. Some Peshmerga were already transferred but reportedly deserted again, and there are allegations that former Peshmerga forces remained loyal to the KRG rather than their Iraqi chain of command; regardless, thousands of members of the 80 Unit of KDP and the 70 Unit of PUK are based in Baghdad, and they have good cooperation with other Iraqi forces in Baghdad.
Peshmerga soldiers stand in formation during the Modern Brigade Course graduation ceremony.
Peshmerga forces largely rely on old arms captured from battles. The Peshmerga captured stockpiles of weapons during the 1991 Iraqi uprisings
Several stockpiles of weapons were captured from the old Iraqi Army during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq
, in which Peshmerga forces were active. Following the retreat of the new Iraqi Army during the June 2014 ISIS offensive, Peshmerga forces reportedly again managed to get hold of weapons left behind by the Army.
Since August 2014, Peshmerga forces have also captured weapons from ISIS.
In 2015, for the first time, Peshmerga soldiers received urban warfare and military intelligence training from foreign trainers, the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve
The Peshmerga arsenal is limited and confined by restrictions because the Kurdish Region has to purchase arms through the Iraqi government. Due to disputes between the KRG and the Iraqi government, arms flows from Baghdad to Kurdistan Region have been almost nonexistent, as Baghdad fears Kurdish aspirations for independence.
After the ISIS offensive of August 2014, multiple governments armed the Peshmerga with some light equipment such as light arms, night goggles, and ammunition.
However, Kurdish officials and Peshmerga stressed that they were not receiving enough. They also stress that Baghdad was blocking all arms from reaching the KRG, emphasizing the need for weapons to be sent directly to the KRG and not through Baghdad.
Despite this, the United States has maintained that the government of Iraq is responsible for the security of Iraqi Kurdistan and that Baghdad must approve all military aid.
The Peshmerga lack a proper medical corps and communication units.
This became apparent during the ISIS offensive in 2014
where the Peshmerga found itself lacking ambulances and frontline field hospitals, forcing wounded fighters to walk back to safety.
There is also a lack of communication tools, as Peshmerga commanders are forced to use civilian cellphones to communicate with each other.
Under the guidance of the US-led coalition
the Peshmerga has started to standardize its weapons systems, replacing Soviet-era weapons with NATO firearms
The Peshmerga forces are plagued by frequent allegations of corruption, partisanship, nepotism, and fraud.
A common result of corruption in the Peshmerga are "ghost employees" which are employees on paper who either do not exist or do not show up for work but receive a salary. Those setting up such a scam split the salary of these employees.
In addition the KDP and PUK have used the Peshmerga to exert or attempt to exert a monopoly on the use of force within their zones.
In 2011 KDP Peshmerga fired on anti-government protesters in Sulaymaniyah, and the PUK later used its own security forces to break up these protests,
leading to criticism from all of the opposition parties in the parliament. In 2014 the KDP used its Peshmerga to stop ministers from the Gorran Movement
to enter Erbil and attend parliament.
Role of women
Women have played a significant role in the Peshmerga since its foundation. The Kurdish Zand tribe
was known for allowing women in military roles.
During the Iraqi–Kurdish conflict
the majority of women served within the Peshmerga in supporting roles such as building camps, taking care of the wounded, and carrying munitions and messages.
Several women brigades served on the front lines. Margaret George Malik
was an iconic Assyrian
guerilla fighter who was given a leading position in important battles such as the battle of Zawita Valley
The PUK started recruiting women during the Kurdish Civil War
. Women were given a 45-day basic training that included parade drills and basic marksmanship with various rifles, mortars, and RPGs.
The modern Peshmerga is almost entirely made up of men, while having at least 600 women in their ranks
In the KDP, these Peshmerga women have been refused access to the frontline and are mostly used in logistics and management positions,
but PUK Peshmerga women are deployed in the front lines and are actively engaged in combat.
- ^ Kajjo, Sirwan (September 14, 2020). "Iraqi, Peshmerga Forces to Step Up Anti-IS Joint Effort". Voice of America.
- ^ "Hundreds of Christians join Peshmerga". Kurdistan24. February 19, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "The Kurdistan Region of Iraq - Access, Possibility of Protection, Security and Humanitarian Situation" (PDF). p. 41. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ a b c d e f g h "The Status of Western Military Aid to Kurdish Peshmerga Forces". Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ Pollard, Ruth (September 11, 2014). "Australian-supplied weapons have reached the Kurdish frontline". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Austria to provide Peshmerga with medical support". Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- ^ "L'aide belge aux Peshmergas est prête à partir vers l'Irak". RTBF Info (in French). February 24, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "България е изпратила на кюрдите в Ирак автомати и патрони за 6 млн. лева". Mediapool.bg (in Bulgarian). September 30, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Cyprus could send more light arms, ammunition to Kurdistan: FM". Kurdistan24. November 11, 2017. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Czech Rifles and Ammunition for the Peshmerga. Prague Supporting the Fight Against Daesh Again - Defence24.com". www.defence24.com (in Czech). January 27, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Forsvarsavisen 01" (PDF) (in Danish). Ministry of Defense. p. 3. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ a b Jan Joel Andersson and Florence Gaub (2015). "Adding fuel to the fire? Arming the Kurds" (PDF). Issue Alert. 37. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Finland increases military support to Kurdistan". Kurdistan24. September 16, 2016. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Greece to send ammunition to Iraqi Kurds". Retrieved September 27, 2014.
- ^ "Assistant Head of DFR and Indian Ambassador discuss areas of cooperation". dfr.gov.krd. April 20, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
- ^ "Iraq supplies Kurds with ammunition in unprecedented move, U.S. says". Reuters. August 9, 2014. Retrieved July 26, 2019.
- ^ a b Arash Reisinezhad (2018). The Shah of Iran, the Iraqi Kurds, and the Lebanese Shia. p. 115. ISBN 978-3319899473.
- ^ a b "Dutch and Norwegians train Peshmerga on basic soldier skills". www.centcom.mil. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ a b Guido Weiss (July 8, 2015). "Global Support for Peshmerga Forces". Kurdstrat. Archived from the original on January 3, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ Mosul, Martin Chulov near (October 20, 2016). "Kurdish forces vow no retreat until Nineveh plains are retaken from Isis". The Guardian. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ Hasan, H. A. (May 21, 2016). "Romania Pledges Continuous Support for Peshmerga". www.basnews.com. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ Litovkin, Nikolai (March 18, 2016). "Russia delivers first weapons supplies to Iraqi Kurds". Russia Beyond. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Inherent Resolve in northern Iraq". Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ "Sweden will continue support for Peshmerga forces in Kurdistan: Defense Minister". Kurdistan24. May 10, 2018. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ a b The Mitrokhin archive. II : the KGB and the world. London: Penguin. 2014. ISBN 978-0141977980.
- ^ "Peshmerga and the Ongoing Fight against ISIS". March 27, 2016. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
- ^ "Iraqi PM criticizes Kurdish region for barring army from Syrian border area". Xinhua News Agency. July 28, 2012. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- ^ "Information about Kurdistan". Kurdistan Development Organization. 2014. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- ^ "Summary of the most important tasks of the Ministry of Peshmerga". Ministry of Peshmerga. November 12, 2012. Archived from the original on January 12, 2015. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- ^ Newton-Small, Jay (December 31, 2012). "Destination Kurdistan: Is This Autonomous Iraqi Region a Budding Tourist Hot Spot?". Time. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- ^ Druzin, Heath (September 29, 2013). "Rare terrorist attack in peaceful Kurdish region of Iraq kills 6". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
- ^ Krajeski, Jenna (March 20, 2013). "The Iraq War Was a Good Idea, If You Ask the Kurds". The Atlantic. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ a b c d e Lortz, Michael (2005). "Willing to Face Death: A History of Kurdish Military Forces - the Peshmerga - From the Ottoman Empire to Present-Day Iraq". Electronic Theses, Treatises and Dissertations. 1038: 108. Archived from the original on July 27, 2015. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o van Wilgenburg, Wladimir; Fumerton, Mario (December 16, 2015). "Kurdistan's Political Armies: The Challenge of Unifying the Peshmerga Forces" (PDF). Carnegie Middle East Center. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- ^ Rai, Manish (October 6, 2014). "Kurdish Peshmerga Can Be a Game-changer in Iraq And Syria". Khaama Press. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ "Operation Red Dawn's eight-month hunt". The Sydney Morning Herald. December 15, 2003. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ Ambinder, Marc (April 29, 2013). "How the CIA really caught Bin Laden's trail". The Week. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ Roston, Arom (January 9, 2014). "Cloak and Drone: The Strange Saga of an Al Qaeda Triple Agent". Vocativ. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ Valentine, Peshmerga: Those who Face Death, 2018, chapter five.
- ^ Stratton, Allegra (June 26, 2006). "Hero of the people". New Statesman. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ Koerner, Brendan (March 21, 2003). "What does the Kurdish word Peshmerga mean?". Slate.com. Retrieved October 18, 2016.
- ^ From the Kurdish pêş (پێش) "before" and mergمەرگ "death".
- ^ Valentine, Those Who Face Death, KDP, 2018.
- ^ Stilo, Donald (March 2008). Aspects of Iranian Linguistics. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Retrieved October 19, 2017.
- ^ S. R. Valentine, Peshmerga: Those Who Face Death, KDP, 2018, see the introduction and chapter one.
- ^ Abdulla, Mufid (June 12, 2011). "Mahabad – the first independent Kurdish republic". The Kurdistan Tribune. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ a b c "President". Kurdistan Regional Government Representation in Spain. 2015. Retrieved February 14, 2015.
- ^ Meiselas, Susan (2008). Kurdistan: In the Shadow of History (2nd ed.). University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-51928-9.
- ^ S. R. Valentine, Peshmerga: Those Who Face Death, KDP, 2018, chapter six.
- ^ Abdulrahman, Frman (February 23, 2012). "Never-ending mystery: what really happened to Kurdish civil war missing". niqash. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^ McDermid, Charles (February 20, 2010). "New force emerges in Kirkuk". Asia Times Online. Archived from the original on February 22, 2010. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^ Profile: Who are the Peshmerga? BBC News. Retrieved 19 December 2014.
- ^ van den Toorn, Christine (August 17, 2014). "How the U.S.-Favored Kurds Abandoned the Yazidis when ISIS Attacked". Institute of Regional & International Studies. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Helfont, Samuel (March 1, 2017). "Getting Peshmerga Reform Right: Helping the Iraqi Kurds to Help Themselves in Post-ISIS Iraq". Foreign Policy Research Institute. 16: 13.
- ^ "Kaka Hama, head of Kurdish Socialist Party joins Mosul battle plan with force". Rudaw Media Network. October 16, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- ^ "Over 150,000 enlisted as Peshmerga troops in Kurdistan Region, official data shows". Rudaw. April 3, 2017. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
- ^ Hawramy, Fazel (January 13, 2015). "Kurdish Peshmerga divisions hamper war effort". Al-monitor. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
- ^ Chapman, Dennis. Security Forces of Kurdistan Regional Government, US Army War College. 2009, page. 3.
- ^ S. R. Valentine, Peshmerga: Those Who Face Death, KDP, 2018, chapter 9.
- ^ "Lebanonwire.com – Kurdish Peshmerga Forces Have Room to Grow". lebanonwire.com. Archived from the original on January 13, 2015.
- ^ a b c Howard, Michael (November 26, 2002). "Revenge spurs women's army". The Guardian. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
- ^ a b "Peshmerga Ministry reforms launched to reunify PUK, KDP forces". Retrieved July 31, 2018.
- ^ Dortkardes, İhsan (July 20, 2007). "Barzani: Düzenli ordu yakında". Milliyet (in Kurdish). Archived from the original on January 29, 2011. Retrieved June 6, 2008.
- ^ Willing to face Death: A History of Kurdish Militia Forces – the Peshmerga – from the Ottoman Empire to Present-Day Iraq Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Michael G. Lortz
- ^ Baxtiyar Goran (March 9, 2017). "Haider Shesho: Ezidkhan Units take orders from President Barzani, Peshmerga Ministry". Kurdistan24.
- ^ IS-Terror in Shingal: Wer kämpft gegen wen? Ein Überblick, Ezidi Press. 12 October 2014
- ^ With the Islamic State gone from Sinjar, Kurdish groups battle for control, Al-Monitor. 27 March 2016
- ^ Staff, Editorial (April 18, 2017). "Haider Shesho resigns from PUK, to form new Yazidi Democratic Party". Kurd Net - Ekurd.net Daily News. Retrieved June 21, 2021.
- ^ Contested Control: The Future of Security in Iraq's Nineveh Plain
- ^ "Withdrawal from Iraq". Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Iraq and the United States". Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ Chapman, Dennis. Security Forces of Kurdistan Regional Government, US Army War College. 2009, page. 112.
- ^ "Peshmerga, Iraqi Army form committees to start joint ops in disputed areas". Rudaw.
- ^ "1,000 Kurdish soldiers desert from Iraqi army". Hurriyet Daily News. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Iraq's army and Kurds will join forces to retake Mosul". PRI.
- ^ "Iraqi Kurds, Yazidis fight Islamic State for strategic town of Sinjar". Reuters. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Mosul Christians form army under Peshmerga direction". Rudaw. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Iraqi Defense Ministry Asks KRG To Return Saddam-Era Weapons - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East". Al-Monitor. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ Hugh Naylor. "As ISIL retreats, Iraqi Kurds gain new ammunition". The National. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ Richard Spencer, The Telegraph (October 3, 2014). "Kurdish forces captured an ISIS base after a two-day siege — but the ISIS fighters inside somehow slipped away". National Post. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Coalition helps Peshmerga muscle up on urban warfare". Rudaw. April 16, 2015. Retrieved April 17, 2015.
- ^ Hollie McKay. "Iraq's Peshmerga desperate for US arms in fight against ISIS". Fox News. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Arms for Kurdish Peshmerga to affect military balance". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ Nicholas Watt. "UK prepares to supply arms directly to Kurdish forces fighting Isis". The Guardian. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
- ^ "Seven western states join US to 27 September 2014".
- ^ "Iraq's Kurds appeal for new U.S. arms to combat Islamic State". Washington Post. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Iraqi Kurds say West not providing enough arms to defeat Islamic State". Reuters. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "The Peshmerga of Iraq". Aljazeera.com. March 1, 2008. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^ "KRG and the 'godfathers': 2006 secret US cable on Wikileaks". The Kurdistan Tribune. May 8, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^ Devigne, Jacqueline (2011). ""Iraqoncilable" Differences? The Political Nature of the Peshmerga" (PDF). NIMEP Insights. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^ "PUK official warns Peshmerga will not take orders from anyone else: Iraqi Kurdistan". Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "Marked With An "X" | Iraqi Kurdish Forces' Destruction of Villages, Homes in Conflict with ISIS". Human Rights Watch. November 13, 2016. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
- ^ Assyrians in Iraq, Vahram Petrosian
- ^ Vindheim, Jan Bojer (2016). Kurdistan stiger fram. Kolofon Forlag. p. 71. ISBN 978-82-300-1494-3.
- ^ Sankey, Margaret D. (2018). Women and War in the 21st Century: A Country-by-Country Guide. ABC-CLIO. p. 172. ISBN 978-1-4408-5766-9.
- ^ Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, Simon and Schuster, 2004.
- ^ Tucker, Mike; Charles Faddis (2008). Operation Hotel California: The Clandestine War inside Iraq. The Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1-59921-366-8.
- ^ An interview on public radio with the authorArchived September 30, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
- ^ Chalk, Peter, Encyclopedia of Terrorism Volume 1, 2012, ABC-CLIO
- ^ "Ansar al-Islam". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved August 8, 2012.
- ^ "Meet the Kurdish women fighting the Islamic State". Telegraph. November 8, 2014. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "No Frontline Deployment for Female Kurdish Troops". Rudaw. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
- ^ "KRG halts recruiting of female Peshmerga". Rudaw.
- ^ "Meet the female Peshmerga forces fighting IS". Al-Monitor.
- Simon Ross Valentine, Peshmerga: Those Who Face Death: The Kurdish Army, its History, Development, and the Fight against ISIS, Kindle Direct Publishing, April 2018, 300pp.
- Chapman, Dennis P., Lieutenant Colonel USA, Security Forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Mohammed Najat, Costa Mesa, California: Mazda Publishers, 2011. ISSN 0026-3141 Reviewed by Michael M. Gunter in Middle East Affairs, Vol. 65, No. 3, Summer 2011.
Last edited on 21 June 2021, at 21:55
Content is available under CC BY-SA 3.0
unless otherwise noted.