The Status of Western Military Aid to Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga Forces

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Lazar Berman - The Kurdish peshmerga forces (literally, "those who confront death") have proven willing and able to stand up to the Islamic State on the battlefield. There are two separate Kurdish party militias that distrust each other. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) peshmerga fought a bloody civil war in the 1990s. The peshmerga in Iraq are woefully unequipped to provide the logistical support needed to reliably field sustained offensive armored operations, and have no ground maneuver capabilities. Despite their storied reputation, the peshmerga glory days were in a bygone era. Training in recent years has been inadequate, and it had become a border guard and counter-terrorism force, untrained to fight mobile IS insurgents on open terrain. The Islamic State's August 2014 offensive against northern Iraq spurred a commitment for arms and other aid from Western countries. Dozens of military advisers from the U.S., UK, France, Italy, and other countries have been training peshmerga fighters in the use of weaponry and intelligence. Kurdish fighters have also flown to Germany to train on weapon systems there. Iran has established itself as the peshmerga's primary artillery provider, especially BM-14 and BM-21 truck-mounted rocket launchers. Iran sends daily shipments to the Kurds and is especially close with the PUK peshmerga. At some point, the Kurds will increasingly look toward Iran if the West is not more forthcoming with training and weapons. The writer taught at Salahuddin University in Iraqi Kurdistan in 2012-2013.

2015-05-12 00:00:00

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