Iraqi national guard bill meets Kurdish resistance

Iraqi national guard bill meets Kurdish resistance
Analysis: The armed Kurdish Peshmerga movement says it will not join a new touted Iraqi "national guard", which would bring militias and tribes under control of central government.
3 min read
05 February, 2015
Kurdish forces are pushing back the Islamic State group in parts of Iraq [Getty]

A planned national guard force for Iraq will not include Kurdish fighters, according to the regional authority's ministry of Peshmerga affairs.

Iraq's cabinet on Thursday agreed a draft law to establish a national guard - the latest idea to bring militia units under the control of the central government.

Rival militias, the army, and the pseudo-national Kurdish force are leading the fight against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as Isis). Military officials believe that a united front is essential to defeating the extremists.

Al-Araby al-Jadeed
understands that the draft law will draw together Shia-dominated "popular mobilisation" militias and Sunni tribes and fighters opposed to the IS group. Each province will recruit its own guard units, which will come under the jurisdiction of the prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, in his role as commander of Iraq's military forces.

Kurdish politicians, however, said their troops would not come under that structure. 

"The national guard will not include Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, as the region has its own protection force according to the Iraqi constitution," said Jabar Yawar, the KRG's secretary-general.

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The Peshmerga has been at the forefront of the war with the IS group and its allies, and are within touching distance of Mosul, the IS group's stronghold in northern Iraq.

About 1,000 Peshmerga have died and more than 4,500 injured in fighting since June 2014. The majority of the injured are in Kurdish hospitals, while the more seriously hurt are being treated abroad, Yawar said.

The National Coalition movement, lead by deputy prime minister, Ayad Allawi, has warned politicians against using the national guard law as a bargaining chip in other matters.

Qadhem al-Shammari, a National Coalition member, said the law was an important step towards achieving a national consensus.

     The national guard will not include Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government, as the region has its own protection.
- Jabar Yawar

"Especially since the allocations for the national guard could be a part of this year's budget and incorporate all the tribes and members of the popular mobilisation militias, who have defended their territories and holy sites honourably and courageously," he said.

Bahaa Naqshabandi, of the Sunni-majority Union of Forces, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that he believed there should be further work on the draft bill to appease all parties.

"The draft of the national guard bill has created differences between the leaders of the political blocs about the wording, about the authority of these forces, the governors and the security committees in the local councils," he said.

He stressed the importance of granting the powers of the national guard to regional security committees.

"The governors are the supreme authorities of operations in their provinces and in choosing who will lead them."

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.