Among the trainees are First Lt. Nawzad Amjad’s platoon of 33 men, who came from the front lines to get 10 weeks of instruction on a range of subjects from urban assault to electronic warfare, communications, and countermines. “Morale is very, very high,” among his troops, Amjad said. “They are peshmerga. They know what they are fighting for.”
To explain, the junior officer invokes a word spoken frequently among peshmerga commanders: injustice. “We don’t believe in any injustice,” he said. Amjad said he has known only injustice against Kurds his entire life. He is 30 years old.
Amjad spoke at the edge of a mock Kurdish village built of concrete cinder-block homes and two-story shipping containers, the kind now so familiar to the U.S. military, intelligence, and private-military-contractor personnel who have deployed to this region since 2003. The training supplied by the U.S.-led coalition has made “a huge difference,” he said. “Because here, the Iraqi government is not helping us, not supporting peshmerga. So all support we get comes from the U.S. and coalition officials.” He, too, worries the West will abandon them when they are no longer needed.
“This time, we hope they don’t do the same thing. This time, we hope they stay with us. To be honest with you, we have no trust with our neighbors—not Arab, not Turk, not Iran. Because they think of themselves as a big fish and they have to eat all the small fishes. We hope that we will have good relationship with the U.S., with the coalition, and this relationship will continue after Daesh, and not just be temporary this time.”
Across the base, Capt. Tarik Fariq, a company commander, watched Italian commanders teach his men how to take a firing position, don a gas mask, and fire and reload their coalition-provided M-16s. “Peshmerga are fighting terrorists on behalf of the whole world,” Fariq said, who previously worked as a journalist. “Kurds are fighting injustice,” he said, and they are good at it, but they are weak on equipment. He, too, wants the U.S. and coalition militaries to remain.
“We hope they will stay and support us,” he said. “I hope they will continue. We are living in this geographic area that is filled with conflict … so always we will need coalition support.”
Back in Omer’s office, the chief of staff sipped strong coffee. “If you remember in 2011 when Americans left Iraq, you see what happened, the groups such as Daesh came up,” he said. “Hopefully the U.S. will consider this and look at what happened in the past and what could happen in the future. You have to be careful with your decision.”
Hikmat, the younger peshmerga spokesman, said there are two goals ahead: defeat ISIS and win independence. “Certainly. No doubt. Every single peshmerga wishes that.”
Omer entered military service in Baghdad in 1982, joined the peshmerga in 1991, and has fought and commanded Kurdish troops across the entire region. He has the same wish, but a more seasoned outlook. There should be no fight for independence; that should come via public referendums and negotiations. But he said there are too many people who, if they take seats in the Iraqi government, will have the same mindset of previous governments against Kurdistan.
“In my personal opinion, I do not believe there will be peace.”
This post appears courtesy of Defense One.