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U.S.-Funded Iraq Government Withholds Kurdish Troops Pay for over Three Months

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A dispute between the central Kurdistan government and its Iraqi counterpart in Baghdad has left some Kurdish security troops without pay for months.

The Kurdish security forces known as Peshmerga are arguably the most successful force combating the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) on the ground in Iraq, driving the jihadists away from some northern parts of the country.

Yet, some Peshmerga have not been paid for at least three months, reports Kurdish media service Rudaw.

“Although the Peshmerga have been recognized as an Iraqi defense force, Baghdad has combined the Peshmerga’s budget with other ongoing disputes between the central government and the Kurdistan Regional Government,” explains the article. “The result has been the withholding of the budget to fund the Kurdish forces, leaving some Peshmerga without pay for at least three months.”

Baghdad is reportedly withholding pay for the Peshmerga out of fear that it will fuel Kurdistan’s desire to become an independent state and break away from Iraq.

“The debate has divided Iraq’s parliament between those politicians who feel the Peshmerga deserve recognition and their budget, and those who feel the Peshmerga are too autonomous to be paid for by the central government,” notes Rudaw.

The Obama administration has been reluctant to provide direct assistance to the Kurds in Iraq, while some members of the U.S. Congress believe that is the way to go.

Even without the heavy military equipment that the U.S. has supplied to the Iraqi forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga have been able to stand their ground.

“Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) is one of a few close and reliable friends of the United States in the region. But his well-known aspiration and advocacy for an independent Kurdistan has caused a great deal of consternation in Iran and Turkey, and has been discouraged by the US government,” reports Ekurd Daily.

“President Barzani took the initiative to meet with the head of many European countries, ostensibly to ask for heavy weaponry to strengthen the Kurdish forces against the ISIS,” it continues. “This after the US Administration provided no positive response for direct shipment of heavy armaments to the KRG.”

Follow Edwin Mora on Twitter: @EdwinMora83.


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