Outrage as Iraqi PM Omits Kurdish Peshmerga from Islamic State Victory Speech

Kurdish Peshmerga Forces Stand Guard Near Mosul
AP Photo

Iraqi Shiite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, in response to the backlash, had a change of heart and added the Kurdish Peshmerga into his speech about Iraq’s victory of the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), listing them among the armed groups he praised for their contribution to the demise of the jihadist group.

Kurdish news outlet Rudaw reveals, “An excerpt from [Abadi’s] his speech that was posted on his official Facebook page on Saturday did not mention the Peshmerga, either.”

However, Abadi did praise the Baghdad-sanctioned Iran-allied Shiite militias known as Hashd al-Shaabi (Arabic for Popular Mobilization Forces/Units (PMF/U) for their role in fighting ISIS.

At the request of Baghdad, and likely Iran, the PMF has been clashing with Kurdish Peshmerga troops over the Kurd’s independence efforts.

Shiite troops are trying to coerce northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to drop their ambitions.

“The post [of Abadi’s victory speech], however, was edited Sunday evening to add the Peshmerga forces,” notes Rudaw.

The edited post reportedly reads:

I am hailing all the victorious. The brave forces such as the army, police, security forces, Hashd al-Shaabi, counter-terrorism forces, air force, pilots, and the Peshmerga forces and all the divisions of the armed forces who supported us, including engineer and medical teams and our supporters from the tribal forces and people in the liberated areas, those who supported their army.

In response to the initial omission of the Kurdish forces, the Peshmerga ministry reportedly blasted Abadi, reminding Baghdad that without the sacrifices and efficient operations of the Kurds, Iraq would have failed to be at the point where ISIS’s annihilation is imminent.

While the U.S. military has acknowledged the Iranian-backed PMU’s contributions to the fight against ISIS, they have long deemed the Kurdish troops to be capable fighters against the terrorists.

“More than 1,846 Peshmerga gave their lives in the ISIS fight, and another 10,000 were wounded. Iraqi forces have not released their casualty figures, but the US-led Global Coalition stated earlier this year that Iraqi security forces lost about 10,000 fighters,” reports Rudaw.

On Sunday, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces hosted a victory parade in Baghdad to mark the end of the war against the ISIS.

Iraqi troops participating in the victory march did pay their respects to the country’s army, air force, federal and local police, elite counterterrorism forces, as well as Sunni paramilitaries, and Kurdish Peshmerga troops.

All Iraqi troops and their allies received vital assistance from the U.S.-led coalition forces.

Iraq’s victory came nearly three years after the jihadist group took over about a third of the country.

The relationship between Baghdad and the KRG has deteriorated since the Kurds overwhelmingly voted in favor of independence in September.

Baghdad opposes the establishment of an independent Kurdish state and has used Shiite troops to try to coerce the Kurds into abandoning efforts to become a sovereign state.

Although ISIS has sustained dramatic losses in Iraq and Syria leading to their imminent domain, U.S. national security officials have recently warned that the terror group remains a significant threat to America and its allies.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke recently cautioned that the ISIS threat against the United States has increased in recent months as ISIS tries to maintain its strength and influence.

U.S. officials have warned that ISIS’s global reach and capability to inspire attacks remains a significant menace.

ISIS is believed to have inspired the recent “lone wolf” or “stray dog” attack by a Bangladesh national on New York City’s subway.

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