Kurds Reject Proposed Rival Force in Kirkuk

But Sunni Arab leaders who are not residing in IS-controlled territories demand the formation of a Sunni force as part of the National Guard.

“Sunni Arab tribes want to be part of the forces defending Kirkuk alongside the peshmerga,” Ismael Hadidi, the chief of the Sunni Arab Hadidi tribe, told Al-Monitor. “Daesh [IS] poses a huge threat to us all.”

Hadidi, who also served as Kirkuk’s deputy governor for a number of years after the US-led invasion in 2003, said that the structure of the National Guard forces and their command structure must be clearly defined. He added that in the event that the National Guard forces are established in Kirkuk, there should be “coordination and a joint command” between them and the peshmerga forces.

Another draft law aimed at relatively easing the restrictions placed on the return of the former members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party to public life is expected to be discussed alongside the National Guard bill.

The Sunni Arabs want a board that was in charge of identifying and disqualifying Baathists from engaging in public life to be dismantled as they accuse it of practically launching a witch-hunt campaign against Sunni Arabs.

“There are many professional and patriotic officers from the former Iraqi army [under Saddam Hussein] who we can draw on their capabilities,” Hadidi said.

While the majority of Kurdish members of the Iraqi parliament and Kurdish politicians in Kirkuk appear to be against the formation of National Guard units in Kirkuk, there is already some measure of cooperation between the Shiite Popular Mobilization units.

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