By Mustafa Sadoon for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
The military protocol agreement signed July 12 between the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government and the United States might create controversy in Iraq’s public and political circles, especially those that do not have good relations with the United States and are preparing to fight US forces if they step on Iraqi soil. According to officials in Kurdistan, the agreement states that five US bases should be built in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region areas of Erbil, Atrush, Harir, Dahuk and Sinjar. Moreover, the United States vowed to pay the salaries of the Kurdish peshmerga for 10 years, although this has not been confirmed by any US party.
Perhaps this agreement will give the peshmerga more autonomy and international legitimacy, but at the same time it might create problems with its counterparts in Iraq such as the predominately Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and the Sunni tribal forces. The agreement will allow the peshmerga to equal the Iraqi army in strength and might provide it with more arms and develop it further in the future. During the liberation of Iraqi areas, clashes broke out between the peshmerga and forces from the Iraqi army and the PMU, the last of which was in April in Tuz Khormato.
The PMU that are close to Iran have increased in number and become better equipped, and they are almost on par with the Iraqi army. They enjoy huge influence in Iraq that might be greater than that of the Iraqi army. However, the tribal forces that constitute the Sunni version of the PMU do not have the same impact.