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More than 1,000 Kurdish soldiers desert Iraqi army Read mor

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More than 1,000 Kurdish soldiers desert Iraqi army Read mor

PostAuthor: Aslan » Wed Jun 12, 2013 5:59 pm

KIRKUK, Iraq: More than 1,000 Kurdish career soldiers in the Iraqi army have deserted and want to be integrated into forces loyal to Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region, officials said Tuesday. The move comes after the Kurdish troops disobeyed orders to take part in an operation ordered by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad against a mainly Sunni Arab town.

If their request is fulfilled, such a mass defection would deal a heavy blow to Iraq’s stretched armed forces as they grapple with a surge in violence that has sparked fears of renewed sectarian bloodshed.

Two officials said the 1,070 Kurdish members of the Iraqi army’s 16th Brigade mutinied when gunmen took control of a northern town in April, and subsequently declined to attend disciplinary retraining.

The soldiers were no longer receiving salaries or rations from the Iraqi army, nor were they following any orders from federal forces, according to the mayor of the town where they are based.

His comments were echoed by the spokesman for the Kurdish ministry responsible for peshmerga forces, the former rebel militia that is now part of Kurdistan’s security forces.

But the officials differed as to whether the soldiers’ request to join the peshmerga had been met.

The troops had been assigned to the ethnically mixed towns of Tuz Khurmatu and Sulaiman Bek, the latter of which briefly fell to gunmen in April.

According to Tuz Mayor Shallal Abdul, they stood accused of refusing to follow orders as Sulaiman Bek, a mostly Arab town, was overrun. As punishment, they were ordered to attend retraining.

The troops did not follow orders to stay and defend the town against the Sunni Arab gunmen because they did not want to further raise tensions between Arabs and Kurds in disputed territory claimed by both the central government and Kurdish authorities.

“The forces ... are still deployed to their positions, but they are receiving their salaries and orders from the Peshmerga Ministry,” Abdul told AFP.

Peshmerga Ministry spokesman Halkurd Mullah Ali confirmed the soldiers were not carrying out Baghdad’s orders, and added that Kurdish authorities were providing rations because officials “sympathized with them.”

But he denied that the soldiers were receiving either wages or orders from peshmerga commanders.

“We will discuss their situation with the joint security committee [of the Baghdad government and the Kurdish regional administration],” he said. “If we do not reach an agreement with Baghdad about them, we are ready to integrate them into peshmerga forces.”

The mass defection comes at a crucial time for Iraq’s security forces, which are dealing with a massive spike in violence and months of protests in Sunni Arab provinces.

“This happens in places where you have a severe division of loyalties,” warned John Drake, an Iraq analyst for risk consultancy firm AKE Group.

He added that it seemed as though “employees of the government – because that is what they are – feel that the situation is out of control, and they are resorting to insubordination.

“That would be a worrying sign. It would indicate a lack of belief in the state.”

Aslan
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More than 1,000 Kurdish soldiers desert Iraqi army Read mor

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Iraqi Kurdistan: Kurdish Mutiny From Iraqi Army

PostAuthor: Aslan » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:53 pm

More than 1,000 Kurdish career soldiers in Iraq’s army have deserted, while expressing the desire to become integrated into forces loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in a heavy blow to the country’s stretched armed forces.
The move comes after the Kurdish troops disobeyed orders to take part in an operation ordered by the Shiite-led authorities against a mainly Sunni Arab town. If their request is fulfilled, such a mass defection would be a major loss to Iraq’s security forces as they grapple with a surge in violence that has sparked fears of renewed sectarian bloodshed.
Two officials said the 1,070 Kurdish members of the Iraqi army’s 16th Brigade mutinied when gunmen took control of a northern town in April, and subsequently declined to attend disciplinary re-training. The soldiers were no longer receiving salaries or rations from the Iraqi army, nor were they following any orders from federal forces, according to the mayor of the town where they are based.
His comments were echoed by the spokesman for the KRG ministry responsible for peshmarga forces, that is now part of Kurdistan’s security forces. But the officials differed as to whether the soldiers’ request to join the peshmarga had been met. The troops had been assigned to the ethnically mixed towns of Tuz Khurmatu and Sulaiman Bek, the latter of which briefly fell to gunmen in April. According to Tuz Khurmatu Mayor Shallal Abdul, they stood accused of refusing to follow orders as Sulaiman Bek, a mostly-Arab town, was overrun. As punishment, they were ordered to attend re-training. Three senior Kurdish officers were also replaced with Arabs, Abdul said.
The troops did not follow orders to stay and defend the town against the Sunni Arab gunmen because they did not want to further raise tensions between Arabs and Kurds in a swathe of disputed territory claimed by both the central government and Kurdish authorities. “The forces ... are still deployed to their positions, but they are receiving their salaries and orders from the Peshmarga Ministry,” Abdul said.
The mass defection comes at a crucial time for Iraq’s security forces, which is dealing with a massive spike in violence, months of protests in Sunni Arab provinces, and fears of spill over from the conflict in neighbouring Syria. Last month, more than 1,000 people were killed in violence, the highest toll since 2008.
Peshmarga Ministry spokesman Halkurd Mullah Ali confirmed that the soldiers were not carrying out Baghdad’s orders, and added that Kurdish authorities were providing rations because officials “sympathized with them.” But he denied that the soldiers were receiving either wages or orders from peshmarga. “We will discuss their situation with the joint committee [of the Baghdad government and the Kurdish regional administration],” he said. “If we do not reach an agreement with Baghdad about them, we are ready to integrate them into peshmarga forces.”
- See more at: http://www.unpo.org/article/16055#sthash.jbYeZyb5.dpuf

Aslan
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