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KDP’s Peshmerga Unit 80 to join Peshmerga ministry: commander

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The Kurdistan Democratic Party’s (KDP) Unit 80 of the Peshmerga forces is to officially join the Peshmerga ministry, its commander confirmed to Rudaw English on Monday.

“We have currently prepared two of our brigades with all their details and are handing them to the Ministry of Peshmerga,” said Najat Ali. “We are working on preparing all the remaining brigades and handing them over to the ministry.”

The KDP-controlled unit, along with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)-controlled Unit 70 make up the majority of the Peshmerga forces, numbering over 100,000 troops. There are also 16 brigades, with over 30,000 soldiers, under the direct command of the Peshmerga ministry.

Since the territorial defeat of the Islamic State (ISIS) in late 2017, international coalition partners have pushed for the unification of Kurdish forces under the Peshmerga ministry as part of a reform program that began in 2018. The United States has funded and equipped the Peshmerga, but has reportedly told the ministry that funds are not for politically-affiliated forces. 

Last month, Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani met with Peshmerga officials, and among the main topics of discussion was the unification of the party-affiliated units with the ministry.

Ahead of that, there was attempts from the PUK to bring both sides to the negotiation table. Mustafa Chawrash, commander of Unit 70, said Kurdish leadership should not differentiate between the two brigades. 

“Both sides are ready for coordination. Our enemy is one enemy. Iraq also looks at us as all the same.” If the two units can overcome their differences, “we can work as a team,” he added.

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