BAGHDAD ø The U.S. military has been confronted with difficulties in
absorbing Kurdish militias into the new Iraqi army and security forces.
U.S. officials said Kurdish organizations have offered their combatants
for deployment in the newly-trained Iraqi forces. But they said the Kurdish
fighters have proven resistant to induction and training.
"We don't really have a big problem incorporating them into an Iraqi
Security Force construct," Brig. Gen. Carter Ham, commander of Task Force
Olympia, said. "It is finding the right role for them to play in the future
Ham was referring to the Peshmurga militia, which fought the Iraqi
regime of Saddam Hussein during the 2003 war. He said negotiations were
taking place for both individual combatants and entire units of the
Peshmurga, Middle East Newsline reported.
"We are looking for ways to increasingly incorporate Peshmurga forces
into legitimate Iraqi Security Force structure, whether this be taking
former Peshmurga units and forming them under the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps
or whether this is individual members, former members of the Peshmurga
serving in the Iraqi Armed Forces or in another security force construct,"
Ham said. "It is clear that that is the role ahead for their former
Peshmurga forces is with Iraqi Security Force operations."
On Friday, thousands of Kurds were said to have fled Faluja for northern
Iraq amid threats from and attacks on Kurds by pro-Saddam forces and Al
Qaida. The Washington Times reported from Iraq that Kurdish residents of
Faluja have been accused of supporting the U.S.-led coalition.
Ham said the United States does not conduct patrols with Peshmurga. But
the U.S. military conducts patrols with ICDC units that were formerly
Kurdish militia groups.
"I wouldn't say that the former Peshmurga pose a threat to Iraq," Ham
said. "It is just that having militias that are outside of a federal
architecture is inconsistent with the federalist nature that Iraq is
developing toward. So if there are going to be military forces, security
forces in a country, they have to be part of an authorized and approved and
structured organization, not separate entities with loyalties to something
other than the federal government."
The ICDC battalion in Faluja was regarded as the most effective Iraqi
fighting force. Officials said many of the members of the 36th Battalion
were former Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.
"There are no Peshmerga militia operating under Iraqi or coalition
command and control," Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, deputy coalition operations
director, said. "There are many former members of the militia that have
joined the Iraqi armed forces, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, who now answer
to the coalition, answer to the Iraqi security forces who have their
allegiance to the people of Iraq. But there are no Peshmerga militias that
are under our control, nor are we ø are they operating under any direction
from the coalition."