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Privately, many Kurdish Peshmerga describe the PMU and other Shi’i militias as only a slightly lesser evil than IS. S.-led coalition’s Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF: OIR) to assure the Kurds that Shi’i militias would not play a role in the battle for Mosul city which was launched on October 17, 2016.[13] Nevertheless the worst fears of some seemed to be realized when Iraqi army units of the 16 division which were being transported to the front lines near Telskuf were greeted by Shi’i Shabaks and the Iraqis fired in the air.

The Erbil-based Kurdish press, reflecting wider public opinion, and especially the views of the KDP, ran stories in early 2016 highlighting the role and danger of Shi’i militias.[12] Barzani pressured the U. The Iraqi army troops were Shi’a and they wanted to express solidarity with their coreligionists.

This plays on Yazidi suspicions towards the KRG regarding the disaster in August of 2014 when IS overran Yazidis communities around Sinjar and claims on local and social media that they were abandoned by the Peshmerga and saved by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) and PKK, which are closely affiliated.[28] The same division between pro-Baghdad and pro-Erbil Yazidis, affects Shabak communities, who are both Sunni and Shi’a with loyalties to both Baghdad and Erbil.[29] Assyrian exile groups speak of “KRG repression” and encourage alignment with Baghdad and the PMU as opposed to the KRG.[30] The chairman of the Assyrian Federation in Sweden, Afram Yakous, has said he supports a “unified Iraq,” as opposed to Kurdistan moving toward independence.[31] Prior to 2014 the Assyrian Association Union in partnership with the Australian Assyrian Universal Alliance sought support for rights to self-determination and autonomy.[32] It is difficult to judge on the ground the degree to which Assyrians prefer the Iraqi army and central government to Kurdish administration.

The KRG seeks to highlight its role in hosting Christian refugees and helping to liberate Sinjar and parts of Nineveh.[33] It works with its own affiliated minority units, including Shabak, Kakei and Yazidi Peshmerga, and Christian groups such as the Nineveh Plains Forces, which are aligned with their own KDP affiliates or their own parties in Iraq.[34] An Assyrian Peshmerga battalion named ‘the Leopards’ in late November 2016, as did a brigade of Arab Peshmerga from Rabiah.[35] In the post-IS period, competition for minority loyalties in Sinjar and Nineveh will likely continue to increase.

During that discussion, Barzani told Crocker that “Turkey is the counterbalance to Iran,”[11] and Crocker told Barzani that a military confrontation would lead to Kurds “losing everything,” they had achieved.

In the eight years since that meeting, concerns about Iranian involvement in Iraq have grown.

For more than a decade after 2003 the Kurdish region had argued with Baghdad over which areas each would administer in various regions bordering the KRG.Hundreds of thousands of men were mobilized to fight IS, after a brief existential crisis that saw the extremists on the doorstep of Erbil and Duhok.The leading Kurdish factions of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Gorran set aside differences to fight the enemy.These places must be under the influence of Turkey to prevent Iranian influence in this region.”[19] Shortly after the war with IS began, Turkey increased its military presence in northern Iraq to include a military base near Bashiqa.That base came to include several thousand mostly Sunni Arabs from Mosul, commanded by Atheel Nujaifi and Turkish advisors under the banner of a unit called Hashd al-Watani.[20] Iraq’s government has threatened Turkey, but Turkey’s response has been to up the ante, threatening to involve itself in Tal Afar and Sinjar.

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