ANKAWA, Iraq — During a press conference held by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Matthew H. Tueller and Kurdistan Region of Iraq’s (KRI) Minister of Peshmerga Shorsh Ismail, Ambassador Tueller announced that the U.S. has allocated $ 250 million in military aid, including vehicles, equipment, and supplies, to the Ministry of Peshmerga.
Tueller stated that a specialized team would be sent to train the Peshmerga on the usage of the equipment.
“The equipment in these warehouses is just part of more than 100 vehicles, radios, and maintenance that the United States is providing the ministry at a cost of $250 million,” Tueller said in the press conference. “This is a tangible symbol of our commitment to the people of Iraq and to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region.”
Tueller added, “Just as important as the equipment is the training that comes with it and it was wonderful to observe the soldiers in action before the official handover.”
Ismail emphasized that this aid is evidence of Washington’s interest in the Peshmerga forces and an appreciation for its role in fighting terrorism, stressing that joint U.S.–Peshmerga cooperation will continue until security is established in Iraq and the KRI.
Ambassador Tueller also met with the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masrour Barzani, and expressed the U.S.’s readiness to enhance economic cooperation between the KRI and the U.S and urged U.S. investors to invest in the region.
In their meeting, they discussed ways to advance talks between Erbil and Baghdad, in addition to overcoming the current financial and health crises and the current health situation.
The U.S. has been scaling back its presence in the country recently, moving out of smaller bases and consolidating into larger ones. By the end of the month, it will reduce its current force of 5,000 down to 3,200.
Head of U.S. Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie, stated that the withdrawal was recognition of “the great progress Iraqi forces have made”.
Part of the U.S.’s military assistance is destined for Infantry Brigades 14 and 16 of the Ministry of Peshmerga, according to a statement by the KRG.
The Ministry of Peshmerga in its modern incarnation was only established in 2009 as part of efforts to unify and de-politicized the armed forces of the KRI.
Split into two spheres of influence and administration by the 1993–1998 civil war primarily between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) — respectively dominated by the Barzani and Talibani families — the KRI was unified by a 2006 agreement brokered with the assistance of the U.S.
The parallel Peshmerga ministries were reunified in 2009.
Eventually, 14 politically integrated brigades were created directly under the Ministry’s command, consisting of some 40,000 fighters recruited without political consideration.
Despite the progress made in the de-politization of the Peshmerga, the Clingendael Institute found that, “the loss of the disputed areas in October 2017 is causing a reversal of this process, with integrated brigades being repartitioned along party-political lines of command.”