Strategic shifts: General appointments and Peshmerga reforms align with US counter-ISIS efforts

Strategic shifts: General appointments and Peshmerga reforms align with US counter-ISIS efforts

Shafaq News / The Israeli newspaper "Jerusalem Post" has linked the appointment of Maj. Gen. Joel Vowell by the US military to lead the "Operation Inherent Resolve" against ISIS in Iraq and Syria to the broader American and Western desire to revitalize efforts to unify Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

The report, reminded that the US military's announcement of Vowell's appointment was made last Thursday, and the transfer of command authority took place in Baghdad on August 22. This change came in place of Maj. Gen. Matthew McFarlane and was attended by General Michael Kurilla, the commander of U.S. Central Command.

The report, cited Kurilla addressing McFarlane, stating, "Your leadership during this challenging and complex period has been outstanding, and you have managed more risk on a daily basis than any commander in the Joint Force around the world."

According to the Global Coalition forces, General Vowell mentioned, "We live on the edge of freedom. Our mission here is to continue to defeat ISIS, and assist our partner forces to improve and become independent. This will be my focus."

The Coalition statement noted, "As partner forces continue to mature, Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve will focus on providing advice, assistance, and enabling them to ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS and the establishment of conditions for stability in the region."

The report highlighted that the President of the Kurdistan Region (KRI), Nechirvan Barzani, received General McFarlane last week to discuss the challenges facing KRI.

It emphasized that the reform of the Peshmerga forces is a significant issue for both KRI and the US, as well as other Western nations supporting the regional government (KRG). The report pointed out that talks between Nechirvan Barzani and the American General addressed the challenges encountered in the process of reforming the Peshmerga.

It also referred to the historical context of the Peshmerga, tracing their connection to the history of the Kurds, their struggle for independence, and their resistance against Saddam Hussein's regime. It stated that the Ministry of Peshmerga is expected to help unify the forces and minimize the impact of political relations on the military force, which has been an ongoing endeavor for over a decade.

The Israeli newspaper noted that the Peshmerga played a pivotal role in the fight against ISIS, yet their unification efforts faced obstacles due to the war and were also hampered by the 2017 crisis when Iraqi federal forces and Iran-backed militias attacked the Kurds in Kirkuk and Sinjar.

However, it highlighted current hopes for progress in the Peshmerga, noting that General McFarlane, nearing the end of his tenure, expressed disappointment over the lack of progress in certain aspects of the memorandum of understanding signed between the Us Department of Defense and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs in September of the previous year.

This memorandum focuses on Washington's commitment to support the Peshmerga in the fight against ISIS, in exchange for the ministry's commitment to enhance the professionalism of its forces and introduce institutional reforms.

The report cited McFarlane's statement to journalists in Erbil, in which he mentioned that the recent review showed that the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs had made some progress in implementing the provisions of the memorandum of understanding. However, the absence of the minister of Peshmerga affairs weakens the institution and hampers progress in efforts to unify and professionalize the force.

Meanwhile, the newspaper highlighted that General Vowell has played a significant role in leading US forces in Asia over the past few years. Moreover, since the summer of 2021, he has held the position of Commander of US Forces in Japan.

It added that his leadership of "Operation Inherent Resolve" has successfully defeated ISIS, and the mission now aids forces like the Peshmerga, Iraqi forces, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to further enhance the defeat of ISIS.

The report noted that the Kurds have played a critical role in defeating ISIS but face challenges in Iraq and Syria. SDF forces confront Turkish hostility, and Iranians are active along the Euphrates River Valley, posing threats to both SDF and US forces. Additionally, Russian forces operate in Syria.

The report stressed that this situation implies that the SDF, supported by the US, must navigate the complexities of working in Syria against ISIS while facing opposition from Iran and Turkey, as well as a complicated relationship with Russia. Furthermore, Russia has escalated its actions against US forces in Syria, while the US has sent F-22 aircraft to the region to deter Russia.

The report concluded by stating that Washington is also seeking to deter Iran, while Tehran supports proxies in Iraq and Syria to target US forces.

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