Live: Peshmerga reform on the rocks; all the rest of the day’s news

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Here is the full translated statement from the PM office on the meeting with the Turkish trade minister:


The Prime Minister, Mr. Muhammad Shia Al-Sudani, received, this morning, Tuesday, the Turkish Minister of Trade, Mr. Omer Bolat, and his accompanying delegation.

The meeting witnessed a review of the bilateral relations between the two countries, and ways of expanding economic partnership and cooperation in various fields.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of strengthening cooperation between the two countries, which have long historical relations, appreciating the serious Turkish interaction with the development path project.

His Excellency also indicated the policy that the government follows in developing economic relations, and that Iraq, with its human and natural resources, is able to be a point of contact, a development and partnership area for all neighboring countries, stressing the importance of exchanging visits between Iraq and Turkey, which reflects the desire of the two parties to develop relations. at various levels.

For his part, the Turkish minister conveyed the greetings of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Mr. Al-Sudani, stressing the seriousness and keenness of the Turkish government in supporting the development path project, which it considers an important path for global trade, in addition to its importance for trade between Iraq and Turkey.

The Prime Minister also received a group of Turkish businessmen, in the presence of the Turkish Minister of Trade.

His Excellency explained to the guest delegation the facilities and reforms provided by the Iraqi government to improve the business and investment environment in Iraq, praising Turkish companies and their ability to achieve development, their contribution to the reconstruction of infrastructure in Iraq, and the completion of the development road project.

The Prime Minister referred to the project of the Development Fund for Iraq after its approval in the budget law, and what it constitutes of a new experience and philosophy in the economy that depends on the involvement of the private sector in the construction of infrastructure and services, and the government's provision of sovereign guarantees for industrial and agricultural projects.


Iraqi Prime Minister, Turkish Trade Minister discuss economic partnerships, bilateral relations

credit: PM office
Following the visit of Turkish Foreign and Oil Ministers last week, Prime Minister Muhammad Shia al-Sudani met today with Turkish Minister of Trade Omer Bolat and a delegation of Turkish businessmen.

A statement from the PM’s office said the meeting focused on enhancing bilateral relations, expanding economic partnerships, and mutual cooperation in various sectors. Sudani emphasized Iraq's potential as a development hub and highlighted the importance of continued visits between the two nations.

Minister Bolat reiterated Turkey's commitment to supporting Iraq's development initiatives.

Discussions also covered the recently approved Development Fund for Iraq, aimed at involving the private sector in infrastructure projects.

Dutch diplomat issues fresh public warning on Peshmerga reform

The Dutch Consul General in Erbil, Jaco Beerends, warns in an interview with Rudaw's Shahyan Tahseen that the KRG risks losing international backing if it does not proceed with peshmerga reform, including the unification of KDP and PUK forces.

Beerends asserts that "the grand project of unification is really not doing well," jeopardizing the support his country and others offer to the peshmerga.

The US-led Coalition has consistently urged the KRG to advance the reform of its fragmented peshmerga forces, tying ongoing support for Kurdish fighters to this reform process. The Coalition has vocalized its frustration over the sluggish progress in unification efforts, deemed essential for enhancing peshmerga effectiveness against threats to Iraq's stability.

While most peshmerga are loyal to either the KDP or PUK, less than a third of the total force is under the newly-established KRG Peshmerga Ministry's authority. Both parties have pledged support for unification but have been slow to act. 

The PUK worries that a unified force would largely fall under KDP control, as it holds the Kurdistan Region presidency, the top command of the peshmerga. Additionally, the PUK has voiced discontent over KDP-led military promotions, alleging favoritism.

Furthermore, PUK-aligned peshmerga units are internally divided, often taking directives from commanders rather than party leadership, as was evident in 2017 when Iraqi forces regained control of Kirkuk.

Initiated in May 2017, a project backed by the US, UK, and Germany aimed to modernize the peshmerga into a "unified, modern army." The Netherlands joined the effort in 2019.

Unification attempts between brigades of the dominant KDP and PUK began the following November but have progressed slowly. International pressure has proven ineffective, with deadlines repeatedly extended. Even the Coalition's setting of an end-2022 deadline for unification did not yield results, despite potential budget cuts and reduced training and ammunition support.

The US contributes a significant monthly sum of $22 million towards peshmerga salaries. The reform was projected to achieve a unified force by 2025. However, setting such deadlines appears futile as long as both parties wish to maintain separate geographic identities and show reluctance to develop apolitical institutions — positions unlikely to change in the near future.

Details of operation in which French soldier was killed

The French Ministry of the Armed Forces has released a statement outlining the circumstances under which Sergeant Nicolas Mazier lost his life and four other soldiers were injured on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.

Sergeant Mazier, a member of the Air Parachutist Commando No. 10, was killed during a counter-terrorism support mission, part of Operation Chammal. Late on Tuesday afternoon, a French military unit was involved in a reconnaissance operation approximately 100 kilometers north of Baghdad, aiding Iraqi forces. They encountered a group of entrenched terrorists who initiated a heavy attack on the Iraqi troops. The French forces swiftly retaliated in support of their Iraqi partners, inflicting substantial casualties on the enemy.

During the exchange of fire, Sergeant Mazier was fatally shot. Four additional French soldiers were wounded and were immediately given medical attention before being transported to an American military hospital in Baghdad.

Sergeant Mazier had been part of Operation Chammal since July 19, 2023, and was actively involved in training and supporting Iraqi forces in their counter-terrorism efforts.

The Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, Army General Thierry Burkhard, expressed profound sorrow for the loss, honoring the courage and memory of Sergeant Mazier who died fulfilling his mission. General Burkhard's thoughts are with the soldier's family and comrades.

French soldier killed in Iraq 'anti-terror' operation

A member of an elite French commando unit was killed Monday in Iraq while "supporting an Iraqi unit in an anti-terrorist operation", French President Emmanuel Macron's office said Tuesday.

Sergeant Nicolas Mazier, an air force paratrooper, "fell in combat while carrying out his mission", the Elysee Palace said in a statement, expressing Macron's "profound respect" for his "sacrifice".

It said other soldiers from the unit were also wounded.
An Iraqi security source in northeastern Kirkuk said that Iraqi and French troops were ambushed by Islamic State group jihadists late Monday in neighbouring Salah al-Din province.

In a battle lasting "more than five hours", an unknown number of French troops as well as three members of Iraq's anti-terrorist forces were wounded, the source added.

Mazier is the third French soldier to lose his life this month in Iraq, where the country's troops form part of Operation Inherent Resolve, a years-long campaign by an international coalition against the Islamic State group.

Two men, Sergeant Baptiste Gauchot and officer Nicolas Latourte, were killed in separate incidents in August, the first in a traffic accident and the second during a training exercise.

Around 600 French troops based across the Levant and Gulf region are involved in Inherent Resolve.


Hooray for rule of law

This story has been lingering all weekend since the KDP announced its return to Kirkuk for the first time since Iraqi forces and pro-Iran militias took over most of the disputed territories. These 'protestors' are unhappy with the federal government handing party offices and premises back to the KDP.
Morning briefing 
  • We're waking up to more chaos in the Peshmerga ministry as the Dutch consul in Erbil tells Rudaw that reforms are "not moving in the right direction" and warns international support for Kurdistan's struggling polity may be lost if it continues.
  • Down Ronaki Street from Rudaw studios, within the ministry building itself, tensions are so acute that some there are saying it's at the point where PUK and KDP ministry officials would "slap" each other, according to VOA Kurdish
  • In other news, the Iraqi health ministry has issued an update on Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever as proven cases pass the 500 mark, with 61 deaths.