Nov 5 2012
By Nidhal al-Laithi
Azzaman, November 5, 2012
The Iraqi government will stop paying members of Kurdish militias known locally as Peshmerga in 2013.
The decision comes amid growing differences between the sides and Iraqi government’s pressure to exert some influence on the heavily armed Kurdish militias.
The Kurds were surprised and shocked to see that the government had deleted annual allocations in 2013 budget to finance the militias, estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government has been paying the salaries of nearly 180,000 Kurdish militiamen for years. The decision to stop payments shows how strained relations between the two sides have become.
The Security and Defense Commission at the Iraqi parliament has approved the decision. It says the militias, though paid by the central government in Baghdad, have refused reporting to the Defense Ministry.
“So long as the militias report to the Kurdish government, there will be no payment. Full payment or at least part of it will be released, if the militias are made answerable to the central government in Baghdad,” said Falah Zaidan of the parliamentary Defense and Security Commission.
Kurdish authorities are reported to have armed their militias with heavy weapons, including tanks, rocket launchers and artillery.
Last month, the militias defied a central government order to let government troops enter the oil-rich Province of Kirkuk.
The move angered Baghdad which now sees the militia force as a military rival.
Zaidan said the government would like the Kurds to surrender their heavy weapons and place their armed militia under the country’s general command.
Otherwise, the Kurds will have “to pay their Peshmerga from their own budget.”
The Kurds administer three Iraqi provinces in the north – Dahouk, Arbil and Sulaimaninay. But they have spread their control into larger areas, including Kirkuk.
The government would like to see the Kurds withdrawing their militias and administration from areas outside their autonomous region.
The government allocates 17% of the country oil revenues to the Kurdish regional government in Arbil.