Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kurdistan president wants unified Kurdish army in Iraq's north

Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani

President Barzani intends to create a unified army in the autonomous region.
The president of Kurdistan region in Iraq's north, Massoud Barzani, intends to create a unified army in the autonomous region, a statement from his office said on Sunday.

"After (July) parliamentary elections and an agreement between the two parties, Kurdistan has decided to establish a unified army whose nucleus is composed of Peshmerga," or Kurdish National Guard, Barzani said.

"This is the request of our people and it is one of my dreams to see a unified army of Kurdistan," he said during a meeting with a US military delegation.

"We need American help to unify the army of Kurdistan and the union will be achieved by modern international standards," said Barzani.

The Peshmerga linked to Barzani's Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) has an estimated 55,000 soldiers, including 30,000 reserves while national President Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has 18,000.

The two sets of Kurdish forces fought each other in the 1990s, claiming about 3,000 lives. Their relations have since improved and they now have a joint government based in Erbil.