ISIS exploits the disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil to carry out its operations through them

Following the escalation of targeting Peshmerga forces (forces affiliated with the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq) by the Islamic State, the Peshmerga announced the start of a security operation in several axes to clean the border districts of the region from the organization’s elements, amid stressing the need to speed up coordination with Baghdad to fill the security vacuum in the regions disputed.

The disputed areas are a knot between the region and Baghdad that has not been resolved for years, to remain a starting point for ISIS to carry out military operations targeting the army and the forces of the region.

Mustafa stressed the importance of coordination on the ground between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army in the disputed areas (Al-Jazeera Net)

Security Void Knot

The Peshmerga recently announced the launch of a rapid security operation in the Karmjir and Kolgo axes to comb the area and rid it of ISIS elements following the escalation of its attacks in recent days, which resulted in the killing of a Peshmerga and the wounding of two others in Kifri district of Diyala Governorate (eastern Iraq).

According to the security leaders of the region, the operation aims to stop the attacks, stressing the importance of taking a quick move to coordinate on the ground between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army in the disputed areas, as explained by Brigadier General Delier Mahmoud Mustafa, commander of the 17th Brigade in the Ministry of Peshmerga.

Brigadier General Al-Roken indicated the lack of coordination with the Iraqi army on the ground, but he reminded that the Peshmerga are part of the Iraqi defense system and there must be a quick move to fill the security vacuum in the disputed areas.

Al-Baydar repeated the reason for the repeated attacks on the Peshmerga, due to the lack of seriousness in protecting the disputed areas (communication sites)

political benefits

Security analysts believe that the security vacuum in the disputed areas is not new, and it began in 2003 in the struggle for control of those areas, and then exacerbated after the law enforcement operations initiated by the government of former Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and returned many of those areas to the control of the central government forces. In 2017, after the defeat of ISIS.

A researcher in security and political affairs commented on Al-Baydar, explaining that the repeated attacks on the Peshmerga are due to the “lack of seriousness” of some parties in protecting the disputed areas.

He pointed out that there are parties who benefit from the persistence of security holes in achieving economic and political goals, without specifying who these parties are.

He criticized the fact that the situation remained as it was, saying, “There are many security forces, including the army, the crowd, the police, and the Peshmerga, without the presence of a security decision center or clear coordination between these parties.”

Although Baghdad and Erbil had formed two joint brigades in those areas from the army and the peshmerga several months ago, there is political interference that prevents this formation from appearing on the ground, and maintains the importance of using the international coalition forces to prevent ISIS attacks, al-Baydar explained.

lone wolves tactic

On the other hand, security experts point out that the recent escalation of ISIS attacks on the region is due to its exploitation of political conditions and the imminence of changing the combat missions of the coalition forces to escalate its attacks.

Security expert Ahmed Shawqi shows that the political situation is very dangerous and the warring parties after the elections and their results, which the organization finds an opportunity to move and target the security units of the government forces or the Peshmerga in the manner of lone wolves that depends on single and quick attacks to inflict the greatest losses.

Shawky pointed out that most of the coalition forces – including the US – left Iraq, which created a vacuum in support and information for the Iraqi forces, calling for the government to develop its equipment to protect the security forces.

Delayed deployment of troops

While there was no government response to the demands of Kurdish leaders for immediate coordination in order to fill the security vacuum in the disputed areas, recent days have witnessed 3 attacks targeting the Peshmerga by ISIS, killing 7 people and wounding 10, amid the call of the Prime Minister of the Territory, Masrour Barzani. To activate the joint security centers between the Peshmerga and the Iraqi army, in coordination with the international coalition forces.

For its part, the US Embassy in Baghdad condemned the targeting of Iraqi forces, stressing its continued unwavering support for the Iraqi security forces, while observers believe that the central and regional governments have always blamed the security vacuum in the disputed areas by repeating security breaches and targeting their forces. Despite this, the deployment of joint forces in those areas is delayed. The areas despite the completion of all understandings regarding them in the security meetings that took place between the two parties.

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