jeudi 5 mars 2015

Muhammad Haji Mamoud (vétéran des peshmerga) : "La Turquie et les Etats-Unis veulent créer des gardes nationales composées de sunnites [arabes] pour supplanter l'EI"

Interview
Legendary Peshmerga leader on fighting ISIS

By Nawzad Mahmoud 25/2/2015

Muhammad Haji Mamoud, head of the Kurdistan Socialist Party, is one of the most well-known Kurdish war veterans. To his friends and followers he known affectionately as Kaka Hama.

Since the ISIS attack on Iraq last June, Kaka Hama has been in command of a large Peshmerga force south of Kirkuk where in December his son Atta was killed by an ISIS sniper while trying to retake a village from the jihadists.

Rudaw: All the battlefronts are led by a senior political party official, which means veteran Peshmerga, who have experience guerilla fighting in the mountains. Has this leadership been useful in the fight against ISIS?

Muhammad Haji Mahmoud: Undoubtedly, the commanders of the mountains have some fighting experience that can be utilized in all battles, not only against ISIS. All the commanders have a long experience. They are more patient and more resilient during attacks and counterattacks. They also know how to treat the Peshmerga fighters who are with them. The senior Peshmerga fighters know how to increase the morale of the younger Peshmerga. They also know the enemy better.

When I went to Qara Tepe, several Peshmerga veterans were martyred after an explosion and I saw their prosthetic legs on the ground in the aftermath of the explosion. This showed that some of the veteran Peshmerga were handicapped.

The new Peshmerga forces did not see the battles in the mountains and they have not been trained for long-term fighting. Thirty years of battle experience is significant. These politburo members that you see here were previously commanders and led battles in the mountains.

Rudaw: Did the president of the Kurdistan region ask you to join the battle?

MHM: When ISIS attacks Shangal, Zummar, Qara Tepe, and Makhmour, their real goal is Kirkuk. When ISIS attacks Qara Tepe, they intend to reach Duz, and from there towards Daquq and Kirkuk.

And when they attack Gwer, they intend to reach Sargaran, then to Bay Hassan and then approach Kirkuk. This means Kirkuk is the main target.

I got injured in Kirkuk in 1991. I went to Kirkuk again after the formation of the Tigris Forces and remained there. I learned then that the Ministry of Peshmerga did not like it when I went to Kirkuk.

After ISIS began its moves, I gathered a force and went to Kirkuk because I knew the big threat was targeting Kirkuk. It was then that the president of Kurdistan made a phone call and told me that Kirkuk was in danger.

President Masoud - Barzani - told me that one of us had to be in Kirkuk, because Kirkuk needed a bigger support and force. I considered it a national duty and was ready to go.

Rudaw: All the weapons of ISIS are targeting Kirkuk. There may also be a threat posed by the Shiite Popular Mobilization forces (PMF), which are at the gate of Kirkuk. What do you think?

MHM: When you talk about Kirkuk, many other groups consider it as their own.  Baghdad, the Arab states, Turkey, Iran, and even the United States interfere and talk about this city. Despite the threats, there is just as much protections to prevent it from falling into the hands of one group. They want to keep it under the control of a trustworthy group, to say the least. There is currently an understanding that this trustworthy group is the Kurdish one.

Rudaw: Is this understanding shared by the international powers?

MHM: If this was not so, the US would not send its planes to protect Kirkuk, which they know is protected by the Kurds.

It has become clear that the Iraqi PM, Haider al Abadi, is not the ruler of all Iraq, as ISIS is controlling parts of Iraq that are twice as big as Lebanon. All the roads are controlled by ISIS and you can only visit Baghdad by planes. There are no safe roads between Kurdistan and the Shiite regions.

The Kurds have the Peshmerga forces, the Shiites have the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and ISIS is in the Sunni regions. There are no Kurdish or Sunni MPs from the Shiite regions, no Shiite or Sunni MPs from the Kurdish regions, and no Shiite or Kurdish MPs from the Sunni regions. The political powers of the president, the prime minister, and the parliament are divided among these three groups.

The only common thing among these three groups was the Iraqi Army, but even that does not exist anymore. There is nothing left that binds the Kurds, Shiites, and the Sunnis together. The country has practically been divided.

Rudaw: The Kurds do not want to repeat what happened in Jalawla and Saadiya [towns that were liberated from ISIS by Shiite militia], so they do not want to allow the Shiite militia into Kirkuk.

MHM: The Shiite militia has not asked to enter Kirkuk yet, but I do not know whether they have discussed this issue with other political parties or not. We thank and support all the forces that fight against ISIS, but the PMF can fight their own war without entering Kirkuk.

They can go to Amirli, from there to Hawija and then to Rashad. The Shiite militia have set up four training camps around Kirkuk, because this area is safer for them. They are working to secure the roads between Baghdad, Tikrit and [Tuz] Khurmato. They should better try to free Anbar and Mosul instead, right?

Rudaw: You have experienced fighting against Saddam [Hussein] and ISIS, what are the differences between fighting against Saddam’s army and ISIS?

MHM: There are battles that last for more than one hour to several months, we call those field battles. Saddam had a regular army that was well armed and organized. The Iraqi army had the latest weapons and planes, which could stand and fight against the millions of soldiers of the Iranian army for eight years.

ISIS is not comparable to the Iraqi army. ISIS is a suicidal force. There is another difference, in the past, only five percent of Peshmerga fighters had children and wives, the rest of them were only thinking about how to defeat the enemy and win the fight. Now the majority of the Peshmerga fighters have families and they think about the livelihood of their children as well.

Rudaw: There are Arabs and foreign fighters among the ISIS militias, which of these groups are fiercer fighters?

MHM: There are few foreign fighters among ISIS members. The majority of their fighters are Arabs. The foreigners are told that they are fighting for a religious cause, but the Arabs are fighting for land and the future of their children in the region.

Therefore, the fight against the Arabs is harder than fighting the foreigners. We consider the Arabic region as foreign land and we do not sacrifice our lives for it.


Rudaw: The Kurds have not launched any attacks against ISIS for about a month, what is the reason behind this?

MHM: Military operations are sensitive and cannot be shared with the media, but any military operation would need thorough proper planning. We need arms, bulldozers, trucks, food, uniforms, and back-up forces.

Before capturing an area, we have to carefully study the strategic benefits of that location, and how to protect it. Also, money is needed for every military operation, in addition to coordination with the coaltion forces.

Rudaw: What about the weather?

MHM: I have always reiterated that the Peshmerga forces must recapture all its territories before the heat of summer arrives.

Rudaw: Let’s talk about the evening your son was martyred, the videos show that you were signaling to him to be more careful. Were you expecting something to happen?

MHM: ISIS launched an attack and captured Tel al-Ward. It was a threat against Kirkuk and we could not leave it under their control.

The majority of the forces were waiting for an airstrike, but it was the first attack that we launched without air support. They told me many times to wait for air-support, but I knew it was too dangerous for Kirkuk to let ISIS settle inside Tel al-War. It was dark when we launched the attack.

I was constantly watching over the Peshmerga fighters, including my son. The cost was heavy because we lost many men. But the victory was also big, because we liberated the area without real support. Undoubtedly, I felt that something would happen because I thought the planes might hit us by mistake later on. I was not sure that I would make it out alive either.

Rudaw: Have the Peshmerga become accustomed to ISIS’s fighting tactics?

MHM: They are better than before. We would suffer fewer losses if we had better knowledge about the battlefields. In most of the battlefields we do not see the enemy very often and we lose more men in this way. Heavy weapons are also important in our battles, although we have used Milan missiles [light anti-tank infantry missile] only twice.

Rudaw: The Kurds sacrificed a lot to liberate Jalawla and now it seems to be under the Shiite militia.

MHM: Jalawla is under the control of the Peshmerga forces. But what I see as important is not to allow those who were against the Kurds to return back to Jalawla. I believe the militia are in agreement with the Kurds on this.

The houses and the lands of Jalawla are still registered in the names of their Kurdish owners despite the Arabization process. Militarily and strategically this town must be under the Kurdish control, in order to protect Khanaqin, Kalar, and Kifri.

Turkey and the US want to create national guards for the Sunnis to replace ISIS, which means creating a force from moderate Muslims. They will be fighting the Kurds as well, I am sure of this. The US has marginalized the Kurds many times, and this time it is because of its new policy for the Sunnis in Iraq.

Rudaw: What has the KRG done about this?

MHM: I do not understand why the KRG is not doing anything about it. The war has been going on for eight months, and the KRG should announce a state of emergency. The KRG should have made this decision eight months ago.
Two people got killed in France and the whole country went into a state of emergency. We have been fighting ISIS for eight months and the state of emergency has not been declared.

Without the state of emergency, the teachers will come to the street and demand to be paid their salaries. People will go to mountains for picnic, and people will demand social services. At least we should announce a state of emergency in Kirkuk, Khanaqin, and Shingal.

When I want to quickly mobilize a force to Kirkuk, I cannot because of the civilian vehicles that are blocking the streets. There is a war out there and I need to mobilize my forces quickly. Why doesn’t the KRG declare a state of emergency? If you don’t people will demand salaries, picnics and other things. People are going out for vacation via the airport every day, and government officials and MPs travel abroad, how can this be? This country is going through war!

At least the Ministries of Peshmerga, Social Works, Human Rights, and Interior should declare a state of emergency for themselves and each front should have its own operation room.
Source : http://rudaw.net/english/interview/25022015

Voir également : Irak : les peshmerga sont dans l'incapacité d'avancer profondément dans les zones arabo-sunnites

Les peshmerga kurdes ne méritent pas leur haute réputation militaire

Nord de l'Irak : les visées territoriales des peshmerga suscitent la colère des Arabes sunnites

Université de Kirkouk : tensions entre Kurdes et Arabes à l'occasion de la "journée du drapeau du Kurdistan"

Diyala : des tribus arabes sunnites se retournent contre l'Etat islamique... et contre les peshmerga

Irak : l'Allemagne se dit prête à entraîner des Arabes sunnites, et pas seulement des Kurdes