Q&A: Jabar Yawar, Secretary General of the Peshmerga

Insurgents and gangs continue to fill a security vacuum in Iraq’s disputed territories, as talks between federal and Kurdish forces have been derailed by the political impacts of the Soleimani assassination.
Q&A: Jabar Yawar, Secretary General of the Peshmerga
Jabar Yawar, the general secretary of the Ministry of Peshmerga, at his office in Erbil on May 24, 2017. (RAWAZ TAHIR/Iraq Oil Report)

Remnants of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) militant group are exploiting a massive security gap created by a lack of coordination between federal Iraqi forces and the semiautonomous Kurdistan region’s Peshmerga.

Leaders in Baghdad and Erbil had been working to create joint operations rooms, in negotiations that were encouraged and facilitated in part by the U.S. military, but those efforts have stalled in the aftermath of the American assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassim Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary leader Abu Mahdi al-Mohandis in January.

To make matters worse, gangs of criminals are also adopting some tactics of IS insurgents to extort locals living in poorly secured towns and villages in the disputed territories, a belt of land claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and federal Iraq.

In an interview inside the KRG Ministry of Peshmerga, where he runs day-to-day business as the Secretary General, Jabar Yawar said that, in order to fight both insurgents and criminal gangs, security forces on all sides first need to develop a coherent, shared understanding of how they will fill the vacuum.

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