Washington Kurdish Institute
Zamawang Almemar Nov 4, 2015
The Washington Institute for near east policy hosted the director of the Kurdish Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG), Mr. Lahur Talabani, during a policy forum conference in Washington D.C. The conference focused on addressing the issues surrounding the Iraqi Kurdish battle against ISIS, as well as the current condition of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces fighting on the ground.
Mr. Talabani formed CTG with the help of the U.S. Special Forces back in 2002, and also obtained training from these special operations teams. The selection process for becoming a CTG member is rigorous, similar to Ranger School in the U.S., with only a dozen or so operators passing the selection committee. It is because of this robust type of training and preparation that his CTG forces have been able to fight terrorist groups and extremists for the past 15 years straight, since their inception.
His CTG forces have been responsible for numerous hostage rescue and special operations missions, in addition to preventing countless suicide bombing attacks from occurring in the Kurdistan region. They have been very successful at conducting these special operations missions, and this is primarily due to the intelligence sharing that takes place between CTG and other coalition nations, primarily the U.S.
In addition to being the Director of CTG, Mr. Talabani is also the Director General of KRG Intelligence and Security Agency. He has very good relations with the Bagdad government and their Ministry of Defense, as well as a strong partnership with the U.S.-led coalition forces. This has been key in the Peshmerga’s ability to push back ISIS on the frontlines and making advances beyond the borders of Kurdistan to protect innocent lives.
According to Mr. Talabani, “the Peshmerga forces have been able to push back ISIS from Diyala, Mosul, Kirkuk, and many other towns. But as we enter the winter months, they become more and more vulnerable to attacks from ISIS as they are ill-prepared for the winter conditions and U.S.-led airstrikes will reduce in number. Therefore, we need help, and we especially need winter gear for the Peshmerga so they can continue the fight against ISIS”.
During the press conference, Mr. Talabni stressed the importance of the support and donations from the U.S.-led coalition forces, and emphasized the fact that his CTG and Peshmerga forces need help. They need winter gear, weapons, ammunitions, and any other proper equipment that they could get from the coalition forces that will help his forces continue to push back and defeat ISIS on the battlefield.
Mr. Talabani asserts, “our strategy should be to take the fight to them [ISIS], but instead we are dealing with problems of running out of weaponry and ammunition caches, not to mention being unprepared for the winter months”. He pleaded to the international community to help his Peshmerga forces in any way that they can. As he declared, he will take any help he can get.
With it being just two days after the one year anniversary of the YPG forces winning the fight over ISIS in Kobani on 1 November of last year, Mr. Talabani highlighted the successes that the Kurdish forces have had in the fight on terror. He stated, “the YPG fighters are the only fighting forces on the ground in Syria, and they have been very successful at pushing back ISIS”. Free of political qualms, the YPG forces are winning the war in towns of Hassaka, Kobani, and other villages in Syria.
Despite their successes though, they too have been suffering from having limited ammunition and out-dated weapons. Mr. Talabani and his CTG forces have come to the rescue of the YPG fighters on several occasions to help restock their weaponry and ammunition supplies. But now even his forces are running out of these key elements that have helped them defeat ISIS and protect Kurdish people.
In his concluding statements to an overwhelming large audience, which included former high-ranking government officials and various media outlets, Mr. Talabani amplified the point one last time, that his Peshmerga forces need their help. They are suffering from financial problems because they have not gotten paid because Bagdad has put a hold on the budget that is supposed to be passed to the KRG, and they are suffering from running out of the necessary equipment to fight ISIS. Sharing 950Km of the frontlines with ISIS, the Peshmerga forces are in dire need of support from the U.S.-led coalition forces and the international community in order to destroy and eliminate these extremists.