Can you give our readers some insight into the current security situation in the Kurdistan Region?
In general, the Kurdistan Region has been secure despite continuous attempts by the terrorists to harm and destabilize the Region. Kurdistan has always been targeted by terrorists, as they despise our peace, freedom, democracy, and autonomy. They have tried to take advantage of any perceived weakness to sneak into the Region. Occasionally, they have been able to infiltrate Kurdistan by taking advantage of our hospitality and openness to welcome those who are threatened. This is one of our challenges, as we are hosting more than 1.5 million internally displaced and refugees who have fled from the violence and unrest in other parts of Iraq and Syria to find refuge in Kurdistan. It is naturally quite difficult to give so many people access while at the same time trying to know who they are and monitor their movements. But we have given this task our strongest efforts.
Our security forces are deployed extensively throughout the Kurdistan Region and are actively using all of their skills and resources to keep threats out of the Region. This is another challenge, as we are controlling a border of more than 1,000 km opposite the most evil terrorist organization we have seen in recent history. In spite of these challenges, our security forces have been able to thwart many attempts to damage the security of Kurdistan. We can proudly say that Kurdistan is a secure area, as it has in fact become a safe haven for a variety of people regardless of their ethnicity, religion, or political affiliation.
I would also like to commend the people of Kurdistan for the very positive cooperation they share with our security forces. This cooperation is part of the foundation of our security across Kurdistan, as it is the people who see and know things in many instances before the security forces. Because our people also do not tolerate terrorism and efforts to destabilize our Region, they cooperate very well with our security forces.
In spite of these challenges, we have done all that we can to guarantee the security of Kurdistan. This has not been an easy task, as we have seen the Middle East over the last decade become a sort of hub for a variety of international terrorists. We can see the results of our efforts, though, as witnessed by the many foreign companies and people who find it safe and stable enough to work here and assist in the development and progress of Kurdistan. So even with the evolution of the ISIS terrorist organization and their seizure of Mosul and other large areas of Iraq, and even with their having many supporters, advanced weapons, and financial support, our security forces have still been able to maintain the security of Kurdistan so that it is a safe haven for those in need as well as its citizens and guests.
Because we are aware of the threats that are out there, security does remain our top priority. We are determined to ensure that our citizens and all of our guests are able to live, work, and enjoy the blessings of peace and freedom in a safe environment. We are equally determined to ensure that Kurdistan remains a place where democracy, peace, diversity, and tolerance are well understood and accepted.
We are determined to ensure that our citizens and all of our guests are able to live, work, and enjoy the blessings of peace and freedom in a safe environment. We are equally determined to ensure that Kurdistan remains a place where democracy, peace, diversity, and tolerance are well understood and accepted.
How would you characterize the Kurdistan Region’s security cooperation with the international community against the ISIS threat? How important is international cooperation in improving the skills of Kurdish security forces against ISIS?
It is important to recognize that ISIS is not just a threat to the Kurdistan Region. It is, in fact, a threat to all of the international community. It is well known that thousands have come from around the world to fight on behalf of ISIS. They have supporters and recruiters around the world who are spreading their message of hate and intolerance. They are effectively using social media to promote their evil actions. Because of this, all of the international community must work together to stamp out their desires for regional domination through their self-described caliphate. There is no other choice. We must cooperate, or accept their brutal domination and killing. For these reasons, it is critical that the international community and all of the regional countries take very serious measures toward destroying ISIS both at the places where it is recruiting, as well as in Iraq and Syria on the battlefield. Toward this end, we are very supportive and welcoming of the airstrikes that the Americans and other Coalition partners have conducted in Iraq and Syria, as they have helped our Peshmerga forces who are at the forefront on the ground in this fight to achieve success in pushing ISIS back.
In fact, our security cooperation with the international community is very good. We are receiving assistance in the humanitarian sector, as well as the military sector. In the military area, we have close cooperation in the conduct of Coalition airstrikes as we share information to effectively target ISIS. We also closely coordinate regarding our equipment and training needs. The Coalition has, in fact, played a very positive role, and we thank all of the members for their assistance.
In spite of this assistance, there is much more that is needed. ISIS has been fighting with advanced weapons that were captured from the Syrian and Iraqi Armies. Some of these items were the latest arms that came originally from Russia or the United States. On the other hand, we have been fighting with obsolete Soviet-era equipment that was captured from Saddam’s regime over the last ten to thirty years. The Coalition’s efforts in keeping the ammunition flowing for these weapons and providing some newer models have been appreciated. However, if we are to more effectively take the fight to ISIS to ensure their destruction, we must have more modern equipment, such as tanks, armored vehicles, heavy artillery, anti-tank missiles, and attack helicopters. All of these things will better ensure our mutual success on the battlefield against this evil threat which must be destroyed now before they become too powerful.
How is Kurdistan working with its neighbors to fight against the ISIS threat? How would you assess the role of Kurdistan as a contributor to regional security and stability?
Kurdistan has long adopted a policy to live in peace with our neighbors. We strongly believe in non-interference, mutual respect, trust, and understanding. Because of this, we have always sought to maintain direct communications with all of our neighbors so that we can ensure there is a good understanding of all things between us. This open communication has allowed us to have positive relations with our neighbors that has led to benefits in terms of stability, economic development, and security integration.
Part of the reason for these positive results in security is because our neighbors know that Kurdistan is a force for stability within the region. Kurdistan has had good contributions toward regional stability and understanding. This mutual cooperation has been beneficial since Kurdistan has been at the forefront in confronting ISIS, and our neighbors well know this fact. Because of this, we have established good military exchanges and intelligence sharing to more effectively combat ISIS. Although this cooperation is a good step for regional security, it is only one step. This fight really does need an expanded regional and international effort in cooperation to develop a joint, comprehensive strategy so that we may eliminate this threat now in a final and conclusive manner.