What would you do if you were a Peshmarga?
In times of peace, I am disguised and considered as the parasite of society by a lot of people. I am thought to receive my salary without contributing to my country’s progress and prosperity, they forget all of the decades I have been striving to bring about the stable situation my people are now living in. When in war, my name is on the tip of everyone’s tongue throughout all of Kurdistan. Do you know why? I am needed as a tool to defend them when no one else is willing to put themselves in a dangerous and risky position; their first thought is to send the Peshmarga down to protect them. Their perception about my profession does not matter to me though because I have my own reason for doing what I do, I work for a cause. I know there are people who live their dreams and keep up with their careers at my expense, but that doesn’t dim my motivation to move forward for my country-but rather further motivates me because seeing my homeland secure is all I ever dream about.
I am a Peshmarga (Kurdish soldier). I have a 500, 000 Iraqi dinar salary- approximately equivalent to $400 a month. I am married, I have two children that go to school, and my housing rent is $200. I work as a taxi driver as a part-time job to make my ends meet when I am not on my Peshmarga duty fighting those who want to destabilize my beloved Kurdistan. Sometimes I spend an entire day waiting in a long line to get gas to fuel my car, which is only sufficient for half a day’s worth of work. I came back yesterday from Mosul where I was pushing away ISIS terrorists from getting any close to Kurdish borders. Here I am struggling to get some gas for my car, waiting to get this done before I go back to defend my country. (That’s a story every Peshmarga would tell you)
The question stands – what would I do if I were a Peshmarga?
If I were a Peshmarga, I would initially try to create the kind of environment that permits us to do what I think is the right thing to do in the fragile state that we are in so that the other peshmargas and I can have the means to accomplish our goals. I would indefatigably try to get my rights -not for me personally, but for the sake of my dependents and other fellow Peshmargas. I would ask for higher benefits-yes for a higher salary more directly. The implied statement would be; someone would have done it already if it was that easy. My answer to that; it’s not that easy because a healthy democracy doesn’t really function well in the hierarchy system of Kurdish military. A lot of peshmarga care more about obeying the higher officials’ orders and doing what is in their own interests without ever listening to those holding lower ranks.
The lowest rank and most militarily capable force in Kurdish arm is the peshmarga who can easily be dismissed in the blink of an eye if they were to go against their commanders. Even doing something as simple as raising his voice can get him dismissed. What is more unfortunate is that peshmargas are not as united among themselves as they should be in order to make a decision and deliver an effective message to the higher ranks. When a peshmarga or a small group of peshmargas speak up, they put themselves in danger. There are other peshmargas who don’t want to leave what I would call a temporary comfort zone and they don’t want to support the peshmarga or the peshmarga group that is speaking up against something because they are afraid of the consequences Ironically, there are also peshmargas who do not care much about the concerns of others as long as they are safe at the moment. This is one of the internal problems that need to be solved.
If I were a peshmarga, I would create a group that is big enough to be influential in which all of the members aim at the same goal; one voice and one stance. I would with my group dividedly go around to meet all of the other peshmarga across the region explaining the cause in order to bring them all on one table. I would then make a proposal in which I would ask the top commanders to help improve our situation, and have a great majority of them sign our petition where it can further be taken to the higher officials who could make a reform in the system. I would give them time to make a decision and for them to look back at what really would need to be done. We would wait, wait and wait a little longer to see their reactions. If the top commanders all the way to the highest authority where the decision would originate don’t seem to take advantage of the time they are given to make reforms, we as peshmarga stand up and begin a peaceful demonstration. If that doesn’t help and our voice still doesn’t get heard, since we are now united and more powerful than ever, we could disarm and rule them completely to prevent them from misusing their power any further.
Overall, a message would easily be sent from the bottom extending through the cells of the military bases to the top commanders and ministers and even the president of Kurdistan. That message would be effective because it’s from a big majority of the peshmarga combining all of their voices together. The peshmarga could do all of that if they are one voice because all the power is in their hands.
*Peshmarga is a term used for Kurdish official military forces/Kurdish fighters. Their independent movements have existed since World War I, after the overthrow of the Ottoman and Qajar Empire. They are now fighting side by side against terrorist groups in southern parts of Iraq. Kurdistan would not have been this stable-or what people call a “safe heaven” if it were not for the peshmarga’s efforts. Having completely ensured the safety of Kurdistan already, they have extended their power and influence further down to the other southern parts of Iraq to fight ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, currently the most dangerous terrorist group in the area, has been taking over a big deal of the Iraqi parts). The peshmarga have continuously been pushing them back and suppressing their activities to the best of their ability.
By: Ramazn A. Heyni South Carolina, United States of America