Kirkuk police Vs ISIS

We managed to get through to A police chief in the Kurdistan City Kirkuk Sarhad Qadir to ask his opinion on the future of Kurdistan Security and police forces in Kirkuk. read the full interview here.

The new Mail: What’s the current situation in Kirkuk?

Sarhad Qadir: Since the arrival of the Peshmerga, there has been a lot of development in security and the situation has improved a lot. Before the Peshmerga arrived, there were four or five explosions every day in Kirkuk, but that has now improved a lot because of improvements in technology and security in the area.

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Gen Sarhad Qader/ photo by The New Mail staff

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a lot safer than before but it’s not perfect.

The New Mail: What is the relationship between the Peshmerga and the police?

Sarhad Qadir: Since we are a part of the Iraqi government and the Peshmerga is a part of the Kurdistan Regional Government, but we still have good communication and help each other on all terms.

The New Mail: What’s the relationship between all the different factions in Kurdistan?

Sarhad Qadir: The relationship between these factions is quite good. There have been a lot of migrants from other parts of Iraq coming to Kirkuk because they felt a lot safer in Kirkuk. A lot of different peoples live in Kirkuk like the Christians, Yazidis, the Sunnis, Turkmen and the Kurds. The demography of this area is very complex, but it’s a very good relationship.

The New Mail: What’s are biggest challenges of combating ISIS?

Sarhad Qadir: When Daesh first came, they had that fear factor. Isis fighters are not scared of death and because of the way they fight, even men in the army were scared of them. But they don’t have that fear factor anymore so it’s easier to face them than before. They are just like the fighters that came before them.

At first, they attacked Kirkuk 13 times because it’s a very important city in terms of oil, electricity and many other things. And because of the demographics of Kirkuk, it would have been very important them.

At the time, the Peshmerga didn’t have that much support from the international community so it was harder then but it has got a lot better because of the support. But the stability in Kirkuk has come at the expense of many brave men who made a lot of sacrifices to protect this city.

The struggle with Daesh is nothing new to me because we had these types of conflicts with Al Qaeda and other groups. Basically they are all the same thing with different names. They change their name, but it’s the same people. It’s nothing new. We’ve been fighting these groups for years.

Before Daesh, other groups killed 260 of my men so Isis is nothing new or strange.

The day Isis first came, 29 of my men, including myself and my son, got injured… badly. Throughout the fight with Isis, we have lost 293 people – around 10 of those are close family members.

I have been in situations where we faced suicide bombers or found myself within metres of the enemy and one of us had to die.

The New Mail: Isis wins a lot of battles. But Kirkuk has been one of place that has been successful in resisting ISIS. Why?

Sarhad Qadir: We have had the experience before in fighting these types of extremists and terrorists, for many years so this is one of the factors. Plus, we fight for our lives, we fight for our family and we fight for our land so that gives us an edge.

As I mentioned before, there are tens of police chiefs and well-known men, brave men, that have sacrificed themselves in this fight.

The New Mail: What do you see as the general answer to Isis?

Sarhad Qadir: Basically, it’s a long story. You’ve got to go back to how this happened. You have to see who created this group and how they became like this.

At the beginning, when they started to fight in the Kurdish region, the Peshmerga didn’t have any support, didn’t have any equipment and were not prepared for this fight. It was quite hard but the international community helped with airstrikes and weapons and that has made things better, but to get rid of Isis, you have to study the long story. You have to ask yourself why they got so powerful in the first place.

The New Mail: Kurdish independence?

Sarhad Qadir: After what the Kurdish people have been through for so many years, what we have sacrificed, this is something we always think of. In Halabjah, so many people have disappeared. So when we fight we are fighting for something. Kurdish independence is one of the main things that drives us. It’s the Kurdish dream. We deserve our independence but that is for the Kurdish leaders to decide with their negotiations with world leaders.

“I can’t tell if it’s possible in the near future, but it’s everybody’s dream. When the time is right, I’m sure the day will come” Sarhad Qadir said.

Hawijah?

It’s a big town with many villages and little towns around it – 537 villages in total – all under Daesh control. There are a lot of foreign fighters and they are from all over the world, even from the UK.

In 2003, when the Americans took over Iraq, the biggest Iraqi resistance took place in Fallujah. After Fallujah, it was Hawijah where they struggled the most.

The reason behind it is because Hawijah has a lot of oil and it is very important for the terrorists and those fighting against the Americans.

For this reason – because of the politics of the place and because of its wealth – all of Daesh’s best commanders and fighters go to Hawijah to make sure they fight and remain in control of this city.

The Peshmerga took over Shargat, another nearby town under Daesh control, with Iraqi forces, but have not been able to take over Hawijah as yet.

During Saddam’s time, the local people in Hawijah were with Saddam and they were in high positions in the Iraqi army and government. They are the same people who are now in Daesh.

In terms of the geographical position, it is quite important and quite strategic.

To take over this city, we have to work with the Iraqi army and all the different groups of the coalition have to do it together. We cannot do it alone, as the local people, being Sunni Arabs, would create problems if the Peshmerga did that.

By The New Mail Staff