MESOP “ 1 HOUR AGO”: Iraqi defense ministry provides details of the KRG-US memorandum

By Rudaw 1 hour ago – 22 July 2016 – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Iraqi defense ministry said in a press release on Friday that a recent agreement signed between Erbil and Washington is solely about providing Peshmerga salaries and does not include any mention of building US bases as it is “a matter of sovereignty” for Iraq to decide.The press release says “it is not a treaty but a memorandum of understanding only” by which the US will pay the amount of $415 million towards Peshmerga salaries.“The memorandum does not contain the building of any American or coalition bases at all as it is a sovereign issue and exclusively in the authority of federal Iraq to decide,” reads the presser posted on the website of Iraq’s defense ministry.

The Kurdish acting Peshmerga Minister Karim Sinjari and US acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Elissa Slotkin signed the memorandum in the presence of Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in Erbil last week. The Iraqi defense ministry says that it had consented to the signing of the agreement and that “conditions of the memorandum are decided by the donor,” –  The Kurdish government has not been able to pay Peshmerga and civil servant salaries on time or in full in the last two years due to a severe financial crisis caused by declining oil prices and budget cuts from Baghdad. According to the Iraqi defense ministry, the understanding agreement between Erbil and US requires “an increase in the number of Peshmerga soldiers on the frontlines to prevent the infiltration of terrorist ISIS gangs,”“Providing operational forces for the liberation of Mosul if needed,” the statement continues.

According to the Iraqi statement, the memorandum also includes “the training of elements of the Hashd inside Kurdistan territories by coalition forces,” –  It however, does not clarify if the ‘Hashd elements’ will be members of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi or the Sunni Hashd al-Watani. “Full coordination with the Iraqi government on the operation to liberate Mosul,” is required of the Kurds, reads the statement, and “The continuation of the use of Kurdistan land by Iraqi forces in the Nineveh operation.”According to the Iraqi defense ministry, there will be “a temporary increase in the number of coalition forces in Kurdistan and with the permission of the Iraqi government,”

Kurdish forces will also have to withdraw from liberated areas based on a timeline decided by the Iraqi government. “Carrying out fundamental reforms in the Peshmerga ministry that would lead to financial transparency and accountability on the numbers and salary payments,” said the Iraqi ministry’s press release.