In a visit on Wednesday, 8 April, to the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs, it was agreed that MERI will initiate a number of research activities to facilitate the institutionalisation of the Peshmerga forces. The Minister, Mr Mustafa Said Qadir, his deputy, Mr Anwar Haji Osman, and the Secretary General of the Ministry (Gen. Jabar Yawar) welcomed the MERI delegation and its engagement in policy research at the Ministry.
MERI’s President, Professor Dlawer Ala’Aldeen, outlined the work of the institute and the research that it is undertaking. It was identified that the ongoing economic and military crisis in both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole can act as an incentive for reform.
The discussion led to the topic of capacity building and the institutionalisation of the Peshmerga. Representatives of the Ministry outlined the realities facing the Peshmerga. While up to 50,000 soldiers have been unified; there is the concern that the pace of unification may slow down or become politically complicated. It was identified that the issue of institutionalisation needs to be addressed in an academic manner to help push forward a defined policy that will facilitate change. Such policy research would have to be conducted in a manner that addresses such problems in a realistic and productive way.
While studies have already been undertaken into the field in general terms, further research and clear policy recommendations as well as monitoring their implementation are needed. Due to the ongoing security conditions the political will and determination is now in place. Local leaders and international experts have engaged in this debate and proposed ideas. While this debate is alive there is the need to translate this into policy change. This requires fundamental research which MERI is willing to conduct. MERI has already secured partnership and partial funding for launching a significant research initiative. This will lead to a policy document and would assist in bringing all stakeholders together for the institutionalisation of Peshmerga forces under the umbrella of a single authority. MERI and the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs agreed to coordinate on future policy research.
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About MERI: The Middle East Research Institute is Iraq’s leading policy-research institute and think tank. It is an independent, entirely grant-funded not-for-profit organisation, based in Erbil, Kurdistan Region. Its mission is to contribute to the process of nation-building, state-building and democratisation via engagement, research, analysis and policy debates.
MERI’s main objectives include promoting and developing human rights, good governance, the rule of law and social and economic prosperity. MERI conduct high impact, high quality research (including purpose-based field work) and has published extensively in areas of: human rights, government reform, international politics, national security, ISIS, refugees, IDPs, minority rights (Christians, Yezidis, Turkmen, Shabaks, Sabi mandeans), Baghdad-Erbil relations, Hashd Al-Shabi, Peshmarga, violence against women, civil society. MERI engages policy- and decision-makers, the civil society and general public via publication, focused group discussions and conferences (MERI Forum).