Kurdish Intell. official asks effective help to defeat ISIS
by Roni Alasor / Lorin Sarkisian
Brussels, 24 May 2016 - Middle East Diplomatic (MED) - Lahur Jangi Talabani, Director of Zanyari Intelligence Agency in Kurdistan Region (KRG) asked EU, US and NATO for more support for Kurdish Peshmerga in their fight against ISIS, but also for active political involvement of the international coalition for stabilisation of Iraq.
Following his visit to NATO and meetings with European officials, Lahur Jangi Talabani, Director of the Kurdish Intelligence Agency Zanyari held a briefing in the European Parliament in Brussels accompanied by Dutch socialist politician Henricus van Bommel. Zanyari operates within the framework of the Kurdistan Region Government Security Council (KRSC).
“Supporting Kurdish security forces / Peshmerga fighters with weapons, ammunitions, training and financial help to pay their salaries is crucial in the fight more effective against ISIS”, said Mr. Talabani.
The Zanyari director also underlined that “EU could help to keep 1.8 million displaced people within Kurdistan Region by providing them with shelter, help and education, so they don’t need to become refugees in Europe”.
According Mr. Lahur Jangi Talabani, “The main mistake of the international coalition is to focus only on the military struggle, kill the ISIS leadership, but don’t engage on the ideology issue. There is currently a strong international campaign to take territories from ISIS in Iraq and Syria, but there is no any campaign of the coalition forces to engage politically with Bagdad”.
The Kurdish Intelligence official analysed the reasons for the existence of ISIS: “If we look at the reasons why ISIS was created, we will notice that 3 years ago people in Anbar demonstrated against poverty and bad living conditions, but the government in Bagdad did not listen to them. The political vacuum in Bagdad, the disengagement with people creates a ground for extremism. Even if we have military success on the ground, if we don’t engage politically, later we will have another ISIS, maybe even more brutal”.
Mr. Talabani insisted that “taking Mosul or Raqqa can put an end to ISIS as an organisation, but what will happen after? The infrastructure is destroyed, Iraq is in economic crisis, and there are 1.5 million displaced people. If we don’t provide education, health care and employment for them, there will be a ground for another extremism to grow”.
According Mr. Talabani, the Middle East mentality in Iraq is not able to fix its own problems. Therefore, the international community should be actively involved to help: “We learnt our lessons from past mistakes when we said that the coalition forces can leave in 2011. This was wrong. Today, Shia Muslims, the majority of Sunnis and 99 % of the Kurds understand that this was a mistake and they want engagement of the western countries. The international engagement in Iraq is also in the interest of Europe and USA, then they will have less problems to deal with post-ISIS”, concluded the director of Zanyari.
Regarding the exchange of intelligence information between Kurdistan Region and EU / USA, Mr. Talabani said that Kurdistan Region has 930 km border with ISIS and more than 3000 detainees and therefore can represents an important source of information for European and American intelligence services. They should engage with Kurds on the ground to be able to identify threats earlier on.
Commenting on the fight of YPG in Rojava, Mr. Talabani said that it has a positive effect on Kurdistan Region as well, because it weakens ISIS positions: “The international coalition supports YPG. I always try to convince my Turkish colleagues that they should support YPG, because their fight against ISIS is in the long term interests of Turkey”.
Harry van Bommel (SP Fraction, Netherlands) said that according a report of the US Congress from February 2016, 36 500 individuals from more than 100 countries joined ISIS since 2012, including round 6 600 Europeans. In this context, the improvement of the cooperation between European intelligence services and Kurdish services is crucial in the prevention of attacks on European soil or prevention of the departure of more European citizens to join ISIS.
Wietse van den Berge from the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (Hague) said that the scientific researches confirm that the involvement in the political process is the most effective tool in combating terrorism, but people in the Middle East should be open to western engagement, which sometimes can also be perceived as a kind of neo-colonialism.
Lahur Jangi Talabani is the Director of the Kurdish Dazgay Zanyari intelligence agency which operates within the framework of the Kurdistan Region Security Council. Lahur Talabani is also a leading member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Central Council; the PUK being one of the three major political parties in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
From 1999 till 2001 Lahur served as the Special Representative of the PUK to Ankara, Turkey. In 2001 he returned to the Kurdistan Region and in 2002 founded the Counter Terrorism Group (CTG) with the support of the United States Military 10th Special Forces Group and the Central Intelligence Agency.
In 2003 Lahur participated in the decisive Operation Viking Hammer to oust the Ansar Al-Islam terrorist organization from the eastern mountain range of the Kurdistan Region. Viking Hammer was a joint operation between 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) and Peshmerga fighters of the PUK. Viking Hammer was an unconventional warfare operation immediately prior to the Iraq War in 2003. Ansar Al-Islam had carved out an enclave in PUK governed territory on the Iran and Iraq mountain range and had become a constant threat to Kurdish national security. The operation concluded with the successful and permanent ouster of Ansar Al-Islam from the Kurdistan Region.
From 2003 - 2013 Sheikh Lahur lead CTG, working closely with U.S. Delta Force and the CIA, playing a significant role in combating terrorist groups not just in the Kurdistan Region, but also across Iraq, scoring many battlefield successes.
In 2013 Lahur was appointed the Director of the Zanyari Intelligence Agency. Since taking this post, as well as continuing his post as the Director of CTG, Sheikh Lahur has played a key role in unifying the Kurdish intelligence apparatus as well as modernizing Zanyari to better combat evolving national and regional security threats.