The Iraqi military’s violent attacks on Sunni Arab protesters weren’t the panacea that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was expecting them to be, but it also cost the army 1,070 troops, according to officials.
The troops, ethnic Kurds, mutinied when they were ordered to attack a Sunni Arab town where protests were taking place, and then refused to attend “disciplinary re-training” meant to ensure that they wouldn’t hesitate to attack Iraqi towns if ordered in the future.
Instead, the troops from the 16th Brigade have deserted entirely, and are seeking to join the Peshmerga, the paramilitary force loyal to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The loss is a significant one for the Iraqi military, and comes at a time when there are growing concerns that they will eventually face a direct conflict with the Peshmerga, with oil disputes bringing Iraq’s central government at odds with the KRG.
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