Kurdistan and national military service, fostering national identity and strengthening security – Part 1
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Kurdistan and national military service, fostering national identity and strengthening security – Part 1

Kurdistan emerged victoriously in the fight against the most brutal terrorist enemy that created a caliphate of terror on the doorstep of Kurdistan, accommodating more than a million and a half internally displaced and refugees from the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria. Broken ties and disputes with the central government in Baghdad, resulted in budget cuts. The holding of a successful Referendum for independence. Uneased internal political conflicts and very unstable coalitions created instability. Drops in the Oil price which helped shatter the foundations which a Kurdish economy was emerging from, and now fighting the word pandemic COVID 19, have been the most brutal past five years in the short history of the federal region of Kurdistan’s government. 

Many loud voices are calling for reforms, fighting corruption in all the sectors.  The current government has promised action as its primary objective in its mandate to the people. In the political unrest, everyone is pointing fingers and shifting responsibility to each other. A wave of new populist political actors is fighting to take center stage in criticizing every move the government makes forward.  There are MPS, Politicians even political parties that are so influenced and actively tied to the social media that they are riding the waves and emotions of the upset youths and people of the region, creating distrust and social chaos. 

Apart from the politically motivated and triggered anger of some of the people in Kurdistan, there are genuine voices in the communities that are rightfully demanding better services, job opportunities and an end to corruption. They are tired of living in the shadow of the daily crisis facing their lives and uncertainties for the future. These have all contributed to the emergence of a new trend that is widely gaining popularity amongst the new generations of Kurds, which is the unwillingness to accept obligations and only seeking what they expect as their legitimate rights. Everyone wants or is looking for a well-paid government job with many benefits, better health care, better education, better electricity, better housing, better roads, better, etc. There is no counter-argument against the fact that people of Kurdistan deserve all and more in comparison to the hardship and struggle they have endured for many decades at the hands of oppressors and dictator rule in Iraq. Having said this but, the burden of responsibility and undertaking of obligations is widely unwelcomed, which has led to deteriorating national sentiment and fading away from the sense of national identity amongst the younger generation in Kurdistan.  Political party loyalty has long overtaken national commitment and the feeling of patriotic duty of citizens to protect their homeland and livelihood from external threats.

Every election the piled promises of youth projects targeting the needs of the youth, preparing them for the future, creating opportunities and equality are in the manifest of all the parties, which barely make it to the planning table, let alone the implementation.

To re-establish trust, connection, reconciliation, strengthening national pride and identity, helping to enhance military and security forces a project of national military service is necessary for the youths of Kurdistan. Such a plan can reignite sparks of the love for Kurdistan in the hearts of the Kurdish boys and Girls. National military service will provide adequate training and a certain degree of military readiness, which can be vital when facing external aggression or threat. Military training for the youths will enable them to become familiarized with the geography of their nation, the mountainous and natural terrain and help build environmentally friendly future generations. National military service will encourage cadets trained to love their country and protect it by joining the official military service of Peshmerga forces in the future which also helps shift the loyalty of the current Peshmerga forces from party to Kurdistan. 

For Kurdistan located in landlocked geography with historical adversaries, future confrontations or threat are almost entirely imminent. Therefore a mandatory conscription style or system of national military service can create the ideal military deterrence, which can make an aggressor think twice about attempting to invade or threat of conflict against the region because of the high price they have to pay in doing so.  

Creating the right system of military training in the disciplines of strategic thinking, organization and physical health, will also carry economic benefits. That will aid to foster a work-ready labour force and help create equipped and trained human resource for the future of Kurdistan. Backed with incentives and the possibility of future opportunity, a national military service program will be widely accepted within the youths of Kurdistan and participation will be in demand. 

The KRG and the Ministry of Planning along with Ministry of Peshmerga need to research this project in in-depth and co-ordinate with universities and educational institutions to study how national military service can help foster national identity and strengthen the military and security of Kurdistan. There are many examples around the world and in the Middle East region if studied can help better understand the impact that national military service can have on the development of security and military power along with strengthening the sense of nationalism, patriotism and national identity.