Kurdistan is technically not a sovereign country but a semi-autonomous region in northern Iraq with its own government, parliament and units of the Iraqi armed forces. The region is technically known as Iraqi Kurdistan (ههرێمی کوردستان ), established in the 1970s following an agreement between the Iraqi government and Kurdish opposition. Between 1986 and 1989, under orders from Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi Army embarked upon a genocidal campaign against ethnic Kurds called the Al-Anfal Campaign; over 182,000 Kurdish civilians were killed. The Kurdish Democratic Party or KDP (est. 1946) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan or PUK (est. 1975) emerged as the two ruling political parties after the Persian Gulf War (1990-91), both agitating for further autonomy although in effect sharing power as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since 1992.
Kurdish military forces (known as peshmerga) joined forces with the United States and coalition forces against the Iraqi government during the Iraq War (2nd Gulf War). Iraqi Kurdistan has since become one of the most stable and safe regions of Iraq, although there is considerable tension between the KRG (which supports the idea of a unified Kurdish homeland) and Turkey, which has its own significant population of Kurds.
The Peshmerga (Pêşmerge or پێشمهرگه ) currently exist as a regional militia to protect the autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan. However, there are a number of battalions in the Iraqi Army populated by ethnic Kurds and former Peshmerga that are stationed in Northern Iraq. In the event of another popular uprising or an invasion of the Kurdish region by foreign military personnel, it is altogether likely the militia and Kurdish battalions would join forces to repel any aggressors.
Camouflage Patterns of Kurdish Military Forces
- Evidence suggests that some Peshmerga were outfitted with Omani DPM pattern camouflage during the 1990s.
- Other Peshmerga were outfitted by the USA with surplus m81 woodland pattern, as well as three and six-color desert pattern camouflage uniforms during the 1990s.
- Since the formation of the new Iraqi Army, Kurdish units have been outfitted with the same uniforms as the rest of the Iraqi forces, including the copy of the six-color desert pattern.
- Copies of the USMC MARPAT temperate and desert camouflage patterns have also been worn by special Kurdish units of the Iraqi Army.
- The desert pattern seen here, of Chinese origin, is also in use with Peshmerga units. The pattern has also been documented in use by regular Iraqi military personnel, as well as Shi'ite militia.
- Units of the Kurdistan Police wear a pixelated camouflage design bearing strong similarities to the US Navy's NWU-1 pattern. Sources suggest that the fabric was printed in Turkey and may have even been produced there for export to the Kurdish Ministry of Interior.