ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Sweden is committed to post-ISIS stability in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region because defeating the extremists requires a “whole of government” approach.
“You have to combine the military efforts also with the civilian efforts. You have to make sure that you find a stable and prosperous country also after Daesh has been fought,” Sweden’s Ambassador to Iraq Pontus Melander told Rudaw English.
He said it was important to underline that Sweden’s contributions extend beyond the anti-ISIS coalition and military.
“We put a lot of efforts also on the civilian side. We all know that in order to find a solution in the fight against Daesh, you have to have a ‘whole of government’ approach let us say,” explained Melander.
Sweden primarily has supported the efforts of the UNDP to that end, noting Stockholm has an “Iraq specific” strategy for rebuilding.
Melander accompanied Gen. Per Micael Byden, the supreme commander of the Swedish Armed Forces, in a meeting with acting Peshmerga Minister Karim Sinjari on Wednesday in Erbil.
“The general was here to pay his respect to Minister of Interior and Peshmerga, Mr. Karim Sinjari. And they had a very fruitful discussion about the Swedish contribution and also the future of fight against Daesh here in Kurdistan and in Iraq as a whole,” added the ambassador.
They also inspected forces at the Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTTC). The Swedes commended the Peshmerga for their contributions in the ISIS conflict.
“During the meeting, the coordination and cooperation between the Peshmerga forces and the Swedish army were discussed, in addition to the assistance provided by the Swedish military advisers,” Lt. Gen. Jabar Yawar, the secretary-general of the Peshmerga ministry, said in a statement.
The Kurdistan Region and its armed forces in the interior and Peshmerga ministries want support and training to continue despite Baghdad’s decrees of the group being defeated. Operations against extremists continue in the disputed areas on a nearly daily basis.
“The Minister of the Peshmerga called on the Swedish side and its advisers to play a role in the reform project of the Ministry of Peshmerga, which has now passed an important stage with the assistance of the coalition countries,” added the Peshmerga statement.
More than 1,800 Peshmerga were killed during the ISIS conflict and 10,000 more were wounded. The Kurdistan Region continues to host more than 1.2 million IDPs and refugees.
Sweden’s embassy has an office in Erbil, and the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of Foreign Relations has a representation office in Stockholm.