Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Kurd vs Kurd: Fears of full-scale war rise in northern Iraq | Al Jazeera

Kurd vs Kurd

 Fears are growing of a full-fledged war between Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and forces of the ruling Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in this autonomous region of northern Iraq.

Tensions between the two sides are increasing amid a military standoff on the Iraq-Turkey border, with civilians on both sides strongly rejecting any possible intra-Kurdish confrontation.

The tensions initially began when the KRG-led Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) accused the PKK of assassinating Ghazi Salih, a security official working at the Sarzer border crossing in Duhok province on October 8.

The PKK, however, denied responsibility.

The situation intensified when the PKK on October 29 claimed responsibility for a “successful sabotage action” on a KRG pipeline to Turkey near Mardin province, suspending oil exports.

The KRG said it “strongly condemns the terrorist attack targeting the pipeline” and warned it “will never allow threats against its interests and the livelihood of the peoples of the Kurdistan Region”.

The PKK has an estimated 5,000 fighters stationed largely in Iraqi Kurdistan’s rugged mountainous areas. The group is designated a “terrorist organisation” by Turkey, the European Union, and the United States. Decades-long clashes between Ankara and the PKK have led to tens of thousands of deaths in both Turkey and northern Iraq.


  1. KDP President Masoud Barzani accused the PKK of infiltrating Kurdish villages and two days later planting a bomb in Duhok that killed a Peshmerga fighter and wounded two others. The attack was condemned by the US, France, and the federal Iraqi government.

    Barzani accused the PKK of disrespecting the KRG by invading villages under its control and imposing taxes on locals – infringing on its sovereignty and oppressing residents.

  2. The PKK-KRG armed standoff is reminiscent of fighting between the two in northern Iraq in the 1990s that killed hundreds of civilians and troops battling for territorial control. Two decades on, a renewed escalation has sparked panic among locals who live in the border areas and who fear history may repeat itself.

  3. Fayaq Gulpi is head of the Democratic Politics Academia in the Kurdistan region and a former PKK official in close contact with its leadership. He said the KRG has amassed troops at border areas close to PKK bases, “something that has seriously worried and angered the PKK”.

    “According to what I have learned from PKK officials, they do not want to engage in any war … and they say they never initiate conflict but are ready to defend themselves if attacked,” Gulpi told Al Jazeera.

    “The PKK and the KRG must exercise maximum restraint and put the interests of the Kurdish nations before their own interests. Any conflict will bring a lose-lose situation to both sides. I am smelling a war about to break out.”

    Gulpi accused Turkey of being a “major player in this game” and warned the two Kurdish sides “must not fall into the Ankara trap”.

    Turkey has said it is determined “to take the measures it deems necessary for its border security – no matter where it may be”.


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