PKK-KRG tensions rise after fresh war of words
ANKARA / ARBIL
AFP PhotoOngoing tension between Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) is gradually growing, with the former accusing the latter of “treason” against the homeland.
The tension flared after Duran Kalkan, a key leader of the PKK, argued that “central dictatorship in South Kurdistan” is not viable.
Following a release of statement personally signed by President Massoud Barzani on April 16 as a strongly-worded and harsh response to Kalkan, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Barzani, also released a separate statement on April 17.
“South Kurdistan [referring to the KRG] cannot be under a central political administration, as there are various dialects and very different communities there. A centralized dictatorship cannot survive in South Kurdistan. Only democracy can unite this region and keep it alive. One should not say, ‘We will administer South Kurdistan from Arbil and it will only be managed from Arbil.’ Sinjar, Kirkuk, Germiyan, Duhok and Sulaimaniya should govern themselves. If this happens, then Kirkuk would join Kurdistan too,” Kalkan was quoted as saying in a recent interview. Barzani’s written response was harsh.
“I call out to the people of glorious Kurdistan: Do not allow the existence of these groups in Kurdistan. They are elements wanting to commit treason and begin a civil war in this country. Do not give them recognition which will provide them with the opportunity to cause conflict,” Barzani said, calling out to the government and parliament of the KRG to fulfill their responsibilities.
“We witness the different ways that they are creating hostility towards Kurdistan. Their statements, their announcements and various propagandas are a new dimension to their hostility. Remarks and statements are being made to incite civil war and cause division between the Kurdish people. ... This is not freedom of expression, but rather a betrayal of the nation and its people,” said Barzani.
‘Enemies to the nation’
“These kinds of enemies to the nation are not acceptable in Kurdistan. We will not allow for these initiatives. This issue is a serious threat to the country and its national security. Our gains have been won through blood and tears. But their attempts are a danger to our security efforts,” he added. In a swift display of its obedience to KRG leader Barzani, the KDP released a statement on the same issue only a day later.
According to the KDP, Kalkan “stepped out of line” with his remarks, which “did not reflect the truth about the Kurdistan region and its people.”
“Somebody who doesn’t know a single word in Kurdish, whose nationality is uncertain, and who doesn’t believe in the rights of the people of Kurdistan, has no right to speak about Kurds anyway,” said the KDP statement.
The tension is actually not new. In January, the KRG’s council of ministers announced its rejection of the PKK’s decision to establish a canton in the district of Sinjar, home to the Yazidi minority. They labeled the PKK’s move as “illegal” and against the constitution.
The council expressed gratitude to all fighters of the PKK-affiliated People’s Protection Units (YPG), who helped the Peshmerga to rescue the Kurds who were displaced from the Sinjar during the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attack. However, it also baid “the PKK should stop treating the Yazidi area of Sinjar with such a partisan mentality. Such a position will cause political and administrative tensions.”