The two sides sign an agreement to take back control of Sinjar, which has become a hotbed of the PKK's terror activities in northern Iraq.
Tensions between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the PKK are on the rise as the former has broken its silence and spoken out against the terrorist group.
A recent agreement between the KRG and Iraqi government on the status of the Sinjar region in northern Iraq, has appeared to be a tipping point for recent clashes between the PKK and the KRG.
The KRG's anti-PKK stance is aimed at mounting pressure on the terrorist group and pushing it out of its hideout in Sinjar, a rugged mountainous territory.
On October 9, the KRG signed an agreement with Baghdad "to restore security in Sinjar" and to ensure the region is free of terror elements. The two sides deployed around 6000 soldiers to set the plan into motion.
Since then, the PKK has carried out several attacks on KRG forces, targeting several military facilities and public infrastructure in the region.
The November 4 attack by the PKK claimed the lives of two KRG soldiers and wounded several others. While the US condemned the attack, the KRG said the terrorist group had crossed a ‘red line’.
"Any attack of this kind is an attack on all our people and our legitimate institutions," the KRG statement said.
Two days prior to the deadly attack, former KRG President Massoud Barzani lashed out at the PKK, asking the government to prevent the terror group from ïmposing its will on the region.
Barzani said the terrorist group took advantage of Daesh's attacks and ended up occupying the region.
#PUK and #KDP hold bilateral meeting headed by @IKRPresident and @Bafeltalabani to discuss the way forward, overcome recent tensions, unify and solidify vision on many critical issues such as strengthening partnership in #KRG and the upcoming #Iraq elections. pic.twitter.com/IqkNL8MxrI— Imad Farhadi (@imadfarhadi) November 9, 2020
The PKK is recognised as a terrorist organisation by Turkey, the US and the EU. The KRG’s public condemnations of the PKK has allowed many other victims to speak out against them. Most recently, Assyrian communities who live in northern Iraq denounced them by saying that the group occupies their villages, causing severe damage to the community.
Recent developments in Nahla Valley, a historically Assyrian region located in present-day Dohuk, Iraq, have caused unnecessary hardships for locals. Following reports of clashes between the KDP-PKK, new checkpoints have been set up on key access roads leading to Nahla. [THREAD]— Assyrian Policy Institute (@AssyrianPolicy) November 9, 2020
Since 2014, some PKK groups also have taken over parts of Sinjar, which is mostly populated by the Yazidis, an Iraqi minority, on the pretext of fighting Daesh. The YPG is the Syrian wing of the PKK, which runs much of northern Syria, thanks to Washington’s support, which includes arming the group with heavy and sophisticated weaponry.
Speaking to TRT World, Anadolu Agency’s Erbil correspondent, Bekir Aydogan, said Baghdad and the KRG have had several disagreements on a range of issues from the latter's referendum process, to the distribution of budget and energy incomes. For a change, however, the two sides have agreed to work together against the PKK.
"They both agree that the PKK is the main source of instability in Iraq.”
According to Aydogan, the PKK, whose headquarters are located in the Qandil mountains in northern Iraq, occupies more than 600 villages in the region. The KRG, he added, is upset with the PKK's presence there since the teror group has been occupying "rural areas by using brute force and also backing criminals and racketeers to terrorise the people."
Aydogan said because of its mafia-like presence, the PKK is abhorred by both the Kurdish and Yazidi populations in northern Iraq. The long-standing anger amongst the common Iraqis against the PKK paved the way for the agreement between the KRG and Iraqi government, he added.
The KRG has frequently demanded the PKK to leave northern Iraq, but the terror group has rejected the demands, leaving the region in limbo.
Aydogan told TRT World that the global war against Daesh, which began in 2014, helped the PKK grow its strength in the region. Under the pretext of fighting Daesh, the group has exploited local dynamics and expanded its reach and influence in northern Iraq, he said.
“As of today, all countries who supported the operations against Daesh now support the agreement between the KRG and Iraqi government, which means they are demanding the withdrawal of the PKK (from northern Iraq),” Aydogan said.