Kurdpa: Kurdistan Workers Party, PKK guerilla fighters, attack teams of PDKI Peshmargas in Eastern Kurdistan mountainous areas.
On Friday, PDKI leadership informed the media of the siege of a team of their Peshmargas in the hands of PKK fighters.
Mohammad Saleh Qadiri, Head of the PDKI’s Erbil office, told Rudaw that they have contacted the PKK leadership to resolve the matter peacefully, but PKK is not willing to hold any dialogue as far as this issue concerned.
“Our Peshmerga have not initiated any conflict [with the PKK], and we are working hard on solving this issue peacefully. We are against fellow Kurds killing each other. However, we will not allow anyone to dictate where and how we operate [against Iran]”,Qaderi said.
Following their failed attempts to reach a solution, PDKI politburo issued a public statement to bring attention to the plight of its trapped Peshmargas. “We [PDKI] attempted on numerous occasions to solve the issue with PKK through dialogue, however, the PKK has responded with threats and ultimatums,”said PDKI’s deputy party leader, Hassan Sharafi, about the stand-off.
Sharafi also emphasized that PDKI will not allow any organisation to dictate where the PDKI should have their operating bases, and that PDKI will not withdraw from their bases inside Eastern Kurdistan.
Despite many calls for each side to stand their ground, on the morning of May 24, PKK fighters initiated an armed attack on PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces, leading to the death of one PDKI Peshmerga and injury of three others.
Initially PKK denied any such encounter, but as the story of the clashes echoed throughout various media outlets, PKK was quick to respond that they had been attacked first: “They refused to listen to the warnings of the guerrillas to not to come closer, whereupon a team of guerrillas opened a warning fire on them in order not to be captured. In a clash that erupted afterwards and lasted 3-4 minutes, a Peshmerga fighter lost his life and one other was wounded”, read the PKK statement.
PDKI commanders on the ground told the media that their Peshmerga Forces have broken PKK’s siege of the Peshmerga operating base and apprehended several PKK fighters. After speaking to the PKK fighters, PDKI’s Peshmerga commander ordered the release of the PKK fighters in good faith and gave them back their weapons, instructing them to tell their leaders that “PDKI does not engage in war with fellow Kurds”.
PDKI’s Head of Foreign Relations, Loghamn Ahmedi, refuted such claims by PKK, speaking to his Party’s official website and stated “…a couple of days ago a large PKK force besieged one of our operating bases and did not allow our Peshmergas to move freely. Our party made every effort possible to reach a peaceful solution to the situation but the PKK either did not reply to our requests or issued new threats.
Our party avoided to publicly discuss the situation until we felt that an attack was imminent. Unfortunately, yesterday morning, PKK fighters attacked one of our Peshmerga platoons”.
Many Eastern Kurdistan political parties were quick to condemn PKK’s unwarranted attack on PDKI forces. Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan issued a statement condemning PKK’s attack on PDKI Peshmargas and offered solidarity and support with PDKI, “We deem necessary to remind all sides that the right to engage in struggle in Eastern Kurdistan territory is the undeniable rights of Eastern Kurdistan parties”, the statement read.
“For years, we have warned PKK’s irresponsible interference in the affairs of other parts of Kurdistan, especially Eastern Kurdistan”, the Komala statement continued.
On Monday, Southern Kurdistan Regional (KRG) officials were quick to react to the clashes. Kurdistan Parliament issued a public statement “We seriously warn both Kurdish parties to avoid the use of violence and the gun in settling their political problems,” the statement read.
KRG also formed a delegation to talk to both sides. The delegation first visited PDKI headquarters where a press conference was held after the meeting, and the delegation headed to the PKK headquarters in Qandil.
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) deputy leader, Kosrat Rasul discussed the matter in length over the phone with his counterpart in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Nechirwan Barzani. KRG’s President, Masoud Barzani also issued a statement warning all sides to refrain from violence to settle scores inside Iraqi Kurdistan territory.
The brief gunfire between the two sides ended with one PDKI Peshmarga dead and several injured. PDKI, however, claimed that the siege of their teams ended and they even captured several PKK fighters, which they later released. However, they have made it clear that they will not withdraw their Peshmerga forces and they will defend themselves in the case of any hostile action.
A KRG delegation is also set to receive both PKK and PDKI delegation on Tuesday to resolve their differences.
PKK considers the borders areas as the defence territories for its forces, and will not allow any political parties to cross the borders under its control without its permission.
PDKI claims that they have had their bases in those areas way before PKK moved in, and do not recognize PKK’s claim to the territories, especially those in Eastern Kurdistan.
PDKI leaders also suspect that such obstruction of Peshmarga movement is done in coordination and on behalf of Iranian government to secure the border against any incursion from the Iranian Kurdish political parties.
Writing by Kurdpa Staff Writers and editing by Sharmin Hassaniani