Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) fighters reportedly attacked Kurdish peshmerga soldiers in Iraq on Wednesday. The incident took place at a time of both tensions and reconciliation between Kurdish parties in the region.
The PKK attacked peshmerga forces in Dahuk province in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. One soldier died while two were injured, the Erbil-based news outlet Rudaw reported. Dahuk is a stronghold of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and peshmerga forces in the area are associated with the party. The attack involved “gunfire” and took place in the Chamanke region, according to the outlet.
The PKK-affilated Roj News outlet reported that KDP peshmerga forces tried to enter a PKK base in Bebadi village, after which the PKK detonated two mines. The peshmerga were warned about entering before, according to Roj News.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which governs the autonomous part of northern Iraq, condemned the attack and attributed it to the PKK.
“Peshmerga forces have a mandate to protect the constitutional and federal status of the Kurdistan Region,” read a KRG statement. “Any attack on Peshmerga forces constitutes an attack on the Kurdistan Region, its institutions and its people.”
The KDP and the PKK have had a difficult relationship for years. The KDP has a more traditional support base, while the PKK espouses a left-wing ideology. The two groups fought each other in the Kurdish civil war in the 1990s. The PKK fights for greater Kurdish rights in Turkey, but now bases itself in the mountainous area between the Kurdistan Region and Turkey.
The KRG, in which the KDP is the largest party, opposes the PKK’s presence there. The KDP condemns Turkish attacks on the PKK in their territory, but also has an oil- and economic-based relationship with Ankara.
The second-largest party in the KRG, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), has better relations with the PKK.
Most recently, the KDP, PUK and PKK had a territorial disagreement in April over Zini Werte, where all their territories converge.
On the other hand, affiliated Kurdish parties are currently trying to work out longstanding differences in neighboring Syria. The Kurdish National Council (KNC) has held talks this year with the leading Kurdish party in Syria, which is the Democratic Union Party (PYD). The KNC is supported by the KDP, while the PYD is close ideologically to the PKK.
Wednesday’s incident may harm relations between the KDP and the PKK, despite the reconciliation efforts in Syria. The pro-PYD outlet Hawar news agency described the KRG’s response to the attack as “hostile statements that came as a declaration of war against the Kurdish Liberation Movement.”
Hawar added that the KRG’s statement “paved the way for igniting an infighting among the Kurds.”