Iraq: Conflict over Kurdish independence escalates

Iraq: Conflict over Kurdish independence escalates

23.10.2017

Last week, the conflict over the independence aspirations of the Kurdish part of the country has escalated massively. On Friday morning, units of the Iraqi Army and Shiite militias started an attack on the town of Pirde (Altin Kopru) on the border between Erbil and Kirkuk provinces, leading to heavy clashes with locally deployed Peshmerga units. Simultaneously, members of the Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi militia advanced into border regions of the Kurdish Regional Government and took up positions in the provinces of Kirkuk, Diyala and Nineveh. Currently, Iraqi and Kurdish forces claim to be in control of Pirde, which is strategically located between Kirkuk and Erbil. The Iraqi Army has repeatedyl pointed out that it has been authorized to advance to the border between Kirkuk and Erbil province and that it has never been planned to seize Erbil. According to the Kurdish Regional Government more than 150.000 people have been displaced during the recent clashes, a claim that has been disputed by the UN.

The Kurdish leadership has proposed unconditional negotiations while Bagdad has announced that it will only enter into talks when certain preconditions are met. The KRG has to respect the territorial integrity of Iraq, hand over airports and border crossings, place the Peshmerga under the command of the Iraqi Army and refrain from all acts that are unconstitutional.