Band of Kurdish Fighters Receive Cold Iraqi Welcome

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A female Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighter works on her laptop after arriving in the northern Iraqi city of Dohuk on 14 May 2013, after leaving Turkey as part of a peace drive with Ankara. (Photo: AFP -Safin Hamed)

By: Ahmad al-Moussawi

Published Thursday, May 16, 2013

The first batch of fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have crossed into Iraqi territory. The Iraqi government was quick to reject the move, which it considers a violation of its sovereignty, threatening to take up the issue with the UN Security Council.

Baghdad – On Tuesday, May 14, the Iraqi government issued a statement denouncing the entry of PKK fighters into the country. It read, “While the Iraqi government affirms its support for peaceful resolutions to all problems in the region, it refuses for this to take place at the expense of Iraq and its sovereignty.”

The PKK fighters had begun their withdrawal from Turkey last Wednesday in a move aimed at ending a conflict that has lasted nearly three decades, and killed more than 45,000 people. The withdrawal from Turkey is part of the second phase of the peace agreement reached between Ankara and PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in March.

The militants headed to Hurur, located in the province of Dohuk, which is controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Here they were received by PKK fighters stationed in the remote highlands of northern Iraq.

As for the move’s impact on relations between Ankara and Baghdad, the Iraqi government statement asserted that it “causes severe damage to neighborly relations between the two countries and their common interests.”

After convening on Tuesday, the cabinet instructed the foreign ministry to inform the Turkish side of Iraq’s objection to the entry of armed individuals. The cabinet also warned that Iraq would file a complaint with the UN Security Council.

Rafi Abdul-Jabbar, member of the Foreign Relations Committee in the Iraqi parliament, downplayed the government’s Security Council threats. He told Al-Akhbar, “The Security Council will not take any action in the direction desired by Iraq, and will instead back the agreement [with the PKK].”

For its part, the KRG denied it had any say in the agreement, though KRG President Massoud Barzani had reportedly been involved in mediation between Ankara and Öcalan. It is worth recalling that Turkey has major economic interests in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to being the only gateway for KRG oil exports.

Muhsin al-Sadoun, a leader in the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), told Al-Akhbar that the KRG was in favor of ending the armed conflict between the PKK and Turkey, and would “naturally support any peaceful settlement to this end.” Nevertheless, Sadoun denied Barzani had any role in the agreement.

The PUK leader pointed out that the KRG did not receive the group that arrived on Tuesday, and did not arrange any legal formalities for their residence in Iraqi territory.

The leader of the newly-arrived PKK group, a man who identified himself as Jaker, said, “We are the first group to arrive in the protected zone. We came from the region of Butan in Turkey, after spending seven days on the road. We withdrew following instructions from the leader Öcalan, and to open the door to peace.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Kodl: you must not read news at all. The PKK are/were Stalinists/Marxists and the US and EU have them on the terrorist list, which would make them enemies, not friends and allies. Plus the PKK is still upset that Mossad (stupidly) helped Turkey capture Ocalan, so they do not need/want so much help from Israel. Moreover, you are insinuating that groups supported by anti-American and anti-Israeli forces are not a TOOL of Iran and Syria (cough cough) Hezbullah....don't worry, the PKK is not coming for you really. Or me.

I guess they are happy with what they've achieved so far. yet they have a lot to do to awake the folks to the greatest need for long overdue for radical change in the East.
never forget it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle than for the rich and highbinders to enter heaven.

And do not obey - you must have your say - You can past the test - keep on pushing - take nothing less - not even second best - move on up!

Your e-mail confirms PKK is a tool of US and Israel, to be used against local powers as necessary. Well, the tool may just have been blunted.

Biji Kurdistan. Biji Israil. Biji America. The PKK should be allowed to become a political party and influence Kurdish politics, but not at the expense of others nor at the expense of democracy and freedom. The PKK is moving in a progressive manner; Arabs and Persians should take heed. This is the century for Kurds, and Kurdistan (all parts).

Thanks for confirming PKK is the tool of imperialists, US and Israel, to be used, traded and dropped as necessary. But this card may no longer be yours. Relax.

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