The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Movement (Gorran), the two parties having their political influence mainly focused on Sulaymaniyah province, are worried about the increasing maneuvers by the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the area.
The presence of the PKK fighters, almost in every corner of the Kurdistan Region and Syrian Kurdistan, has proven to be the reason for growing Turkish military incursions or cross-border operations which, before everything else, jeopardizes the stability of the areas in question.
Turkey has recently stepped up the airstrikes in the mountainous areas of Sulaymaniyah to target the PKK positions. In an almost unprecedented move, Turkish drones recently dropped bombs on an open area near Penjwen, close to the border of Iran. Turkey later claimed it had targeted the PKK fighters roaming around in the area.
PKK’s Political Interference
Aldar Xelil, a leading member of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is known as the Syrian offspring of the PKK, said in a recent statement that the political disputes in PUK’s leadership was “a Turkish conspiracy”. The statement led to a backlash from the PUK, whose politburo responded to call the remarks unfair and untrue which could constitute “interference” in the internal affairs of the political parties in the Kurdistan Region.
“Such condemned and untrue statements would not push us forward or leave us behind. Aldar Xelil and the PYD should step up the efforts to overcome the challenges faced by our nation and the Kurdish areas in Syria,” a member of the PUK Politburo said in an official statement.
Before July 8, when Lahur Jangi, a suspended co-leader of the PUK, was still in power, the PKK was enjoying a great influence in Sulaymaniyah. However, after Jangi was put aside by Bafel Tallabani, the other co-leader of the PUK, for poisoning and assassination attempts, the PKK seems to have a lower chance to maneuver in the province.
It is almost obvious that the PUK is reconsidering its relations with the PKK while the second influential party in Sulaymaniyah, the Change Movement, is also concerned with PKK’s actions which continue to put the region’s stability at risk.
PKK Steps Up Movements in Sulaymaniyah
Despite the apparent PUK’s changing position on the question of PKK’s presence in Sulaymaniyah, the latter continues to ramp up movements in the province. They have reportedly increased their military presence in Sharbajer, Penjwen, Pishdar and other areas in Qandil region. Several recent reports indicated villagers’ objection to the PKK’s policies in these areas, where the guerrillas impose illegal taxes on the residents. The PKK also has several affiliated media organizations currently active in Sulaymaniyah.
Mala Shekha, a leading member of the PUK, told BasNews that the PKK is required to respect the Kurdistan Regional Government’s institutions inside the Kurdistan Region. “We do not understand what policies they are following. After all, interferences are not acceptable,” he explained.
The official also confirmed that PKK’s commanders frequently visit civilian-populated areas in Sulaymaniyah even though they are not welcome due to the fact that they put civilian lives at risk.
Gorran is Concerned Too
Gorran, as the second largest and most influential party in Sulaymaniyah, is also worried about PKK’s movements across the province.
Abdullah Ahmed, a member of Gorran’s General Assembly, believes the PKK is consolidating its position not only in Sulaymaniyah, but also in Halabja. “They do not respect the administrations in Sulaymaniyah. They actually do not respect anyone,” he said.
Last year when a Turkish airstrike killed two PKK commanders on Mount Azmar, just outside Sulaymaniyah, the party accused the PUK of collaboration with Turkey by spying on the PKK commanders in the region.
“PKK Should Reconsider Its Policies”
Abdul Aziz Hassan, a senior member of the PUK and advisor to the Iraqi Parliament, told BasNews that the PKK is required to rethink its policies in the Kurdistan Region which is a unique achievement for the Kurds everywhere around the world.
“Kurdistan is a stable region. The PKK should alter its policies and respect the stability in Sulaymaniyah. It should not give the neighboring countries an excuse to attack the Kurdistan Region,” Hassan said.