Tensions Rise Between Iraqi, Syrian-Kurdish Parties

Following the arrest of Kurds “illegally” crossing the border into Syria, tensions between Syrian Kurds and the government in Erbil have grown.

al-monitor Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani (C) speaks in a meeting with Kurdish envoys abroad as then Prime Minister Barham Salih (R) of Iraq's Kurdistan region looks on in Arbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad, Sept. 6, 2011. Photo by REUTERS/Azad Lashkari.

Topics covered

syrian, massoud barzani, kurdistan, erbil

May 23, 2013

Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani launched a violent attack against the Kurdish-Syrian Democratic Union Party, following accusations that it had arrested 74 armed men while they were crossing the border of the region to the Syrian side.

Meanwhile, security sources responsible for the arrests said that the armed men had received military training and crossed the border “illegally.” Yet, they were later released to avoid “strife.”

The Syrian-Kurdish forces had failed during intensive meetings held in Erbil last April following a call from Barzani to reach consensus to draft an accord and set a common mechanism to govern the Kurdish regions that are outside of the Syrian regime’s control. The Progressive Democratic Party, led by Abdul Hamid Darwish, boycotted the meeting, while five members from the pro-Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) People’s Council of western Kurdistan excused themselves from attending. They constitute half of the number of members of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, which includes five other members from the pro-Barzani Kurdish National Council.

The region’s presidency declared in a report yesterday [May 21] that “Barzani maintains equal distance from all parties. However, it seems that a certain party (the Democratic Union Party) is trying, day after day, through suspicious deals, to arm its members and stray from the Erbil agreement. Moreover, that same party is marginalizing the other parties and has even reached the point of killing, arresting and kidnapping others and underestimating their views.

“No party has the right to monopolize the decision before conducting free elections. The Kurdish Supreme Committee is the sole representative of the people, and we will not let our support be exploited and used as a bridge to strengthen one party at the expense of the other.”

Barzani warned that “he would be forced to reconsider his previous positions and take the appropriate decision, if the Erbil agreement was not fully implemented.”

Reports had indicated that armed forces affiliated with the Democratic Union Party — the Syrian wing of the PKK — arrested on Monday evening [May 20] 74 armed followers of the Syrian-Kurdish Democratic Party that is close to Barzani after they entered the Kurdish areas of Syria, coming from the Kurdistan region. It was later announced that the Habur border crossing was closed.

“The general administration of the security forces in western Kurdistan,” on the Syrian side, said in a statement on May 21: “After we carried out investigations based on the applicable laws we have come to conclude that the members of these groups have received military training, crossed the border illegally and entered western Kurdistan without the Supreme Kurdish Authority’s permission and without the knowledge of the specialized military body.”

It indicated that “during this sensitive stage, in order to prevent any sedition that some quarters are seeking to spark and to promote national unity, we have released all those arrested after carrying out the necessary investigations.” The statement concluded that “the security forces will remain at the service of citizens and will keep working to maintain security in the region without allowing any party whatsoever to form armed groups in western Kurdistan unless they refer to the Supreme Kurdish Authority, the legitimate representative of the Kurdish people.”

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