Kurdish Political Parties Ready to Defend Territories if Necessary

28/11/2012 RUDAW  By NAWZAD MAHMOOD – SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish political parties say that they are ready to fight and defend Kurdistan’s territories should a conflict erupt between the Iraqi Army and the Peshmerga.

The parties that met on Nov. 23 in Erbil confirmed their united stance with Kurdistan’s president on the Dijla Operations Command (DOC) being in the disputed regions. In the case of a military conflict, the parties agreed that they would not remain silent. Even the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), which has been an unarmed party since its foundation, wholeheartedly expressed its readiness to fight. Relations between Kurdistan and Baghdad are at a complicated stage, which some observers believe is closer to conflict than settlement. Officials on both sides are talking about deescalating the crisis, but sending more forces to the disputed regions at the same time.

Muhammad Ahmed, a KIU political bureau member, said, “Defending the achievements, security, peace and territories of Kurdistan is a national and religious obligation. All the parties and all the Kurds need to defend Kurdistan.”

He added, “If a war breaks out, then it will happen to all of us and we have to be united.” Jalal Jawhar, a leader of the Change Movement (Gorran), said that their party is anti-war and a civil political group. He advised Iraqi citizens to take war out of their minds because “we have suffered the most in wars, especially the Kurds and the Shia.”

Jawhar told Rudaw that war is for armed groups and armies, and Gorran is neither of these. “But if the situation escalates to the level of occupation of our country, then we are ready with our bodies and properties and will be there before the two ruling parties,” he said.

Muhammad Haji Mahmud, a political bureau executive official of the Democratic Socialist Party of Kurdistan (PDSK), demonstrated his reaction to the actions of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and Iraqi army officials by sending large numbers of armed Peshmergas to Kirkuk.

Mahmud recalled that the secretary of his party was wounded during the liberation of Kirkuk in 1991, and that if war breaks out again “we are totally ready and have more than 100 vehicles of armed, loyal Peshmergas ready to take part in the war.” He explained that many of his party members are among the Peshmerga forces and many others guard party bases. “All the supporters and members of our party are ready to fight and defend Kurdistan,” Mahmoud said. b”We are proudly ready to fight and defend the disputed areas,” said Bilal Sulaiman, leadership member of the Kurdistan Islamic Group (Komal).

Sulaiman said that defending land and country was a national and religious duty. “In addition to the guards of Komal and its bases, we have hundreds of other members and supporters,” he said. Komal was an armed party until 2002. After the bombardment of their base by the allied forces and the arrest of their leader, Ali Bapir, they announced that they were disarming and would continue on as a political party. Six hundred of their armed members were retired, but Sulaiman said that these Peshmergas have experience and skills. “They are at home now and can receive arms and take part. We are fully ready,” he said.