Kurds Resist Iranian Pressure to Step Up Fight against Militants


By Nawzad Mahmoud – RUDAW – 10-7-2014 – SULAIMANI, Kurdistan Region – An Iranian delegation is in Erbil to press Iraq’s Kurds to mobilize forces in the war against Islamic State (IS) jihadis fighting the Shiite government in Baghdad, sources told Rudaw.

The Iranians have met with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Tehran’s latest effort to convince Erbil, said sources who added that the Iranians have been making concerted efforts to achieve their aim. 

The Iranian envoys also reportedly met with Sunni representatives in Erbil, who asked that forces not be sent in to fight the jihadi-led insurgents from Shiite regions controlled by the government. While other Kurdish parties have cautioned that the Kurds should stay out of a war that has turned into a Sunni uprising against the Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Iranian-backed PUK has not explicitly backed that call.

Saadi Ahmed Pira, member of the PUK leadership, suggested that the IS “terrorists” should be stopped. “It is a humane and a patriotic task to confront them,” he said. 

“It is true that Iran wants the Kurds to fight IS, but that is not a good idea,” said Arif Tayfur, a member of the KDP leadership and deputy speaker of the Iraqi parliament. “Although Iran has influence in the area, they want the Kurds to do the fighting,” he said.

Tayfur said he does not know the PUK position. “But the PUK should have the same position as KDP because the Kurds have not benefited from Maliki,” he said. “It would be a mistake for Kurds to become a part of the conflict in Iraq and wage attacks. The Kurds should only defend the areas under their control.”  With Iraq sliding into deeper turmoil, the Kurds have moved their own Peshmerga forces into Kurdish-populated areas outside their official borders, including the immensely oil-rich city of Kirkuk. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has declared it is only defending against IS attacks and is not going on the offensive.

Meanwhile, a Kurdish official revealed that Hadi Ameri, one of Maliki’s assistants, had met the PUK in Diyala province, asking for support in the fight against IS. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the KDP had refused to meet with the envoy.

The PUK and KDP each has its own Peshmerga army.

Tayfur explained that IS is not the only force involved in the fighting against Baghdad:  “Baathists, al-Qaeda members and the disgruntled tribes are part of the conflict. The Kurds should be patient and see whether these groups will remain or fade away”

The two main Islamic parties in Kurdistan, Islamic Union of Kurdistan (Yekgirtu) and Islamic Group of Kurdistan (Komal), also agree with the KDP in warning Kurds to stay out of the fighting.

“The war does not have anything to do with the Kurds. We should be ready for all possible scenarios, avoid becoming part of the conflict and preserve our unity,” said Abubakir Haladini, a member of Yekgirtu’s leadership.   “Our job is to be united,” said Marwan Galali, a member of Komal’s leadership. “The Kurds should not be part of the conflict until the end. Commenting on Iranian pressure, he said: “We are facing a very tough situation. The best way is not to give in to the demands of foreign countries.” Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani is expected to meet with all Kurdish political parties to unify the Kurdish stance over the war. http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/10072014