Kurdish parties divided on fighting ISIS
18.06.2014 – Hemin Salih – BasNews, Erbil – The current conflict that has engulfed Iraq sheds further light on the divide between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). While the leading KDP believes that the Kurdish enclave should remain neutral and protect only its territories, including the disputed areas, the PUK claims that the Kurdish region should provide the Iraqi army with military support.

BasNews has been informed that Iranian Agha Sobhani met the Chief of the Executive Body of Polit Bureau of PUK Mullah Bakhtiar. Following the meeting Bakhtiar published an article in a local Kurdish newspaper in which he wrote: “in fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS), Kurds shouldn’t just defend, they should participate in the fight”.
“What we can do now is only protect the Kurdistan Region. The US, Iran and Iraq will hit ISIS and the Ba’athists, the Kurdistan’s excuse for only defending the region will appear weak. For this reason Kurds should have policies that allow them to deal with Baghdad, US and neighbors. Kurds should consider that a federal Iraq must survived this plan by ISIS and Ba’athists and Kurds should participate in it,” said Bakhtiar.
Member of PUK Leadership Council Mustafa Chawrash told BasNews: “We are part of Iraq, and we should not stay there and not help them in this situation. In Iraq, we have Kurdish ministers and MPs and we will do whatever we can to stay in Iraq.”
Chawrash expressed his concern at the Iraqi army’s inefficiency and believes that the army that used to pose a threat to the Kurdistan Region has been weakened and divided.“Despite our complaints, we won’t stand against Iraq… we are standing against ISIS terrorists. We will do whatever we can to help the Iraqi army destroy these radical groups,” said Chawrash.
In contrast, member of KDP Leadership Council Ali Awni told BasNews that high Shiite marja Ayatollah Sistani has called for Jihad and that this is a conflict between Sunni and Shia.  “Our case is different, it is an ethnic case. Therefore, it is better to not be part of this fight in order not to lose our case,” said Awni. Awni noted that while other party’s may pull them into the fight, he believes that the Kurdish government’s duty is to protect the region, including the disputed areas. “What is seen is a political issue rather than a military one, but it seems that the situation becomes worse by the day. For this reason it is better for Kurds to protect their border and remain united,” added Awni.