On 5 June, Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces attempted to cross the Metina mountain range, lying within the borders of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Five peshmergas lost their lives and four were wounded in the deadly incident which marked the most serious escalation of conflict between the the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) since 2020.
Shortly afterwards, Iraqi Kurdistan authorities described the attacks as a PKK ambush. The People’s Defence Forces (HPG), an armed wing of the PKK, however, stated that their own forces had not carried out the attack and called for an inquiry by an independent body.
Criticising attempts by peshmerga forces to encircle areas under the PKK’s control to further limit their ability to move, the PKK has been accusing the KDP of cooperating with Turkey.
Kurdish lawyers from the Koya district of Iraqi Kurdistan shared their concerns regarding the tensions that exist between the Kurdish forces with Roj News.
“We condemn the fratricidal war: it would take Kurdistan to the old days and ressurect painful experiences. That is why each of us and civil society organisations need to say ‘stop’ to anyone who gives any reason to legitimise the war between Kurds,” said lawyer Rêbîn Şêx Îsmaîl.
“No honourable Kurd should wash their hands with the blood of fellow Kurds. People who prefer to do as such will go down in history and their grandchildren will never cherish them.”
Lawyer Kakexan Hamid Şewgêrî highlighted the collective benefits of the Kurdish people who live within the borders of different countries, who share the same national benefits in terms of their Kurdish identity.
“No intra-Kurdish conflict would serve to benefit the Kurds, but they would serve to the enemy. So, the Kurdistan Regional Parliament must legislate against an intra-Kurdish war and should ban any war against any Kurdish entity,” he said.
Derya Mehemed, a lawyer and also a grad student at Koya University, shared his view that Kurdish parties and organisations should come together to share views and ideas, suggesting a national congress.
“There is an urgent need for a national conference or congress. All Kurdish forces should join in such an event and develop a joint plan for the interests of our people. Third parties should also contribute to such efforts to end the conflict between Kurdish forces,” he said.
Turkey has continued with its latest military operation since late April, targeting PKK zones in Iraqi Kurdistan, but also reportedly hitting civilian areas other than the PKK targets.
The political position of the KDP has been widely criticized by other Kurdish parties and international peace activists (who organised their efforts under the Defend Kurdistan Initiative) for its continuing silence in the face of Turkey’s assault, even after Turkey’s Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu stated that Turkish forces would establish a base in Metina.
The conflict in 2020 was centered in Zini Werte with the deployment of military forces affiliated with the KDP to Zini Werte and continued with the deployment of KDP forces to other regions of Iraqi Kurdistan where PKK forces had been based since 1981.