Nechirvan Barzani at the AUK conference / Twitter
Journalist Amberin Zaman has spoken to the Kurdistan Regional Government's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani for Al-Monitor.
Speaking about developments in the Mosul operation, the drive for independence from Baghdad and the situation in Sinjar (Shengal), Barzani said they could resort to military force to push the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from the Yazidi homeland.
Barzani said, "We are in continuous talks with Baghdad. So far they haven’t taken any serious steps to help [with the withdrawal of the PKK], and I personally cannot confirm that they cut the YBS’ [Sinjar Resistance Units] salaries even though they told us that they had. If matters come to a head and Ankara [Turkey] and Baghdad and other players get drawn in, we too, as the KRG, are players and hold certain cards in our hands. Having said that, I don’t think it would be in anybody’s interest to reach that point."
In response to this Zaman asked: "Are you suggesting that you might resort to military force in order push the PKK out of Sinjar?" With Barzani responding, "Yes, I am."
The KRG Prime Minister also said they could play a role in a return to negotiations between the Turkish state and Kurdish Movement but that the PKK needed to declare an indefinite ceasefire for this.
The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), the umbrella organisation of the Kurdish Movement, said similar comments made by Barzani during a presentation at the “The Future Independence of Kurdistan: Challenges and Opportunities,” conference in Duhok, "did not benefit the Kurds struggle for freedom."
The KCK recently made a call for a national Kurdish congress to decide on the Kurds' strategic position in the region. Kurdish political parties, especially the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by Masoud Barzani, are at loggerheads with other parties over the future of Kurdish aspirations.
The KDP Peshmerga fled Sinjar in 2014 with the Islamic State group's onslaught on the Yazidis' historic homeland. Hundreds of thousands were displaced and killed and more than 10,000 women and young girls were kidnapped by the jihadist group.
The PKK has helped form several Yazidi self-defence militias, including an all-women's unit, after it entered the area to counter the ISIS offensive. It is thought the KDP is under Turkish and US pressure to push the PKK and affiliated groups out of Sinjar.
Source: Al-Monitor, ANF
- Kurdish Question
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