ERBIL, Iraq—Tensions are rising in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where officials in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) are speaking out against the long-accommodated but increasingly unwelcome Kurdistan Workers’ Party, better known as the PKK. The intensified rhetoric—complemented by a new security agreement between authorities in Erbil and Baghdad that takes a decidedly anti-PKK stance—seems to be part of a coordinated effort to pressure the group to leave its historic hideouts in the mountains of northern Iraq.
The Oct. 8 assassination of a Kurdish border official—which the KRG’s security forces said was perpetrated by the PKK—and attacks on a key pipeline and Peshmerga soldiers in early November have brought to the fore the long-simmering tensions between the KRG and PKK. The latter group is making it known that it has no intention of leaving Iraq peacefully.
In Western discourse, “the Kurds” are too often referred to as a monolithic ethnic group with shared aims, glossing over very palpable historical, geographical, and ideological divides between various Kurdish political parties and factions. Belligerent activities by Kurdish-led armed groups have eroded stability both at the local and regional levels in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria. Unfortunately, these attacks receive only scant attention, even when those most severely affected are Kurdish.