Haider al-Abadi, Iraq’s prime Minister, has demanded that the PKK militant’s within Kurdistan’s borders cease and desist all attacks against Turkey. He made it clear that the constitution of Iraq forbids a group or collective from threatening another country’s national security, especially from within Iraq. He also insisted that the Turkish military had not entered or crossed Iraq’s northern border, saying that the reports were “completely false” and that the Iraqi military has verified this. He also recognized that the PKK, who had previously resided within Sinjar, had indeed exfiltrated from the area upon request.
Iraqi law makes it very clear that no group may operate in armed conflict outside of the Iraqi military forces, especially those who are not of Iraqi nationality. The Prime Minister noted that the PKK has resided within Iraq’s territory for some time but that it was likely they had come from outside the country. He said, “If they are refugees in Iraq, then there is no problem since it is humanitarian, but we do not allow them to have arms in Iraq.” The PKK has previously employed armed elements throughout Kurdistan and played a role in battling of the Islamic State.
Despite Abadi’s claims, multiple Kurdistan Regional Government officials and residents have confirmed Turkish forces have begun occupying border towns and mountain outposts over the past week. Turkey has given Iraq the ultimatum, remove the PKK terrorist organization or the Turkish military would do it for them. Kurdish authorities claim that the Turkish military have infringed upon Kurdistan’s border by nearly 20 kilometers, to date.
Abadi has denied this saying, “Not only it is not true that they have crossed the border, but also that there is not even any military mobilization.” While Iraq has sworn to uphold its constitutional stance towards armed groups operating within its borders, it has also demanded that Turkey hold reverence over its national sovereignty as well. Prime Minister Abadi made it clear that while Iraq respects the right of its citizens to follow and live by the PKK’s ideology, that does not allow them to bear arms or brandish the PKK flag. The Prime Minister stressed that, “Iraq does not have any interest in endangering its relations with Turkey.” There was for a time an agreement between the previous Iraqi regime and the Ankara government that allowed Turkish troops to operate in Iraq’s border region but Abadi made it clear that this agreement was no longer “valid”.
Featured Image Courtesy of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Flickr: Counter-ISIL Coalition Small Group Meeting) [CC BY 2.0 or OGL], via Wikimedia Commons