Tensions Rise Between Kurdish and Shi’ite Forces in Iraq

'Allies' Against ISIS Find Close Quarters Unwelcome

As Iraq’s Shi’ite militias take over Sunni Arab towns north of Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) expands its domain southward, they are increasingly running up against one another, and two major allies in the war against ISIS are quickly finding themselves in another shooting war, with each other.

The latest dispute erupted in the Diyala Province, between Kurdish-held Jalawla and Shi’ite controlled Saadiya. The Kurds reportedly tried to dig a trench separating the two towns and reflecting their efforts to increase the borders of their autonomous region, and a clash erupted.

Local police reported at least five were killed as the two sides started shooting at each other, and since then both have tried to downplay what happened, while making it clear they hold the other side completely responsible to the extent anything happened at all.

This is likely to be a growing problem all along the frontier north of Baghdad, as the “liberation” of ISIS held towns leaves the Shi’ites both at odds with the Sunni Arab locals and their Kurdish neighbors, and any hope of the two sides working together against larger ISIS targets looks remote, to say the least.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.