Growing Infighting Among Kurdish Factions in Iraq, Syria

Kurdish Union Party Has Office Burned in Qamishli

by Jason Ditz, March 15, 2017

As Iraq and Syria both undergo years of bloody internal warfare, Kurdish forces have long been eager to show internal solidarity, with differences of opinion rarely publicized, let alone leading to fights. This is increasingly changing, however.

Locals in the northeastern Syrian city of Qamishli reported that the Kurdish Union Party’s office was set on fire by a group of armed men. There was no claim of responsibility, but the party claimed the gunmen were linked to the PYD, which is the ruling political faction in Syrian Kurdistan, adding that they ransacked the office before burning it down.

The Kurdish Union Party is part of a coalition of smaller Kurdsih politcal parties backed by Masoud Barzani, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan. Though the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government has been the bastion of stability in Iraq for years, there are problems there too.

Earlier this month, fighters from the Peshmerga Rojava, an auxiliary of the KRG’s Peshmerga recruited from pro-Barzani factions in Syria, got into a fight near Sinjar with a local PKK faction. This raised tension between Barzani’s government and the PKK.

And while the group’s are officially distinct, as the PKK goes, in most cases, so goes the PYD, leading the PYD to arrest pro-Barzani figures in Syria, while the Iraqi KRG has been arresting local PKK supporters for participating in protests against the Barzani government.

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