Kurdish Infighting Brings Violence Back to Yazidi Heartland in Iraq

Yazidis Joining Both Sides as Fighting Grows

by Jason Ditz, March 21, 2017

Initially seen as a likely one-off skirmish, the fighting between Kurdish Peshmerga auxiliaries and forces loyal to the PKK is continuing to pick of pace, with the growing skirmishes meaning a resumption of the sort of violence that the local Yazidi population had hoped was over when the Kurdish fighters initially expelled ISIS from the area.

The Yazidis are an ethnically Kurdish group of a different religion, and in embracing their “liberation” from ISIS, which is very hostile to the Yazidi population, viewing them as devil worshipers, some were eagerly joining the PKK faction that set up shop in their area.

On the other hand, the Peshmerga, which is loyal to the Kurdistan regional government, has also been recruiting the Yazidis recently, and the two sides are increasingly at odds with one another, with Yazidi territory serving as the frontlines in this growing conflict.

The PKK is a Turkey-based faction, and they have significant forces in Iraq as a consequence of a since-cancelled ceasefire with the Erdogan government. The PYD, the Syrian Kurdish faction, is also seen as close to the PKK, and has been fighting against Peshmerga-affiliated groups in Syria recently, suggesting this divide in Kurdistan could expand into several countries.

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