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Anti-war protesters urge Iraqi Kurdistan's ruling party to avoid a deadly intra-Kurdish conflict

ANTI-WAR protests continued across Iraqi Kurdistan today as all opposition forces urged the main ruling party to stop its provocations and avoid a deadly intra-Kurdish conflict.

A long march to Gare, in Duhok province close to the Turkish border, was announced by Kurdish youth groups. 

Organised under the slogan “Yes to national unity, no to war,” the march will leave the town of Teqteq at noon on Friday and make its way to the mountainous region where tensions are rising.

KDP peshmerga forces have been deployed to Gare to confront Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerilla fighters who are based there.

The KDP has been warned against pursuing its “policy of aggression” in the region, with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the Gorran Movement and all other opposition groups calling for peace and unity.

KDP leader Masoud Barzani has been accused with collusion with Turkey, which has launched air strikes in Qandil, Bardost and Shengal in recent days, claiming that it is targeting PKK positions.

PKK guerilla fighter and activist Heval V said that Turkey is engaged in war in a number of countries and claimed it is using the KDP to do its “dirty work” in Iraqi Kurdistan.

But the party — the region’s largest — and Ankara are not operating alone, Heval V continued. “Behind the KDP and Turkey lies US imperialism. It is an imperialist war,” she said.

She accused Turkey of wanting to “complete the genocide of the Kurds” and called its President Recep Tayyip Erdohgan “a threat not just to the Middle East but the whole world.”

She also said the US hoped to crush the PKK because of its hostility to its socialist ideology as practised in the northern Syrian enclave of Rojava, though the Syrian Democratic Forces based there have often co-operated with the US military, and signed an oil deal with US firm Delta Crescent Energy in the summer that the Syrian government called “theft from the Syrian people.”

The mobilisation of the KDP-affiliated peshmerga forces, which also have a history of co-operation with the US including during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to the Gare mountains increases the risk of an armed confrontation with the PKK.

“The reason they want to take control of the Gare region is obvious. It is rich in oil,” Heval V explained. “But to extract it, they need to cut down thousands of trees and create damage to the environment. Our movement is opposed to that.”

She stressed the importance of international popular solidarity to defeat imperialist war, adding: “We don’t want the support of the British government. We want the support of the British people.”

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