Yesterday at Rondpoint Schuman in front of the offices of the European External Action Service in Brussels, the Kurdish Community in Belgium held a peaceful demonstration to draw attention to their appeal to the European Union to mediate in the escalating dispute between Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). They have called on the European Union to halt the slide towards civil war and a fragmentation of the Peshmerga-Iraqi alliance that successfully defeated Isis together.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi army and the Shiite militia who are backed by Iran, the PMF (Popular Mobilisation Forces) have this morning started to bomb Peshmerga positions to the North West of Mosul. They are trying to secure control of the border between Kurdistan and Turkey, and the oil-pipeline between Iraq and Turkey that had previously been interrupted by occupying ISIS forces, and which passes through Kurdistan.
“We never thought the West would accept Iranian proxies using Western weapons against their allies in Kurdistan,” said Delavar Ajgeiy, the Head of the Kurdistan Representation in Brussels.
He expressed huge disappointment that Washington and EU may have effectively taken sides in the conflict between Kurdistan and Iraq by letting the PMF use weapons which were delivered to Baghdad for the purpose of fighting against ISIS to now be turned against the Kurdish Peshmerga forces who fought alongside the Iraqi Army to drive out ISIS.
“We urge the EU to work on a Security Council resolution to mediate between the Kurdish Regional Government and Baghdad,” said Mr Ajgeiy. “We call on the EU to break its silence, support Kurdistan and stop the aggression of the PMF against our people.”
The danger if Baghdad continues their current aggression against the Kurdistan Regional Government is that this strategy is likely to quickly explode into a violent civil war, which will destroy the prospect of any lasting peace in Iraq. The Kurdish people have suffered generations of abuse and atrocity; having fought so bravely to liberate their families and homes from ISIS, nobody should underestimate the determination of the Peshmerga to defend their positions against the Iraqi Army and the Shiite Iranian proxies of the PMF.
The danger to the European Union of allowing the dispute to spiral out of control is that civil war could trigger a huge wave of hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs), Kurds, Sunnis and Christians, who will seek refugee status in Europe. During the fighting with ISIS, all of the IDPs affected by the war were cared for by the Kurdistan Regional Government, but renewed aggression in the region will cause chaos.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) held a referendum earlier this month which saw a landslide vote in favour of independence for Kurdistan. The KRG still retain the right of self-determination and to create a homeland for the Kurdish people, but they have temporarily frozen any decision to implement the results of the referendum, and have postponed the question of independence from Iraq indefinitely, in favour of establishing a proper dialogue with Baghdad on the best way forward.
The KRG claim multiple breeches of the Iraqi Constitution by Baghdad, and are looking for a settlement, in particular in relation to budgetary issues. The KRG has called on the Iraqi Government to stop the military aggression of the Iraqi Army against Peshmerga forces, and to halt abuses by armed groups who are carrying out looting, burning and issuing threats against the Kurdish people in Kirkuk and other cities.