SDF Commander condemns burning of KDP office, Kurdish flag

“Hundreds of thousands of our Kurdish people have been martyred in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to raise their flag, to liberate their land from dictatorship and terrorism and to establish peace.”
author_image Wladimir van Wilgenburg

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Mazloum Abdi, the commander-in-chief of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), on Saturday condemned the burning of the office of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Kurdistan flag in Baghdad.

“Hundreds of thousands of our Kurdish people have been martyred in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq to raise their flag, to liberate their land from dictatorship and terrorism and to establish peace,” Abdi said in a tweet in Arabic.

“The burning of flags, symbols, and headquarters is not a civilized way to express political differences. The sanctities and symbols of peoples must be protected, and those who violate the principles of coexistence must be held accountable.”

On Saturday morning, hundreds of marchers carrying flags of the PMF—an umbrella organization of mostly Iran-aligned Shia militias—stormed the office in the Karrada neighborhood of the Iraqi capital, setting fire to the building along with the Kurdistan Region’s flag while large numbers of security forces looked on.

The attack on the KDP office in Baghdad followed critical remarks made in an interview by KDP official and former Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, who said that “in order to thwart the potential closure of the US Embassy in Baghdad,” the Iraqi government should “clean” the militias from Green Zone, home to multiple foreign diplomatic missions.

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Following the incident, Zebari tweeted that the attack was carried out “under the guise of ISF [Iraqi security forces] & anti riot police of 500 strong” and said it showed “that the unruly militia are in charge and NOT [government] forces.”

Later in the day, the Iraqi government announced the arrest of 15 individuals allegedly responsible for the brazen attack earlier that day.

Read More: Iraqi PM: ‘Some’ perpetrators of attack on KDP office arrested, others ‘pursued’

Relations between the SDF and the KDP have significantly improved in the last few years.

The KDP-backed Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) and parties allied to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the two major factions among Syrian Kurdish parties, renewed negotiations in early November 2019 as a result of an initiative by Commander Abdi to resolve long-standing disputes after Turkey’s cross-border offensive in northern Syria in October 2019.

PYD is the leading component of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), SDF’s political body.

The Kurdish unity talks are also made possible due to support from KDP President Masoud Barzani and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Nechirvan Barzani.

The dominant Syrian Kurdish factions—the PYD and KNC—have not successfully cooperated as had been hoped, in part because agreements they reached in Duhok and Erbil between 2012 and 2014 were never effectively implemented.

This led to some tensions between the Erbil government and the local PYD-led administration in northeast Syria.

Editing by Khrush Najari