Sulaimani security gives ultimatum to party with alleged PKK ties
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Security forces in the Kurdistan Region's city of Sulaimani on Monday surrounded an office belonging a political group alleged to have close ties to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and gave those inside a 24-hour deadline to leave the premises.
According to local media, Asayish force members hinted they might storm the office of the Freedom Movement of Kurdistan Society, also known as Tavgari Azadi (TA), if they failed to comply with the order.
“We refuse to evacuate our headquarters in the Sulaimani area,” party co-chair Tara Hussein told Kurdistan 24. “We are not a part of any international force."
TA co-chair Mohammed Abdullah then claimed that the security decision had come from deputy prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), Qubad Talabani.
The TA was established in 2014 by leading members of the then-dissolved Kurdistan Democratic Solution Party (PÇDK), a political party under the umbrella organization of Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) and considered by many to be the Kurdistan Region’s branch of the PKK.
Although officially recognized by the Iraqi government, TA is not a registered political party in the Kurdistan Region.
The PKK has been fighting a decades-long insurgency with Ankara over Kurdish rights and self-rule. Turkey has long alleged that Kurdish parties in Sulaimani provide support for the group and facilitate their activities.
The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the leading political force in Sulaimani and holding significant authority over local Asayish and Peshmerga forces, has been at the heart of allegations of aid to the PKK. Turkey has also made similar accusations against the Sulaimani-based Gorran (Change) Movement.
Tensions rose to a climax in 2017 when Ankara expelled the PUK representative in the country. Turkey also continues a ban on flights between the Kurdish city and its own airports, initially closed for months after the Kurdistan Region's 2017 independence referendum.
The Turkish military regularly strikes areas well over the border into the Kurdistan Region, claiming nearby detection of PKK members. Such aerial bombardment or shelling sometimes kills innocent civilians with no affiliation to the guerrilla group. In mid-November, the mayor of a small town near the Kurdistan Region’s northern border said that overnight Turkish shelling caused the death of three villagers.
The KRG has repeatedly called on the PKK to vacate bases located throughout mountainous areas near the Kurdistan Region's border with its northern neighbor.
Editing by John J. Catherine