Two candidates in Iraqi election are backed by PKK: Peshmerga commander

The disputed northern Iraqi city of Sinjar (Shingal). (Photo: Kurdistan 24/Levi Clancy)
The disputed northern Iraqi city of Sinjar (Shingal). (Photo: Kurdistan 24/Levi Clancy)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A commander of Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq's disputed district of Sinjar (Shingal) claimed on Wednesday that the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) has candidates with whom it is affiliated that are running for office in upcoming parliamentary elections.

"There are two candidates in the upcoming Iraqi elections affiliated with and loyal to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, and they are competing for a quota for Yezidis (Ezidis) in Sinjar," said Qassim Darbo, the commander.

"Holding elections in Sinjar during the current circumstances will be difficult with the absence of stability there," he added, remarking that he was expecting "fraudulent operations of the election results if they take place in the district."

Darbo explained, "The situation in Sinjar has not changed due to the failure to implement the security agreement between Baghdad and Erbil on the normalization of service, administrative, and security conditions in Sinjar." 

In October 2020, Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) announced they had reached an agreement, with support from the UN, to restore stability to SInjar, where competing armed groups like the PKK are active.

Read More: KRG and Baghdad reach administrative, security agreement on Sinjar

Notably, the agreement includes a framework to withdraw all armed groups from the area, restore the local administration, and appoint a new mayor. So far, however, these steps have not been taken. 

The PKK has been locked in a decades-long conflict against Ankara over Kurdish rights in Turkey that has led to tens of thousands of deaths on both sides. The group is headquartered in the Kurdistan Region's Qandil Mountains, mostly in rural areas along the Turkish and Iranian borders like Qaladze.

The clashes have escalated in recent weeks, as have hostilities between the PKK and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Officials from both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region have repeatedly called on Turkey and the PKK to take their fight away from areas populated by civilians, thousands of whom have been displaced, suffered damage to their farms, livestock, or other property. Others have suffered serious injury or even death as a result of skirmishes or Turkish bombardment of suspected PKK positions.

The conflict has escalated in recent weeks, as have hostilities between the PKK and the KRG.

Editing by John J. Catherine