The ruined Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Shingal hospital. Photo: Sartip Othman/Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A war of words between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) over Shingal is heating up as Turkey has waded into the dispute, adding its voice to those calling on the PKK to leave the predominantly Yezidi area.
The Turkish military will assume responsibility for forcing the PKK to leave Shingal if the KRG does not, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said during a visit to Kilis, a Turkish town on the border with Syria, Daily Sabah reported on Monday.
Kaynak said Ankara would not allow Shingal to become “another Qandil,” referring to the PKK’s mountain base in northern Kurdistan Region.
ISIS captured Shingal on August 3, 2014, committing genocide against the Yezidi population. The town was liberated in November 2015 by a coalition of Kurdish forces, including KRG Peshmerga and PKK fighters. The PKK has maintained a presence in the area.
Kurdistan Region leaders have recently stepped up pressure on the PKK to leave the Shingal area, saying that rehabilitation of the town is not possible as long as the PKK remains.
The people of Shingal are hesitant about their future as long as the PKK is present in the area, Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani said at a conference in December. As long as the PKK is there, the people of Shingal “do not reconstruct the town. The PKK should understand that and, for the good of the people, they have to leave the region.”
When later asked in an interview with Amberin Zaman published in Al-Monitor if he is considering using military force to expel the PKK, Barzani replied, “Yes, I am.”
The People’s Defense Forces (HPG), the armed wing of the PKK, responded to Barzani’s threat of military force, pointing out his comments were made “parallel” with comments from Turkish leaders, and said his “provocative” statements intended to “start an inner conflict.”
“History has proven that nobody can push us out of Shingal by use of force,” the HPG Shingal Command said in a statement published by ANF News, which has ties to the PKK.
“Making such a statement targeting our forces in Shingal while remaining silent on the occupation by the Turkish state of many territories in South Kurdistan, harms the Kurdish unity,” the statement read, referring to Turkish security force operations in Kurdish areas of Turkey. “Neither history nor our people will forgive a force that incites an inner conflict during the current process.”