By Shalaw Fatah
It’s not a battle yet. It was not a battle in 2014 as well and might not be a battle in the future as well. In 2014, Kurdish forces were reluctant to fight ISIS. In 2017, both KDP and PKK-affiliated forces are reluctant. A conflict happened, and casualties followed. However, for several reasons, this might stop against all expectations. No matter what media frenzy ensues this clash, it might not reach the point of no return until other conflicts are over.
Both KDP and PKK know nothing about the result of the battle. Their forces are almost equal. Their regional alliance as well. Few wars happen in history in such cases. Usually, one side should see the advantage of superior forces to move on. This alone is not enough to prevent a war but added to other reasons; it might have influence in preventing it.
Too much to lose
KDP wants to have a say in Syrian Kurdish territories through sending five thousand armed and trained men. However, soon they realize that PKK-affiliated forces will carry the battle to Iraq if needed. PKK wants its rule in Syria’s north undisturbed. KDP wants its rule in north Iraq also undisturbed. Some PKK officials told me that they have an agenda for every part of Kurdistan but not to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. If KDP insists on involvement and power play in Syria, PKK will reconsider their non-interference policy in the area.
Lack of popular support
Ordinary civilians support everything but a war. Except for some partisan people, the consensus among people is that they do not support any intra-Kurdish hostility. Although neither PKK nor KDP take popular support fully into account, they might consider the fact that their image will be tarnished among people and other parties as well.
Although the common perspective among the elite is that this is a proxy war, meaning one the one hand Turkey influences KDP to charge, and on the other, Iran-Russia wants PKK to hold, it might not be like that. Regional politics is not a childish game based on vindictive design and poor judgment. Does Turkey want war with PYD, of course? Do they want to use KDP to do that for them? Not if they are sane. If KDP tries to wage a full-fledged war against PKK, Turkey might lose a lot from its annual GDP, more than it can risk. The pipelines will be sabotaged, and no one wants that.
Neither the US nor Russia want a war amidst the fight against the Islamic State. This battle of ISIS is far from over, which means they will do everything to prevent such escalation.
In the end, if the two sides go into war, it will be against all logical terms. However, it’s more likely that the two parties may reach a deal of non-interference, where PKK may leave Sinjar for KDP if KDP ceases its support for anti-PKK forces in Syria. If that’s not likely, the two sides must wait at least until the battle against ISIS is over. However, the Yazidi units trained by the PKK called YBⱾ are not going to leave Sinjar because they are from Sinjar and Baghdad recognizes them. The KDP may finally realize to deal with these units but without the PKK’s direct involvement. The tension in Sinjar is not going to go away anytime soon, but it is unlikely to turn into a full-scale battle.