Iraqi Kurdistan reopens border with Rojava

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An Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga officer seen at the Semalka border crossing. In the background, Syrian Kurdish civilians crossing into Iraqi Kurdistan. File photo

ARA News

KOBANE – On Tuesday, Iraqi Kurdistan’s authorities decided to reopen the Semalka border crossing with Syrian Kurdish region [Rojava]. This comes after three months of border closure caused by political differences between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in northern Iraq and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria.

“I am very pleased the border between Kurdistan Region and Rojava has now been opened. We have a moral duty towards our brothers and sisters,” said Lahur Talabani, Director of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s Counter Terrorism Group (CTG). 

O 7 June, the border was reopened only for trade by the KDP, Kurdistan24 reported on Tuesday, after a three months closure and pressure from several parties and civilians to reopen the border.

A source close to the KDP-backed Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) told ARA News that the border would only be open for food and trade and that it was related with the start of the Ramadan.

Iraqi Kurdish officials say no taxes should be imposed on people in either sides of the border.

On 24 May, co-head of the PYD-linked organisation of TEV-DEM Aldar Xelil met with Hamid Darbandi, a high-level KDP official responsible for the Syria file, and Shawkat Berbihary, the head of the Kurdistan region’s border crossing, to discuss the border closure. But no agreement was reached at that time.

The border was closed by the Kurdish government on 16 March after disagreements between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) with the Democratic Union Party (PYD) over taxes and the use of the border gate. 

Speaking to ARA News in Kobane, Kurdish official Ruken Ahmed said: “Both the people from North Kurdistan [Kurdish areas in Turkey] and South Kurdistan [Kurdistan region of Iraq] pressured the government [of Iraqi Kurdistan, KRG] to reopen Semalka for it is a humanitarian gate between the people. But such parties try to separate people from each other.” 

The Kurdish parties from Syria have failed to implement agreements to share power since the beginning of the Syrian crisis.

The PYD and the Kurdish National Council (KNC) backed by the KDP reached an agreement in October 2014 following ISIS attacks on both Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. However, the agreement was never implemented, and tensions continued.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg 

Source: ARA News 

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