Monday, April 25, 2011

Peshmarga minister warns Islamic groups of "decisive" stand

Sulaimaniyah, April 25 (AKnews) – The Kurdistan Region's Minster of Peshmarga (Kurdish defense forces) Affairs has warned Islamic groups it will take a "decisive stand", accusing them of accommodating extremist militants.shex jaafar, Jaafar Mostafa,waziri peshmarga

The minister's warning came in a statement to AKnews in which he refuted media reports of tanks stationed in the city of Halabja to quell the protests in the city where the Islamic groups enjoy popularity.

The Peshmarga Minister Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa accused the Islamic parties; the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG) and the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) of being "saboteurs and uncivilized".

Sheikh Jaafar said some 50 militants from the outlawed Ansar al-Islam have crept down from the mountains to Halabja city over the past two days, and "it is likely that some of them have entered the headquarters of the KIG and KIU".

"We have not deployed any tanks to Halabja city" he told AKnews, "often, wood-burning stove pipes and (civilian) vehicles become artillery and tanks for them (the two Islamic parties)" Mustafa said cynically.

"If they are so afraid, then what is all this hype calling for complete government dissolution about?" Mustafa said, accusing the opposition forces of inciting the public to rise against the government.

"We have not stationed tanks there, but we will if it's necessary this time, because this time will be decisive with the Islamic parties."

A member of the protesters' committee in Halabja however, who declined to be named for security reasons, told AKnews that they had been hiding for fear of a "huge force" deployed to Halabja who were "hunting down the protesters".

"According to our information, those forces are supported by tanks and have been stationed in several spots in Halabja. People have seen them with their own eyes" he said.

Halabja has witnessed violent protests with dozens of demonstrators injured. Two police officers have been killed in the clashes there.

The protesters, who took to the streets in Sulaimaniyah province in late February, were first protesting against, corruption, nepotism, and called for political reforms, however, as the wave of protests became violent, they began demanding the complete dissolution of the Kurdistan government.

A member of the KIU politburo Samir Salim described Mustafa's "tone" in his dialogue with the Islamists as "language brought up by civil war".

"Our history testifies that we have remained apart from terror and violence," Salim said, "…we have always supported dialogue to resolve issues".

Undersecretary to the KIG, Abdul-Sattar Majid told AKnews that the Peshmarga Minister was wrong to "accuse the Islamists of accommodating Ansar al-Islam militants to justify the mobilization of forces in Sulaimaniyah province."
"… It is an unfounded and filthy lie," he said, "We don't (accommodate) or have any connection with the Ansar al-Islam. In the past, we have paid for the stories made up against us," he continued referring to a 2003 air attack by the US forces on the KIG headquarters that left dozens killed and injured.

In a previous statement, the Peshmarga Minister had told AKnews that the forces – who he said were Peshmarga forces - in Halabja were there to protect the lives of citizens and that they would stay until the safety of people was ensured.

So far, 10 people, including two police officers, have been killed and over 600 others injured in the protests in Sulaimaniyah province.

The protests witnessed another surge of violence last week when security forces and protesters clashed in the city leaving around 200 injured.

Folowing the protests, the security committee banned all unlicensed demonstrations in Sulaimaniyah and said it would clamp down on any such rallies.

The protests in Kuridstan have tensed relations between the opposition forces and the authorities over the past two months prompting a number of clerics, intellectuals and politicians to call for the situation to be resolved.

Written by Raber Y. Aziz

Dilshad Saifaddin contributed to this report


25/04/2011 13:30