The Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, which is an Iranian proxy in Iraq has been reportedly moving in on Kirkuk as of Friday. The group, backed by the Iraqi military gave the Peshmerga and Kirkuk governor a list of demands.
Rudaw reports: “Peshmerga officials, including Sheikh Jaafar Mustafa, head of the 70 Force, confirmed on Friday that the Hashd al-Shaabi demanded the Peshmerga leave their posts south and west of Kirkuk in order to allow for their forces and the Iraqi army to move in on Thursday night.”
The Iraqi government has given the Kurds until 2am on Sunday to vacate all the land it has acquired in fighting ISIS. Most of our sources in Kurdistan have confirmed this and clearly stated that the Peshmerga has no attention of pulling back.
Furthermore, these sources have confirmed that the Peshmerga, in anticipation of a wider conflict with Iranian proxies and the Iraqi military have closed the main road between Mosul and Erbil.
Iranian Revolutionary guards are reportedly already blended in with their Iraqi counterparts.
“The Iraqi army and the Hashd al-Shaabi are not the only state that are attacking us. We have intelligence with 100 percent accuracy that there are also the Iranian army and the Revolutionary Guards among them,” Shwan Shamerani, commander of the Peshmerga second brigade said.
The Iranian calculus is clear. The regime in Tehran views Trump’s move to decertify the Iranian Nuclear Accord as well as placing the Revolutionary Guard on a terror group list and the rise of an independent Kurdistan as interwoven events. The Iranian regime can waste no time in taking on a rising Kurdistan.
With the Kurdish Peshmerga ready to hold onto its territory, the first big test for an independent Kurdistan is set to get underway. With Trump’s move against Iran in the geo-political arena still fresh, the question remains whether this will translate into support for Kurdish independence on the ground. Eitherway, the coming Iranian Kurdish conflict maybe the opening shot in a wider war.