Kurdish Protesters Set Offices on Fire, Demanding End to Semi-autonomous Government

The offices of the ruling Kurdish Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan were set on fire, among others

Kurdish demonstrators protest in December 18, 2017 in Sulaymaniyah
Kurdish demonstrators protest in December 18, 2017 in SulaymaniyahCredit: AFP PHOTO / SHWAN MOHAMMED

Kurdish protesters demanding the ouster of the semi-autonomous regional government in northern Iraq set fire to an office of the ruling Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) on Monday near the city of Sulaimaniyah, social media footage showed.

Local media reported that protesters had also set fire to the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the KDP's coalition partner in government, as well as to those of two other regional parties.

Reuters was able to independently verify only those fires at the KDP office, but Iraqi state television reported that the offices of several Kurdish political parties had been set on fire, without naming the parties.

At least 3,000 Kurdish demonstrators had gathered earlier in Sulaimaniyah in protest against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) after years of austerity and unpaid public sector salaries.

Teachers, hospital workers and other public sector employees demanded their wages from the KRG, with some saying they had not been paid in over three years.

In the decade following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Kurdistan insulated itself against violence plaguing the rest of the country and enjoyed an economic boom fueled by rising Iraqi oil revenues, of which the region received a share.

The bubble began to deflate in early 2014 when the Baghdad central government slashed funds to the KRG after it built its own oil pipeline to Turkey in pursuit of economic independence.

The central government imposed more measures after the KRG unilaterally held an independence referendum on Sept. 25 and Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede, defying Baghdad and alarming neighboring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities.

The Iraqi government responded by seizing Kurdish-held Kirkuk and other territory disputed between the Kurds and the central government. It also banned direct flights to Kurdistan and demanded control over border crossings.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

$1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

A family grieves outside the SSGT Willie de Leon Civic Center following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Wednesday.

Israeli PM Offers Condolences After Texas Gunman Kills 21 at Elementary School

U.S. President Joe Biden, this week.

Biden Decides to Keep Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Terror List, Says Report

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Progressive Jews Urge ADL Chief to Apologize for Calling Out Democratic Activist

Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders with Jessica Cisneros in San Antonio last week.

It’s AIPAC vs. Bernie Sanders in Too-close-to-call Texas Democratic Runoff

U.S. President Joe Biden. Making a historic pivot to Asia.

Biden Does What His Three Predecessors Talked About Yet Failed to Do

Meir Kahane addressing his followers during a demonstration in Jerusalem, in 1984.

Why the U.S. Removed Kahane Chai From Terrorist Blacklist