Kurdish-Shi’a Tensions in Iraq Amid the Struggle Against the Islamic State -Jamestown TM

“Although the conflict in Iraq is often portrayed as a conflict between Shi’as, Kurds and Sunnis, the above developments and dynamics show that there are many other internal political and tribal divisions and tensions, including among the Kurds themselves. However, despite some recent tensions and speculation over the potential for conflict between the Kurds and Shi’a militias, there has been a considerable amount of military cooperation against the Islamic State. Moreover, Kurdish and Shi’a forces cannot afford to fight each other as long as the fight against the Islamic State continues. Thus, without a major crisis—for instance, caused by Kurdish President Barzani attempting to unilaterally annex the disputed territories without approval from Baghdad (as he threatened to do in July)—it seems unlikely that Kurdish control over these areas will actively be challenged by Shi’a militias, and, therefore, the status quo will continue. However, tensions could still erupt if there are fresh disputes between Baghdad and Erbil…”