Germany has send to the Kurds in Irak weapons.

Germany will send enough weapons to arm 4,000 Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq battling against Islamic State (IS) insurgents, whose advances threaten to destabilize the Middle East, the defense minister said on Sunday.

Many politicians in Germany make a clear difference between the Pershmerga and the PKK. (Weapons sent to the Kurds are only for the Pershmerga)

And this leads me to my question. Is it possible to make a clear distinction between the Pershmerga and the PKK. Is there a huge difference between the Pershmerga and the PKK or do they have close contact?

Is the PKK more radical than the Pershmerga?


They are both Kurdish organizations and so they work together, but they are distinct. Technically the PKK is a party with a militia, while the Peshmerga are the official armed forces of Iraqi Kurdistan. Although the Peshmerga is run separately by the two main Kurdish parties of Iraq, which also help to explain some poor performance against ISIS.

Giving weapons to unrecognized armed forces is per se a faux paus in foreign policy and a risky move, but the main concern of Germany, and all NATO countries, is that they are designed as terrorist organization by NATO. In good part because of the pressure of Turkey, which is a member of the organization and thus an ally of Germany.

  • This really does not begin to describe the differences between the organizations. Also, the designation of the PKK as terrorist is due to Turkish pressure mostly, is quite questionable on the merits and has not been taken up by non-NATO countries generally (particularly, not the UN). – einpoklum Mar 19 '17 at 21:03
  • @einpoklum this actually begins to describe the differences. The differences simply don't end there. However I think that's a good answer for this specific question. The political difference are complicated, but while German politicians might care about them surely they are aware that their people don't. They just want to make them know that what they are doing is legitimate. – gabriele Mar 20 '17 at 21:57
  • Hmm, ok, I guess instead of "does not begin to describe" I should have written "only begins to describe". – einpoklum Sep 27 '17 at 19:42

This is a complicated question, but in short I would say this is ok: The Peshmerga only seeks to represent the Kurdish people of Iraq whereas the PKK is a political party with a military arm. The PKK seeks to represent all Kurdish people who want the creation of a Kurdish country (Kurdistan) organised in comunal councils. The creation of this state would make it necessary for Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria to let go of part of their territories, which none of them is willing to do. With 30 million people, the Kurds are the largets ethnic group that does not have its own country. They face discrimination in different degrees in all of the forementioned countries. The PKK has used militant politics both for self-defence and to fulfill their goal mostly in Turkey but also in Syria. In Syria, they are closely working with the self-defence forces YPG/YPJ. The Peshmerga does not actively work on the creation of a Kurdistan state but has it's autonomous region in Iraq, in accordance with the Iraq's central government, but with its own government, police and military force. Also, the PKK is left-leaning wheras the Peshmerga are generally more conservative.

  • This is a better answer than the accepted one, but please consider editing it to reflect the fact that the PKK does not "seek to represent" Kurds, because the conception of distributed council-based social order does not have the kind of "party representation" people would assume from reading that phrase. Also, the Peshmerga, while not aimed at creating an all-Kurdish state, are much like a state's army than the YPG/YPJ. – einpoklum Mar 19 '17 at 21:05

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