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Published On: Wed, May 3rd, 2017

Kurdistan Regional Government tells Iran “stop meddling” in Iraqi affairs

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The government of Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous region asked Iran to stop meddling, after a Foreign Ministry spokesman in Tehran said Kurds should not stand against the unity of Iraq. The row erupted against the backdrop of an expected independence referendum as well as increased militant activity of Iranian – Kurdish parties in northwestern Iran.

Erbil_Kurdistan Flag over Erbil_(archives)Bahram Qasimi, spokesperson of the Iranian Foreign Ministry had said in a press conference on Monday: “The Kurds are an important part of Iraq and have rights within the framework of the unity of this country, but they should not stand against the oneness of the Iraqi land, oppose or reject it.”

On Tuesday the Department of Foreign Relations (DFR) of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the Kurdistan Autonomous Region (KAR) in northern Iraq responded with a statement saying:

“The right to self-determination is a natural right of the Kurdistan nation just like all the other nations in the World. The Kurdish nation will continue to reach its right desires and objectives as it has sacrificed a lot for it. … We reject any remarks on this question, and therefore, reiterate that we do not allow meddling from any party”.

President Masoud Barzani and Peshmerga troops (archives)

President Masoud Barzani and Peshmerga troops (archives)

Qasimi also had said that “these words and subjects are not new. They existed even in the past, but Iran supports the unity of the Iraqi land and opposes any splintering happening in this country.” What Qasimi did not mention is that Iran, during the Iran – Iraq war, actively supported Iraqi Kurds, and especially the Kurdistan Democratic Party and their Peshmerga (militants) in their struggle against the Iraqi government under Saddam Hussein.

The DFR also reiterated that a national dialog between the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government of Iraq in Baghdad is ongoing. The DAR stated: “As the KRG before announced officially, the questions of referendum and independence of the Kurdistan Region are an internal matter of Iraq. This subject is going to be discussed and decided on with the Iraqi government through understanding and dialogue.”

Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian Quds commander, came to the Kurdish city of Sulaimani on April 11. According to the Arab-language newspaper Sharq al-Awsat, Soleimani was meeting with members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in an attempt to discourage a referendum on independence in the Kurdistan Region. A committee formed jointly by the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) met with foreign consulates in Erbil in early April, including Iran, to discuss plans to hold a referendum on independence this year.

Are Tehran’s chicken coming home to roost?
Militants from the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan. Photo courtesy The Guardian (archives)

Militants from the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan. Photo courtesy The Guardian (archives)

In Maj 2017 the leftist Iranian – Kurdish Komala party, after 25 years, resumed its armed struggle against the central government in Tehran and Iranian military, especially Revolutionary Guard forces. Komala is the third Iranian – Kurdish group / party to resume the armed struggle since 2015.

The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan (a.k.a. Komala) has begun to post Peshmerga fighters and the Iranian border with Iraq’s Kurdistan Autonomous Region. It is after nearly 25 years, and within the context of the recent Kurdish revival in Syria, Turkey, Iraq as well as Iran that Komala resumed the armed struggle.

Komala troops are currently stationed less than one kilometer from northwestern Iran. Komala noted that the proximity to the border allows their fighters to have more ready and easy access to Iranian territories.

The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan first declared its armed struggle against Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Komala signed an alliance agreement with the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, or HDKA in 2012, a more active armed party that has engaged on a number of occasions since 2015 when they resumed their armed struggle after decades.

The two parties cooperate and coordinate in the field despite their political differences. Although nsnbc cannot independently verify the claim, Komala and the HDKA are said to man a 60 kilometer long stretch of border between Iraq and Iran. The Kurdistan Democratic Party – Iran also resumed its armed struggle in 2016 and there has been an increase in clashed between the KDP-I and Iranian Revolutionary Guard units.

Eagles of Zagros (archives)

Eagles of Zagros (archives)

Komala, can trace its roots to the Communist Party of Iran but it has undergone several schisms. After Iran’s 1979 revolution Komala began its armed struggle against the new clerical Islamist regime. In the early days, it was known as the Tailors Revolutionary Group of Iranian Kurdistan.

In 1983, the leaders of Komala, together with some Iranian communist activists, established the Communist Party of Iran and Komala became the branch of the party in Kurdistan.

However, in 1991, a group broke off and established the Workers Communist Party. In 2000, the party experienced another split. A group broke off and established Komala. In recent years, yet another group walked away and formed the socialist party.

The PJAK group or (Party of Free Life of Kurdistan), which is considered as one of the most active Iranian Kurdish groups, is a militant Kurdish nationalist group based on the border areas between Iraq’s Kurdistan region and Iran’s Kurdish region. It has been carrying out attacks Iranian forces in the Kurdistan Province of Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and other Kurdish-inhabited areas.

KDP-I Peshmerga

KDP-I Peshmerga

Since 2004 the PJAK took up arms to establish a semi-autonomous Kurdish regional entities or Kurdish federal states in Iran. The PJAK has over 3,500 armed militiamen, half the members of PJAK are women.

All of the Kurdish – Iranian armed groups agree that the Islamist government, after it came to power in 1979, imposed discriminatory rules, laws, and restrictions against Kurds in all social, political and economic fields – with the exception of a few who would adjust to the “Islamic Revolution”.

Iran’s Kurdish minority live mainly in the west and north-west of the country. Kurdish rights activists and party activists in Iran have consistently reported measures aimed to destroy their cultural identity, and to marginalize, oppress or punish those who “won’t adjust”.

Among typically cited complaints are clerical oppression with regard to registering certain Kurdish names, deprivation with regard to access to adequate housing and political rights and poverty that further marginalizes them, oppression with regard to access to employment, arbitrary arrest and prosecution of rights advocates, journalists and political activists, torture, and in some cases trials on trumped-up charges and execution.

CH/L – nsnbc 03.05.2017

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Iranian  Kurdish Parties Form Alliance in Response to Iraqi Lawmakers’ Demand they Should Disarm or Leave

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at nsnbc.wordpress@gmail.com

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