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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief

31.03.2021
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Turkey

  • A sacked lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu, said he will continue “defend the rights of the people” after being sentenced to two years and six months in prison for advocating peace between the Turkish government and the PKK. The HDP responded by filing an appeal with Turkey’s Court of Cassation regarding Gergerlioğlu’s case. That said, the Turkish government filed a lawsuit against 29 Kurdish politicians for holding a rally to commemorate World Peace Day on September 1. Furthermore, a Turkish court in Urfa sentenced 19 people, mostly Kurds, to five months in prison for holding a gathering to remember the victims of the October 10, 2015, Da’esh bombing that targeted pro-Kurdish organizations in Ankara. Lastly, Turkish authorities arrested a number of people, including a Kurdish writer named Adil Başaran, in Mardin. 
  • After more than a year in isolation, imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan was allowed a phone conversation with his brother last week, though Ocalan’s lawyers claimed the call was very short and interrupted. The Turkish government has been imposing isolation on Ocalan for years and has repeatedly denied his attorneys the right to meet with their client.
  • US Secretary of State Tony Blinken met with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in Brussels last week. The DOS later released a statement claiming Blinken “urged Turkey not to retain the Russian S-400 air defense system, expressed concern over Turkey’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, and emphasized the importance of democratic institutions and respect for human rights.”

Iraq

  • The Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI) failed to pass the nation’s 2021 budget law on Sunday. That said, a Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation was able to reach an agreement with the Government of Iraq (GOI) regarding Iraqi Kurdistan’s share of the federal budget, though the agreement’s implementation remains stalled due to several Shia parties’ internal disagreements that continue to delay voting on the budget bill. Among other things, the Erbil-Baghdad agreement entails the KRG’s handover of revenues from the sale of 250,000 barrels of oil per day to the GOI. The rest of Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil production will be used to meet domestic demands, cover production costs, and fulfill obligations required to receive petrodollar allocations.
  • The US Department of State (DOS) commemorated the second anniversary of the defeat of ISIS’s (Da’esh) “physical Caliphate” by thanking its local partners, including the Peshmerga and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), for their efforts. The DOS went on to say it would continue working with its partners and announced plans to hold a strategic dialogue with the GOI and representatives from the KRG to discuss the US’s ongoing mission in Iraq on April 7. 
  • Several rocket attacks targeted Peshmerga positions north of Kirkuk Governorate’s Perde sub-district on Monday night. No casualties were reported, and there was no claim of responsibility for the attacks, though Da’esh and Iranian-backed militias are active in the area. The Kurds unofficially accused Iranian-backed militias of being responsible for the attacks, and a Peshmerga commander claimed Iraqi forces were stationed near the launch site.
  • The President of Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani responded to an invitation from French President Emmanuel Macron and met with him in the Élysée Palace on Tuesday to discuss Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. France has recently established itself as a mediator regarding disputes between the KRG and GOI to achieve stability in Iraq and assist the ongoing fight against Da’esh.

Syria 

  • The areas surrounding Ain Essa were the scene of several intense fights between Turkish-backed Islamists and the SDF that resulted in the deaths of 37 Islamist fighters and at least a dozen SDF personnel, most of whom were killed by Turkish airstrikes. At the same time, Turkish proxies launched indirect fire attacks on several locations near the Christian town of Tal Tamer and attempted to follow them up with an infantry assault that the SDF claimed was repelled. 
  • The SDF and local security forces (Asayesh) launched a campaign aimed at reestablishing security inside the al Hawl camp last week. The al Hawl camp, which continues to hold more than 62,000 refugees and internally displaced people and thousands of Da’esh members and relatives, has been the scene of at least 31 murders in 2021 and a semi-caliphate established by Da’esh operatives inside the facility. That said, the SDF’s campaign has resulted in the arrest of 53 Da’esh terrorists, including five commanders, and has been complemented by the SDF’s renewed calls for countries to “take back their citizens” from the camp. 
  • The Turkish government sentenced a captured female SDF member named Cicek Kobani, who was taken prisoner during Turkey’s October 2019 invasion of northeastern Syria, to life in prison last week. Kobani’s sentence sparked anger from local residents and human rights organizations due to the fact Kobani was transported to Turkey, tried, and sentenced in a manner that disregarded international laws and norms.

Iran 

  • The Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIK) denounced Iran’s recently announced 25-year economic agreement with China and released a statement that read, “This imposed contract, practically, will auction all of Iran’s wealth and resources and make Iran highly dependent on China. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Iran will become a new colony.” The accord, which was signed on Saturday, bolsters ties between the two nations and brings Iran into China’s Belt and Road Initiative. 
  • Iranian security forces arrested over 20 Kurdish men for organizing and participating in public Nerwoz celebrations, some of which featured Kurdish songs and the banned flag of Kurdistan, in Marivan, Saqqez, Sanandaj, Baneh, and Oshnavieh (Shinno). Moreover, Iranian authorities arrested a Kurdish man named Karim Maroufpour in Sardasht on Thursday and accused him of being an armed member of a Kurdish opposition party. At the same time, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) prevented the family and friends of a deceased Kurdish activist in Norway, Jamal Mirazei, from holding memorial services in Saqqez. Lastly, Sanandaj’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish activist named Hussien Kamankar, who had been jailed since January 2019, to 15 years in prison for membership of a Kurdish party. 
  • The Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK) released a public statement announcing two of its members were killed by Iranian authorities while performing their “revolutionary duty” near the Iran-Iraq border on February 4, 2021. PJAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and began an armed struggle against the Iranian regime in 2004. 
  • A Kurdish border porter (Kolbar) named Fahim Qazilkand froze to death near Salmas on Wednesday. Iranian border guards injured another Kolbar named Piroz Muradi near Nowsud. Over 25 Kolbars have now lost their lives in 2021, most of whom were killed by the Iranian regime.
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