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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, August 31, 2021

01.09.2021
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A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

Weekly Brief by Washington Kurdish institute

Iran

  • Hundreds of Iranians, including community leaders, addressed a petition to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that demanded Kurdish activist Haider Qurbani’s death sentence be overturned. Simultaneously, Iranian Kurds launched a social media campaign called “Save Haider Qurbani.” The Iranian regime sentenced Qurbani to death in 2020, but Amnesty International and several local rights groups claimed his trial was unfair because his confession was coerced through the use of torture.
  • Iranian authorities released six Kurds on bail after they were detained for four months on charges of aiding Kurdish parties. That said, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) arrested more activists last week, including Mohammed Rasaie in Marivan, Yassen Awar, Shirzad Mamandi, and Haider Aliriza in Oshnavieh (Shinno), Suliman Guli in Divandareh (Diwandara), Haider Khezry in Piranshahr, and two female teenagers in Javanrud, Sonia Karimi and Parya Fathi, who were later released.
  • An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) member died two days after being shot by unknown gunmen in Mahabad. A Kurdish group known as the Zagros Eagles, who first took up arms in 2015, claimed responsibility on Saturday. Furthermore, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights asserted the IRGC targeted Kurdish groups with artillery fire near Shaho Mountain between Kamyaran and Sarvabad (Sawlawa). Finally, Iranian border guards injured a Kurdish border porter (kolbar) named Maroof Adawie in the Hawraman region last Tuesday. 

Iraq

  • French President Emanuel Macron visited Iraqi Kurdistan and met with several Kurdish officials, including President Nechirvan Barzani and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, on Sunday after participating in the “Baghdad Conference for Cooperation and Partnership.” Macron thanked Iraq’s Kurds for their ongoing role in the fight against terrorism and addressed Iraq’s upcoming elections, efforts to improve French-Iraqi relations, regional issues, and improved cooperation between France and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Macron also visited Mosul where he reiterated France’s support for the Iraqi people.
  • US Consul General Robert Palladino attended a press conference in Erbil on Monday and addressed concerns raised by the US pullout of Afghanistan in saying, “As we watched the situation in Afghanistan, I recognized that people are concerned about the United States presence in Iraq and the Kurdistan region. Many have asked, will the United States stay in Iraq? And the Kurdistan region? Or will it leave?” Palladino then added, “The United States is staying in Iraq, including the Kurdistan region. We are on this journey with you for the long haul.”  
  • Turkey continued its invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan, which it still claims is meant to neutralize the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, by carrying out several airstrikes in Dohuk Governorate’s Amedi District, Mangesh sub-district, and Metina. Turkey’s offensive has now killed dozens of civilians, displaced thousands more, and is likely to result in a permanent Turkish military presence in Iraq’s Kurdish region.
  • A source from the Dibis District police force in Kirkuk Governorate announced the seizure of a truck carrying Katyusha rockets on August 25. Earlier that day, at least three mortars struck a village in Erbil Governorate’s Qushtapa sub-district but caused no reported damage or casualties. A Peshmerga commander accused Iraqi forces of negligence and failing to coordinate with the Peshmerga. ISIS (Da’esh) remains active in the “Disputed Territories” and carries out indirect fire attacks, ambushes, kidnappings, and operations targeting electrical infrastructure.

Syria

  • Turkey and its Islamist proxies continued to disregard civilian lives by launching more indirect fire attacks on locations in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled territory, including several predominantly Christian villages west of Tal Tamer and two villages near Ain Essa. Additional shelling struck areas inhabited by Kurds displaced from Afrin near Tal Rifaat and as Shahba.
  • The SDF announced the arrest of 20 Da’esh terrorists in Deir Ez Zor Governorate’s Abu Khashab and Diban and claimed two of the arrested were “responsible for assassinations and targeting security and military checkpoints.” Despite the recent SDF successes, however, a Da’esh ambush killed two SDF personnel and wounded three more near Jadeed Ekedat on Sunday.
  • The Assad regime filed a memorandum demanding the Swiss government reconsider its decision to open an office in Geneva for the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), which Syria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates refers to as an “illegitimate entity.” The AANES representative to Geneva, Hikmat Ibrahim, responded by saying, “This exclusionary mentality dragged the country to what it is now.” Though Syrian Kurds have welcomed Bashar al Assad’s recent remarks hinting at a decentralized system in Syria, no progress has been made regarding the implementation of such an arrangement so far.

Turkey 

Imprisoned Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas addressed the Turkish government’s ongoing failure to suppress forest fires in the predominantly Kurdish province of Dersim (Tunceli) on Sunday. “Most of the forests in that area are deliberately set on fire and no one is allowed to interfere. This is a deliberate and official policy that has been going on for decades,” said Demirtas.

The Constitutional Court of Turkey is expected to rule on the Peoples’ Democratic Party’s (HDP) request for additional time to prepare its defense against the Turkish government’s closure case on September 2. Meanwhile, the HDP continued to hold rallies in communities throughout Turkey and met with several NGOs in Gaziantep to discuss the Turkish government’s crackdown on the party. On another note, Turkish authorities arrested the former Kurdish mayor of Sirnak, Serhat Kadırhan, who is now facing a 22-year sentence for “membership of a terrorist organization.”

Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Gülizar Biçer released a report divulging Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has filed 38,581 lawsuits against people for “insulting the president” from 2014-2020. Erdogan has instituted authoritarianism in Turkey and consistently displayed hostility towards democratic norms since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002.

Washington Kurdish Institute

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