The Iranian regime’s latest ongoing campaign against Kurdish political activity has now resulted in the arrest of nearly 120 Kurds. Last week, Iranian security forces and intelligence officers (Ettela’at) carried out raids and arrested activists throughout Iranian Kurdistan, including Roia Jalal in Sanandaj, Salim Sarifi in Oshnavieh, Jwamier Zahidi in Kamyaran, Shabab Ahmadi in Mehabad, Idris Ahmadi in Baneh, Peshawa Salihzada in Sardasht, and Bahman Fatahi, Abed Fatahi, and Malek Karimi in Paveh (Paweh). At the same time, Saqqez’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish man named Ahmad Mohammadi for “spying” and disseminating “propaganda” for Kurdish opposition parties. Another court in Sanandaj sentenced a female Kurdish activist, Faranak Jamshidi, to four years in prison for protesting Turkey’s October 2019 invasion of northeastern Syria.
Iranian authorities killed a Kurdish border porter (Kolbar) in Baneh named Hashim Hassan and another named Khalid Ahmadpour near Sardasht last week. Moreover, Iranian border guards injured six Kolbars in Marivan and Baneh. Concurrently, local Kurdish human rights groups claimed Iranian authorities arrested at least eight Kolbars near Chaldaron, tortured them, and seized their cargo. Lastly, the fate of a Kolbar named Abdulkhalaq Khayali remains unknown after he was arrested by Ettela’at officers 18 months ago.
The remains of 104 Yazidi victims of the 2014 ISIS (Da’esh) genocide initially found in mass graves near Shingal were buried in Shingal town’s Kajo village on Sunday. A joint US-UN effort facilitated the identification and return of the Yazidis.
A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation returned to Erbil from Baghdad after failing to reach agreements with the Government of Iraq (GOI) on issues including the KRG’s share of Iraq’s 2021 budget. Meanwhile, several other disputes regarding spending amounts and articles in the bill remain ongoing, and it is unclear when the Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI) will bring it to the floor for a vote. Furthermore, Iraq’s Kurdish parties fear the CRI’s Iranian-backed blocs may pass the bill without provision of the KRG’s share of the national budget.
The Vatican released an itinerary of Pope Francis’ three-day trip to Iraq scheduled for March 5 that outlined planned visits to Baghdad, Ninewa, Najaf, and Erbil. According to Rudaw, Pope Francis will meet Iraqi officials and President of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani. Pope Francis’ trip would be the first visit to Iraq from a pope, as Pope John Paul II’s plans to visit the country in 1999 were foiled by Saddam Hussein.
Iraqi security forces detained several Da’esh terrorists, including an IT specialist tasked with running one of the organization’s websites, in Kirkuk Governorate last week. Concurrently, Kurdish parties in Kirkuk gathered for the second time in 2021 to discuss a united list for the October elections. Moreover, the Kurdish news channel NRT revealed plans to form a joint military force in Kirkuk following a US-supported agreement between the GOI and KRG. In theory, the newly established joint forces will take over responsibility for security in the governorate from the 61st Iraqi Division.
Turkey and its Islamist proxies launched indirect fire attacks on Manbij and the Christian town of Tal Tamer last week. Local Kurdish activists accused Russia of green lighting the attacks during a meeting between Russian and Turkish military officials in Syria. That said, the Kurdish-led Manbij Military Council announced it foiled an attack from Turkish proxies on Monday.
Syrian parties failed to achieve any meaningful progress during the fifth round of the UN-sponsored Geneva peace talks on Syria. Syrian Kurds remain excluded from the talks due to Turkish opposition, and Assad regime officials continue to oppose nearly every proposal supported by the Syrian opposition.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) arrested a number of Da’esh militants in northeastern Syria, including two senior operatives overseeing the movement of fighters between Iraq and Syria, last week. At the same time, SDF General Commander Mazloum Abdi claimed the Turkish invasion of northern Syria facilitated Da’esh’s revival in the region. Likewise, the SDF announced it captured a Da’esh smuggler in the al Hol camp. The al Hol camp currently holds nearly 63,000 people, including thousands of Da’esh operatives and their relatives, amid ongoing calls for the repatriation of foreigners in the camp to their countries of origin.
Two youth officials from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Hulya Erta and Sevim Akdag, were sent to prison after being detained for two weeks on charges of “running a terrorist organization.” Simultaneously, a court in Diyarbakir (Amed) sentenced a former Kurdish official of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) to six years and three months in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization.” Meanwhile, an Ankara court again rejected the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) calling for the release of Kurdish politician Selahattin Demirtas, referring to the ECHR’s ruling as “non-binding.”
HDP Co-chair Mithat Sancar met with Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıcdaroglu and discussed several issues facing Turkey. The CHP has recently shown more willingness to include the HDP in alliances opposing Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and previously relied on HDP support to win the June 2019 Istanbul mayoral election. That said, the HDP has met with other parties in an attempt to forge a coalition dedicated to “justice for all.”