A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) officially announced its reunification with the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) on August 21. The two parties, who initially split in 2006, held a ceremony to commemorate their reunification that was attended by KDP-I and PDKI leaders Mustafa Hijri and Khalid Azizi. “Today, the Democratic Party is ending an unpleasant period in its history by regaining its unity,” read a KDP-I statement. Kurdish political parties in Iranian Kurdistan and beyond welcomed the news and the KDP-I’s reemergence. The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan’s two factions are also holding negotiations to facilitate reunification and attempting to form a united front with other exiled Kurdish parties against the Iranian regime.
Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) raided homes in Mehabad and arrested seven Kurds last week. Further, Iranian security forces detained three Kurds, Payman Tahazadeh, Ahmad Gurgin, and Islam Faizi, in Miandoab. On another note, a criminal court in Urmia sentenced a Kurd from Turkey named Mohammaed Pirdal to 16 years in prison for “membership” in the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Several human rights organizations described Pirdal as a political prisoner and denounced the sentence.
Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (kolbar) and wounded 12 near Baneh. Mines injured another two kolbars in the same area. The Iranian regime has killed and wounded dozens of kolbars in 2022.
Senators Robert Menendez and James Risch, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, authored a letter to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that called for US engagement at the “highest level” with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Government of Iraq (GOI) to resolve ongoing disputes over oil and gas exports. The letter expressed “concerns” regarding constitutional disputes, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq’s recent ruling that rendered the KRG’s oil and gas laws unconstitutional, and Iranian-backed militias’ attacks on Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil and gas facilities. “The actions of the court and Iranian-sponsored attacks negatively impact the foreign investment climate and Iraq’s ability to become independent from Iranian-sourced energy,” read the letter.
The Kurdistan Parliament’s Presidency will hold a new round of talks on the drafting of a constitution with Iraq’s Kurdish blocs on Tuesday. Separately, United Nations (UN)-backed efforts to forge an agreement between Iraq’s main Kurdish parties continued, as President of Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani hosted a meeting with Kurdish political leaders. Likewise, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert has held several meetings with Kurdish leaders to encourage political unity.
On August 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi hosted leaders and representatives from Iraq’s political parties to discuss “political developments in the country.” Kadhimi also invited Muqtada al Sadr to “participate in the national dialogue,” but al Sadr rejected the invitation, criticized Iraq’s political parties for “caring only about remaining in their power seats,” and demanded “live debate with political opponents.”
A Turkish drone strike on a UN-sponsored education center for girls near Hasaka killed four girls playing volleyball and wounded another 11 people on Thursday. The Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) described the attack on the education center, which sits 1.2 miles from a US military base, as a war crime and tantamount to “systematic genocide.” The Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) condemned the attack and said it was “creating chaos in a fragile region” but stopped short of naming Turkey as the perpetrator. Turkey’s most recent attack comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan pushes forward with plans to normalize relations with Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad for the first time since 2011. Several pro-Turkish government outlets reaffirmed Erdogan was considering a phone conversation with Assad, and a pro-Iran source claimed Erdogan plans to meet Assad in Uzbekistan. Meanwhile, President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Ilham Ahmed warned normalization between Turkey and Syria “will never bring peace but deepen the nation’s crisis” and criticized Turkey for exploiting the Syrian revolution and “using it to serve its expansionist agenda.”
Twenty-one people died in a truck collision in a Kurdish district in Mardin province on Saturday. The incident occurred after a mining company truck lost control and drove into a crowd of people and first responders at an earlier car crash scene. A similar incident killed 15 people in Gaziantep on the same day, raising anger among the public and the opposition about the safety standards for the cargo companies. The pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) co-chair Mithat Sancar blamed the government for the incident, calling for responsible officials to resign. “The only right thing for them is for all the relevant ministers to resign. Especially the Minister of the Interior,” said Sancar. To contain public reaction, the Turkish government banned media outlets from covering stories of the tragedy in the Kurdish town but allowed journalists to write about the Gaziantep incident.
Six Turkish opposition parties met for the sixth time on Sunday and agreed on having a candidate for the 2023 presidential elections. The parties excluded the second largest opposition party, the pro-Kurdish HDP. The opposition leaders will meet again in October to announce a joint nominee against president Erdogan.
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