A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Several protests broke out in Istanbul and Turkey’s Kurdish region after an armed Turkish man attacked the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) building in Istanbul on December 28 and wounded two HDP members. The assailant, Muhammed Eren Sütçüm, was released on January 3. Separately, dozens of human rights organizations and public figures demanded the Turkish government release a Kurdish politician named Aysel Tuğluk. The Turkish government sentenced Tuğluk, who is suffering from advanced dementia, to 14 years and seven months in prison.
The Inflation Research Group (ENAGrup) reported Turkey’sconsumer price index (CPI) hit 82.1 percent in 2021, the highest in two decades and more than twice the CPI reported by the Turkish government-owned Turkish Statistical Institute. HDP lawmaker Saruhan Oluc blamed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for Turkey’s inflation crisis and said, “The cost of one-man rule has emerged as hunger, poverty, and injustice.”
HDP co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar met with Turkish opposition leaders, including Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, on December 28. The HDP leaders then held a press conference with Kılıçdaroğlu, and Buldan announced the HDP and CHP intended to propose early elections. Both sides also discussed other issues facing Turkey, with Kılıçdaroğlu saying, “No quarrel but peace must be our priority. Certainly, we hold different opinions, but every opinion has a high value for us.”
Iraq’s Shi’a blocs will engage in another round of internal negotiations this week, but there are no indications the Sadrists and Iranian-backed parties are poised to forge closer relations. That said, after a Kurdish delegation held talks with Sunni and Shia politicians in Baghdad and Holland, a Sadrist delegation met with Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) representatives in Erbil after Iraq’s Supreme Court confirmed the results of the October 10 parliamentary elections. Furthermore, Iraq’s Sunni blocs agreed to retain Mohammad al Halbousi as Speaker of the Council of Representatives of Iraq and nominated Khamis Khanjar, who is backed by Turkey and remains sanctioned by the US, for the post of vice president. Iraq’s main Kurdish winners, the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are waiting to hold talks until the Shia blocs reach an agreement.
Secretary-General of the Ministry of Peshmerga Jabar Yawer said Baghdad has yet to provide the Peshmerga with access to US-made drones. Though improved cooperation between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga has led to a reduction in Da’esh attacks in the “Disputed Territories” over the past two weeks, the terror group retains the ability to launch operations and wounded an Iraqi soldier near Tuz Khurmatu on Friday. Also, on Friday, however, the Peshmerga announced it seized Da’esh ammunition and IEDs in a joint operation with Iraqi forces near Kirfi.
The Turkish military conducted several artillery strikes in Duhok Governorate’s Hiror village and launched several airstrikes in Sulaymaniyah Governorate’s Sharbashjer subdistrict last week. While the most recent attacks caused no reported casualties, the Turkish military has killed dozens of civilians and displaced thousands more since it invaded Iraqi Kurdistan under the pretext of countering the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in 2019.
The Iranian regime released seven Kurds who were previously arrested for “membership of Kurdish opposition parties” in November 2021 on bail in Baneh. That said, the regime continued its ongoing repression of Iranian Kurdistan by arresting four Kurds in Sanandaj for organizing the funeral of a political prisoner, Heidar Ghorbani, that Iranian authorities executed in December 2021. Iranian authorities also arrested Paiman Ahadi in Paveh (Pawa), Farzin and Sarang Abdullahzada in Naqadeh, Karim Ahmad in Piranshahr, and Kianosh Rahmani for posting a photo of Ghorbani on social media in Kamyaran. Concurrently, a Tehran criminal court sentenced a Kurdish man named Shirko Agoshi to ten years in prison for “membership of a banned Kurdish opposition party.” Lastly, a Bokan court sentenced two Kurds, Kamal Abbas and Shirko Ahmadpouri, to six months in prison for “working against national security.”
An Iranian Kurdish activist named Ahmed Bikham was found dead in his Erbil apartment on December 31. Bikham was originally from Sardasht and fought with Kurdish forces against ISIS (Da’esh) during the battle for Kobane in 2014. Though Bikham’s death remains under investigation, the Iranian regime has a long history of assassinating dissidents in foreign countries and remains a suspect in several recent killings in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iranian border guards wounded two Kurdish border porters (kolbars) on January 2. Furthermore, mines from the Iran-Iraq War killed a ten-year-old boy in Dehloran, wounded a kolbar near Baneh, and injured a shepherd in Iraqi Kurdistan’s Panjween. Iranian and Turkish border guards have killed over 50 kolbars and wounded at least 163 in 2021. Additionally, at least 515 kolbars have been killed and another 1075 have been wounded since 2012.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released 2021 security statistics, including anti-terrorism operations backed by the US-led global coalition. The SDF said it conducted 115 security operations and raids, foiling 16 ‘large and dangerous” terrorist attacks, arresting 802 terrorists, and “dissolving 93 terror cells.” The International Coalition for Operation Inherent Resolve thanked the SDF fighters for keeping northeast of Syria “ safe & secure.”
Turkey and its proxies escalated attacks on SDF areas, mainly near the M4 highway near Tal Tamer, Ain Essa, and to the north inZarkan town. The Turkish aggression killed a two-year-old and his mother on December 30th in Zarkan (Abu Rassin) town while 60 mortars shelled eastern Ain Essa. At least five civilians were wounded. Separately, dozens of Kurdsprotested following a funeral for a Kurdish fighter who died of his wounds after a Turkish airstrike near Kobani on December 25th. The drone attack killed five members of the People’s Defense Units (YPG).