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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, July 20, 2021

21.07.2021
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Iraq

  • Security forces in Erbil released a video of five ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists admitting plans to target Eid al Adha celebrations in the city with suicide attacks. At the same time, the Kurdistan Region Security Council claimed Da’esh terrorists were planning to target locations frequented by foreigners. 
  • The US-led coalition supplied the Peshmerga with additional tanker trucks and logistical equipmentlast week. Furthermore, the Ministry of Peshmerga (MOP) announced the formation of two joint brigades consisting of Iraqi and Peshmerga personnel to address the ongoing lack of security in the “Disputed Territories.” Deputy Ministry of Peshmerga Sarbast Lazgin said negotiations are now underway to arm and fund the new brigades.
  • Another round of the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue is set to take place in Washington on Friday, July 23. Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi will head a delegation of Iraqi and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) officials that will meet with US President Joe Biden to discuss the strategic partnership between the US and Iraq and other issues of mutual concern. 
  • Turkey’s ambassador to Iraq, Ali Riza Gunay, met with the Turkish-backed Turkmen Front in Kirkuk on July 13. Local sources claimed Gunay discussed several internal issues facing the Turkmen Front, including the Sunni-Shia divide. Furthermore, several Turkmen Front members displayed a Turkish flag and greeted Gunay with the hand gesture of the far-right Grey Wolves organization, which angered locals but has not elicited a government response so far. 
  • On July 15, the Belgian Federal Parliament voted unanimously to recognize Da’esh’s mass killing and enslavement of Yazidis in 2014 as genocide. Dutch lawmakers approved a similar measure on July 6, and several other states, including the US and Iraq, have recognized the Yazidi genocide, offered humanitarian assistance to survivors, and aided efforts to find those who remain missing. 

Syria 

  • Turkey and its Islamist proxies launched several indirect fire attacks on Kurdish-controlled areas near Tal Rifa’at and Aleppo Governorate’s Tal Muthiq. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said the shelling injured five civilians, including a child, and claimed Turkey arrested ten Kurdish civilians in the Turkish-occupied towns of Afrin and Sari Kani (Tal Abyad). Moreover, Turkey limited the Euphrates River’s flow into northeastern Syria for the fifth month in a row as part of an ongoing policy that has caused severe drought, electricity shortages, and significant damage to local agriculture.  
  • French President Emmanuel Macron received a delegation from the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East of Syria (AANES) and reaffirmed“the need to continue work in favor of the political stabilization of northeastern Syria and inclusive governance.” The AANES delegation included Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) head Ilham Ahmad, Civil Council of Deir Ez Zor director Ghassan Youssef, and AANES Executive Council Co-chair Berivan Khaled.  
  • SDF General Commander Mazloum Abdi called upon the international community to “investigate Turkish and militia crimes in Afrin and stop crimes against humanity.” Abdi’s remarkscame in response to Turkey’s exhumation of a cemetery where Kurdish fighters killed during the invasion of Afrin were buried and Turkish claims the Kurds were responsible for the deaths of those found in “mass graves.” 
  • Tens of thousands of Kurds celebrated the ninth anniversary of the establishment of AANES on July 12 by launching a social media campaign called #Status4NorthAndEastSyria. Among other things, the campaign honored veterans of the campaigns against Da’esh and called for international recognition of AANES. 
  • The Afrin Human Rights Organization claimed Assad regime officials tortured a Kurdish man named Azad Khalil to death in Aleppo. Khalil was arrested two months ago, and dozens of Kurds have been arrested for suspected pro-Kurdish sentiments that are described by the Syrian regime as “nationalist affiliation.” 
  • The SDF arrested several Da’esh terrorists in Deir Ez Zor Governorate’s Busayrah and al Suwar towns and rolled up a cell responsible for smuggling Da’esh relatives from al Hawl camp into Turkey. At the same time, 82 more families from al Hawl were returned to their homes in Raqqa as part of ongoing reconciliation efforts between the AANES and Arab tribes in northeastern Syria. 

Turkey

  • On Wednesday, an attack on the People’s Democratic Party (HDP) office in Muğla caused property damage. Turkish police eventually detained the attacker, who perpetrated a similar attack on the HDP in 2018. Wednesday’s incident is the latest in a string of assaults on the HDP that include a June 17 attack on an HDP office in Izmir that killed a Kurdish woman named Deniz Poyraz. 
  • The HDP launched a series of rallies known as the “Defence Campaign” as part of ongoing efforts to preserve its existence as a political entity after the Constitutional Court of Turkey accepted the Turkish government’s case seeking closure of the party. Simultaneously, HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan released a statement that ruled out the possibility of negotiations with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) in saying, “Not even a single Kurd wants to sit at the table with the AKP amid the atrocities committed by the AKP, the detention and arrest of our mayors, our arrested deputies in prisons, and the lawsuits filed against us.” On another note, HDP lawmaker Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu had his parliamentary status restored after the Constitutional Court ruled the Turkish government’s case against him violated Gergerlioğlu’s “right to freedom of expression” and “right to contest in elections and engage in political activities.” 

Iran

  • The Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIKP) released a statement in support of anti-government protests that have been ongoing in Khuzestan Province since July 15. The protests, most of which occur in the Arab-majority city of Ahvaz, began when a newly constructed dam caused severe water shortages. Thus far, the Iranian regime has responded by killing several protestors and arresting dozens more. The CCIKP referred to the use of force against civilians as “the Iranian government’s usual policy, against the rightful protests and demands of the people,” while the drought caused by the dam’s construction has damaged agricultural land in several provinces, including Kurdish ones, and is perceived as part of Iranian authorities’ ongoing campaign of discrimination against minorities.  
  • Iranian security forces arrested a Kurdish man and member of the Sunni Kurdish “Quran school” named Farid Nasqashbandi in Sanandaj. Iranian authorities also arrested four Kurds in Urmia identified as Shirzad Qassimlu, Mamlie Abdi, Khorsid Ibrahimi, and Jalal Ibrahimi. Concurrently, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) tortured a Kurdish man named Ahmed Rahmanian to death after his arrest on July 13. 
  • Iranian authorities injured four more Kurdish border porters (Kolbars) last week, including Khalil Solimani in Nowsud and Mosa Zibapour, Zahir Tazahum, and Saed Tiso in Piranshahr. Despite the risks associated with becoming a Kolbar, however, poor living conditions and high unemployment rates in Iran’s Kurdish region are encouraging more Kurds to adopt the profession.
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