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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief May 24, 2022

Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief May 24, 2022

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


  • The Iranian regime rallied thousands of its supporters, including members of the Basij militia and Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), outside of Tehran in response to anti-government protests sparked by price increases. IRGC Commander-in-Chief Hossein Salami gave a televised speech and declared, “The enemies mistakenly think the Iranian people will respond to …the rumors that they spread and lies they tell.” The Iranian regime also deployed additional troops to several cities in the nation’s Kurdish region to head off potential protests. At the same time, the state-owned Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) banned Kurdish soccer player Voria Ghafouri from television for criticizing the regime’s failure to address Iran’s poor living conditions and telling several reporters, “Aren’t the authorities ashamed of this situation?” Thousands of activists and soccer fans protested the IRIB’s ban on Ghafouri. On a separate note, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi visited the Kurdish cities of Urmia and Mehabad on Friday and received a cold reception, as many Kurds stayed home and boycotted his appearances. Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) then questioned several Kurdish activists on Saturday. 
  • Sanandaj’s (Sena) Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish man named Afsheen Panahi to one year in prison for cooperation with the exiled Komala party. Panahi was previously imprisoned for three years on similar charges, and the Iranian regime executed his brother, Ramin Panahi, in 2018. The same court also sentenced seven members of the Kurdish Revival Charity to prison for “forming illegal groups.” Moreover, Iranian security forces arrested Armin Sharifi and his wife Hawzhen Latifi in Sanandaj, Saadi Ahmadi in Kermanshah, Awsat Zardaie in Pawa, and ten people in Malekshahi County for protesting rising consumer prices.


  • Two unknown gunmen assassinated a Kurdish restaurant owner and refugee from Turkey named Zaki Chalabi in Sulaymaniyah on Tuesday. Chalabi had lived in Sulaymaniyah for over a decade and routinely advocated for the rights of Kurds in Turkey. Concurrently, two Turkish drone strikes destroyed several cars between Kirkuk and Sulaymaniyah and killed seven people, including two villagers. Turkish forces also attacked several villages in Duhok Governorate’s Amedi District with helicopters and ground troops. Concomitantly, Environmental Protection and Rehabilitation Board of Kurdistan head Abdulrahman Sadiq said, “Nearly one million dunams [247,000 acres] of forests were burned due to wars waged by our neighbors on the Kurdistan Region in 2019 and 2020.”
  • President of Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani visited Sulaymaniyah and pitched a new initiative intended to facilitate understanding between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Barzani met with leaders from every Kurdish party except the New Generation. The KDP and PUK will meet later this week to discuss several key issues, including the selection of a new candidate for the Iraqi presidency, the Kurdistan Region’s election laws, and uniting against the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq’s ruling on the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) oil and gas laws. US Consul General Robert Palladino praised the KDP and PUK for restarting talks, and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) announced it held a “closed meeting” with Kurdish party representatives on Thursday to “openly exchange ideas.” 
  • The Iranian-backed Coordination Committee of the Iraqi Resistance released a statement on Monday threatening further attacks on the KRG. The group claimed “foreign and domestic anti-Iranian elements” were being trained in Iraqi Kurdistan to “spread chaos with clear Zionist fingerprints.” The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) responded by stating aggressions against the region “will bear a heavy price.”
  • ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists perpetrated two attacks in southern Kirkuk Governorate and Diyala Governorate’s Jawala (Golala) on Monday night, killing ten and wounding six. Simultaneously, arsonists targeted Kurdish farmers’ crops in Daquq last week. Most of the area’s farmers harvested their crops earlier because of Da’esh threats and Baghdad’s Arabization policies.  


  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed plans for a new invasion of northern Syria that will target the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES). Erdogan said the operation will commence once the Turkish military completes preparations. In all likelihood, Erdogan wants to implement a 2019 plan that entails Turkish forces establishing a 30-kilometer deep “safe zone” in northeastern Syria and settling thousands of Syrian refugees there. Needless to say, the Turkish military and its proxies never stopped attacking Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled territories along the strategic M4 Motorway, and their most recent assault wounded three civilians west of Tal Tamer. The SDF announced it is “studying the level of expected Turkish threats to northern and eastern Syria and exchanging information with the international guarantor powers.” 


Turkish police raided the home of Agit Ipek, a deceased Kurdish fighter whose remains were sent to his mother by the government via mail. Ipek’s mother, Halise Aksoy, who has been vocal against the government, was not found in the house located in Diyarbakir’s (Amed) Baglar district. On Thursday, the police arrested 13 members of the HDP, including the youth assembly in Amed, Urfa, and Mardin. Moreover, the police in Istanbul detained several activists during a rally organized by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), calling for peace against the Turkish invasion of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Co-chair of the HDP, Mithat Sancar, criticized the government’s economic policy resulting in a crisis. Sincar said:” as inflation skyrockets, as exchange rates rise, the government embraces the rhetoric of war.” As Turkey’s Erdogan continued blocking Sweden and Finland from joining NATO, Sicar said:” Notice that all the issues that NATO is negotiating on the issue of enlargement again come to the Kurdish question.”

Washington Kurdish Institute


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