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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, October 2021

Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, October 2021

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

Kurdistan's Weekly Brief, October 2021
Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, October 2021


Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) finally announced the preliminary results of the nation’s October 10 parliamentary elections. The election’s official turnout rate was 43 percent, and its major winners were Muqtada al Sadr’s Sairoon Alliance, which won 73 seats, the Sunni-led Taqqadum (Progress), which won 37, and former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s State of Law Coalition, which took 34. On the other hand, the election’s biggest loser was the Iranian-backed Fateh Alliance, which went from winning 48 seats in 2018 to 15 in 2021. Former Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s National State Coalition also fared poorly and lost 36 of the 40 seats it won in 2018 to end up with four. Iranian-backed militias responded to the Fateh Alliance’s poor showing by making threats and accusations of voter fraud, but the Iraqi government deployed thousands of troops across Baghdad and closed the entrance to the Green Zone to prevent attacks or riots. On the other hand, the election’s winners, including al Sadr, accepted the results and vowed to form “coalitions based on nationalism” instead of “sect or ethnicity.” Concomitantly, Iraq’s Kurdish parties won a total of 62 seats, with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) winning 32, the Kurdistan Alliance consisting of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Change Party (Gorran) 16, the New Generation Movement nine, Islamic Union four, and the Kurdistan Justice Group one. The PUK and KDP began negotiations on Monday and are expected to ally with the Sairoon Alliance in the upcoming cabinet, though it remains unclear if Prime Minister Mustafa al Kadhimi will receive a second term. 

Gorran’s entire leadership, including its general secretary, Omar Saed Ali, resigned after the party lost all five parliamentary seats it won in 2018. Gorran defected from the PUK in 2009 and gained some support in Iraqi Kurdistan before losing all its seats and most of its support to the New Generation Movement. 


The Turkish military and its Islamist proxies began acting on repeated threats to launch additional incursions into Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) territories by building up forces along the Syrian-Turkish border. Initial reports indicate Turkey intends to occupy Tal Rifaat, Ain Essa, Tal Tamer, and Kobani. Turkish forces are also likely to seize additional portions of the M4 Motorway to cut the AANES’s lines of communication. While it remains unclear what the US and Russia’s positions are regarding another Turkish invasion, northeastern Syria’s Kurds fear a replay of the 2017 Astana agreement between Russia and Turkey that paved the way for the latter’s occupation of Afrin. Tal Rifaat hosts thousands of displaced Kurds from Afrin who have vowed to resist Turkish occupation. Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced Turkey and its proxies shelled Ain Essa and caused damage to civilian homes and property.  

The SDF announced the arrest of two ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists, including a financier. Despite the SDF’s success, however, Da’esh intensified its attacks on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the desert areas near Resafa, southwest of Raqqa. While Da’esh inflicted numerous casualties on the SAA during the assault, its forces eventually withdrew in the face of several Russian airstrikes. 

A pro-Kurdish media outlet accused Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of torturing a pregnant Kurdish woman named Nemaat Shikho to death. Shikho and her husband, Khalil Na’asan, were arrested on unknown charges in Turkish-occupied Afrin last week. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Turkish proxies engaged in a new round of infighting over stolen Kurdish olives. 


The Turkish government issued a new wave of prison sentences against several Kurdish politicians and the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In Edirne, a criminal court sentenced the Kurdish singer Hozan Canê to three years and six weeks in prison for “supporting” the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) based on social media posts. The sentence was issued in absentia since the singer resided in Germany. Further, the Diyarbakir (Amed) court sentenced HDP assembly member Mehmet Mamedoğlu to seven years and six months for “membership” of the PKK. Mamedoğlu and his lawyers rejected the charges since it was based on a “secret witness.” Meanwhile, a court in Van added twenty months of prison to former HDP lawmaker Aysel Tuğluk who is already serving ten years of prison time based on charges related to “membership” and “propaganda” of the PKK. Separately, on Monday, Ankara’s court resumed the fifth hearing of the  “Kobani Trial” against 108 politicians of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). The HDP defendants rejected the hearing as the appointed judge was absent due to illness.

The HDP continued efforts to rally more support in preparation for the 2023 elections. On Friday, the HDP Co-chair Mithat Sancar met with nine Kurdish parties in Amed as part of the “Kurdistan Alliance.” After the meeting, Sancar said:” We hope to forge a companionship, a unity of struggle, and a broad alliance in both the Kurdish region and Turkey as a whole.”

In an exclusive interview, the jailed Kurdish politician, former lawmaker Selahhatin Demirtas, told Kisadalga news that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan controlled everything during the peace process in 2013. “We have worked hard to get the CHP involved and bring the matter to Parliament. But we have always faced obstacles, barriers. For example, Erdogan wanted everything under his control. Imagine that as co-leaders of the HDP, we have never once met Erdogan face-to-face during the Peace Process.” said Demirtas. In the interview, Demirtas warned about economic collapse, opposition parties, and election transparency. 


Iranian border guards ambushed a group of Kurdish border porters (kolbars), seized hundreds of cattle, and killed a kolbar named Zhyar Alipour. Iranian border guards also injured a kolbar named Sarkawat Mirzaee near Baneh on Saturday. Concurrently, Iranian security forces shot and severely wounded a 28-year-old Kurdish man named Adib Saedpanah in Sanandaj. Lastly, a mine from the Iran-Iraq War exploded and severely injured a Kurdish man named Rasol Rahmani near Nowsud.  

Marivan’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish man, Hassan Faraji, to ten months in prison for “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” At the same time, Saqqez’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish activist named Ibrahim Shoriani to seven months in prison on the same charge for social media posts. Furthermore, a court in Naqadeh sentenced Mohammed Hussein to 15 months in prison for participation in a protest and “membership of a Kurdish opposition party.” Simultaneously, Iranian security forces arrested a female Kurdish activist in Ilham named Khadejia Medhipour, a female Kurd in Piranshahr named Suda Khederzadeh, and two Kurdish men from Baneh named Saman Mohammadi and Sharif Khabat. 

Washington Kurdish Institute



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