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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, September 28, 2021

30.09.2021
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Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief by Washington Kurdish Institute

Iran

  • Approximately 100 activists, religious leaders, and other public figures released a statement calling for the United Nations (UN), Amnesty International, and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to condemn the Iranian regime’s recent attacks on Kurdish opposition parties in Iraqi Kurdistan. The signatories also requested the international community and KRG mediate negotiations between the Iranian government and opposition parties like the Kurdish Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in the hopes of securing a peaceful solution to Iran’s Kurdish question. That said, the Iranian government, emboldened by the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, has shown little interest in such a process and threatened to launch additional operations targeting dissidents in Iraq. 
  • Unknown assailants attacked a female Kurdish activist named Naska Afkhami’s father’s house with grenades in Sardasht on Thursday morning and caused extensive property damage. The attack followed Afkhami’s release of the names of dozens of individuals responsible for sexually abusing women on social media. Dozens of activists then defied a government ban and held protests in the city calling for the prosecution of those suspected of sex crimes on Saturday.
  • Iranian security forces arrested several more Kurds as part of the regime’s ongoing war on Kurdish rights, including Hassan Qodrati in Oshnavieh (Shinno), Garib Sharifzadeh in Saqqez, Loqman Pirkhezerian in Sanandaj, and Pihnam Khasarpanah in Divanderrah (Diwandara). Furthermore, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Iranian authorities tortured a jailed Kurdish man named Shahin Nasri to death for testifying about the regime’s torture of Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari Sangari. At the same time, Bijar’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish activist named Danish Mawlawi to five years in prison for “propaganda against the regime” and “membership of a Kurdish opposition party.” 

Iraq

  • A US-based nonprofit organization called the Center for Peace Communications sponsored a conference in Erbil called as-Salam and al-Istirad (Peace and Reclamation) that was attended by hundreds of Shi’a and Sunni Arabs, activists, tribal leaders, and former military commanders on Thursday and Friday. The conference, which concluded with approximately 300 attendees calling for the normalization of relations between Iraq and Israel in line with the Abraham Accords, was met with fierce opposition from Iraq’s Iranian-backed political parties and government officials. Moreover, the KRG, fearing the conference was a ploy hatched by Baghdad and Tehran to incite anti-Kurdish sentiment, rejected it and claimed to have “no previous information regarding its agenda.” The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and several Kurdish Islamist parties also refused to endorse the event.
  • Iraqi and Kurdish political parties brushed off fears of low voter turnout and continued campaigning for the parliamentary elections scheduled for October 10. Concurrently, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) bowed to pressure from the Turkmen Front and the Arab Coalition by forming a committee of five non-Kurdish members to oversee elections in Kirkuk Governorate. Iraqi Kurds fear this move will limit the power of Kirkuk’s IHEC branch and facilitate voter fraud in favor of non-Kurdish candidates in the “Disputed Territories.”
  • US Consul General for Erbil Robert Palladino commemorated the consulate’s tenth anniversary on Wednesday by providing updates on the construction of what will be the largest US consulate in the world and reiterating the US’s commitment to Iraqi Kurdistan. “We believe that the United States and Kurdistan Region are better together,” said Palladino during the event attended by Prime Minister of Kurdistan Region Masrour Barzani and several other KRG officials. Prime Minister Barzani responded to Palladino’s remarks by saying, “The Kurdistan Region is better and stronger through your work and your presence.” Meanwhile, the US Consulate General Erbil announced more than four billion dollars had been granted to different sectors of Iraqi Kurdistan during the past decade. Finally, Spain announced plans to open a consulate in Erbil soon.

Syria

  • After visiting Moscow, a Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) delegation arrived in Washington and held a meeting with US officials and Congress. The delegation was led by Ilham Ahmed, the head of the SDC, and consisted of Gassan al Yousif, Co-chair of the Deir Ez Zor civil council, and Nazira Gowrie, Co-chair of al Jazeera. In a public event, Ahmed expressed “willingness to dialogue with Turkey and to resolve all disputes with it by peaceful means and dialogue.” Ahmed also revealed plans of the Autonomous Administration for North and East of Syria (AANES) to hold elections and their acceptance of “International monitoring to ensure the democracy and transparency of the elections.”
  • The Manbij Military Council (MMC), part of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said that Turkey and its Syrian proxies attacked north of the city with 723 rockets in September. The MMC said the shellings targeted villages and areas north of Manbij, damaging the electrical system, homes, and farmlands. Meanwhile, Turkey resumed bombarding areas between the SDF control and the Turkish occupation, including north of the Christian town, Tal Tamer, Ain Essa, and Marea. Kurdish media outlets also reported firings upon on Russian planes by Turkish proxies near Tal Tamer on Sunday.
  • The SDF announced the capture of three more ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists, who were “wanted terrorists” in Raqqa responsible for “hiding and transferring” Da’esh terrorists and “planning and carrying out assassinations.” Furthermore, with support of the US-led coalition, the SDF arrested another Da’esh terrorist in al Hasakah city, involved in “smuggling weapons.” Separately, in the early hours of Tuesday, September 28, more unknown airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed militias near Albu Kamal al Miadin on Iraqi-Syrian borders.
  • For the third time in a week, Russian jets struck Turkish-backed jihadists in Afrin, killing four Turkish-backed al Hamza militants and wounding a dozen. Both Russia and Turkey have been at odds in the recent week in the “de-escalation zone” simultaneously, the Syrian regime is retaking more areas under the Syrian opposition.

Turkey

The fourth “Kobani Trial” against 108 politicians of the Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) adjourned due to the judge’s quarantine. The trials continued last Monday and Tuesday. The HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan accused the judiciary system in Turkey of working by “orders from above” since the case had no legal base but has been politicized by the Turkish ruling party of Justice and Development (AKP) and its ally Nationalist Movement (MHP).

A court in Aydin sentenced an HDP Kurdish politician, Firat Keser to seven years and six months in prison for “membership of a terrorist organization.” Moreover, a criminal court in Diyarbakir (Amed) sentenced a Kurdish lawyer named Nurcan Kaya to one year and three months in prison for “making propaganda for a terrorist organization.” Meanwhile, another racist attack in Turkey targeted Kurdish agricultural workers in Düzce where a mob surrounded their residence and broke a window, demanding they leave since they “do not tolerate Kurds.” According to the victims, the police sided with the attackers and closed the case. Last Friday, the HDP lawmaker, Tülay Hatimogulları, also faced an attack on her home in Ankara when two men posed as “civilian police” and tried to break into her home. In a press conference, Hatimogulları said the prosecutors did not accept her case in court, accusing the government of putting more pressure on the HDP.

The HDP announced a new roadmap to tackle Turkey’s fundamental issues, including the Kurdish question. The road map “Call for Democracy, Justice, and Peace” was announced by both HDP Co-chairs Pervin Buldan and Mithat Sancar. The plan’s announcement came after months of HDP rallies in the Kurdish region and cities with HDP support base.

Washington Kurdish Institute

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