Sep 15, 2015

Iranian Kurdistan: Tension among Factions Amplified

The recent violent clashes in the city of Mariwan have resulted in the killing of 20 Iranian border guards, further escalating the already-existent unstable situation and tense relations among various Kurdish groups actively operating in the region. The PJAK, an Iranian offshoot of Turkey-based PKK, reportedly guilty for the recent attacks, has been criticized both by the Iranian Komala party and the PDKI for potentially inciting armed conflict and further compromising the security of the region.


Below is an article by Rudaw

Now is not the right time for Kurdish groups to restart an armed conflict with Iranian security forces, a senior leader of the Iranian Komala party said, criticizing an attack by a rival Kurdish group that reportedly killed 20 Iranian border guards last month.

"It gives the Islamic Republic of Iran an excuse to militarize the Kurdish areas further," Reza Kaabi, deputy leader of Komala, told Rudaw in an interview.He described the fighting as the actions of the outlawed Kurdish PJAK group.

"There is no broad public support for these clashes," Kaabi claimed, stressing he was not condemning PJAK itself. The group is believed to be the Iranian wing of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

There have recent clashes between Iranian security forces and Kurdish guerrillas. Both Komala and Iran’s other Kurdish rebel group, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI), have denied involvement.

Early this month a local commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards claimed his forces had killed “a number of” Kurdish rebels in Jwanro, close to the predominantly Kurdish city of Kermanshah in northwestern Iran. The attack is believed to have been targeted on PJAK positions.

The escalation of violence in Iran’s volatile western borders came after PJAK said it had killed 20 Iranian soldiers in an attack on a military outpost in the city of Mariwan last month, a claim denied by Iranian authorities at the time.

Kaabi said that Komala, which operates military training camps in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, had not been involved in clashes with Iranian security forces since the 1990s. He said the group has no "immediate plans" to resume armed struggle.

"The people of Kurdistan (in Iran) are not ready for it. But we are always prepared if things should change,” Kaabi said.

A source at another Kurdish rebel group, who did not want to identify further, claimed that PJAK had been forced to step up its game because other competing Kurdish rebel groups were sending in their own Peshmerga fighters into Iran.

"PJAK has to show itself, now that Peshmerga from other Kurdish parties are illegally going to Iran,” said the source, who recently returned from the Iraqi Kurdistan region, where Kurdish groups opposed to the Iranian regime are based.

He predicted more clashes to come between Iranian security forces and the Peshmerga.

Rostam Jahangiri, a senior politburo member of PDKI, confirmed that his group had sent guerrilla fighters into Iran in May. He said that a PDKI fighter had been killed by PKK guerrillas in Kalashin.

"Our Peshmerga forces will go there and be among the people, make propaganda and rally support,” he told Rudaw.

He said the PDKI did not want war, but was forced by Iranian actions against its Kurdish minority, which lives in Iran’s poorest and most deprived regions and wants rights such as Kurdish language courses in regional state schools.

"The regime is dictatorial and does not listen to criticism. It does not give people the opportunity to voice criticism in radio, newspaper or television. What can we do?" he asked.

Taimoor Aliassi, the UN Representative of the Association for Human Rights in Kurdistan of Iran in Geneva, did not believe the clashes between PJAK and Iranian security forces would escalate, noting there had been a ceasefire since 2011. 

But he feared the fighting would worsen the human rights situation in the Kurdish regions, and that family members of Kurdish guerrillas would be harassed by Iranian security forces.

“When such situations in Iran occur, the family members are monitored and interrogated,” he said.

Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani recently promised to give minorities more positions in government.

In the first tangible sign for Kurds, Saleh Adebi, a Sunni Kurd, was appointed as the country's first ambassador to Vietnam and Cambodia. 

But Kaabi said the ambassador is “part of the regime, so it makes no difference to the Kurdish cause.”

PJAK did not respond to repeated attempts by Rudaw to obtain comment from the group.



 Photo Courtesy: -artmatters- @ Flickr