Iranian Kurdish Groups Lament Lack of US, Western Support

By Zuber Hewrami – RUDAW – 15-11-2013 – WASHINGTON DC – As the world inches closer to an agreement with Iran over its nuclear program, Iranian Kurds feel that it is time the international community, particularly America paid attention to their cause. “The US and the West in general do not have a set and specific policy on the Kurds as a nation, let alone in each part of Kurdistan, even to this day,” Sharif Behruz, the representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) in Canada told Rudaw.

“There is special interest in the Kurdish issue in Iraq and Turkey in Western capitals, primarily because of the dynamics of the states they are under,” he said.

Behruz believes that non-Kurdish Iranian opposition groups try to monopolize any approach to the West, although with their limited resources the Kurds have built on decades of struggle for their freedom in Iran.  “Kurds and their opposition groups in Iran have proven that, like the Kurds in other parts, they can be a tangible force for meaningful change in the interest of peace, stability and democracy in Iran and in the region,” Behruz said.  The US and the West in general do not have a set and specific policy on the Kurds as a nation, let alone in each part of Kurdistan, even to this day,  Salah Bayaziddi, the representative of the Kurdish Komala party in Washington, said that US support for Iranian Kurds can boost their cause, but Kurds or other Iranian minorities do not seem to be on the American agenda.

“In my meetings and gatherings with various US government and non-governmental organizations — especially the State Department —  I have not seen a particular US policy toward Iranian Kurds,” Bayaziddi told Rudaw.

“The State Department, for instance, looks at the issues of minorities as a whole and has not developed a particular view or policy toward a particular minority,” he said. “Kurdish groups need to reunite and lobby with one voice in order to bring meaningful change or grab the attention of the US government and lawmakers on Kurdish cause in Iran,” he advocates. Iranian Kurds have found themselves under attack most recently after the execution of three Kurdish political prisoners, which subsequently caused an uproar across the region, including some of Iran’s own Kurdish cities where angry protesters took to the streets to condemn the hangings.

Speaking to Reuters about the meetings in Geneva over Iran’s nuclear program, Abdulrahman Haji-Ahmadi, leader of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), said, “The Americans and the Europeans are being optimistic, but no internal changes have been made… Pressure on the people and the rate of executions have markedly increased.”

Loghman H. Ahmedi, head of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran in Paris, said that support for opposition groups had waned even more under US President Barack Obama.

  Kurdish groups need to reunite and lobby with one voice,

“The reality at the moment is that our efforts to garner support to bring about regime change and a democratic, federal and secular government in Iran do not correspond with the West’s policy towards Iran, which is to a high degree set by the United States,” Ahmedi told Rudaw.

Ahmedi thinks that regime change in Iran will benefit the country’s population and the region as a whole, and that the Kurds and other opposition groups should support this.

Dr Emanuele Ottolenghi, an Iran expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) in Washington, believes that there are indirect talks between the US and Iranian opposition groups, but without a formal policy. “There are contacts, no doubt, through US embassies abroad, through US NGOs overseas, and there are definitely open channels at the Congressional level between opposition and US legislators. But that is not a policy, it is a dialogue,” Ottolenghi told Rudaw. “The President made it abundantly clear in his UN speech last September that the US does not support regime change in Iran. That means that any active support — political financial or otherwise — to Iranian opposition groups is unlikely to come from government sources,” he noted.

  The Kurds will continue their struggle until they achieve national rights irrespective of Western support, 

Ahmedi said that the Kurdish struggle in Iran is not dependent on Western backing alone. “The Kurds will continue their struggle until they achieve national rights irrespective of Western support,” he said.Ottolenghi believes that the US could do a lot more for minority groups in Iran. For example, it could support their cultural rights and the civil and human rights of their activists inside Iran.“It could also support the demands of all Iranian minorities to have a democratic and federal system inside a new Iran that is no longer ruled by an authoritarian clerical regime,” he said. “Unfortunately, supporting such policies implies supporting regime change – and the current US administration has turned its back on this option.”

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