MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief February 15, 2022

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


In an unexpected move, on Tuesday, February 15, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq ruled “the unconstitutionality of the oil and gas law of the Kurdistan Regional Government,obligating Kurdistan to “handover” all oil production from oil fields in the Kurdistan region and other areas to the federal government.

In 2012, the federal government filed a lawsuit against the Kurdistan Region. However, after a decade, the ruling came out, coinciding with a visit by the Kurdish Prime Minister Masrour Barzani to Qatar, discussing oil and gas “synergies.”

On February 13, In a political driven move, the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq rejected Hoshyar Zebari’s presidential candidacy due to “Parliament’s withdrawal of confidence from him when he was Iraq’s Minister of Finance in 2016.” On February 14, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) nominated Rebar Ahmed, the Minister of Interior of the Kurdistan Region, to replace Zebari. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which enjoys close ties with Iran, remains committed to current president Barham Salih’s candidacy. Neither the Iranian-backed parties nor Muqtada al Sadr’s bloc can elect the next president in the Council of Representatives of Iraq until the KDP-PUK dispute is resolved.

A delegation from the Presidency of the Kurdistan Region began negotiations with Iraq’s Kurdish parties to set a date for the 2022 Iraqi Kurdistan parliamentary election and draft a new constitution for the Kurdistan Region. The delegation, led by Dilshad Shabab, a senior advisor to the president, and Chief of the Presidential Office Fawzi al Hariri, held its first meeting with the Change Party (Gorran). The election is currently scheduled for September 30, but the Kurdistan Region Parliament has the authority to postpone it.

Ano Abdoka, the Minister of Transportation and Communications of Kurdistan Region of Iraq, said Iraq and Turkey are discussing plans to construct a new railway between the two countries. Abdoka went on to claim the railway will benefit the Kurdistan Region and said new railway stations in Kirkuk, Mosul, and Dohuk are being considered.

Several Kurdish and Iraqi sources asserted the deployment of the newly minted joint Peshmerga-Iraqi units to the “Disputed Territories” has been postponed until the new Iraqi government is formed. The “Disputed Territories” saw a reduced number of ISIS (Da’esh) attacks last week, and the Iraqi Air Force said it targeted a Da’esh lair in the Zaghaiton Valley.


Leaders of six main Turkish opposition parties convened, discussing switching Turkey’s system back to parliamentary against a five-year-old presidential system sponsored by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The meeting lasted hours, and leaders of the parties announced relieving the outcome at the end of this month. However, after the meeting, the opposition parties faced criticism for excluding the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). In response, the HDP Co-chair Pervin Buldan said, “We know well how to ignore the ones who ignore us.” Currently, the HDP is establishing a “Democratic Alliance” made out of Kurdish and left-leaning parties. The Turkish party meetings included leaders of the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Good Party (IYI Party), Felicity Party (Saadet), Future Party (Gelecek Party), Democracy and Progress Party (DEVA), and Democrat Party.

On the 23rd anniversary of the arrest of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the thousands of people rallied to end isolation imposed on him by the government in prison. Kurdish protests occurred in Amed, Van, Batman, Siirt, Sirnak, and Izmir. Likewise, protests across Europe by the Kurdish diaspora took place, calling Ocalan’s arrest an “international conspiracy.” In a statement, the HDP said, “The isolation and conspiracy that has been going on on Mr. Ocalan for 23 years is, in fact, the policies of insolvency in the Kurdish problem, isolation of peace, persistence in war. On Tuesday, Turkish police occupied a public square in Diyarbakir ( Amed) and surrounded dozens of protesters. Furthermore, dozens of Kurds and HDP members have been arrested by the Turkish police since Friday in Sirnak, Istanbul, Mardin, Adana, Mersin, and Amed.


The exiled Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIKP) released a statement on the 43rd anniversary of the Iranian Revolution that accused the regime of “grabbing” the revolution that was made by “the Iranian nation” and read, “After 43 years of a bloody revolution made by the Iranian nation, the results are poverty, indigence, and hundreds of social issues.” The CCKIP went on to criticize the Iranian regime for its “regional interventions” and provision of millions of dollars to terrorist groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen. Granted, thousands of regime supporters in Tehran celebrated the revolution, which ultimately resulted in the overthrow of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s government and its replacement with an Islamic republic led by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979.

Iranian authorities arrested several Kurds last week, including a Kurdish soldier in the Iranian Army (Artesh) named Mohammed Azizi. The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights claimed Azizi told his family he was detained because his sister is a member of a Kurdish party. Furthermore, Iranian security forces arrested three Kurds in Piranshahr on Sunday, Ramin and Saied Qadiri in Jwanro (Javanrud), and four Kurds in Saqqez. Several local human rights groups claimed one of the Kurds arrested in Saqqez is the husband of a jailed Kurdish activist named Zaman Zewia. Lastly, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) raided a Kurdish printing house in Ilam called “Bashur” and the residence of its owner, a Kurdish poet and writer named Mohammed Nisari.


The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) released a video of a Da’esh terrorist responsible for fundraising in Raqqa’s confession on Sunday. The terrorist, Mohammed Karaz, admitted to targeting businesses that refused to pay the organization protection money with IEDs. That said, dozens of Da’esh terrorists who escaped al Sina’a prison last month remain at large.

SDF General Commander Mazloum Abdi told Rudaw the SDF rejected the Assad regime’s proposal to return northeastern Syria to its pre-2011 status and called it “unfit.” While Abdi stated the SDF remained open to an agreement with the Assad regime, an acceptable arrangement seems unlikely anytime soon.

Turkey and its proxies again shelled SDF-controlled areas near Ain Essa, Geri Spi (Tal Abyad), and the strategic M4 Motorway. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said a Kurdish man died after being “deprived of regaining his house that was appropriated by the Turkish-backed al Sham Legion in occupied Afrin.” Moreover, Turkey’s Syrian National Army continued to illegally excavate archeological sites and exploit seized Kurdish farmlands.