MESOP MIDEAST WATCH: Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief May 10, 2022 – A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
The Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) reported the Iranian regime was attempting to alter the demography of Kurdish areas, mainly Changing administrative boundaries of Kurdish villages in Mehabad and Bukan to Azeri-majority city of Miandoab. Azeris are Iran’s largest ethnic minority and often receive favorable treatment from the regime because of their adherence to Shi’ism.
A pregnant Kurdish political prisoner named Suda Khederzadeh ended a week-long hunger strike protesting Iranian authorities’ denial of medical treatment in Urmia Central Prison. Khederzadeh’s strike began when prison officials reneged on a promise to send her to a hospital for prenatal care. Khederzadeh has been imprisoned since October 2021. Concurrently, teachers in Marivan launched a strike on Friday to protest poor working conditions in Iran’s schools. On Monday, Iranian teachers demanded the release of two retired Kurdish teachers, Iskandar Lutfi and Massud Nikkha, who were arrested on Saturday for organizing the strike. Also, on Monday, Iranian authorities detained a Kurdish teacher in Kermanshah named Farhad Mirzaie. Meanwhile, Saqqez’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced three Kurdish activists to prison for membership in an opposition party. Zamana Zainwa and Miqad Nazhad received six-month sentences, and Mohammed Salimi received an 11-month sentence.
The Iranian-backed blocs in Iraq’s Council of Representatives failed to form a new government before Muqtada al Sadr’s deadline passed last week. Al Sadr heads Iraq’s largest parliamentary bloc and called upon the independents to form a government. Al Sadr’s call received support from Sunnis and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and demanded at least 40 independent lawmakers establish a government that he will support. Al Sadr issued a May 19 deadline for the independent lawmakers to form a new government, but it is unlikely they will accomplish such a task before the latest deadline passes.
Renewed clashes between the Iraqi military and the Sinjar Resistance Units (YBS) displaced 10,200 Yazidis from Duhok Governorate’s Zakho District. Though the Iraqi government began its campaign against the YBS to facilitate the implementation of the Sinjar Agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the ongoing offensive has raised fears among Iraq’s Kurds that the Iraqi government intends to use the conflict as a pretext for additional measures against Erbil. A Kurdish official reported the YBS met with an Iraqi delegation and agreed to leave residential areas, but the situation remains tenuous, and the Yazidis still suffer from a lack of security and services.
Iraq’s Minister of Oil Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail threatened to enforce a Federal Supreme Court of Iraq ruling that declared the KRG’s oil and gas law unconstitutional and would require the handover of all oil produced in the Kurdistan Region to the Iraqi government. Erbil is currently pushing for a new oil and gas law that would prevent such an outcome, but consensus with Baghdad remains elusive.
The Peshmerga repelled two ISIS (Da’esh) attacks on Thursday and Friday near Perdi and the Qara Chokh mountains in Erbil Governorate’s Makhmur District. One Peshmerga was wounded during the fighting. Da’esh began launching an increasing number of operations in the “Disputed Territories” after Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias removed the Peshmerga from the region on October 16, 2017.
Turkey and its Syrian proxies shelled several areas near the strategic M4 Motorway in an attempt to consolidate control of the road and hinder the movement of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Concurrently, the SDF asserted Turkey attacked SDF-controlled areas over 600 times in April, killing five SDF personnel and two civilians, wounding another 23 civilians, and damaging at least 36 homes. On another note, dozens of human rights organizations and several Kurdish parties denounced Turkey’s plan to relocate one million Syrian refugees to Kurdish lands occupied by the Turkish military. “At a time when we call on the Syrian people to return to their original areas and their properties and not to the settlements established by the Turkish occupation or those that were established under the auspices of [Muslim] Brotherhood associations aimed at achieving certain political goals,” read a statement from the Democratic Union Party (PYD).
The Pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) condemned the police’s aggression against the party headquarter in Ankara last Thursday. The Turkish police attacked party members and broke doors down with verbal threats. At least two people were injured, including a lawyer. Earlier that day, three Turks protested the HDP, but the police blocked access to the building resulting in the HDP’s protest against the police’s “provocation.” In a statement, the HDP said:” These three protestors were directed and controlled by the police. The police continued their provocative actions and blockaded our headquarters, even after the protestors had laid their wreath.” A senior HDP lawmaker said three police officials, Mukadder Kardiyen, Deputy Police Commissioner for Ankara Security Branch, Serkan Cakmak, Security Branch Manager, and Superintendent Murat Guler, threatened to “kill” a party lawmaker. The attack on HDP sparked protests in several Kurdish cities, mainly by feminist and Kurdish organizations.