MESOP MIDEAST WATCH :Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, October 12, 2021

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


Iraq’s October 10 parliamentary elections recorded the lowest voter turnout of any since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Though the official turnout was 41 percent, some observers indicated the actual number may be even lower.

Iraqi Kurdistan also saw low turnout, but Duhok Governorate recorded the highest participation rate in the country at 54 percent, while Baghdad recorded the lowest at 32 percent and Sulaymaniyah the second-lowest at 37 percent. Meanwhile, the Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) released preliminary results that showed the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) winning 32 seats, the Kurdistan Coalition consisting of the Change Party (Gorran) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) securing 17, the New Generation ending up with 9, the Islamic Union (Yakgrtu) taking four, and the Kurdistan Justice Group winning one. Gorran was the biggest loser among Iraq’s Kurdish parties, as it lost all five of its previous seats to the New Generation and failed to meet expectations generated by its alliance with the PUK. On the national level, the Sadrists made a strong showing and appear poised to win 73 seats, while the Sunni coalition of Taqadum (Progress) is forecast to receive at least 38. At the same time, the pro-Iran Fatah Alliance appears to be the election’s biggest flop and will probably finish up with less than half of the 30 seats it won in 2018. Likewise, former Prime Minister Haider al Abadi’s National State Coalition is liable to receive less than4 seats while Noori al Maliki doubled. In Kirkuk Governorate, Kurdish parties won six seats, Sunni Arabs four, and the Turkish-backed Turkmen Front two. The governorate’s 13th seat is a quota seat reserved for Iraqi Christians. The IHEC claimed Kirkuk’s voter turnout was 44 percent and reported the PUK lost three seats, the KDP won two, and the New Generation gained one. That said, all three parties lost votes to independent candidates whose candidacies were facilitated by the 2021 election reforms that divided Iraq’s governorates into multiple electoral districts.

Kurdistan Workers’ Party members claimed a Turkish drone struck an area between Qara Hanjeer and Chachamal for the second time in a week on Saturday and killed two people. However, no major Kurdish or Iraqi media outlets have reported any recent air or drone strikes in the area.


The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) denied responsibility for a mortar attack on Turkish forces in Jarablus in a statement that read, “Our forces have nothing to do with the bombing of the city of Jarablus or the Turkish border. We believe that it is a repeated Turkish intelligence game, implemented by mercenaries supported by the Erdogan regime, and the Turkish people know them well.” At the same time, the Director of the Media Center of the SDF, Farhad Shami, accused Turkey’s Minister of Defense of “posting fake photos and videos” of alleged SDF attacks, including several instances where the Assad regime shelled civilian areas. Furthermore, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan issued additional threats against Syrian Kurds on Monday and accused them of killing two Turkish soldiers. Of course, Erdogan failed to mention Turkey and its Islamist proxies shelled several villages near the Christian town of Tal Tamer, including Tal Juma and Tal Kaifchi, and two villages northeast of Manbij, al Hosharia and al Jat. Lastly, an IED exploded in downtown Manbij on Monday but caused no reported casualties.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) drew attention to Turkey’s invasion of the region on its second anniversary by calling the incursion “two years of heinous violations and practices that are not related to any moral or emotional standards.” The AANES also accused Russia, the Assad regime, and the international community of failing to oppose Turkey’s invasion and said, “Turkey is continuing to destroy Syria, tearing up its society, and imposing policies that are not in line with the Syrian interest.”

The SDF announced the arrest of several drug dealers and confiscation of fenethylline and hashish in Deir Ez Zor on Saturday.


The Turkish anti-terror police raided a Kurdish wedding in Ankara because some guests had Kurdish clothes on. The police demanded the wedding footage from the family. Furthermore, the Turkish police arrested 18 people, mainly Kurds and HDP supporters in Bitlis, Aegean, and Urfa.

A Turkish appeals court in Urfa upheld the four years, six months prison sentence of Yaşar Gündüzalp, the head of the HDP in Suruç district. Gündüzalp was jailed in 2017 for two years and released pending a decision by the appeals court. Moreover, a criminal court Van sentenced the former Kurdish mayor of Özalp district, Yakup Almaç, to eight years, six months to prison for “membership of illegal organization.”

The HDP filed a motion to the parliament’s presidency to include a proposed draft law, which calls for a national remembrance day for the Ankara Massacre on October 10, in voting. The HDP parliament group suggested October 10 as a “day of remembrance and mourning” in honor of 104 Kurds and HDP supporters who were killed in a terror attack in Ankara in 2015. On Sunday, the police attacked several people in Ankara who were commemorating the 6th anniversary of the massacre.

  • As Turkish government continues to isolate the imprisoned Kurdish leader, Abdullah Ocalan, Kurds across Europe and the US launched a social media campaign, calling for the end of this isolation. “Turkey’s social peace and free life option of peoples were imprisoned in Imrali. We call for an end to isolation,” read a statement by the HDP. The October 8-10 social media campaign reached millions of people, and organizers vowed to continue to do more work to raise the issue. Ocalan is banned from being visited by his family, lawyers, or human rights organizations.


Several female Kurdish activists gathered in front of a Sanandaj court on Wednesday to protest violence against women in Iran. The protesters carried banners that read “stop women murders” and “enough” and called for police to investigate the recent suspicious suicide of a woman named Faiza Malaki.

The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Iranian security forces arrested four Kurds from the same family in Mehabad, Farouq Solimani, Massoud Solimani, Diyar Solimani, and Mohsen Solimani, on Saturday. Further, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) shot and arrested a Kurd named Hiwa Mosazahad outside Piranshahr. Concurrently, the Iranian regime sentenced an imprisoned Kurdish activist named Naser Hamilti to one year in prison for “propaganda against the state.” Hamiti was already serving a two-year sentence on similar charges for participating in anti-government protests in November 2019.