MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, February 2, 2021

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


  • The Turkish government’s crackdown on Kurdish political rights continued with Turkish authorities breaking up a pro-Kurdish rally in Batman on Friday and arresting 30 people, seven of whom were detained for social media posts from 2015. Likewise, Turkish police raided homes and detained six people in Van, and two senior members of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) were arrested in Istanbul for hanging posters of the imprisonment of Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. At the same time, the Turkish government continues to disregard calls from European nations to release former HDP co-chair Selahattin Demirtas, who has been jailed since November 2016. The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), who previously issued a ruling calling for Demirtas’s release, is now requesting Turkey defend Demirtas’s pre-trial detention. Moreover, the German government called for the Turkish government to comply with the ECHR’s verdict and release Demirtas.


  • A Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) delegation continued talks with Iraqi political parties in Baghdad in an attempt to reach agreements on Iraq’s 2021 budget bill, which now awaits a vote in the Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI), and the provision of Iraqi’s Kurdistan’s share of the federal budget. The KRG delegation also met with former Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri al Maliki, who called for “gas and oil legislation” that would organize the production and sale of natural resources in the country. That said, Iranian-backed Shia blocs in the CRI remain the main obstacle regarding any agreement and have demanded Iraqi Kurdistan be stripped of its constitutional rights.
  • Iraqi military forces took the Peshmerga’s lead in establishing a new position near Kirkuk Governorate’s Sargaran sub-district to bolster security in Iraq’s “Disputed Territories.” Though it remains unclear whether the Iraqi forces’ move was coordinated with the Peshmerga, a spokesperson from the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) denied initial reports of PMF involvement or deployment. Prior to the most recent deployments, a senior official from the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs informed Rudaw that ISIS (Da’esh) carried out 15 attacks in the region over the past three weeks and bolstered its presence with recruits from Syria. Meanwhile, several Da’esh operatives were arrested in Kirkuk Governorate, and a number of Da’esh militants clashed with Iraqi forces in the governorate’s Daquq District.
  • French intelligence sources claimed the US was considering shifting some of its forces to Iraqi Kurdistan due to continuing attacks from Iranian-backed militias. At the same time, Turkish forces launched another airstrike near the Iran-Iraq border in Sulaymaniyah Governorate. Though Turkey still claims its operations in Iraqi Kurdistan target the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), they have killed dozens of civilians and displaced thousands.



  • Clashes erupted in Qamishli for the third time in two weeks between local Kurdish security forces (Asayesh) and the pro-Syrian regime militias known as the National Defense Forces (NDF). Though neither side claimed responsibility, the clashes occurred after Assad regime supporters held anti-Kurdish protests in the “Security Square” and resulted in one death and three injuries. At the same time, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Asayesh forces were laying siege to areas of Qamishli under the control of the Assad regime in retaliation for its embargo on Kurdish controlled towns in Aleppo Governorate’s Shahba region. On another note, Turkey and its Islamist proxies launched at least one indirect fire attack near Ain Essa as part of a campaign local Kurdish politicians speculate is a coordinated effort between Turkey and the Assad regime to apply greater pressure on the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES).
  • Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) General Commander Mazloum Abdi claimed internal talks would resume between northeastern Syria’s ruling Kurdish National Unity Parties (KNUP) and the opposition Kurdish National Congress (KNC). Abdi went on to say, “The success of the dialogue between [KNC] and [KNUP] is our goal.”
  • The SDF, backed by the US-led coalition, continued targeting Da’esh cells in northeastern Syria last week and arrested three terrorists in Deir ez Zor Governorate’s al Busarayh town and al Diban village.


  • The Iranian regime’s latest campaign against Kurdish political activity, which began in early January, continued last week and has now resulted in over 100 arrests, with Iranian security forces and intelligence officers (Ettela’at) detaining individuals in Sinno (Oshnavieh), Bokan, Marivan, and Mehabad. Among the detained was a renowned Kurdish writer named Mustafa Alikhandaza, who was arrested in Bokan and had his electronic devices confiscated. Concurrently, Iranian authorities arrested a cultural activist in Mehabad named Soran Mohammadi.
  • The Cooperation Center of the Iranian Kurdistan Parties (CCIKP) denounced the Iranian regime’s defamatory portrayal of Kurdish political parties and leaders in film and television programs. The CCIKP went on to describe the most recent productions as part of a “42-year propaganda campaign against Iran’s Kurds that would only “strengthen their base.” Meanwhile, officials in Iraqi Kurdistan, who were also portrayed in the most recent films and programs, joined the CCIKP in denouncing them.