MESOPOTAMIA NEWS Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, January 12, 2021

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

  • The head of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Devlet Bahçeli called for the chief public prosecutor of the Court of Cassation to file a lawsuit seeking the closure of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP). Bahçeli also threatened the MHP, which is the main ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), would file an application for HDP closure based on the nation’s political parties law if the Court of Cassation failed to fulfill his demands. The HDP responded by accusing Bahçeli of committing a constitutional crime in exerting undue pressure on the judicial system. Meanwhile, the Grand National Assembly of Turkey is preparing to lift the parliamentary immunity of four more Kurdish HDP lawmakers and prosecute them as it has previously done in the cases of dozens of other jailed lawmakers and elected officials.
  • Turkish police in Van prevented Kurdish leaders of the Democratic Regions Party (DBP) and several HDP lawmakers from holding a public press conference on Kurdish National Unity. Furthermore, the Turkish military arrested five Kurds in Mardin, including a 74-year-old named Fihriye Ercan, on Monday and the police arrested two more Kurds in Diyarbakir (Ahmed) on Tuesday. Concurrently, Kurdish political prisoners continued their hunger strike protesting the isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan and other political prisoners.


  • The Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI) completed its first reading of Iraq’s 2021 budget bill, which is the largest proposed budget in the nation’s history at $113 billion, and will now vote to approve it, though, given the budget’s size and continuing opposition, a vote could still be weeks away. Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdistan continues to follow the bill’s progress closely due to the Government of Iraq’s (GOI) failure to deliver the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) share of the budget that would be used to pay government employees in the region. On another note, the KRG stopped paying more than 13,000 salaries to individuals who were already receiving government salaries and intends to implement further anti-corruption measures. The KRG also plans to deploy joint Peshmerga-police units to border crossings and crackdown on smuggling.
  • On Friday, the US Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on the pro-Iranian chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Faleh al Fayyad. Iranian authorities responded by denouncing the US decision, and Fayyad traveled to Kirkuk Province and held an anti-US rally in Kirkuk Governorate to commemorate the death of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and former deputy leader of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al Muhandis. The rally, which was held in a Kurdish neighborhood and featured hundreds of Iranian-backed militants trampling US flags, angered the governorate’s Kurdish residents. On another note, two US-led coalition airstrikes killed seven ISIS (Da’esh) terrorists in Kirkuk Governorate’s Wadi al Shai.


  • Northeastern Syria experienced a period of relative calm after several weeks of attacks by Turkish forces and Turkish-backed proxies on Ain Essa and the strategic M4 Motorway. Senior Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) commander Chia Firat, in an interview with the Syrian Kurdish outlet Hawar News, announced the SDF had repelled several Turkish attacks and refused Russia’s request to hand over Ain Essa and several surrounding villages to the Assad regime. Syrian Kurds also accused Russia of failing to enforce the Russian-Turkish ceasefire agreement in the region. The most recent round of Turkish attacks has killed five civilians and seven SDF personnel so far.
  • Tensions escalated between local Kurdish security forces (Asayesh) and pro-Assad regime security personnel in Qamishli and peaked with personnel from both sides being detained, though the two sides agreed to release the detainees on Wednesday. A senior Kurdish politician named Aldar Khalil linked the conflict with the Syrian regime to the Turkish attacks on the region and claimed that the head of Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) recently visited Syria and participated in Russia-led mediation. As things stand, the Syrian regime controls parts of Qamishli collectively known as the “Security Square.” On another note, four members of local security units in Deir Ez Zor were killed in attacks perpetrated by Da’esh terrorists.


  • The Iranian regime launched a new campaign against Kurdish political activity last week and arrested 16 Kurds, including two siblings from Baneh named Omed and Karim Mahmud. Concurrently, Iranian authorities arrested a Kurdish man named Shapol Kherzpour in Mehabad on Saturday. Also, on Saturday, Iranian intelligence officers (Ettela’at) arrested three Kurds in Rabat city, including an English language teacher named Farhad Mosapour and his brother, Faridon Mosapour. Moreover, Iranian authorities detained three Kurds in Marivan named Dana Samadi, Karwan Minowie, and Sirwan Karimzada. Likewise, seven students at Tehran’s Kharazmi University, identified by the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK) as Sohaib Baderoj, Farzad Samani, Salar Rahoie, Daria Talabani, Shapol Khezry, Afsheen Hamadj, and Sirwan Noori, were arrested without warrant. Simultaneously, Saqqez’s Iranian Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish activist named Erfan Mortazaie to 18 months in prison for participation in anti-government protests. Finally, three Kurdish activists named Sahram Kazmianam, Safar Noori, and Farhad Muradi began serving 5-year sentences in Marivan for “membership of a Kurdish opposition party.”