MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, January 5, 2021

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


  • Iran’s crackdown on Kurdish political activity continued into 2021 with Piranshahr’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentencing two Kurdish men, Omar Khagezada and Abbas Sadiqi, to five years in prison for “cooperation with a Kurdish opposition party.” The same court sentenced a former member of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI), Sobhan Ahmadi, to one year in prison in Saqqez. Concurrently, Iranian security forces arrested a Kurdish labor activist named Jawanmier Muradi in Kermanshah on Sunday. Muradi was previously imprisoned several times for activism and participation in anti-government protests. Likewise, the Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK) reported Iranian authorities arrested five Kurds in Baneh, four of whom were identified as Ayoub Sadqi, Zahir Khudaie, Mohammed Karimi, and Basid Jamal. Lastly, the Hengaw Organization for Human Rights claimed the Iranian regime detained 437 Kurdish activists, including minors, in 2020.
  • Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced the secretary of the Iranian Writers’ Association (IWA), Arash Ganji, to 11 years in prison on charges that included “spreading anti-government propaganda.” Ganji was initially put on trial for translating a book about the Kurdish revolution in Syria while imprisoned. PEN America condemned the verdict and described it as an “absurd and unquestionable violation of the fundamental human right to free expression,”
  • Four Kurdish border porters (Kolbars) suffered injuries last week. A Kolbar named Daniel Darzian was injured when he fell from a cliff near Hawraman, and Iranian border guards wounded two Kolbars in Nowsud named Paiam Sohrabi and Abdul Karim. Iranian authorities wounded a third Kolbar in Salas-e Babajani. 59 Kolbars were killed, and at least 179 were injured in 2020, mostly at the hands of the Iranian regime.
  • Iran’s exiled Kurdish parties held talks to address internal fissures and forge a unified platform last week. The General Secretary of the KDPI Mustafa Hijri told Rudaw the KDPI intends to reunify with their splinter, KDP Iran, in 2021 and said, “If we do not reunite in 2021, then we will never reunite.” Meanwhile, Komala is holding reunification talks with its splinters, and Iran’s Kurdish parties previously formed the Cooperation Center of the Kurdistan Political Parties in 2018.


  • The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Government of Iraq (GOI) finally reached an agreement regarding Iraq’s 2021 budget. The agreement, which was announced by the head of the KRG delegation, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region Qubad Talabani, entails the KRG’s provision of revenue from the sale of 250,000 barrels of oil per day and 50 percent of income from border crossings to the GOI in exchange for its share of the federal budget. The Council of Representatives of Iraq (CRI) is set to hold the first reading of the 2021 budget bill next week despite lingering doubts regarding its likelihood of passage over objections from Iranian-backed Shia parties. Many of Iraq’s Iranian-backed lawmakers have criticized the bill’s proposed spending, distribution of funds to Iraq’s southern provinces, and agreement with the KRG, which remains opposed by Iranian-backed parties.
  • Two Kurdish security forces personnel (Asayesh) were injured by an explosion while removing a booby-trapped ISIS (Da’esh) flag in Sulaymaniyah Governorate’s Said Sadiq District. At the same time, three Iraqi Army personnel, including an officer, were killed by a Da’esh IED in Kirkuk Governorate’s Haweja District. Da’esh terrorists also attacked Iraqi Army personnel in Diyala Governorate’s Jawala last Saturday, killing one and wounding seven. Da’esh continues to exploit the fragile security situation in Iraq’s “Disputed Territories” that was exacerbated when Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed militias expelled the Peshmerga on October 16, 2017.


  • The Turkish military and its proxies continued to launch indirect fire attacks on Ain Essa and its suburbs last week. That said, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) repelled several attacks in the area, which has remained under de facto Russian control since the October 2019 US withdrawal. Moreover, Kurdish officials accused Russia of failing to oppose ongoing Turkish attacks intended to divide the Kurdish region and disconnect it from Kurdish towns like Kobani in a manner that would make the region ripe for invasion by Turkey and/or the Assad regime. Turkey has already established a military outpost near the strategic M4 Motorway. Meanwhile, the President of the Executive Committee of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Ilham Ahmad called for Russia to support the self-administration and said she held them accountable for bearing “the mistakes of the Syrian government, greatly.” On another note, the SDF announced it arrested 14 Da’esh operatives planning New Year’s Eve attacks in Deir Ez Zor Governorate.


  • The Turkish government, despite several calls from European nations and a ruling from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), refused to release the jailed former head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas last week. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the ECHR’s ruling, and an Ankara court claimed it dismissed the ruling, which was presented by Demirtas’s lawyers, because it was not issued in the Turkish language. Simultaneously, the Turkish government arrested more Kurds and HDP members, including two refugees from Kobani, in its ongoing campaign against Kurdish political activity. Likewise, Ankara’s chief prosecutor summited indictments against 108 Kurdish politicians for participation in the October 2014 Kobani protests.
  • Münir Karaloğlu, the government trustee who replaced the elected Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir (Amed), fired 84 public sector employees last week. The Turkish government has now removed 60 of 65 Kurdish mayors who were elected in the 2019 elections. At the same time, the HDP office in Bursa Province’s Inegöl District was set on fire last Wednesday in what appears to be the latest in a string of hate crimes that have targeted Turkey’s Kurdish population.
  • Kurdish political prisoners protesting the Turkish government’s ongoing isolation of imprisoned Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan continued their hunger strike for the second month in a row. Turkey’s political prisoners have previously used hunger strikes to draw attention to the Turkish government’s discriminatory policies, authoritarianism, and imposition of a visitation ban on Ocalan.

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