- The Statistical Center of Iran released its monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) report last week. The report reiterated Iranian Kurdistan’s status as one of the nation’s poorest and least developed regions, with the Kurdish province of Ilam seeing the highest monthly increase in consumer prices at 8.8 percent. Kurdistan Province, where Sanandaj is located, was ranked fourth among Iran’s provinces with a CPI increase of 7.1 percent.
- The Iranian regime’s brutal crackdown on Kurdish political activity continued with an Islamic Revolutionary Court sentencing five Kurdish activists, who were initially arrested on October 8, 2019 for “actions against national security” and membership of the Society of Revolutionary Toilers of Iranian Kurdistan (Komala), to five years in prison. The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights identified the sentenced as Kaiwan Rashozada, Kamaran Qasimi, Omed Saedi, Aziz Mohammad Pour, and Naib Hajipour. Simultaneously, a Kurdish prisoner in Urmia Central Prison named Hojat Nazhat set himself on fire on Wednesday to protest his denial of release by Iranian authorities following completion of a one-year sentence. Furthermore, an Iranian court issued a suspended five-year sentence to a Kurdish activist named Khalid Zamani in Sanandaj. Lastly, Iranian authorities detained a number of Kurdish activists throughout Iran, including Anisa Maiher in Kermanshah, Darwesh Murdai in Eslamabad-e Gharb, Wahed Abbaszada in Baneh, and Ahmad Mohammadi in Saqqez.
- Two more Kurdish border porters known as Kolbars lost their lives last week, and an additional five were wounded. On Friday, Islamic Republic of Iran Army (Artesh) personnel ambushed and killed a Kolbar named Siamak Karimi near Sabzeyar and wounded another named Ayhan Khodahi on Sunday in Urmia Province’s Bradost region. Likewise, Iranian border guards injured three Kolbars near Kermanshah’s Nowsud border crossing on Tuesday and Thursday. Finally, unknown gunmen killed a Kurdish trucker named Akash Kashawerzi in Ahwaz on Thursday.
- The Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) continuing struggle to pay the salaries of its employees stoked public anger and led to a teacher strike in Kirkuk last week. On Monday, the Kurdistan Region Parliament, in an effort to defuse tensions between Iraqi Kurdistan’s political blocs, postponed a previously scheduled session that opposition blocs and elements of the ruling blocs demanded for the purpose of discussing salaries and the KRG leadership’s next steps towards reaching an agreement with the Government of Iraq (GOI) regarding the region’s share of the national budget. The GOI announced it was willing to distribute part of the KRG’s budget, but such a course of action is facing opposition from Iraq’s Iranian-backed blocs that voted to cut Iraqi Kurdistan’s budget on November 12. That said, a KRG spokesperson announced it will abide by an agreement with the GOI and begin distributing salaries soon.
- Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced the deployment of federal forces in the Yazidi town of Sinjar (Shingal) and withdrawal of the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS), who rejected a previous agreement between the KRG and GOI. On another note, two Kurdish men, who were kidnapped by ISIS (Da’esh) near Tuz Khurmatu and held for over six months, were released following the payment of a $40,000 ransom. Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces arrested a Da’esh operative near Hawija District’s Ryad sub-district. At the same time, Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) personnel, backed by the US-led coalition, eliminated six Da’esh terrorists in the Hamrin Mountains.
- The Turkish military and Turkish-backed proxies continued to target Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) positions near Ain Essa with an intense barrage of indirect fire attacks. The SDF responded by issuing a public statement claiming Turkey’s ongoing artillery strikes have “directly targeted civilian homes” and “wounded two children on the morning of November 29.” The SDF also reported the establishment of additional Turkish bases near the M4 Motorway and warned such a development may signal Turkey’s intent to invade additional parts of northeastern Syria.
- The Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) held its 13th “public consultation” and announced reforms to the governing bodies of the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) that, according to the Rojava Information Center, included “anti-smuggling, anti-bureaucracy, and anti-corruption measures.” Simultaneously, the SDC announced its intent to hold region-wide elections one year from the forum date.
- Kurdish olive oil continues to be smuggled out of Turkish-occupied Afrin, some of which has made its way to US markets. The Syria-based North Press Agency released a video showing tanks of olive oil under the control of Turkish-proxies in Afrin awaiting transfer into Turkey. That said, Turkey’s Republican People’s Party (CHP) expressed opposition to the Turkish government’s allowance of olive oil smuggling, as the illegal trade disenfranchises Turkish farmers.
- The Turkish government continued its campaign of mass arrests targeting Kurdish politicians and activists that has resulted in the jailing of nearly 500 Kurds, most of whom were members of the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), during the past two weeks. Those arrested last week include a number of lawyers and elected officials like the co-mayor of Kozluk Municipality, Nazime Avci. The ongoing political crackdown continues unabated despite Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s declaration of a “judicial reform” period on November 13 that would place a greater emphasis on respect for human rights and attempt to revitalize Turkey’s sagging economy.