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The Persecuted Kurds of Iran

The Persecuted Kurds of Iran
What the U.S. must do.
By Joseph Puder

Billions in US taxpayer dollars spent on Iraq by successive US administrations have gone down the drain. Iraq has become nothing short of a vassal state dominated by Iran. The George W. Bush administration had foolishly deposed the Sunni leadership of Iraq, which was hostile to the revolutionary Shiite-Muslim theocracy of the Ayatollahs and replaced it with corrupt Iraqi Shiite leaders who have bowed to Tehran’s wishes. Saddam Hussein could have been eliminated without destroying the Sunni-dominated Iraqi army that posed a barrier to the Ayatollahs expansionist and terroristic machinations throughout the Middle East region, and especially in the Arab world. The Obama administration abandoned Iraq to the Iranians without leaving a strong American presence as a deterrence against an Iranian takeover. The Obama administration’s way of departing from Iraq was as weak as the Biden administration’s abandonment of Afghanistan without securing American interests, along with the independence of the people of Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Iranian regime is now demanding from their Iraqi vassals to eradicate the Kurdish-Iranian freedom fighters sheltering in northern Iraq. The Iranian regime warned last week that it will not extend a September deadline for Iraq to disarm the Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in camps within Iraqi territory. If not complied with, Iran threatened further attacks. Its Foreign Ministry spokesman, Nasser Kaanani warned that the September 19 deadline set for disarming the Kurds would not be extended. In July, Iran threatened to use military force should Baghdad fail to comply with its demands. Last September and November, Iran fired ballistic missiles and suicide drones to attack Iranian Kurdish freedom fighters inside Iraqi Kurdistan. The Iranians have, moreover, assassinated Kurdish leaders in urban centers. Iran’s Chief of General Staff Mohammed Hossein Bagheri warned that, “Our operations against these (Kurdish) groups will definitely reoccur more severely unless Iraq did as it was told.” Kaanani said that Baghdad had agreed to transfer the Kurdish fighters to camps provided by the Iraqi government.

The autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq has been hosting the camps operated by their Kurdish brethren from Iran. The Ayatollahs regime has classified these Kurdish freedom fighters as “terrorists.” The Iranian regime has also accused the Kurdish fighters of fomenting unrest following the killing of the young Kurdish woman while in police custody, now known worldwide as the 22-year-old Jina Mahsa Amini. But the beautiful Amini has not been the only victim of the radical Iranian regime. For over a decade now, tensions between the Tehran regime and its Kurdish minority have been rising. Economic inequality and cultural and ethnic oppression have grown steadily. It intensified since the beginning of the 2022 uprising against the Islamic Republic, which spread from the Kurdish region in western Iran to the rest of the country, particularly after the killing of Amini. The Iranian regime has meanwhile increased it repression of its Kurdish minority.

According to The Guardian (November 20, 2022) at least 58 children, some reportedly as young as eight, have been killed by the Iranian regime since the protests against the regime began. According to Human Rights activists in Iran 46 boys and 12 girls under 18 have been killed. Among those who were killed by the Iranian regime’s security apparatus was nine-year-old Kian Pirfalak, who was one of seven people, including a 13-year-old child killed in the western city of Izeh. The Norwegian-based Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported (quoting Amnesty International), that in 2022, 52 Kurdish citizens were executed and more than 2,212 people were arrested, 155 of whom were tried and sentenced to death.

The Kurds are one of the largest and distinct ethnic groups of people denied self-determination. Kurds number between 35-40 million people spread around southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, and western Iran. The Assad regime in Syria, along with Erdogan’s Turkey, and the Ayatollahs regime in Iran have conspired for decades to deny the Kurds self-determination and have oppressed and discriminated against the Kurds in every sphere of life, including culturally and economically. And while the UN and the EU are focused on self-determination for the Palestinians who are no different in religion, language, and culture from their brethren in Jordan, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon, and have had multiple opportunities to gain self-determination, the Kurds have been ignored by the international community.

Iran, in the past few years, has launched numerous cross-border attacks on Kurdish groups finding refuge in the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) territory in northern Iraq. In July, Baghdad’s Interior Ministry announced the deployment of a brigade at the border with Iran, apparently in coordination with the KRG. According to Iranian press reports, the deal between Tehran and Baghdad includes provisions that would forbid Kurdish fighters entering into Iranian territory. Shiite Iraqi troops would be deployed along the border with Iran, and Kurdish fighters would be disarmed. Some of the Kurdish fighters would be handed over to the Iranian authorities, to what would surely amount to a death sentence.

Intimidated by Iranian threats, the KRG authorities have already curtailed some of the Iranian-Kurdish fighters’ activities, including moving them away from their mountain outposts overlooking Iran. While serving an ultimatum to the KRG, Iranian authorities have arrested scores of Kurdish activists and applied considerable pressure on the Kurdish citizenry in Iran not to resume the anti-regime protests, as the anniversary of the nationwide demonstrations over the death of Mahsa Amini is nearing. Iranian Kurdish leaders point out that they are being scapegoated by the Iranian regime in a bid to deflect attention from the real causes of the protests against the regime, which are the chronic lack of economic opportunities and personal freedoms.

The Kurds have been loyal American allies both in Iraq and Syria. The Islamic Republic of Iran repression and murder of its Kurdish citizens is as unacceptable as Saddam Hussein’s (the Iraqi dictator hanged in Baghdad) killing of Kurds in Iraq. The senior Bush administration intervened too late to save thousands of Kurds then. Now, the U.S. should refrain from providing the murderous regime of the Ayatollahs access to the $6 billion in South Korea. The money will be used to provide the Tehran regime with more ammunition to fuel terror against Israel through its Shiite proxies, Sunni Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as transfer some funds to further repress its Kurdish population. This time, the Biden administration should defend the persecuted Kurds of Iran.

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