Who is behind the recent assassinations in Iranian Kurdistan?

Kurdishaspect.com - By Loghman H. Ahmedi

Two weeks ago, five officials of the Islamic Republic of Iran were killed in a series of assassinations in the Kurdish city of Snne (Sanandaj). The circumstances surrounding these assassinations remain a mystery. The same goes for the identity of those who ordered and carried out the assassinations.

No Kurdish organization has taken responsibility for the assassinations. In fact, all the secular Kurdish organizations have condemned them. Noteworthy in connection to the murders is the confusion that the statements and actions of the Islamic Republic have created.

The Iranian regime first blamed Kurdish opposition groups and then foreign agents for the assassinations. But in the end, the regime announced that Sunni extremists linked to Al-Qaeda had carried out the assassinations. In retaliation, the regime undertook a series of “operations” in the city, targeting suspected Sunni extremists, killing four and arresting fourteen.

Since then, the regime has stepped up arbitrary arrests of Kurdish activists in various cities in Iranian Kurdistan. Evidence have also surfaced that the regime is planning to execute several Kurdish activists currently jailed for being members or supporters of Kurdish opposition groups.    

But who are the Sunni extremists linked to Al-Qaeda, that allegedly assassinated five officials of the Islamic Republic, and why are secular Kurdish activists being targeted?

The Sunni-extremists that Iran is claiming to be behind the assassinations are a network of groups that the Islamic Republic supported, funded and in some cases even established. They were being used by Iran in an attempt to curb Kurdish nationalism in Iranian Kurdistan as well as in Iraqi Kurdistan. Some of these groups even controlled large territories around the districts of Halabja and Penjwen in Iraqi Kurdistan on the Iran-Iraq border until 2003, when American
Special Forces in coordination with Iraqi-Kurdish Peshmerga units, managed to force them back into Iran.

These groups reorganized and resettled, with Iran’s consent and support, in cities like Mariwan, Snne and Paveh in Iranian Kurdistan. Never during the last couple of years have these groups targeted the Islamic Republic. On the contrary, they have continuously targeted secular Kurdish political activists who struggle for the attainment of Kurdish national rights. Since the Islamic Republic regards secular Kurdish political activists as a “strategic threat” to its “territorial integrity,” its alliance of convenience with Al-Qaeda offshoots against secular Kurdish nationalism is consistent with Tehran’s overall tactical and strategic calculations. Its support for the Taliban in Afghanistan against NATO-forces is an example of a similar calculation.

The activists that face execution are all sentenced by the Islamic Republic for their alleged affiliation to secular Kurdish political organizations that believe that these Sunni extremists are a creation of the Islamic Republic itself. So, how is it possible that the regime, on the one hand, imprisons Kurdish activists for belonging to secular organizations and, on the other hand, wants to execute them for actions taken by Al-Qaeda offshoots?

As mentioned, all the Kurdish political organizations have condemned the assassinations. They also warned at an early stage that Iran could very well be behind the assassinations in order to have a pretext to increase its crackdown on Kurdish activists.

Since no one in the International Community, or in Iran, will object to cracking down on groups affiliated with Al-Qaeda, Tehran is bent on utilizing cynical and vicious means to crush organized secular political and civil struggle in Iranian Kurdistan.

Loghman H. Ahmedi is the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan’s representative to the United Kingdom. Ahmedi maintains a blog at www.loghmanahmedi.com


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October 5, 2009
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