Sign In / Up

Add contribution as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Comment as a guest

Your email will not be displayed publicly
Benefit of signing in/signing up to personalize comment

Login

Not a member Register   Forgot Password
or connect using
 

Email

 

Rudaw

Analysis

The state of Iranian Kurds behind the curtain of the Middle East turmoil

By Paul Iddon 30/10/2015
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a visit to the country's Kordestan province. Photo: ISNA
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during a visit to the country's Kordestan province. Photo: ISNA

Perhaps overshadowed by events in Iraq, Syria and Turkey's Kurdish regions 2015 has so far proven to be a notable year for Iran's Kurdish region.

From angry riots in the Kurdish city of Mahabad after an apparent rape attempt on a young female Kurdish hotel worker by a government official that led her to jump to her death from a window earlier this year, to the Iranian president visiting Iranian Kurdistan and promising reform, we see just how volatile it can be. What turn it will take in the near future could be highly informative.

“Iranian Kurds have had legitimate complaints – from limits on the use of their language and prejudice against their Sunni Muslims by Shiite authorities to receiving historically a smaller share of government expenditure. Only a more democratic Iran can alleviate these concerns and diminish the temptation to cede. I hope Mr Rouhani can deliver his promises,” Stanford Professor of Iranian Studies Abbas Milani told Rudaw

As with the other Kurdish regions in the Middle East Iranian Kurds have mounted insurgencies against their central government. However their leaders (the most famous doubtlessly being the late Dr. Abdul Rahman Ghassemlou) have also reconciled themselves to the prospect of autonomy within a democratic state that recognizes and upholds their cultural and political rights.

“The situation in Iranian Kurdistan is vastly different from what we have experienced in Syria, Turkey and Iraq in recent decades. In Iran, the Kurdish condition has its own internal driving force. I would say that Iranian Kurdistan is fluid and very much tied with internal political developments in Iran,” Dr. Nader Entessar of University of South Alabama explained.

Following the alleged rape attempt in Mahabad angry Iranian Kurds instantly took to the streets. Riots ensued and the hotel from which the young woman fell to her death was torched. While those riots quickly died down, the clear anger and widespread belief that the regime would do such a thing underscored the discontentment many Iranian Kurds have with Tehran.

However in the few intervening months we have seen that the visit of Iran's president to the country’s often overlooked Kurdish region and his promises of reforms have led to the introduction of Kurdish language studies to universities in Iran. Many Iranian Kurds have in the past traveled to Iraqi Kurdistan to study in their native language since they were unable to do so in their own country.

Despite this, many Iranian Kurds are still reluctant to show optimism about these reforms fearing that they will not amount to much in the long-term and that they are superficial face-saving measures on the part of Tehran.

“Rouhani's emphasis during his first two years has been on the nuclear deal and getting it through the maze of Iran's contentious political divide. Although Rouhani has appointed a top liaison for nationalities affairs, and he himself has made trips to Iran's provinces, there has been little concrete action on his part.  This partly explains the lukewarm attitude of many Kurds towards the Rouhani administration. Many people in Iran are waiting to see if Rouhani can deliver on most of his pre-election sociopolitical promises,” Dr. Entessar explained.

In her history of the PKK Aliza Marcus lucidly described how, back in the 1960's and 1970's, when the Turkish state tried to foster a strong feeling of Turkish identity in young Turkish Kurds, by taking them out of their rural communities and putting them into boarding schools, Ankara, unintentionally, led many young Kurds to soul-search about their identity and indeed demonstrated to them that they were indeed different in many respects, especially culturally, from their Turkish counterparts. 

Similarly with reforms in Iranian Kurdistan locals may be wary about trusting Tehran or believing that these reforms will bear fruit. However if momentum for change is generated from the promises of the president this could in the long-term lead Iran's Kurds to question how far they could go and push for greater cultural and political rights. In doing so when they hit obstacles as a community they may seek to overcome them and if the state tries to suppress them they will only demand more rights and fundamental change to a status quo that has long been inequitable to them.  

Comments

 
Reber | 30/10/2015
Iran's human right record has gotten worse during Ayatollah Rohani's presidency, specially for minorities such as Kurds. More executions more detentions more torture and more oppression. Also the riots that started in the Kurdish city of Mehabad didn't "quickly die out", it was brutally put down by the regime, 27 civilians were killed and hundreds arrested by the security forces, read the latest UN report.
Vibe | 31/10/2015
Why Rudaw calls our country Kordestan and not by proper spelling of Kurdistan?!!! WTF!
Brzoo Kurdi
Brzoo Kurdi | 31/10/2015
i have only one thing to say about this , sham on Jimmy Carter , the former president of the united state , for not stopping these lunatics in time , it is too late now , we have to wait for along time to see these lunatics removed from beautiful Iran ....
Tags :
4547 Views

Be Part of Your Rudaw!

Share your stories, photos and videos with Rudaw, and quite possibly the world.

What You Say

pedo | 6/23/2018 4:02:18 AM
thanks
Registration opens for party alliances in KRG elections
| 18/6/2018 | (1)
not armed! | 6/18/2018 9:31:36 PM
I suppose KRG will be happy to take up arms against the Kurdish freedom fighters to protect Iran? Brilliant!!!!!
OneNation | 6/22/2018 11:42:26 PM
Kick them out KRG, bunch of grandpa led communist terrorists. Iran will not tolerate tribalists, racists and children of landowners/khans b...
KRG won’t let armed parties harm ties with Tehran: spokesperson
| 17/6/2018 | (2)
Mehdi giudarzi | 6/22/2018 7:38:35 PM
Ok
To many trolls | 6/22/2018 9:04:13 PM
As usual no shortages of Turkish and Iranian trolls here, most times they post under Kurdish sounding names lashing out at the US Israel etc. other...
World Cup 2018: Who is Iran’s Kurdish goalkeeper?
| yesterday at 10:07 | (10)
Frank | 6/22/2018 10:40:20 AM
No up until now the US has upheld all it's commentment to the Kurds of Rojava, they defused the situation in Manbij and prevented a Turkish assault...
US Patriot for Kurdistan | 6/22/2018 2:08:07 PM
Sorry, the US never had a presence in Afrin and they never promised the Kurds in Afrin that they would come there to provide help in any way,...
We are staying in Manbij: US general
| yesterday at 07:03 | (6)

Elsewhere on Rudaw

Iran at OPEC: Kirkuk pipeline would increase current oil exports 10-fold 9 hours ago |

Iran at OPEC: Kirkuk pipeline would increase current oil exports 10-fold

we need to increase the level of this swap more
Coalition drops leaflets of ISIS leaders over eastern Syria: monitor 9 hours ago |

Coalition drops leaflets of ISIS leaders over eastern Syria: monitor

"We are in al-Zibah village at the moment more
Burned Kurdish schoolgirls to appeal to President Rouhani for care abroad 11 hours ago |

Burned Kurdish schoolgirls to appeal to President Rouhani for care abroad

Thirty-seven of the girls were injured more
0.235 seconds