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Kurdish group shows 'conditional' support for Rouhani's second-term in office

By Rudaw 3/5/2017
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday (C) arrives for the opening of the Setareh Khalij Fars (Star of the Persian Gulf) refinery in the Gulf port city of Bandar Abbas. Photo: AFP/ hand out/ Iranian Presidency.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday (C) arrives for the opening of the Setareh Khalij Fars (Star of the Persian Gulf) refinery in the Gulf port city of Bandar Abbas. Photo: AFP/ hand out/ Iranian Presidency.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Campaigns for the Iranian presidential, city and village council elections kicked off in late April. Landmarks and walls are increasingly seen bearing posters of candidates who have already started rallying and canvassing. Election campaigning is especially heated on Iran’s only permitted social network known as Telegram.
The Kurdish population in Iran, or the eastern Kurdistan, awaits another round of national elections to see whether candidates will live up to their campaign promises. They have tested the reliability of many candidates in past elections, but say that so far none have followed through on campaign promises.
They do not have many options in the upcoming Iranian presidential elections. Kurds will be facing three options: following the path chosen by Kurdish parties to boycott the elections, voting for Hassan Rouhani who didn't live up to his previous campaign promises, or radicals who don't believe in the demands of the Kurdish nation.
These three options have polarized opinions among the Kurds. The Kurdish United Front, an organization working inside eastern Kurdistan, has not yet declared its stance on the candidates, unlike other political parties of the region.
“We haven’t yet decided which candidate to support,” Dr Azad Muhammediani, spokesperson for the Kurdish United Front, told Rudaw, adding that they haven’t yet spoken to the candidates to see which ones are willing to fulfill their demands.
The Kurdish United Front have called for a meeting with reformist and moderate candidates. They say they are closer to reformists as they are apparently more willing to listen to their demands.
The incumbent president, Hassan Rouhani, promised a number of things to the Kurds and other nations in Iran in his previous election campaigns, but didn't follow through on most of them. This is what The Kurdish United Front and Kurdish activists find concerning about reformists and moderates
“We need guarantees in order to support Rouhani,” Muhammediani added. Many Kurdish activists argue that the Kurds shouldn't give Hassan Rouhani a blank cheque.
“Under current conditions, and out of the available choices, Rouhani is more suitable than others,” Dr Kareem Fatahpur, former MP for Urmia in the Iranian parliament, said. 
Rouhani in coordination with Kurdish activists issued a statement in his first election campaign in which he promised the Kurds certain things. Had he followed through on those promises, the Kurds would support him again without hesitation.
Education in their mother tongue and appointing Kurdish officials in specific departments were among Rouhani’s most important campaign promises in his first bid for president. He also promised to dedicate a special budget to develop underprivileged areas and eliminate discrimination, but lived up to few of his campaign promises.
“Rouhani wasn't successful in settling internal questions, unlike external ones,” Fatahpur added. The problem for the Kurds is that other candidates don't have anything to offer them. That is why they might support Rouhani again.
The radical candidates don't believe in the demands of the Kurds or the rights of other ethnic or religious minorities. This along with Rouhani’s unfulfilled promises has limited voting options for the Kurds. Hence, voter turnout in this round of elections might be low, Fatahpur predicts.
“Rouhani’s not committing to his promises has made people feel hopeless,” he explained.
However, Kurdish activists believe that there was some kind of tolerance toward (the Kurds) during Rouhani’s presidency, claiming security situations in Kurdish populated areas were not as tough as they were during the eight years of presidency by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Appointing a Sunni Kurdish ambassador and opening a Kurdish language department at Sanandaj University are viewed by some as positive changes that Rouhani has brought about during his presidency of the country. That is why some people feel that he should be supported again in this round of elections.
But six main parties of the Kurdish region have decided to boycott this year’s elections and have also called upon people to abstain from them.
However, KODAR which is regarded as a Kurdistan Workers Party’s (PKK) affiliate group in the Kurdish region of Iran, has asked people to participate in these elections.


duroi | 3/5/2017
Rouhani is the manifestation of the dodgy character in the movie "Marmoolak" (lizard). Kurds made a big mistake by voting for this marmulak and he bit their hands by dividing the Kurdish provinces in Iran into 2 separate administration regions (3 and 4). Rohani is also a conservative clergy in the same camp as Raeisi and it is a mistake for Kurds to vote for Shiite akhond (clerics) who discriminate Sunnis in Iran for being Sunni. I boycott the elections in Iran, but if you vote, then don't vote for Qalibaf or the two akhonds to ensure the election will go to the 2nd round.
Muraz Adzhoev | 3/5/2017
"Promises" to fulfill the Kurdish people's national, territorial, cultural, economic and social rights (demands) are not "guarantees" at all, especially in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. The position of the KNF is at least very much naive and senseless. There is only one option - to boycott the elections led and directed by Iranian criminal regime. Guarantees for the Kurdish people in other regions of Greater Kurdistan could be provided by political, diplomatic, economic efforts of sovereignly independent Southern Kurdistan. Western Kurdistan most likely will be reintegrated with independent Southern Kurdistan, because de-facto Syria is already deadly failed. Northern Kurdistan most likely will become an autonomous region of democratic presidential Turkey, and Eastern Kurdistan - an autonomous region of new democratic Iran.
Rizgar | 3/5/2017
I'm really sorry for all those who naively think that a mullah (Rouhani) would ever listen to Kurdish demands. The conversation between The Kurdish United Front and the so-called 'reformists' would be over the moment the Kurds dare to say that they belong to a distinct nation from the Persians. The Islamic Republic will never do anything to 'improve' the situation of Kurds, as long they are, and want to remain 'Kurds.' This election is meaningless, especially for the Kurds.
Cuttheroots | 5/5/2017
@rizgar All Kurds in the world are Iranians. The problem in Iran is nepotism, islamism, anti-Iranism. We, the collective Iranian nation (Kurds, persians, Baluch,Pashtuns) suffer from tribalism, nepotism and islamism. Blaming each other is a symptom, not a cause of our problems. Lets destroy nepotism, tribalism, Islamism which like cancer is eating our history, culture, Unity, economy, education, health and environment. Or if you are happy with current situation, just like sheep keep following and repeating what "our leaders" are dictating.

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