Iranian Kurdish women mourning the death of six KDPI Peshmerga killed in clashes with Iranian revolutionary guards last week.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— When young Nashmil Abdi joined Iran’s Kurdish Peshmerga years ago, she found not only a cause worth fighting for, but also the love of her life, Salah Nadiri.
Things could not have gotten better than that, she says, to wake up and work every day with her sweetheart for a cause that they loved so dearly.
“I worked as a photo editor for the party’s official mouthpiece paper where Salah also worked as a photographer,” Nashmil says. “I saw him there first,” she says and it was love at first sight.
It was the best of times, Nashmil remembers, until last week when Salah was called to accompany a Peshmerga force set to visit a remote village near the Kurdish town of Shino in northeastern Iran.
Salah told her fiancé not to worry if his cell phone was switched off. “There’s probably no network there anyway,” he told Nashmil.
Salah has taken photos of similar Peshmerga activities in the past. But this time the activity would take place inside Iran’s beleaguered Kurdistan region.
After almost two decades of silenced guns, the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) decided earlier this year to resume its decades-long campaign for self-rule in the country.
“We want to be closer to our people and we want the Islamic Republic to listen to our demands,” said Khalid Azizi, the leader for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP-Iran) in an interview with Rudaw earlier this month. Azizi has since shown support for the recent KDPI operations in Iran.
Since the early 1990s the KDPI, which is considered the main Kurdish political armed group in Iran, has ended all its military campaigns against the Iranian army largely due to new arrangements between Tehran and Kurdistan region, which basically prohibit attacks on Iran from the Kurdish- controlled territories in Iraq.
The new arrangements meant that the Islamic Republic would intervene in Kurdistan region’s internal affairs far less than it has in the rest of Iraq where it is considered a key player with considerable influence in Baghdad.
But things seem to have fundamentally changed for these relations to continue intact. Iran’s larger role in Iraqi affairs after the ISIS offensive also led to Tehran’s increased tendency to influence politics in Kurdistan region as well.
Political pundits in the region have over the past month pointed out Tehran as the architect behind the recent strategic pact between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Movement (Gorran) to face Ankara’s growing role in the economy of the Kurdistan region which is privileged by decade-long oil and gas deals.
Seen in this light, the KDPI’s resumption of military campaign is a response to Tehran’s effective break of the old arrangements with the Kurdistan region.
Iran, however, quickly condemned the clashes as part of “a terror action” and vowed to “root out the insurgents.”
Iranian lawmaker Ruholla Hazratposh accused Saudi Arabia of masterminding the attack which he said was to destabilize northwestern regions in Iran.
“We have detailed information about the Saudi officials’ visits to the Kurdistan region seeking to destabilize Iran’s north and western parts,” Hazratposh told Iran’s Majlis (parliament) on Saturday.
The KDPI has denied the accusation and said their decision has not been influenced from the outside.
“Our Peshmerga forces were deployed to these areas (in Iranian Kurdistan) to set up new ties with the people, but they were attacked and had to defend themselves,” the KDPI statement said last week after the operation that resulted in several deaths on both sides of the encounter.
The conflict between the Iranian government and its Kurdish Peshmerga is likely to become more bloody in one of the few parts of the Middle East which has so far been spared the upheaval that followed the so-called Arab Spring. And Kurds in Iran may have been granted their best chance with it in recent memory.
Choking on her tears, Nashmil says she cannot believe that she will never see her beloved fiancé again.
“He didn’t tell me he would go back to Rojhellat,” says Nashmil with gloomy voice using the Kurdish name for Iran’s Kurdistan. “But I’ve promised him to continue his way, his cause.”
Salah was one of six Peshmerga soldiers killed in last week’s clashes with Iranian Revolutionary Guards (Pasdaran) in Qarasaqli village near Shino.