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Iranian Kurds wary of Tehran’s warming relations with the West

By Rudaw 30/12/2015
People in the Iranian capital Tehran celebrating their country's nuclear deal in Vienna. July 2015. Photo: AFP
People in the Iranian capital Tehran celebrating their country's nuclear deal in Vienna. July 2015. Photo: AFP
LOS ANGELES—As Iran warms up to the outside world and years of sanctions are to be lifted by the United States and other western powers, Iranian Kurds remain wary and fear this would give Tehran carte blanche to continue its oppressive policies at home.

“Although those living in Iran see this as an opportunity to live under less economic pressure, the rest, mostly expatriates, are worried that as Iran becomes friendlier with the West, the government will be more violent in suppressing dissidents,” says Shahed Alavi, a Washington-based journalist.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ended its 12-year investigation into Iran’s nuclear weapons program this month, paving the way for lifting sanctions and normalization of relations with Iran.
Hajir Sharifi, a Kurdish human rights activist in Toronto echoed Alavi’s apprehension.

“This is a reasonable concern. Soon after clinching the nuclear deal, Iranian government launched two potential attacks against Kurdish political parties outside Iran, executed five Kurdish political prisoners, and detained several activists and journalists.” Sharifi told Rudaw.

Others believe it is too soon to give Iran full clearance as the country’s human rights record continues to rank among the worst in the world.

“The days of Iran acting suspicious are not over,” said Soraya Fallah, an activist in Los Angeles. “Two significant issues in Iran are ongoing: human rights abuse (capital punishment, persecuting dissidents, gender inequality, violating ethnic and religion minority’s rights and so forth) and IRI terrorism in MENA. The question remains whether IRI will enjoy impunity now because of the improved relationships.”

Tehran reached a nuclear deal with the P5+1 powers in July that limits Iran’s uranium enrichment activities for ten years and in return most economic and trade sanctions would be lifted.

However, human rights organizations list Iran as one of the worst violators of human rights where more people are executed per capita than anywhere else in the world.

In October the United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur for Iran, Ahmed Saheed said that Iran was executing people at an exceptional rate, reaching 1,000 people this year.

Human rights concerns aside, some believe that it is not easy to trust the regime in Iran and that the western powers are too optimistic in their dealings with Tehran.

“Iran's intention from the very beginning was suspicious; otherwise, they would not have searched and aimed for enriched Uranium in black markets and through hiring corrupt scientist from Pakistan and North Korea,” says Esmail Ebrahimi, an analyst in Canada.

Ebrahimi says that Iran may temporarily act reasonably under pressure but that it would resume its nuclear activities at the first opportunity.

President and Founder of Kurdish American Education Society in California, Adreshir Rashidi, thinks that Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power is still there but the nuclear deal has put Tehran on a tight rope.

“Iran's ambitions to become a nuclear power and a threat to its neighbors has been halted for the next few years, but not permanently eliminated.”

Rashidi concludes that as the West is getting on good terms with Iran, Iranians will have to count on themselves to bring about any change.

“The West due to its nuclear deal with Iran, in essence has delegated the need for internal change to the people of Iran. To bring about fundamental change to Iran internally, disfranchised religious and national minorities must impose their own sanctions on the regime, until the time the people of Iran are free to determine their own future peacefully,” he told Rudaw.


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Brzoo Kurdi
Brzoo Kurdi | 30/12/2015
When America abandoned Iranian people in 2009 , their aspiration for freedom died down , at the moment America is helping Iran by eliminating the Sunni rival everywhere , it is stupid to think after Isis the Mideast will see peace and prosperity , Iran is trying to Shiitenize the Mideast , in some way Iran is more dangerous than Isis , America must understand that they may have shared interest with Iran but they do not have shared values with Iran , they must not fall in to the trap that Iran spreading all over the Mideast .
Kandil | 30/12/2015
Superpowers should come together and cut a deal with Iran, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey to make an independent Kurdistan for the 40 million Kurds, it is insane and a shame to the world for staying silent in front of such an injustice.
EddySaf EddySaf | 31/12/2015
Today in the news an Iranian navy boat test fired missiles near some western warships that was travelling through the straights, so I do not see Iran becoming friendlier and having warming relations with the west.
Flaminco | 31/12/2015
Did we miss something here? as if the world gave a damn about Iran's brutal oppression of Kurds(and other minorities) the past 35 years?. No worries, it will be exactly the same hypocrisy from the world community as earlier. The fundamental problem here is expecting "the world" to do something for us, WE need to do something for us, and we all know what we need to do.
Arash | 31/12/2015
Who is paying you guys to publish thses rubbish? As an Iranian Kurd, I'm telling you that don't go around the world to find some sychopaths who hates Iranians for some suspicious reasons. Come to Iran and have a chat with us Iranians and see how we enjoy our diversity.

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