British MPs in the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Kurdistan Region have begun to mobilise to help expose the reality of the Iranian missile attack on September 8 on the Iranian Kurdish camp in Koya and to discourage any further Iranian aggression.
The APPG Chairman, Conservative MP Jack Lopresti has submitted a written question to the Foreign Secretary asking him what representations he has made to the Iranian Government about the attack in the Kurdistan Region in Iraq. The answer may take some weeks to emerge, given the parliamentary calendar, but it makes an important point.
APPG vice-chair, Labour MP Mary Glindon, has also tabled a Commons motion which argues the following: "That this House strongly condemns the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp's bombardment of an Iranian Kurdish refugee and political camp in Koya, which is within the borders of the officially recognised Kurdistan Region in Iraq and 200km from Iran; notes that the six ground-to-ground missiles accompanied by a drone were designed to coincide with a meeting of the leadership of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran; sends its condolences to the families of those killed and wishes a speedy recovery to those who were wounded."
It also "believes that this was a blatant violation of international law, sovereignty and good neighbourly principles; further notes that the US and its allies in the international coalition still retain responsibility for protecting the airspace of Iraq; fears that failure to respond to Iran's violation will encourage the Iranian regime to take further action; believes that Iraq and the Kurdistan Region should not become a battlefield for the major powers' conflict of interest; and urges the UK and other countries to make protests to the Iranian regime at the UN and other levels about that regime's actions and for all such activity to cease forthwith."
The motion has so far attracted the support of fifteen MPs from six different political parties and may resume its growth when parliament returns in a few weeks’ time.
Jack Lopresti and Mary Glindon also came together for an emergency briefing with Iranian Kurdish representatives on the last day of Parliament before a recess for the party conferences. They and other parliamentarians heard about the huge loss of life and injured at the camp and explanations for Iran's action, and they agreed to act together to help lift the silence about this attack.
The APPG's remit is to build friendship with the Kurdistan Region and does not have the resources to focus on the other Kurdistans. But, clearly, the Iranian attack on the Koya camp is an act of aggression against the Kurdistan Region and aimed at intimidating it.
As well as its concerns about the terrible loss of life in Koya and our solidarity with those who were injured, several critically, the group cannot remain silent about the threat to the Kurdistan Region. The KRG wants good relations with all its neighbours and needs UK and international support to tell Iran they have no right to send missiles into the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, whose airspace is under US and allied protection.
I also hope the Iranian Kurdish parties co-operate more to tell parliamentarians more about the reality of life for the Kurds in Iran so parliamentarians are better equipped with information they can use to encourage the UK government to take a stand on their rights.
Very few people have any idea about the existence of millions of Kurds in Iran, their history, and the discrimination and repression they suffer, including executions of activists.
Iran is a wonderful country with a rich history and civilisation that could be such a positive force for the good but its current leaders operate a form of apartheid where minorities such as the Kurds are not allowed to advance on merit and democratically. This is combined with aggressive and zealous expansionism that threatens the peace, wants its neighbours to be subordinate and would destroy Israel if it could, with calamitous consequences for the whole region.
And I commend the UK Ambassador to Iraq and the Consul-General in the Kurdistan Region, Jon Wilks and Martyn Warr, who have been active on this issue. This week a UK Government spokesperson said: "The UK has been following recent events in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq with concern. Following the attack near Koya, the UK Ambassador to Iraq this week travelled to Kurdistan Region of Iraq to speak to all parties alongside Consul General Erbil.
“The Iranian attack on Koya was disproportionate and dangerous. The UK supports the statements issued by the Iraqi government, the Kurdish Regional Government and UNAMI. We urge all parties to show restraint, and to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq.
“The UK further condemns in the strongest terms any violence directed against diplomatic missions, including those of the US, as we have witnessed in Basra and Baghdad in recent days.
“The UK continues to urge all parties to proceed with the formation of an inclusive government in accordance with the constitutional timeline, which will address the needs and hopes of all Iraqi
I understand that an Iranian drone has again been hovering over the camp in Koya and there are fears of further attacks on the camp or even a land attack using forces that are on or over the border. There have been some Iranian military actions against the Iranian Kurds inside Kurdistan in recent years but the attack on September 8 was the first such attack since the liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein. Further exposure of the attacks is necessary to deter any repetition and help ensure the integrity of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as a whole.
Gary Kent is the Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). He writes this column for Rudaw in a personal capacity. The address for the all-party group is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.