Siamand Moini, leader of the PKK-affiliated Kurdistan Free Life Party (PJAK), an armed opposition group of Iranian Kurds, has accused the Iranian government of being the “central source of terrorism in the whole region” – but stressed Tehran is now on the defensive.
“It is true that they [Iran] want to maintain their [regional] position, the status quo, but how and for how long, we don’t know,” Moini told AP on Tuesday at his base in the mountains east of Sulaimania, Kurdistan Region.
“Iran is now implementing a special policy to protect its area of influence by interfering in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, many Gulf countries and Yemen. They have deployed forces in these areas and they are the central source of terrorism in the whole region. Therefore Iran is in a defensive situation,” he added.
PJAK has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Iran since 2004. Its fighters have launched several raids in recent weeks, including one which killed ten members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
An ammunition cache exploded in the clashes, causing a number of casualties, Fars News reported, citing an official statement.
PJAK said it launched the attack in retaliation for the killing of its forces and the assassination of one of its members in the Sulaimani province of the Kurdistan Region.
Moini says PJAK does not want a war with Tehran – insisting it merely wants to protect the Kurdish population of northwestern Iran.
“We do not want to launch a war and we do not want to solve the Kurdish issue by war. Our priority from the beginning has been dialogue and democracy to solve the issue of Eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan,” he said.
“It’s true that there have been several battles, they were not the first and they won’t be the last, even before the recent clashes. But our forces – known as YNK (Eastern Kurdistan Units) – are defensive in nature, protecting the local people of Eastern Kurdistan, and when our forces patrol Eastern Kurdistan, they may clash with Iranian forces,” said Moini.
“Our people are the backbone of our struggle. And the help from our people is what allows us to be present here and that will continue to be the case. Neither Saudi Arabia nor any other countries have come forward to help us,” he added.
Interest in the activities of opposition groups in Iran has grown in recent months since the United States withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and began piling fresh diplomatic and economic pressure on Tehran to halt its activities across the wider Middle East.
If the Trump administration pursues a policy of regime change in Tehran, it will likely court the support of armed opposition groups.
The armed wings of the Kurdish parties operate in the mountainous border region between the Kurdistan Region and Iran. They have resumed their armed activities against Iran after almost two decades of ceasefire.
Iranian officials warned KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani they would not accept insecurity on the border, in an apparent attempt to pressure the KRG into curtailing the activities of the parties.
Iran’s Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Hussein Zolfaqari warned this week the regime will not restrict its operations against these groups to its own borders.
Besides PJAK, several other Kurdish opposition groups have operated bases inside the Kurdistan Region of Iraq since 1991. Iran regularly fires rockets over the mountainous border targeting their positions. Civilians are often killed.
Source » rudaw