Iranian Kurdish parties must carry out fundamental changes

An accurate Iranian missile attack that targets one of the high-level meetings of an armed opposition party can never be carried out without infiltrating the group.

October 8, 2018 22:00
4 minute read.
Iraqi Kurds wave flags of Iraqi Kurdistan during a demonstration

Iraqi Kurds wave flags of Iraqi Kurdistan during a demonstration. (photo credit: SAFIN HAMED / AFP)


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Once active and effective in 1980s and 1990s, the Iranian Kurdish parties have become inactive and ineffective even in defending their non-combatant members against Tehran’s aggressions. The Iranian Kurds are losing and only a series of fundamental changes can save these parties from plunging into the dark abyss of obliteration.

On September 8, Iranian missiles hit the high-level meeting of KDP – Kurdistan Democratic Party (Iran). As a result, 16 were killed and more than 50 were wounded. Furthermore, three Kurdish prisoners – Ramin Hosein Panahi, Zanyar Moradi and Loghman Moradi – were hanged in Iran on the same day.

An attack on such a scale accompanied by the execution of three Kurdish political prisoners on the same day was somewhat new, but not surprising. Given its current crumpled situation both economically and politically, Tehran would do whatever it takes to boast about its limited military capabilities; a few days later on, in retaliation to the Ahvaz attack, Iran launched another set of missiles into Syria from the Kurdish province of Kermanshah in which two of the missiles fell inside Iran.

Still, Iran possesses missiles and can launch them whenever they want to. Tehran has been trying desperately to display its ostensible military power to the world – especially to the US and Israel. So, why not attack a defenseless Kurdish party that is incapable of any retaliation on the same scale of the Iranian aggression?

Let’s take the missile attack as an example and discuss the Kurdish parties’ side of it.

Being unable to defend against an Iranian missile attack or not able to retaliate is feasible to comprehend. However, it is not easy to justify the security breaches and loopholes that result in an attack on one of the highest-level meetings of an opposition party equipped with an armed branch and an intelligence body.

It is worth keeping in mind that it could have been any of the Iranian Kurdish parties being targeted by such an attack. Since 2000s, it has happened to all of these parties to be compromised almost every time they try to send a small group of fighters back inside Iran.


An accurate Iranian missile attack that targets one of the high-level meetings of an armed opposition party can never be carried out without infiltrating the group.

It is true that some of the Kurdish parties have a very different stance on the political matters locally and globally and their ideologies can be quite different from each other. The Komalas claim to have a very leftist solution for the Kurds, while the KDP and PDKI claim to be more on the side of social democracy. However, they have not been able to implement any of their doctrines as they do not have any authority, either in Iran or in Iraq. But they all have one thing in common: their enemy.

Their first priority should be achieving their common goal, which is achieving freedom for those Kurds who are oppressed by the Iranian regime. In fact, such goal will not be achieved unless there are some joint operations in practice and not on paper to tackle some fundamental issues.

One major point is the security and protection of their members, especially the civilians and undercover ones, from being exposed by the infiltration of the Iranian agents. This cannot be achieved unless there is a common firewall project conducted by all of the Iranian Kurdish parties. It has happened repeatedly that a person accused of working for the Iranian regime who had been expelled from one party was admitted by another group. A shared database accessible to a security council formed by all these parties can enhance their impregnability.

Iranian Kurdish parties do not have the technology and resources to neutralize all of the Iranian sly moves, but through a joint security operation, these parties can unite their human resources in Iran in order to accumulate more accurate intel inside Iranian borders. This means possessing a powerful source of intel that can warn the Kurdish parties based in Iraqi Kurdistan of infiltrators and the hostile activities planned by Tehran.

Tribal structure

The Iranian Kurdish parties are suffering from a tribal structure that has created various security loopholes due to favoritism and partiality.

This tribal situation has worsened security issues due to a lack of a counter-intelligence department in any of these parties. Even if it exists, a counter-intelligence body cannot function in a tribal structure that exempts a number of members from being scrutinized or inspected.

The missile attack on the high-level KDP meeting could have been the result of a high-level breach. According to the parties themselves, only a small circle of people are informed about such meetings, and in fact, the final location of a meeting of that kind is more likely to be disclosed only shortly before it takes place.

Iran hit the final location of the meeting. It is worth noting that Iranian intelligence does not have a surveillance body such as NSA to accumulate the necessary intel for this type of attack through virtual channels; the intel has to be gathered via human assets.

At the end of the day, an armed opposition group should never let itself to be shown as a victim. Such groups need to demonstrate their strength in order to be taken seriously on both the regional and international level. Showing weakness leaves their supporters and members skeptical about any future victories. 

The writer has worked as a human rights observer and journalist in Colombia, Iraq and Greece.

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