In an interview with Seth Frantzman of the Algemeiner Mustafa Hijri, PDKI’s leader, discusses PDKI’s view on Iran’s role in the region Iran and the Kurdish nation’s struggle in Iran. Below is an excerpt of the interview:
Mustafa Hijri, the General Secretary of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) was recently in Washington, DC to discuss politics across the border. Born in 1945, he has keen memories of life under the Shah and the suppressions after the Islamic Revolution in 1979. He sees Iran as a threat to the region, asserting that it is exporting its revolution among Shia parties in the area from Yemen to Lebanon and Iraq: “By supporting these different groups the Islamic Republic of Iran attempts to create instability and conflict all around the region in order to increase its own power and influence, and this policy have both direct and indirect impact on the Kurds. Iran chooses to spend billions of dollars on terrorist groups outside of Iran instead of investing inside the country.”
Dissent by the Kurds is totally crushed by the regime. “The regime sees the Kurds as a threat to its security and uses all forms of brutal methods to crack down on any form of dissent in Kurdistan,” he says.
When ISIS attacked last year, the PDKI volunteered to send its own fighters [Peshmerga] to help the KRG forces. Eventually the regional government asked them to withdraw their units. This is likely due to the KRG’s own fears that it will cause tension with Iran. The KRG plays a balancing act between antagonizing either Iran or Turkey, both of which fear Kurdish independence.
Like all the Kurds we spoke to, Hijri wishes the US would do more for Kurds in Iraq and Iran. “We believe that the United States should help all Kurds and especially Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan in their struggle to become free from the oppression of the regime in Iran. This support is needed in order for the Kurds in Iranian Kurdistan to become a beacon for democracy in the region, just like the Kurds in Iraq are. Supporting us will help strengthening and spreading democracy in the region as a whole.”
Another insight that Hijri has is asserting that there is a misunderstanding of Iran’s support of the war against ISIS. ISIS provided Iran an excuse to extend its tentacles into Iraq. The long-term impact of the Sunni extremists is to embolden the Shia and Iran to totally control Iraq. In the long term this will threaten the Kurds, not only because the Kurds are Sunni, but because Iran, like Turkey, does not want the Kurds to have too much independence.