The leader of an Iranian Kurdish opposition group reacted fiercely to the Iranian regime’s execution May 9 of five of his party members, ordering resumption of armed attacks against regime security forces after a yearlong moratorium.
“For the past year, we suspended military actions to give the United States and Israel time to break Turkey away from Iran,” Abdulrahman Haj Ahmadi, the leader of the Free Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PJAK), told Newsmax in an exclusive interview in Europe. “But with the execution of the five Kurds, we resumed limited strikes against the security forces, to give them a taste of our power.”
Ahmadi said he had been reluctant to resume military action because PJAK sees itself primarily as a political organization fighting for freedom in Iran.
“War only benefits those who want war in the region, but if we don’t defend our activists, we will lose our popularity among the people,” he said.
In just 10 days since resuming the attacks, Ahmadi said PJAK commandos killed more than 100 Revolutionary Guards officers in the Iranian Kurdish regions, without suffering any casualties of their own. The Iranian regime has complained of Kurdish activist “terrorism” during the past two weeks, but Newsmax was unable to verify Ahmadi’s casualty claims independently.
“No matter how strong we are on the ground, we fully realize that we can’t overthrow the regime alone,” Ahmadi said. “That’s why we continue to cooperate with the Green movement, and why we call on Iranian opposition groups to coordinate their activities and work together.”
Shortly after the execution of the five Kurds, Ahmadi said during an interview with the Persian service of the BBC that the PJAK members were not martyrs for the Kurdish people, but for Iran.
“I took a lot of criticism for that comment from our Congress,” Ahmadi said. “But I meant it. People falsely accuse us of being separatists, but in six years since PJAK has existed, have you ever heard a single word from me or any of the PJAK leadership to suggest that we are separatist?”
Since the mass protests that erupted last June after the disputed president elections, Iranians of all backgrounds have been seeking shelter in PJAK-controlled areas in the Qandil mountains along the Iran-Iraq border.
“We now have members from among the Lur tribes, the Balouch, the Azeris, and the Persians,” Ahmadi said.
I met some of these activists from different ethnic backgrounds at PJAK camps in northern Iraq during a reporting trip in October 2007. Those camps are being subjected to constant bombardment from Turkish warplanes and Iranian artillery, Ahmadi said.
“Every time they hit us in Qandil, we strike back against them inside Iran,” he said.
In Marivan, a key provincial center, PJAK activists attacked and occupied the local garrison of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) and took their officers captive, he said.
Ahmadi accused the United States of giving information to Turkey on where PJAK camps are in northern Iraq, which Turkey then shared with Iran.
The IRGC recently has moved U.S.-built Cobra helicopter gunships to the Kurdish region to use against PJAK guerrillas.
“Kurdistan is now a tinder box,” Ahmadi told Newsmax. “It just needs a match to explode.”
The IRGC has used a variety of intelligence tactics to identify PJAK militants. Just recently, the IRGC announced it had arrested a PJAK militant operating alone, and kicked him publicly in the street.
“I said, that is not possible, because our people never go on missions alone,” Ahmadi said.
Later, he learned that the IRGC had staged the beating, with an IRGC member dressed up as a PJAK member. “They knew we would defend our people, so they were trying to draw us out,” he said.
Ahmadi appealed to the United States to lift the Treasury Department’s designation of PJAK as an international terrorist organization.
“The Treasury Department action last year came at the very worst time for the Iranian freedom movement,” Ahmadi said. “It came just before last year’s elections and the formation of the Green movement. Without the designation, we would have been able to forge a powerful alliance with other Kurdish groups and the Greens. But because of Treasury’s action, many opposition groups fear working with us. They think we are enemies of the United States, but we are not.”
The Treasury Department accuses PJAK of being a branch of the Turkish PKK, which has been on the terrorist list for more than 20 years. But despite repeated requests from Newsmax and other news organizations, Treasury never has released information to establish those ties and has referred inquiries to the Turkish embassy in Washington.
“Three years ago, we sued a German newspaper for repeating this baseless allegations and won,” Ahmadi said. “We are preparing to sue another newspaper now. And we plan to sue the Treasury Department in the United States to lift this designation. What business do I have with Turkey? PJAK has nothing to do with Turkey.”
Turkey fears the success of PJAK and the Green movement because Iran’s minorities all want some sort of federal system that recognizes the political and cultural rights of minorities.
“Turkey is afraid that, if we succeed in Iran, it will set an example for Turkey,” Ahmadi said.
PJAK activists have been arrested all over Iran during this past year’s protests, and many are in Tehran’s Evin prison awaiting execution.
Ahmadi believes the Green movement needs to regroup after the regime’s success in preventing planned demonstrations in February.
“These tactics of mass demonstrations are well known to the regime. Bringing people to the streets no longer works. We need to change tactics, work differently,” he said. “I have been talking to the Green movement about this. We want them to understand that we are in this fight not because we are Kurds, but because we are Iranians.”
Failure of the Green movement to bring down the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the system of absolute clerical rule will have disastrous consequences for the United States and Europe, Ahmadi warned.
“Look around you in this [European] city,” Ahmadi said. “You see people walking the streets in peace, without a care. In the next war, which will erupt when Iran gets nuclear weapons, there will be violence everywhere. Here in Europe, you won’t be able to walk down the street without fear of terrorist attacks. Radical Islam is coordinating people across Europe. Because of your laws, you cannot bomb them. You cannot arrest them. So what will you do when they are given the orders to attack?”
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