Kurdish Opposition Prepares for War After Iran’s Top General Dies in US Drone Strike

KYIV, Ukraine—After a U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed Iran’s top military commander, members of a coalition of Iraq-based, Kurdish Iranian militias say they are ready to go to war against Tehran.

“We accept the U.S. military as a liberation army. In the event of war, we will return to our country and fight with our people against dictatorship,” Hirsch Yousefi, 20, said of the Islamist regime in Iran.

Yousefi is a Kurdish Iranian peshmerga fighter with the Organization of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle, an exiled opposition group based in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

President Donald Trump authorized the targeted drone airstrike early Friday morning that killed Qassem Soleimani, commander since 1998 of Iran’s Quds Force, which conducts military and spying operations outside the nation’s borders.  

Soleimani, 62, also held the rank of major general in leading Iran’s feared Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the airstrike that killed Soleimani near Baghdad International Airport also disrupted an “imminent attack” in the region and saved American lives.

June 2019: Peshmerga soldiers of the Organization of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle, an exiled opposition group based in Iraqi Kurdistan. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

“This is in general good news for people in the Middle East, in Iran, and not least for Kurds,” said Kako Alyar, 35, head of the Central Committee Secretariat of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an opposition group based near the Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah.

“Qassem Soleimani was a prominent and an active leader of Qud’s troops, which was responsible for a huge number of operations targeting the people of Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Kurdish people in Iran, and the Kurdish political parties,” Alyar told The Daily Signal. “He was also an active enemy of the United States and their interests in the Middle East.”

Iranian proxy militias attacked a U.S. military base last week, killing an American contractor. Following a retaliatory U.S. airstrike, Iran-backed protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad—presumably under Soleimani’s orders, according to U.S. officials.

Soleimani was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. troops during the Iraq War, U.S. officials say. According to the Pentagon, Soleimani had plans for more attacks against U.S. diplomats, service members, and other American interests, both in Iraq and elsewhere throughout the Middle East. 

“This is in general good news for people in the Middle East, in Iran, and not least for Kurds,” says Kako Alyar, leader of the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, an opposition group based in the Iraq. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

In a statement Friday, James Jay Carafano, vice president for The Heritage Foundation’s Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, called Soleimani “a chief architect behind Iran’s continuing reign of terror in the region.”

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Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed revenge for Soleimani’s death, reportedly saying: “A harsh retaliation is waiting for the criminals whose filthy hands spilled his blood.” 

The U.S. military and State Department are reported to be preparing for retaliatory attacks by Iran. 

The State Department told all American citizens to leave Iraq, and the Pentagon announced deployment of about 3,000 more U.S. troops to the Middle East.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are rapidly escalating. And inside Iraqi Kurdistan, Kurdish Iranian opposition groups generally see a potential conflict as their long-awaited opportunity to launch an insurgency against the Islamist regime in Tehran. 

“We have received news from the Kurdish areas in Iran; everyone is happy with the news of Soleimani’s death,” Alyar said. “This will also weaken the regime’s position among the population … because Soleimani was the symbol of Iranian authority in the Middle East.”

Yousefi, who was born in Iran and moved to Iraqi Kurdistan when he was 8, said news of Soleimani’s death likely would galvanize anti-Tehran sentiment within a northwest Iranian territory called Rojhelat, home to approximately 8 to 10 million Kurds.

“We will see a lot of reactions in the next few days,” Yousefi said of Iran’s Kurdish population. “This could unite a small number of people who still accept the regime. But most people want to destroy the regime.”

“We always knew America was a powerful ally,” Yousefi added. “We are defending our nation, not the American people. But maybe in this war we and the United States will work together … it is a war of democracy against the dictatorship of Iran.”

Hirsch Yousefi, 20, a Kurdish Iranian peshmerga fighter with the Organization of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle. (Photo courtesy Hirsch Yousefi)

Ready for War

The peshmerga are a volunteer Kurdish fighting force that represents an ancient warrior tradition that predates Alexander the Great. In Kurdish, the word peshmerga roughly translates to “one who faces death.”

Following the 1979 Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, then head of the newly installed Shiite theocracy, declared war against the Kurdish people, who are mainly Sunni, because of their demands for democracy and an autonomous Iranian Kurdistan. 

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Iran’s Kurds fought back from neighboring northern Iraq, forming a collection of armed opposition groups. For decades, these groups have sent their peshmerga fighters over the mountainous border into Iran to wage an on-again, off-again guerrilla war against Tehran’s forces.

Opposition leaders say Tehran has created an Orwellian police state inside Iran in which Kurds are frequently and arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and sometimes killed. 

Yousefi’s father, who is a peshmerga resistance fighter, was tortured so badly by Iran’s secret police, the SAVAK, that he lost a kidney. Yousefi said his family ultimately fled to Iraqi Kurdistan after Iranian government forces killed his grandfather, who was also a peshmerga soldier. 

The overarching goal of the Iraq-based, Kurdish Iranian opposition groups is to carve out an autonomous Iranian Kurdistan territory on par with what the Kurds have achieved in Iraq. 

Over the years, however, that goal has morphed into the larger aspiration of bringing down the entire Islamist regime in Iran.

“We have been fighting for Kurdish rights for more than 40 years; we were the first party in Iran and Kurdistan to respond to this regime,” Alyar said of his group, the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan. “In any case, we are considering what is best for the Kurdish population, and we know the best solution is to remove this regime.”

The Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan abandoned direct military confrontation with Tehran’s forces in 1995. Today, with about 1,000 peshmerga fighters based in Iraq, the armed opposition group simultaneously maintains sleeper cells throughout Iran, Alyar said in an earlier interview with The Daily Signal. 

Those sleeper cells comprise “tens of thousands of covert operatives” ready for immediate action to help topple the government in Tehran, Alyar said. 

Regarding the current tensions between the U.S. and Iran, Alyar said: “We will make the necessary assessments when it is time to use our peshmerga troops. If it is the right time, we will not hesitate.”

In June, The Daily Signal visited the fortified headquarters of four Iraq-based, Kurdish Iranian opposition groups, including the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan and the Organization of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle.

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At the time, Babeshex Husaini, 54, secretary general of the Organization of Iranian Kurdistan Struggle, told this correspondent that his group also maintains a network of sleeper cells within Iran prepared to support an armed, countrywide uprising.

Should the U.S. and Iran go to war, Yousefi said, Iranian Kurds would be an invaluable U.S. ally, especially if the mullahs fall and the U.S. is dragged into another postwar, nation-building quagmire, as critics describe Afghanistan and Iraq.

“The U.S. will win the war with Iran. But be sure that without the help of the Kurds, America itself will never succeed in running Iran, especially in the Kurdistan region,” Yousefi said. “America cannot survive long after the war … without the help of Kurdish parties.”

Last June, mourners visit the graves of Kurds killed by an Iranian missile strike in Iraq. (Photo: Nolan Peterson/The Daily Signal)

‘We Are Not Safe’

A U.S. military strike on Iran likely would spur Tehran to retaliate against the Kurdish Iranian opposition groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan. Those groups already face the constant threat of attack from the Revolutionary Guard, as well as from Tehran’s proxy militias, which operate with relative impunity in Iraq.

In 2014, Iranian operatives tried to assassinate Yousefi’s father in Iraq, stabbing him in his car near the city of Sulaymaniyah.

“He lost his right eye but survived,” Yousefi said. 

In addition to assassination plots, Iranian forces frequently launch mortars and rockets at Kurdish Iranian enclaves. Iran also has launched missiles from its territory into Iraq to target Kurdish opposition groups. 

In the wake of Friday’s airstrike, Alyar said, his group is bracing for an uptick in Iranian attacks.

“The Islamist regime in Iran has always tried to harm us with terrorist actions, and now that they have lost their top commander, they have to respond,” Alyar said. 

“When they cannot do it against the United States, they will try to do it against us, because they consider us allies of the United States.”

Source material can be found at this site.

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One Comment

  1. Kurds who have suffered under Sunni, particularly Turkish, ethnic cleansing since US President Truman cast them into the void as Trump has done to them for fighting the Talian (esp ISIS) now, join the Shias:

    At that time the US was cultivating the Taliban (students and practitioners of the Quran) as their irregular boots on the ground. So much so that Bush, Blair, Cheney and Rumsfeld allowed the Taliban to escape to Pakistan through the Tora Bora caves.The Afghanistan war was definitively lost when the Bush-Cheney-Blair Neo-Con regime shifted focus and resources to Iraq to distract attention from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia from where 9/11 was hatched and launched so as to enrich the Bush-Blair-Cheney Neo Cons. The Clintonian, Madeline Albright seduced Sadam Hussein into invading Kuwait to give the US a casus belli. Billions of Iraqi Dollars impounded by the US (remember the decades of sanctions and embargo that preceded the invasion of Iraq?) were flown into Iraq for reconstruction by Cheney’s boys and simply vanished while thousands of Iraqi women and children died from lack of nutrition and medicines. Afghanistan thereafter became “the other war”. The primary residual purpose of the US’ many wars is to enrich the CIA, The Oil Cartel and the Military Industrial Complex. Therefore, the very objective of US wars is to NOT WIN. This is like an advocate in an Indian court who would lose his source of income if he won the case for his client. The only losers were the Americans (5,000 new head stones at Arlington, Three Trillion Dollars down the drain and a Bankrupt Veterans’ Administration apart from a enormously weakened US), Britain (decades of “austerity” due to the war that has played havoc with education and health services), Iraqi Jews, Christians, Pre Christian.worshipers and women with the destruction of discos, bars, and world class education and health sevrices of pre US secular Baathist Iraq, Iraq, like Syria and Libya has definitively shifted into the Russia-Iran orbit from the control of the US-NATO-Sunni Axis and the US is reduced from a Super Power to another Great Power with Russia and China snapping at its heels. Something that Clinton, Bush and Obama might proclaim as a victory, but Trump was ambivalent about during his campaign speeches though the Deep State seems to have hog tied him to toe the line post election. Clinton began the whole disaster for the US by bombing Belgrade for 84 days to hand over Yugoslavia to the Sunnis (Taliban) invading from Pakistan via the intervening Sunni states. Clinton’s assertion of unipolarity and exceptionalism. including bombing the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, apart from setting the trajectory for the imbecile Bush, began Russia’s re armament with the advent of Vladimir Putin and China’s armament apart from shredding International Law with “Might is right” leading to China’s occupation of the South China Sea. Trump’s move on Iran follows the trajectory set since Nixon, Kissinger and Bush established the US-NATO-Sunni Axis with Petro Dollars of furthering Sunni interests in Yugoslavia and West Asia as per Saudi and Qatari Diktat. The result is that wherever the US tampered with “Regime Change” except for a few residual islands of Sunni chaos such as Afghanistan, are now coming within the orbit of bette noir Iran and Russia. Russia is Nuke and is not an adversary the US can bully as if it were a Banana albeit secular Republic like Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria or Libya to be turned into Sunni client States.

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