Iran: Disagreement between outlawed Kurdish movements

The release of a book that includes extensive interviews with the head of a major outlawed Iranian Kurdish party has sparked an uproar among Iranian Kurds, drawing severe reactions from the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI).


The book, “Five Years With Muhtadi,” sheds light on the 40-year history of Komala (Revolutionary Group of Kurdistan), through interviews with its head, Abdullah Muhtadi. Although in recent years it has split into several smaller groups, Komala has been one of the two major Iranian rebel political organizations operating from Iraqi Kurdistan.


Komala is a communist nationalist group that has been opposing the Islamic Republic of Iran almost since the regime’s inception in 1979. Komala and the KDPI have been the two main rebel Kurdish parties in Iranian politics, both fighting the Iranian government for decades.


The book deals with Iranian Kurdistan politics, the leftist movement, and Komala and its future in Iran. It also discusses the KDPI and its conflict with Komala. Although, in the book, Muhtadi said he did not intend to attack any party’s views, his narration of events has led to angry reactions from the KDPI.


“It makes no difference if the Islamic Republic regime or the KDPI dominates [Iranian Kurdistan],” said Muhtadi in the book.


The 107-page book, edited by Bahman Saeedi and published by Komala, questioned the rival KDPI’s conduct in several historical incidents, its relationship with the ousted Iraqi Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein and the 1988 gassing of Halabja, in which five thousand Kurdish civilians were murdered by Hussein’s army.


In a statement concerning the book, the KDPI accused Komala of being established to oppose them in the very beginning.


In the book, Muhtadi accused the KDPI of initiating the bloody conflict with Komala in the 1980s and “killing many of our people very inappropriately.”


But the KDPI rejected the allegations, saying Komala was the party that initiated the war and accusing Komala of amassing its forces in different parts of Iranian Kurdish areas at the time to fight and intimidate KDPI supporters.


Muhtadi accused the KDPI of having extensive relations with the Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, while claiming that his Komala had only minimal ties with the regime. He cited the survival of the KDPI’s forces during the Halabja gassing and the death of Komala members in the area as proof of the nature of the relations between the KDPI and Hussein.


“We had an anti-Baathist stance which was one of the reasons our forces did not survive the Halabja attack,” said Muhtadi. “But other forces did not have such a position and so survived the attack. We used to condemn the Baathist regime and paid the price for it.”


But the KDPI’s statement said the survival of their forces in the notorious attack had not had anything to do with their relationship with the Baathist regime and that the reason Komala’s forces had stayed in the area at the time of the attack had been because of the promises and assurances they had received from the regime.


The statement added that the reason KDPI forces had not been affected by the gas attack had been because they had left the area earlier and had been well familiar with the geography of the region and had had an organized command.


The Komala chief said that, during the war between his party and the KDPI, the Baathist regime had cut off its assistance to his group while keeping cash and weapons flowing to the KDPI. He said his party had recovered from these blows through its own effort and determination.


“I don’t believe any other Kurdish party has shown the same commitment to principles and morality as Komala has,” Muhtadi said in the book.


The KDPI said that, despite Komala’s efforts to try to hide its links to Hussein’s regime at the beginning, the ties had later been revealed. The group said Komala had received weapons from Iraq as its relations with the Tehran regime had turned sour.


The KDPI alleged that the Baathist regime had supported Komala in attacking and weakening the KDPI.


In 1996, in the middle of the Iraqi Kurdish civil war, forces from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards attacked KDPI bases in the town of Koya in Iraqi Kurdistan. In the book,


Muhtadi described the KDPI’s policies toward Iraqi Kurdistan’s situation as “irresponsible” and accused it of provoking the Iranian forces to launch the attack.


“Why the provocation?” said Muhtadi.  “They could have waited for a while…People were in hardship in Iraqi Kurdistan. Iran was pressuring them severely. The KDPI should not have provoked Iran; that is why I am saying they acted irresponsibly.”


He added that if his party had been ready to attack Iran, Hussein’s government would have assisted them with money and weapons as well.


The KDPI strongly criticized these remarks by Muhtadi, saying they amounted to “justifying” the Iranian attack on its bases. The KDPI said other Iraqi Kurdish parties had not complained to KDPI leaders beforehand about the KDPI provoking Iran into an attack.


The fallout caused by the book is expected to continue in the coming weeks as Muhtadi has touched on several other sensitive and controversial issues, such as the assassination of the KDPI leader, Abdul Rahman Qasimlo, by elements linked to the Iranian regime.



Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan

December 12, 2010


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