Asked whether current conditions are conducive to a reinvigorated struggle in eastern (Iranian) Kurdistan, Sharafi said that “instead of an anticipatory posture, we have acted proactively in order to create such conditions in the first place.”
In response to some criticism of the party’s proactive strategy, Sharafi said that “waiting until all Kurdish organizations unite […] or until defense lines are fortified and all logistical means are available would be tantamount to never.”
Sharafi further expounded in the interview with Rudaw that PDKI halted its armed struggle for the past two decades out of consideration for the security and well-being of southern (Iraqi) Kurdistan.
When southern Kurdistan gained its de facto autonomy following the Gulf War in 1991, Iran constituted a constant threat to this part of Kurdistan. Whenever Iran’s armed forces suffered heavy losses with PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces, the Islamist regime acted aggressively toward southern Kurdistan, especially by shelling civilian populated areas.
Eventually, PDKI decided to halt its armed struggle against the Islamic Republic of Iran due to the fact that southern Kurdistan was in a vulnerable position. Sharafi and other leaders of PDKI have pointed to the fact that southern Kurdistan is now in a much stronger position, internally as well as internationally.
Sharafi therefore emphasized that “there has to be a time limit to how long we can halt some parts of our struggle out of consideration for southern Kurdistan.”
Sharafi also highlighted the fact that irrespective of the nature of PDKI’s struggle, Iran is bent on undermining southern Kurdistan even though Iranian officials falsely claim to have “good relations” with the Kurdish government in Hawler (Erbil). As a case in point, Sharafi cited recent Iranian threats to “turn the whole Middle East upside down” in response to southern Kurdistan’s plan to hold a referendum on independence.
Sharafi further explained that PDKI has not deployed its Peshmerga Forces to eastern Kurdistan with the intention of carrying out combat missions. PDKI’s Peshmerga Forces escort the party’s officials when they carry out political missions among the population of eastern Kurdistan. PDKI has thus introduced a new model of carrying out political activities under authoritarian rule. Iran arrests, imprisons, tortures and executes Kurdish political activists.
The Iranian regime does not tolerate the presence of PDKI’s officials and Peshmerga Forces in eastern Kurdistan and has ordered its armed forces to attack them.
“Thus far we have adopted a defensive posture in the face of such attacks”, Sharafi said.
“But if the Iranian regime continues to attack our officials and Peshmergas and carries out its recent threats [of attacking civilians], then we will not hesitate to change our defensive posture”, Sharafi averred.