In a conversation with the Washington Kurdish Institute (WKI), Kamran Balnour, the Representative of the Kurdistani Democratic Party-Iran (KDP-Iran) to Washington addressed the recent Iranian missile attack on their headquarters in Iraqi Kurdistan. The KDP-Iran is a splinter party of the KDPI. Both parties are banned in Iran since the establishment of the Islamic regime in 1981.
WKI: Thank you for this opportunity, Could you tell us briefly about the missile attacks on your headquarters?
Kamran Balnour: On September 8th, 2018 we were saddened to hear that the Islamic regime in Iran attacked and killed 13 members of the KDP-Iran and two members of the KDPI, along with more than 40 members injured. The attack was the caused by air missiles targeted directly at the headquarters of the KDP in Koya town in Kurdistan region of Iraq.
WKI: Since when you have established your bases in Iraqi Kurdistan?
Kamran Balnour: The bases were first established in 1983, since that time we have relocated two times. After hostile situation and several attacks from the Iranian regime during early 1992, our bases with permission from the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is moved to around Koya town and one ex-military base(Ghala) of Erbil province. Most of the retired peshmerga and their family with KDP permission filed refugee status with the U.N., and since then they are recognized by the U.N.
WKI: Why do you think the Iranian regime chose the timing of these attacks given that your presence in the region goes back to decades?
Kamran Balnour: For a number of reasons. First the Islamic regime is under political pressure internally and internationally. Secondly is that their consular office in Basra was burned down by a group of protestors who were against Iranian interference in Iraq, also to mention this happened a few days prior to the regime attacking KDP in Iraq. On top of all that, we had a scheduled important meeting for the central committee, and this attack was targeted at our leadership, which was successful.
WKI: What is the official position of your party after the attacks? Would you resume armed struggle against the regime?
Kamran Balnour: Our positions have not changed, we have never started an armed struggle with the Iranian Regime, everything that has taken place was in defense to protect ourselves. Since the beginning of the establishment of the Iranian regime, all our armed struggle towards them has been in response to their attacks.
WKI: Would you move your bases out of Kurdistan region?
Kamran Balnour: We believe that if we were to move our bases out of the Kurdistan region, we would be doing precisely what the Iranian regime wants. This is a matter where we as Kurds need to stand together strongly and show that we cannot and will not be pushed out. We will be holding our ground and support what we believe in.
WKI: What is your party’s vision to solve the Kurdish issue in Iran?
Kamran Balnour: Our vision is federalism for our Kurdish region in Iran, in order to bring back peace into our region impacted by these attacks. We believe strongly that the United States needs to step in and make an appearance to show its defense against these attacks, our vision is that they become visible and effective in reacting to the crimes the Iranian regime is committing against humanity, and the interference it has caused, not to mention the violation of all international treaties.
WKI: How do you describe the international community’s reaction to these attacks?
Kamran Balnour: I feel that the attacks have received a general awareness as like any other news that is happening in our world, however, the awareness is not enough to show the true disaster this is causing and its devasting impact on Kurds overall. If these attacks are to go unnoticed and there are noconsequences, what is stopping it from happening again and again? There need to be consequences for the Islamic regime in Iran, so they know what they have done is noticed worldwide. This attack is not only targeted at Kurds the regime wants to send a message to the United States and the international communities that they will attack anyone in the region when or where they choose to.
WKI: How do you think the international community should approach the Iranian regime as far as the use of missiles in the region (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen)?
Kamran Balnour: It would be a great decision if they were to speak out on the attack and let their voices be heard. If the surrounding international community was to show their concern and speak to defend the Kurds and let it be known how this is not acceptable, it would be beneficial is making a greater impact in awareness. It has also come to our knowledge that these missiles have been given to other militias in the region. We would ask the United States Congress to take serious action in sending a clear message that these attacks will not be tolerated by Iran or the militia involved.
WKI: What is life like in the Kurdish region of Iran?
Kamran Balnour: More than anywhere else in Iran, the Kurdish region is facing a huge economic crisis. Living in this region has become very difficult for families and inflation is a cause, including all the torture and pain towards political ideas that are not in line with the regime’s way of thinking.
WKI: In case of a change of the regime, do you aim to establish a Kurdish region similar to Iraqi Kurdistan?
Kamran Balnour: Based on federalism which is what we are asking for, we would hope to establish a similar region along with better ideas that can benefit the growth of Kurds in the region.
What are your message to the United States government and the international community?
Kamran Balnour: We are seeking help for those who have lost loved ones. We request immediate action from international communities to stop the Iranian regime from any further attacks. We want the international community to also notice the Iranian regime and the disasters they are causing.