- On January 22, hundreds of Kurds in Iran secretly celebrated the 71st anniversary of the first independent Kurdish state: the republic of Mahabad. Many Kurdish youth posted social media photos with the Kurdish flag praising the founder of the Mahabad Republic, Qazi Mohammed (Judge Mohamed Ali). The Iranian government’s security forces were in high alert status while clashes took place between Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and Kurdish Peshmergas belonging to the Democratic Party of Kurdistan of Iran (KDP-I).
- The Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported that a Kurdish music band, “Dayrak Khatoon,” was banned from participating at the International Festival of Tribal in Kermanshah, Iran for having some female band members.
- During a television interview with KNN and NRT, Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim called on the Iraqi Parliament and Cabinet to hold provincial elections in Kirkuk. Dr. Karim told KNN ”Kirkuk local elections must be held without any conditions.” He described the provincial elections as “constitutional rights for Kirkuk’s citizens.” He told NRT that Kirkuk will have “other options if the local elections are not held”. Despite elections recently occurring across Iraq, Kirkuk’s elections have been delayed for more than a decade. Iraq’s electoral commission announced that the provincial elections will be held in Septemeber of 2017.
- In a press conference, Jabar Yawar, the spokesperson for the ministry of Peshmerga, said that the U.S. will provide arms to two newly created Peshmerga Brigades to face the ISIS terror group.
- Salih Muslim, the Co-President of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), said that the Astana peace talks are “doomed to fail”. During a PYD conference, Muslim reaffirmed that the Kurdish people exist in Syria on the ground and that they’ve solidified their presence through their public policies, intellectual thought, and undeniable strength. He added that nobody can exclude the Kurds and hope to achieve any successful political solution for the future in Syria. The People’s Defense Units (YPG) also released a statement rejecting the results of the Astana talks, from which they were excluded. “Since we have not been invited to the Astana talks, the decisions taken there will not be binding to us in any way,” the statement reads. The Syrian National Democratic Coalition which includes Kurdish, Arab, and Christian alliances demanded the participation of all secular and democratic Syrian forces in all future peace and political talks/negotiations.
- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) completed the training of 132 newly recruited fighters from Raqqa city. The newly joint elements comprise mostly Arab tribes, as the SDF moves closer to liberating Raqqa in support of the U.S.-led coalition. A SDF spokesperson told tribes in Raqqa province that the liberation of the city is near. Recently the SDF advanced to the Tabqa Dam in Raqqa, which is considered a strategic area for securing the city.
- Armed groups within the Syrian National Coalition shelled the Kurdish village of Eska in Afrin city. The shellings resulted in “material damage,” as it was reported by Kurdish media. On Thursday, unmanned aerial vehicles belonging to the Turkish army had made reconnaissance flights over the village.
- The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtash was acquitted of the charge of supporting “propaganda for a terrorist organization” by the Turkish court hearing his case. The charges related to a September 2015 speech that Demirtash gave. The HDP leader remains in jail, however, awaiting resolution to other charges, brought by Turkey’s ruling political party, for which he was arrested. Turkish authorities also detained Mahmud Yildiz, the Co-chair of the Kurdish Silopi District. Like hundreds of other Kurdish detainees, Yildiz was charged with “membership in a terror organization”. The Turkish government also ordered a 30-day detention for 9 Kurdish politicians, including the Nusaybin Municipality co-mayors. Meanwhile, the Diyarbakir court released HDP deputy Nimetullah Erdogmus after his case was acquitted.
- The newly appointed trustee mayor of Edremit District in Van Province removed street sings written in Turkish, Kurdish, Armenian and English within various tourist areas. The few multilingual signs were erected to assist tourists with directions. However, the appointed mayor didn’t explain the reasons behind his removal of the signs. A large number of Armenians live in Edremit District in Van Province.