- After the spokesperson for the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran, Bahram Qasmi, said “[Iran] will strongly stand against any measures taken with the aim to tear Iraq into pieces,” the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFR) of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) responded by stating: “we reject the statement, and further, we announce that the right for self-determination, similar to all other nations in the world, is a natural right for the people of Kurdistan who have sacrificed enormously and they will continue to reach their desires.” The DFR described the matter of independence as “an internal issue of Iraq,” adding “we reject any statement out of this frame and we assure that we will not allow any side to intervene.”
- The Kurdistan Human Rights Association (KMMK) reported that on the evening of Thursday, May 4 2017, Iranian security forces killed and wounded a number of innocent civilians in the “Shapatan” region in the city of Oshnavieh in East Kurdistan. A source told KMMK a Kurdish citizen from Oshnavieh named Noureddine Ibrahimi as killed in the attack. Additionally, three others were injured, one of them critically. The names of those injured remain unknown.
- The joint Leadership of the Patriot Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Change Party (Gorran) held a meeting to discuss recent attempts to reactivate the Parliament. The results of the meeting were not announced; however, a member of the Change Party, on condition of anonymity, told NRT that the outcome of the meeting “wasn’t good.” Meanwhile, the PUK will continue its talks with the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) on issues of reactivation of Parliament and the Independence Referendum.
- Peshmerga forces thwarted an attack by five ISIS terrorists on a military base west of Kirkuk. The attackers targeted the gate of the Peshmerga compound known as “K1.” Two ISIS terrorists detonated suicide vests while the other three fired shots at the base, killing two Pehsmerga soldiers. Peshmerga guards were able to quickly neutralize the attackers. In addition to the Peshmerga forces, some elements of the U.S.-led coalition are stationed at K1 base. In a press conference, Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim said “the Peshmerga forces were alarmed and quickly responded to the terrorists’ attacks,” adding “the delay of Haweja district’s liberation while the terrorists remain there is exposing a great threat to Kirkuk and the area.”
- The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued clashing with ISIS fighters in three areas in Al Tabqa city. In the past week, the SDF announced the death of 77 ISIS terrorists while clearing the city of Al Tabqa. After intense clashes, the SDF managed to liberate three main neighborhoods and the Euphrates Dam. The SDF also liberated the main hospital in the city of Al Tabqa, “the National Hospital”. The Raqqa liberation operation, “Wrath of Euphrates,” continues as the U.S.-led coalition provides air support for the SDF aiming to liberate the self-proclaimed Caliphate’s capital. .
- Sponsored by Russia, Turkey, and Iran the fourth round of the Astana Syria Talks ended on May 4th. Russia, Turkey, and Iran agreed to create four de-escalation zones in Syria. In the previous rounds, the Kurds rejected the outcome of Astana talks because they were denied genuine participation in the talks (mainly because of Turkey’s objections to a larger Kurdish role). In a reaction to the latest Astana agreement, the Co-president of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) Elham Ahemd described the agreement as the “result of an agreement and confluence between three states’ interests, and nothing else.” Ahmed called for a “decentralized Syria for all Syrians.” The U.S. Department of State expressed concerns over the four-way agreement. In a recent press statement, U.S. State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert explained that the U.S. continues “to have concerns about the Astana agreement, including the involvement of Iran as a so-called ‘guarantor,’” adding that “Iran’s activities in Syria have only contributed to the violence, not stopped it, and Iran’s unquestioning support for the Assad regime has perpetuated the misery of ordinary Syrians.”
- The Turkish government banned a poem titled “Contagious Courage” by the imprisoned People’s Democratic Party (HDP) Co-chair Selahaddin Demirtash. On May 2, the Turkish police raided the HDP office in Dargechit town-Mardin Province and took down a poster displaying Demirtash’s portrait with the poem. In an official reaction, the HDP lawmaker and head of HDP Foreign Affairs Hishyar Ozsoy released a statement; he said “The Erdogan-AKP government’s repression on the HDP has reached the level of utter madness.” According to Ozsoy, the HDP representatives were told that the Public Prosecutor in Mardin banned the poem, justifying the ban by arguing that it “disseminated terror propaganda.” Ozsoy concluded the statement by joining voice’s with Demirtash: “We join voices with our Co-chair and state once again that we shall never let our country bow down to fear in silence. Courage is contagious!”
- The Turkish government released HDP lawmaker Besime Konca who was arrested on December 2016. Her release is on condition of judicial control. Kona’s next hearing is on May 31. Similar to the remaining 11 jailed HDP deputies, Konca is charged with “membership in a terrorist organization.” The rest of the jailed HDP and elected Kurdish officials remain in jail awaiting trial.