"While sporadic violence in the Kurdish-populated provinces of Iran is
nothing new, the Pasdaran's [IRGC] most recent incursion into Iraqi
which according to a Kurdish official destroyed several villages,
demonstrates the top brass and elite's willingness to defend the integrity
of Iran's central government at all costs," the Jamestown Foundation said in
a report. "As a result of the PKK's alleged relations with the United States
and relative Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq, the 'Kurdish threat' ranks
very high among government cabinet members."
Analysts suggested that Iran's crackdown was connected to the U.S.
capture of five IRGC officers in 2007 in Irbil. They said IRGC has sought to
destroy PJAK and the Kurdish military infrastructure, destabilize Kurdistan
and spark U.S. intervention.
"Evidently, the Revolutionary Guard's ever-increasing political and
economic clout and close alliance with President [Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad gives
them a dangerous mandate," Bend Kaussler, an assistant professor at James
Madison University, said. "Together with Turkey's June incursion into
northern Iraq to pursue members of the PKK, the Pasdaran's campaign not only
violates Iraqi sovereignty, but also seriously jeopardizes regional
The report said Ahmadinejad has filled his Cabinet with former military
commanders, many of whom fought against Kurdish separatists. Jamestown cited
Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Najar, a former IRGC officer who
participated in the crackdown against Kurdish separatists in the 1979
rebellion. Interior Minister Mostafa Purmohammadi served as an IRGC
prosecutor in Kermanshah during the Iran-Iraq war, while Justice Minister
Jamal Karimi-Rad was a public prosecutor in Iran's Kurdistan.
In 2006, Iranian security forces were reported to have killed 21 ethnic
Kurds and injured scores of others. In August 2007, IRGC launched
Operation Cleansing of Salmas Region.
"It is evident that relations between the central government and the
country's ethnic Kurds reached an unprecedented volatile level," the report
said. "Although earlier raids by the Pasdaran were confined to direct
engagements with PJAK fighters, the shelling and incursions into Kurdish
villages in August seemed to have been concerted efforts, intended to weaken
and destroy the entire Kurdish military infrastructure."
Jamestown said IRGC was concerned that the United States was using the
Kurds to undermine the Teheran regime. The report said the new IRGC
commander, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari, has proposed a major operation
against PJAK in Iraq.
"Iran's willingness to cross the border into Iraq now seriously raises
the possibility of a broader conflict that could draw the Iraqi authorities
as well as U.S. forces into direct confrontation with Iranian troops,"
Jamestown in a report entitled "Iran Moves Against PJAK in Northern Iraq,"
said. "Given the White House's directive from February this year authorizing
U.S. troops 'to kill Iranian agents in Iraq' as well as the most recent
decision by the Bush administration to designate the Pasdaran as a
'specially designated global terrorist' organization, this could be a