When the new Chief of the Joint Staff for the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Gen. Mohammad Bagheri was delivering his opening speech to the staff of Iranian army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) after taking office, he outlined the ‘internal threat’ as one of the main threats to the national security, primarily, referring to the Kurdish separatism. In recent months, this threat has become more distinct and aggressive. Fighters of the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) are its main source. The group operates in the northwestern part of Iran and has never declared a ceasefire with Tehran, since the group’s creation in 2004.
It’s important to note that recently the forces of two other Kurdish groups, the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI) and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK), have also increaed attacks against the IRGC.
Earlier, Iranian authorities were able to counter such threats enough quickly, using the factor of the Kurdish disunity, which allowed to conclude a truce with one or two groups during the confrontation with the third one. The situation has changed. The all three grouups have their own command and, reportedly, they do not coordinate attacks on Iranian security forces with each other. However, they act together, using armed methods of struggle.
Reaction to this challenge will push Iranian security forces to increase the amount of the permanent based troops in areas on the border with Iraq and Turkey. The very same time, they will also need to keep at least the same number of troops in the areas, traditionally inhabited by other three very troubled ethnic minorities: Azerbaijanis, Balochs and Ahwazi Arabs. In this situation, the Iranian leadership has chosen the tactical scheme that includes the following points:
- Attempts to inflict a maximum damage to the groups’ infrastructure, using warplanes and multiple rocket launchers;
- Separate negotiations with the leadership of the KDPI and the PAK in order to fragment the Kurdish Front;
- Conducting an aggressive policy of establishing its influence in the Kurdish autonomy in Iraq in order to deprive the Kurdish separatists rear bases in the area.
This is the reason for the invitation of the President of Kurdistan Region, Massoud Barzani, in Tehran. Training of units loyal to Jalal Talabani in the Iraqi Kurdistan by Iranian military pursues the same goal.