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The latest news on kurds

1. A Short Summary of the Court Case Launched against 56 DTP Mayors for the Joint Letter sent to the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen
2. Call from Democratic Society Party (DTP) – Our party leader N. Demirtas’s Trial
3. Southeastern NGOs urge PM to push for EU process
4. 20 Turkish soldiers killed And martyrdom of Four of HPG fighters, including filmmaker and photographer Khalil Aoysal
5. Final hearing for 56 DTP mayors next week – TDN
6. Report: 3 Turkish soldiers killed, 7 others wounded in clash with Kurdish rebels
7. HPG targets a military convoy in the province of Iskenderun (Amanus Mountains) and military operations in (DiyarBakir) Amed
8. Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNC-NA) asking US to remove PKK from the blacklist
9. EU court overturns decision to put the PKK Kurdish rebel group on EU terror list
10. Pro-Iran Group Wants Iran Diplomacy
11. Report: Iran Frees Kurdish Labour Activist – AFP

12. Invisible Nation: In Northern Iraq, the Kurds Find Success Amid Struggle
13. London: An American alliance with the Kurds?
1. A Short Summary of the Court Case Launched against 56 DTP Mayors for the Joint Letter sent to the Danish Prime Minister Rasmussen

8 April, 2008

Freedom of Expression and Local Democracy in Turkey on trial!

The next trial will be held at 10.40 am on 15 April 2008, at No.5 Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court. The court is expected to pass a final judgment in this trial.

Fifty-six mayors, all members of the Democratic Society Party (DTP), sent a letter addressed to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on 27 December 2005, expressing their concerns regarding the proposed prohibition of Roj TV on the grounds that such a move would violate cultural rights and the right to freedom of expression (Appendix 1).
In September 2006, Turkish authorities launched a case against the mayors on the charge of “punishment of those who deliberately aid and abet an illegal organization with membership to the organization” under Articles 220/7 and 314/2-3 of the Turkish Penal Code (TPC). The prosecutor, with reference to Article 5 of Law No. 3713 on Fight Against Terrorism (on increase in penalty of imprisonment and amercement) and Articles 53 and 58/9 of the TPC (on exclusion from certain rights), initially demanded imprisonment from 7.5 to 15 years and exclusion from political rights and civil service duties.
During the last court hearing on March 11, 2008, the prosecutor delivered his final opinion as to the accusations, demanding that the 53 Mayors be imprisoned up to 2 years on the charge of “praising a committed crime or a person who committed this crime” under Article 215/1 of the TPC. Furthermore, under terms of additional Article 53/1-2-3 of TPC, the prosecution also demanded that the 53 mayors be excluded from political rights and civil service duties until they have served their prison terms, including holding a civil service position by election or appointment, voting, standing as a candidate in elections, establishing or managing any political party, trade union, association, corporation, or company or performing any professional occupation. Accordingly, in the case of conviction, the court may also order dismissal of the 53 mayors from their public offices.

The first hearing had been held at No.5 Diyarbakir Heavy Penal Court on 26 September 2006, during which the mayors submitted their joint defence (Appendix 2). Diyarbakır Metropolitan Mayor Osman Baydemir stated in his defence the following: “We are also upset with the fact that a television channel broadcasting in Kurdish is operating from abroad. We consider it more appropriate that this Kurdish-broadcasting station should be able to operate within the borders of Turkey in line with the EU acquis which is being adopted in the accession process that the government of Turkey is undergoing. We have written our letter with a view to point out that the media and press should not be silenced in order for a democratic life and culture to flourish in Turkey. In this context, we wanted to make our point that shutting down Roj TV would not contribute to democratic life within Turkey”.

Rue Jourdan 48
1060- Brussels
2. Call from Democratic Society Party (DTP) – Our party leader N. Demirtas’s Trial

Sebahat Tuncel

Dear Sir/Madame,
Our co-Chairperson Nurettin Demirtaş will be brought before trial on April 21 and will be tried by a military court. As you know Nurettin Demirtaş is in jail since December on the allegation that he obtained a false medical report in order to avoid military service. An order of detention was issued for Mr. Demirtaş by the Air Force Command based on this allegation and Mr. Demirtaş was taken into custody by the police at the Esenboğa Airport in Ankara on his return from Dusseldorf, Germany.
Mr. Demirtaş had previously stayed in prison for twelve years and suffered from severe health problems during this period. However, he was arrested in December in relation to the police operations conducted against a gang preparing false medical reports for discharge. His detention since December and the accusations brought against him signify an attempt to intimidate the peaceful struggle of the democratic forces in Turkey. We strongly believe that international cooperation and solidarity of democratic forces is extremely important for the improvement of rights and freedoms and enhancement of democracy in a country. For this particular reason, we invite you to attend Mr. Demirtaş’s trial on April 21 in order to demonstrate the solidarity of international democratic public opinion against these anti-democratic practices.
DTP Vice-Co-Chiarperson Responsible for Foreign Affairs
Sebahat Tuncel
3. Southeastern NGOs urge PM to push for EU process

Today’s Zaman

A group of representatives of 17 civil society organizations from southeastern and eastern Anatolia arrived in the capital on Tuesday to share their views on economic and democratic solutions to Turkey’s Kurdish question with the president, prime minister and opposition politicians.
The group’s visit comes amid recent tension sparked by conflict between the police and Kurdish protestors during the spring festival of Nevruz celebrated in March and recent fights between pro-Kurdish and nationalist student groups on some university campuses.
Representatives from the civil society groups met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and visited the Democratic Society Party (DTP) yesterday to share their observations and findings on the Kurdish question, as detailed in a report they presented to Erdoğan.
The group also has plans to meet with opposition parties the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Republican People’s Party (CHP); however, the exact day and time for these meetings was not yet clear as of yesterday. Representatives of the civil society groups underlined the importance of the EU process during their talks yesterday and expressed the opinion that the primary solution to the Kurdish question, as well as other problems Turkish democracy is dealing with, lay in remaining committed to Turkey’s negotiations with the EU.
During their meeting with Prime Minister Erdoğan yesterday, representatives of the group raised concerns about escalating tension in the region after the Nevruz celebration and demanded that the government take democratic, social and economic measures to fend off the growing danger of violence, sources said.
After Nevruz celebrations on March 21, clashes between the public and security forces occurred, resulting in three deaths. Clashes have continued since then, and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) has called for a popular uprising in the region.
They also shared economic suggestions they believe could help improve the situation in the Southeast, stressing that financial measures alone would not be adequate to address this deep-rooted problem. In order to make the outcome of economic measures permanent, developments in the economy should be backed by democratic and social reforms, they said. Such reforms include the right to education in Kurdish. On this point, an unpleasant exchange took place between Sezgin Tanrıkulu, the head of the Diyarbakır Bar Association, and Prime Minister Erdoğan. Tanrıkulu claimed that Turkey’s refusal to allow Kurdish in schools for the Kurdish population was a political problem. “The right to receiving an education in one’s mother tongue is for minorities only,” Prime Minister Erdoğan said in response. Under Turkish law, Kurds are not defined as a minority. Tanrıkulu and Erdoğan exchanged harsh remarks during the meeting, and the discussion ended with Tanrıkulu angrily walking out of the room. The rest of the delegation finished their talks with the prime minister 20 minutes later. The group did not issue a press statement after the meeting.
Content of the report
Civil society organizations operating in the region suggest in their report constructing an airport in Diyarbakır and accelerating irrigation projects already under way as part of a major sustainable-development project expected to create jobs for approximately 50,000 people. The report also calls for introducing sector-specific incentives for businesses and investors in the region and suggests tax relief for employers, tax reductions for investors, long-run and low-interest export credits for entrepreneurs of the region, the establishment of qualified industrial zones and incentives for businessmen from outside the area who are prepared to move their factories to the region.
The report also underlines the necessity of clearing the area of land mines and making it available for agriculture. The report warns that economic measures would help solve the problem only to a certain extent and states that economic development without democratic reforms would be meaningless. Introducing more freedoms, such as the right to education in Kurdish, something which the prime minister was not enthused about during yesterday’s talks, the report said would pave the way for a solution to the Kurdish question.
There were also problems between the delegates themselves which surfaced even before the visit to Ankara began. Only one night before the visit, he Human Rights Association (İHD) announced that it would not join the delegation, saying that solutions proposed in the report were too focused on the economy. Organizations represented in the delegation include the Diyarbakır Chamber of Trade and Industry, the Diyarbakır Trade Exchange, the Diyarbakır Bar Association, the Diyarbakır Industrialists and Businessmen’s Association (DİSİAD), the Southeastern and Eastern Anatolia Businessmen’s Association (GÜNSİAD), the Association of Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples (MAZLUM-DER), women’s organization KAMER and the Turkish Doctors’ Union (TTB).
4. 20 Turkish soldiers killed And martyrdom of Four of HPG fighters, including filmmaker and photographer Khalil Aoysal

Media and Communication center of the People’s Defense Forces of Kurdistan

April 7, 2008
Military dispatch:

To the press and public opinion

Turkish army began large-scale military operation in March 28, 2008 against our fighters in the Mountains of Busta in Shernak / Botan province, soldiers from areas Sernak, Siirt, Parvari and surrounding areas participated. The military attack focused on the areas of (Serıkê Mıhemedê) and (Serıkê Deryan) and (Kanibotkê) In addition to (Gırê Rêjde).
On March 29, 2008, a battle erupted between our fighters and the Turkish army between the regions of Evian and Hazel, the Turkish army used its technical and military aircraft intensive engagement that lasted until the late-night and resulted in the deaths of 11 Turkish army soldiers and many wounded.
March 30, 2008, battles erupted between our fighters and Turkish army soldiers, we did not any detailed information results for this battle.

On March 31, 2008 our HPG fighters Ambushed the Turkish soldiers in the highlands of Hazel, the ambush resulted in the death of 9 soldiers. After the ambush the Turkish army brought Cobra helicopters and warplanes and bombed the area for a long time. One of the Cobra helicopter was hit by fire from our fighters and exited the battle.

Four of our fighters were martyred during current battle between April 1, and April 5, 2008. The four of them showed heroic resistance against the fascist campaign of the Turkish army. They are producer and cameraman Khalil Dag (Khalil Ibrahim Aoysal), Maseru Curtin (Irfan Ako), Ararat Adar (Avitn Bingöl), and Dáusza Welat (Bayabn Alim),

Our fighters have forced the Turkish army to withdraw from the region on April 5, 2008. The Turkish army has received painful considerable blows by our fighters contrary to the Turkish Chief of Staff false information to the press and his allegations of killing dozens of our fighters.

On the other front, On April 5, a landmine exploded of a mobile patrolling villages guards mercenaries unit in the village (Abdaj) resulted in the death of one of mercenaries and wounding four others, we note that there was no connection of our fighters to this bombing.

Media and communication Center of The People’s Defense Forces Of Kurdistan-HPG
3 Turkish army soldiers killed in an attack on a military campaign in the Mountain of Agri (Ararat)

Media and Communication center of the People’s Defense Forces of Kurdistan

April 6, 2008
Military dispatch:

To the press and public opinion

On April 4, 2008 Turkish army began large-scale military operation throughout the Mountain Agri (Ararat). Our fighters infiltrated the Turkish attack area along the lines of the campaign and between two military stations (Kozolok) and (Seria Kani ) resulted in the deaths of 3 of the Turkish army soldiers ( at least) and many others wounded. Also a heavy machine-type (DSHKA) and an electronic device-night vision (TERMAL) were destroyed by our by our fighters

The Turkish military campaign in Mount Agri is still continuing.
4 Turkish soldiers killed in fight with the HPG fighters in Sylivan/Amed

Media and Communication center of the People’s Defense Forces of Kurdistan

April 4, 2008
Military dispatch:

Turkish army began large-scale military operation in the areas of Haji Jarkas, Schti, Deron in the Sylvain / Diyarbakir province (long), the military campaign has expanded rapidly to the surrounding areas and villages.

At 4 pm, our fighters lunched a militay offensive attack against the Turkish military campaign in the village of Haji Jarkas. 4 soldiers Turkish army soldiers were killed and many wounded. The Turkish army transferred its dead and wounded by helicopter to an Amed hospital.

The Cobra military helicopters shelled the area of operation until the morning hours.
5. Final hearing for 56 DTP mayors next week

Wednesday, April 9, 2008
ISTANBUL – Turkish Daily News

The fifth Diyarbakir Court for Serious Crimes is expected to pass final judgment April 15 in the case against 56 mayors accused of aiding and abetting a terrorist group.
The mayors, mostly from the pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), are accused of supporting Kurdish terrorists in 2006 after writing a letter to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen asking him to keep Roj TV, which is banned in Turkey, on the air in Denmark.
In the letter, written in December 2005, they expressed their concerns regarding the proposed banning of Roj TV on the grounds that such a move would violate cultural rights and the right to freedom of expression.
Turkey argues the station is a propaganda machine for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). PKK members often join the station’s broadcasts by satellite telephone from their mountain hideouts in northern Iraq and the station broadcasts images of PKK members undergoing training, or carrying out attacks on Turkish soldiers.
The mayors have denied supporting the PKK. Turkish authorities launched a case against the mayors on the charge of “deliberately aiding and abetting an illegal organization and membership in the organization” under Articles 220/7 and 314/2-3 of the Turkish penal code.
While the mayors face seven to 15 years imprisonment, the prosecutor last month requested a lesser charge of “praising a crime and criminal” and prison sentences of two years.
The mayors are expected to reject the lesser charge, according to one of their defense lawyers, Muharrem Elbey, because, while they supported the Kurdish language TV station, they “never praised its contents.”
The prosecutor also asked that all charges be dropped against three of the mayors on trial
6. Report: 3 Turkish soldiers killed, 7 others wounded in clash with Kurdish rebels

Apr 7, 08

ANKARA, Turkey – Clashes between Turkish troops and Kurdish rebels have left three soldiers dead and seven wounded in the country’s southeast.
The clashes took place over the past four days in the southeastern province of Sirnak, bordering Iraq, Dogan news agency said.
The fighting reportedly coincided with an attack by Turkish artillery units and warplanes against Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq late last week that killed at least 15 rebels, according to a statement from Turkey’s military on Saturday.
Turkey is fighting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK, which uses bases in the north of neighbouring Iraq to launch attacks against targets inside Turkey.
Turkey, like the EU and the U.S., considers the PKK a terrorist organization.
Saturday’s statement confirmed the first cross-border action by the military since its eight-day ground incursion, which ended Feb. 29. The U.S. has been sharing intelligence on the rebels with NATO-ally Turkey since November.
The PKK took up arms against the government in 1984, and tens of thousands of people have been killed in the fighting.
7. HPG targets a military convoy in the province of Iskenderun (Amanus Mountains) and military operations in (DiyarBakir) Amed

Media and Communication center of the People’s Defense Forces of Kurdistan
April 1, 2008
Military dispatch:

1 – Our fighters at the center of the city (Dort Pool) part of the Provinceof Hattie (Iskenderuna) attacked a military convoy of the Turkish army returning back from the Turkish army military campaign against our fighters in the mountains of Amanus and during its moving to Adana Province.
The Turkish army had suffered many dead and wounded in the assault operation. We do not receive any detail information. The Turkish army transferred its casualties to Province of Hattie hospital by ambulances.
2 – The Turkish army continues its military campaigns started from the first of April 2008 in both regions of (Kendall) and (Abu Moussa) affiliated to Diyarbakir / Amed.
8. Kurdish National Congress of North America (KNC-NA) asking US to remove PKK from the blacklist

April 6, 2008

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and its political wing, known as KONGRA-GEL, were removed from the European Union’s terror list by European Court of Justice on April 03, 2008.
To resist the aggressions of the Turkish military against Kurds, PKK (Partiya Karkeren Kurdistan) resorted to armed struggle in 1984 and has been fighting Turkish troops in its campaign for greater autonomy. With calls from the Kurdish population and many Kurdish and non-Kurdish entities to find a peaceful resolution, PKK has declared many cease fire unilaterally, but the Turkish government has yet to take political steps for a resolution to Kurdish question. Furthermore, Turkish state used violence against Kurdish people to terrorize them; as a result PKK had been put on the list of terrorist organization by the European Union unjustly. The recent verdict of the Luxembourg-based EU Court, the second highest court of the European Union, carries great significance to show that EU still bears and respect its own laws and the Kurdish struggle for freedom is not no be called terrorism.
We the Kurdish National Congress of North America would like to salute the recent decision of the EU court and congratulate the people of Northern Kurdistan for this achievement. The people in Northern Kurdistan not only convinced their military fighters to avoid violence, but showed the EU that these fighters deserve a chance to participate in the political process. We hope all other democratic nations do everything in their capacity to help PKK avoid further violence and become a participant in the political dialogue to solve the Kurdish question via peaceful means.
As a non-partisan, democratic, and peaceful Kurdish American organization we at KNC-NA expect our government in Washington DC to follow suit and consider removing PKK from the blacklist to further persuade and pressure Kurdish Political organizations and the Turkish government to seek peace and dialogue rather than violence.

Public Relations Committee
Kurdish National Congress of North America
9. EU court overturns decision to put the PKK Kurdish rebel group on EU terror list

The Associated Press
April 3, 2008

BRUSSELS, Belgium: An EU court on Thursday overturned a decision to place the Kurdish rebel group PKK and its political wing on the European Union’s terror list.
The Luxembourg-based court said that decisions made by EU governments in 2002 and 2004 to blacklist the two groups and freeze their assets were illegal under EU law.
It is the latest of several court decisions overturning similar EU decisions, on the grounds that the groups added to the terror list were not properly informed of the decision to blacklist them or given a right to appeal the decision.
The EU court said the autonomy-seeking PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, and its political wing, known as KONGRA-GEL, were not in positions “to understand, clearly and unequivocally, the reasoning” what led EU governments to add them to the terror list.
The PKK was added to the list in 2002, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States. Its political wing was added in 2004. The United States and Turkey also list the PKK as a terrorist organization. Fighting between the guerrillas and Turkish troops has claimed more than 37,000 lives since 1984.
The Kurdish group won an appeal last year giving it a right to a hearing and a new case to get it removed from the EU list.
An Iranian opposition group, the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, won a 2006 EU court case annulling their listing by the EU. That case set a legal precedent and forced the EU to revamp the way it decides which groups and people to add to its terror list.
The EU court also recently overturned a decision to freeze the assets of an exiled Philippine rebel leader and the Netherlands-based Al-Aqsa foundation because they were not informed why their assets were frozen — a breach of EU law.
Europe’s human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, has said the EU’s anti-terror rules violated democratic principles.
EU nations decided in April 2007 to inform groups and individuals when they are placed on the EU terror list. Those listed will now be able to ask why they were put on the list and why their assets are frozen. But there are still no procedures for an independent review and for compensation for possible human rights breaches.
The EU’s has about 60 organizations and individuals on its terrorist list
10 Pro-Iran Group Wants Iran Diplomacy

Tuesday, April 8, 2008 8:54 AM

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

An Iranian-American lobbying organization that has been funded by grants from the congressionally-mandated National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and by left-wing groups is holding an invitation-only conference in a U.S. Senate office building on Tuesday, calling for “reassessing” U.S. strategy toward Iran.

The lobbying group, the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), boasts on its Web site of the grant money received “in the past” from NED, which by statute is not allowed to fund groups whose purpose is to lobby Congress. The group also says it has received funding from the Open Society Institute of left-wing billionaire, George Soros.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., is listed as a keynote speaker for Tuesday’s event. Her appearance as the congressional host of the conference has angered many Iranian-Americans. Some 700,000 Iranian-Americans live in California, many of whom fled Iran after the fall of the Shah in 1979.

Dr. Mohammad Parvin, a human rights activist in the San Francisco bay area, called NIAC “a group that lobbies for unconditional relations with the religious dictatorship in Iran.”

Parvin has posted an online petition at www.mehr.org asking Feinstein to withdraw her patronage of the conference.

“Having known you as an advocate and defender of the human rights, it was a shock to hear the news of your participation as a keynote speaker in a conference held by National Iranian American Council (NIAC) on April 8, 2008,” the petition says.

The pro-government Tehran daily Aftab has referred to the NIAC as the “Iranian lobby” in the United States and said the group was pursuing “unofficial diplomacy” to get U.S. economic sanctions lifted.

NIAC denies that it is a lobbying group, but acknowledges that it does “advocate the interests of the Iranian-American community . . . on Capitol Hill.”

In a 1999 presentation at a conference held in Cyprus, NIAC founders Trita Parsi and Siamak Namazi, a U.S.-trained lawyer, called for the creation of an Iranian-American lobby “to create a balance between the competing Middle Eastern lobbies. Without it, Iran-bashing may become popular in the Congress again.”

Parsi and Namazi made clear in their written presentation that the “competing lobby” was the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, AIPAC.

According to Hassan Dailoleslam, an Iranian-American political activist who has researched the Tehran ties of NIAC’s founders, Namazi controls the “Atieh Bahar” company in Tehran, “the leading consulting firm for foreign oil companies dealing with Tehran,” and has close, ongoing contacts “with the top leaders in Iran.”

Dailoeslam calls Namazi a member of “Iran’s oil mafia,” because of his company’s role as an intermediary for companies such as Norway’s Statoil and France’s Total.

“The most recent debacle of Atieh enterprise was in March of 2007, when the CEO of the French oil company Total SA was charged for bribery of Iranian high officials to secure contracts,” Dailoeslam says.

During several previous events on Capitol Hill, NIAC has attempted to build support in Congress for direct U.S.-Iran negotiations, and an end to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. sanctions, which date from a 1995 executive order signed by President Clinton, make it illegal for U.S. companies to do business in Iran. But some U.S. companies continue to sell products in Iran through foreign subsidiaries and offshore companies.

NIAC received a $50,000 grant last year from the PARSA Community Foundation, a non-profit grant-making association to which many wealthy Iranians in exile have contributed.

Vahid Alaghband, a partner in the London-based Balli Group plc, has been an “ambassador” and major donor of the PARSA Community Foundation.

The U.S. Department of Commerce issued a Temporary Denial Order against Balli and several of its subsidiaries on March 21, suspending the group’s ability to export licensed U.S. high technology products.

The Commerce Department acted after obtaining evidence showing that Balli and others cited in the Order “knowingly reexported three U.S. origin aircraft to Iran in violation of the Export Administration Regulations [EAR], and are preparing to reexport three additional U.S. origin aircraft to Iran in further violation of the EAR.”

Balli purchased three of the Boeing 747s from United Airlines and leased them to Blue Airways in Armenia, which reportedly is operating the aircraft on flights in and out of Iran on behalf of an Iranian company, Mahan Airways, controlled by the family of former president Ali Akbar Rafsanjani.

The other three aircraft are being overhauled in South Korea, Alaghband told Newsmax on Monday.

“These aircraft definitely have not been subleased to Mahan,” Alaghband told Newsmax. “We would have had to approve that, and we haven’t,” he added.

However, Alaghband said he and his partners took “very seriously” the U.S. Commerce Department Denial Order, which also placed him on the list of Denied Persons, a black list that is widely distributed within the exporting community.

He did not exclude the possibility that the planes were being used to carry passengers and cargo in and out of Iran. “We’ve told our leasee to satisfy the Americans, or we will cancel the lease,” he said. “We have served them notice.”

Alaghband’s company controls the aircraft through subsidiaries based in London, which are wholly owned by two companies registered in the Cayman Islands, according to the British corporate registry.

Information on who owns the Cayman Island companies — Crypton, Ltd, and Global Securities Ltd. — is not publicly available.

Balli also represents Caterpillar and Xerox through its subsidiaries in Iran.

During a conference in Tehran last June organized by NIAC co-founder Siamak Namazi, Vahid Alaghband’s brother and business partner, Hassan Alaghband, made a PowerPoint presentation on doing business with Iran that used the group’s Caterpillar franchise as a case in point.

Namazi was one of a “generation of Westernized Iranians who went back to Iran” after the 1979 Revolution, Vahid Alaghband told Newsmax. “He set up a legal practice to counsel Western companies” on how to do business in Iran, he added.

The June 2007 conference was not aimed at violating U.S. sanctions, but at training a new generation of business leaders who would have a “more normal way of dealing with the world.”

“These are people the government of Iran hates,” he said. “This is not a government organization.”

Nevertheless, among the speakers at the conference was Abbas Maleki, a former deputy foreign minister and advisor to the Supreme Leader, who has frequently been used in the past when the regime wants to “make nice to foreigners,” says Washington Institute for Near East Policy scholar, Dr. Patrick Clawson.

Alaghband said he did not know Trita Parsi. PARSA has described the grant to Parsi’s organization as intended for purposes of voter registration, not lobbying.

NIAC has invited former Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering and former U.N. weapons inspectors Hans Blix and David Albright to lead a panel on “finding the nuclear fix” to end the stand-off between Iran and the international community.

Writing to protest the NIAC event on behalf of the National Union for Democracy in Iran, Dr. Saeed Ganji said that NIAC poses as a group seeking to advance the interests of Iranian-Americans. “It has spent the great majority of its energy and time, however, on promoting the interests of the Islamic Republic. For this reason, only a small number of Iranians support NIAC or participate in its activities.”

NIAC refused Ganji’s request to attend the conference as a simple observer on the grounds that it was only open to media and congressional staff.

© 2008 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Original: http://newsmax.com/timmerman/iranian_lobby_group/2008/04/08/86286.html

Kenneth R. Timmerman
President, Middle East Data Project, Inc.
Author: Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran
Contributing editor: Newsmax.com
11. Report: Iran Frees Kurdish Labour Activist – AFP


TEHRAN (AFP)–Iran has freed on bail a Kurdish labor activist after one year in jail, local press reports said Monday.
“Mahmoud Salehi was freed on Sunday on a 400-million-rial ($43,500) bail after more than a year in jail,” the Kargozaran newspaper reported.
A former leader of the bakers’ union in the town of Saqez, in the western Kordestan province, Salehi was jailed for one year on charges of harming national security in April 2007.
According to the rights watchdog Amnesty International, Salehi went on a total hunger strike in March amid fears that new charges issued against him would prolong his detention beyond his scheduled release date.
12. Invisible Nation: In Northern Iraq, the Kurds Find Success Amid Struggle

April 9, 2008
New York Times

The script for Iraq was supposed to go like this: The dictator topples; the oppressed masses celebrate; democracy takes root; and the United States, showered with gratitude, embraces a new, pro-Western ally in the hostile Middle East.
That’s exactly what happened, Quil Lawrence argues in “Invisible Nation,” but you have to look north to see it, in the three Kurdish provinces of Iraq. “Americans now sit transfixed by their entanglement in the horrible civil war unfolding in Arab Iraq, but they scarcely notice that Iraqi Kurdistan is slowly realizing all of America’s stated goals for the region,” he writes.
The Kurds, protected by an American-sponsored no-fly zone during Saddam Hussein’s last years in power, got a head start on the nation-building process that has convulsed the rest of Iraq. Quietly, and happy to be left alone, they have developed a semi-autonomous enclave that is pro-democracy, pro-American and even pro-Israel. It is Muslim but not theocratic. There is no insurgency, and no American soldiers have been killed there. Almost by accident, Mr. Lawrence writes, Iraqi Kurdistan has turned out to be “one of the most successful nation-building projects in American history.”
How this happened is Mr. Lawrence’s subject, as he sifts through events taking place in northern Iraq at a time when the attention of the world was focused on calamitous events farther south. It is a story well worth telling, although Mr. Lawrence, the Middle East correspondent for the BBC/PRI radio program “The World,” offers more of a chronology than a narrative.
He begins, sensibly enough, with a brief overview of Kurdish history and an answer to the irritating question inevitably put to every Kurdish spokesman: What exactly is a Kurd? Much hinges on the reply. For years the Turkish government simply denied the existence of its millions of Kurds, calling them “mountain Turks who have forgotten their language.”
In fact, the Kurds are a distinct, ancient ethnic group with their own non-Arabic language who inhabit parts of Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Like the Palestinians, they are a people without a homeland and are much less likely than the Palestinians to get one. This is the discordant note in Mr. Lawrence’s otherwise upbeat account, a little-engine-that-could story in which courageous, determined Kurds, overcoming repeated betrayals by the Western powers, manage to create from the ruins of Iraq a virtual state that cannot become actual without throwing the entire Middle East into chaos.
Mr. Lawrence spends most of his time describing the rise of Kurdistan’s two great, clan-based parties and their incessant jockeying for position in the post-Hussein era. The Kurdistan Democratic Party, led since 1975 by Massoud Barzani, competes with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by its founder, the exuberant and charismatic Jalal Talabani. Even experts can discern no difference in their programs.
The intrigues and bickering between the two parties defy comprehension, but Mr. Lawrence dutifully notes every twist and turn of events. This quickly becomes tedious. In the end the parties wind up running separate domains within Kurdistan — right down to the region’s two incompatible cellphone networks — with Mr. Barzani as head of the Kurdistan Regional Government, and Mr. Talabani serving as president of Iraq.
On the debit side, both parties operate by cronyism and tolerate levels of corruption that are standard in the Middle East but appalling to Western nations. On the plus side, both have cracked down hard on Islamic extremists. Mr. Lawrence gives a rousing account of the Patriotic Union’s campaign against Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish Islamist group, with members of the pesh merga, the redoubtable Kurdish militia, fighting together with American special operations troops.
The Americans and the pesh merga worked together well, despite starkly different tactical styles. The Americans liked to move forward deliberately, secure their ground and then call in air strikes for the next assault. The pesh merga, rather than moving the ball down the field 10 yards at a time, preferred to strike suddenly, seize momentum and chase the enemy at high speed, accepting heavy casualties as the price of victory. At the same time, they rarely showed up before 7 a.m. for battle and routinely broke for lunch. Still, the collaboration succeeded.
Mr. Lawrence describes “soft partition” as the Kurds’ best bet. Only 2 percent of Kurds wish to remain part of Iraq, but a declaration of nationhood would bring armed intervention from adjacent powers. By lying low and taking advantage of continuing strife between Sunnis and Shiites, Mr. Lawrence writes, they can continue to develop separately and, with a little luck, persuade the United States to build a permanent military base in Kurdistan.
“The key was to keep American patronage, and to do that, they would need to stay a tiny bit invisible,” Mr. Lawrence writes, reading the mind of the Kurdish leadership. “The Kurds could have a country in everything but name, and that way none of the neighbors could accuse them of trying to redraw the map.”
For the first time in nearly a century the Kurds hold a winning hand — from which they need to discard the trump card of nationhood. Mr. Lawrence, a sympathetic but not uncritical observer, makes it easy to root for a people whose struggle has long seemed, to quote Neville Chamberlain on Czechoslovakia, “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of whom we know nothing.” For a change, the Kurds now have a chance at something.
13. London: An American alliance with the Kurds?

Commentary by Herbert London
Issue Date: www.insightmag.com – April 8-21, 2008,

From the standpoint of American foreign policy, the Kurds have the potential to liberate or, at least, disrupt the dictatorial regimes in Iran and Syria.
The Kurds are ghosts walking the globe—forty million of them to be precise: People who are officially non-persons; some cannot marry, cannot register as citizens and are, for all practical purposes, invisible.
Twice in the last year Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad was in a position to resolve the plight of Kurds in Syria who struggle to survive without citizenship. But he did not act.
As a consequence, Kurds in Syria face obstacles owning property, having passports, voting or being publicly employed. They are not eligible for food subsidies or admission to public hospitals. In fact, there are now approximately 300,000 stateless Kurds in Syria (about 10 percent of the Kurdish population in this nation) without legal ties to the nation and effectively stateless under international law.
While the Kurdish condition in Syria is egregious, the Kurds in Iraq, Iran and Turkey also face varying degrees of hostility. They are minorities in each of these nations, yet are by far the largest ethnic group on the globe without a nation of their own.
As a minority in Muslim societies, the Kurds often tell their children that Islam was forced on them by Arab conquerors. In recent years, many have returned to the original religion of Zoroastrianism, a condition that suggests a greater ethnic rather than religious identification.
Clearly, a united Kurdistan is a chimera since Turkey would never permit it and the Kurds of Turkey are plagued by a Marxist terrorist organization called the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party), generally repudiated by most Kurds in the region. But the Kurds of Iran, Iraq and Syria are a potentially liberating force, an engine of democracy, waiting on the sidelines for the fall of the mullahs.
The question that remains unanswered is: Why doesn’t the State Department actively recruit and work with the Kurdish minority in Iran? Ten million Kurds in Iran could be a formidable force for the much discussed scenario of regime change. In general, they detest the mullahs and are outspoken advocates of democratic reform.
Similarly, the three million Kurds in Syria are avowed opponents of Assad. After decades of abuse by the Alawite minority they are prepared to resist a seemingly implacable regime.
But where is America’s strategic vision? What kind of assistance can we provide? In fact, are the Kurds even on the radar screen at Foggy Bottom?
If the alternatives in Iran policy are the military option or regime change, it would seem that some reliance on Kurdish assistance might be contemplated. Yet, that does not appear to be the case.
It may well be that State Department officials know something we do not. But vague responses to queries about the Kurds are not a hopeful sign. One would think that at this juncture we would seek to exploit every potential asset in the region in our quest to prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.
The omission of the Kurds from our Iran policy could have dire consequences for the region and perhaps for American interests across the globe.
-Herb London is president of Hudson Institute and a member of Insight’s Editorial Advisory Board.