By JONATHAN SPYER
Rebwar Gholizadeh, a militant of the Free Life in Kurdistan Party (PJAK), was killed in a Turkish drone strike outside the village of Kuna Masi in the mountains north-eastern Iraq on June 25th. Gholizadeh, whose nom de guerre was Arivan Shoreshgir, joined PJAK in 2017, and was described in an obituary at the Rudaw website as ‘a young intellectual, a captivating singer, and prior to heading to the mountains to join PJAK, an environmental activist in his home town of Bukan, western Iran.’
Gholizadeh joins the list of around 300 PJAK fighters killed by the Iranian and Turkish regimes since the movement was established in 2003. Turkey and Iran share a similar opposition to Kurdish national aspirations, and thus cooperate in actions against Kurdish militants. A MECRA correspondent who visited PJAK positions in the Qandil mountains area some months ago and met Rebwar Gholizadeh noted that he was ‘very knowledgeable and frequently took part in missions into Iran. He was a kind of leader, and this could be seen in his interactions with other fighters.’
PJAK joint president Siamand Moeini said with regard to the killing of Rebwar Gholizadeh, '"The Turkish government has started a comprehensive war against the Kurdish people and all its efforts are to get Iran into a direct war with our movement, but Iran is weaker than ever to enter a direct war with PJAK, and that is because of the current political and economic situation in Iran."
PJAK positions are located in the KRG adjoining the border with Iran, and its militants frequently travel across the border to engage in political activity, recruitment etc. PJAK is currently not engaged in an active insurgency against the Iranian regime, but if attacked by the IRGC on the border, PJAK members defend themselves and clashes are frequent.
The killing of Rebwar Gholizadeh showcases the tactical cooperation between the Iranian and Turkish regimes against the Kurds. It also illustrates the severe challenge presented to the Kurdish militants by the Turkish use of drones in the Qandil area. The Kurdish organizations have yet to find an adequate response to this threat. Gholizadeh’s death illustrates the severe disruption which this absence is causing in the ranks of PJAK and other allied groups.