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Kurdish group registers in US, lobbies for ‘human rights of Iranian citizens’

Salah Bayaziddi, who represents the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan, told Al-Monitor that he registered as a foreign agent with the DOJ so that his meetings with government officials would be deemed lawful.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters display their flag. Credit: Flickr.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters display their flag. Credit: Flickr.

A Kurdish group that claims to lobby for “the human rights of Iranian citizens and promotes the democratic representation of minority voices in Iran” has registered with the U.S. government as a foreign agent.

Led by Canadian journalist and doctoral candidate Salah Bayaziddi, the Komala Party of Iranian Kurdistan—a militia with Communist origins exiled in northern Iraq—registered with the Department of Justice last month in accordance with the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or FARA, seeking to “establish solid and durable relations” with the Trump administration.

Bayaziddi, who identifies on Twitter as the representative in the United States for Komala, told Al-Monitor that he registered as a foreign agent with the DOJ so that his meetings with government officials would be deemed lawful.

“I wanted to be legal. If I met with the U.S. government or an agency,” said Bayaziddi, “[I wanted] everything to be known and legal in this country. I want to live here in this country in a legal way, not to be unknown or something.”

“Kurdish groups registering in the United States is a step in the right direction, especially under the current administration,” said Diliman Abdulkader, director of the Kurdistan Project at the Endowment for Middle East Truth. “Similar to the Kurds in Syria, the timing is perfect to put pressure on the Islamic regime in Tehran. However, the most difficult task for Kurds will be on the ground in northwestern Iran or East Kurdistan; will they be organized and united? Only time will tell … ”

Policy experts who met Bayaziddi in June noted that the Kurdish representatives didn’t come with specific asks for the U.S. government. Rather, the purpose was mostly a fact-finding mission “to understand what the Trump administration wants,” according to Bilal Wahab, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy who met with the Iranian Kurdish delegation in June.

“Being Iran’s opposition is like riding a tiger,” Wahab told Al-Monitor. “You can’t get off. They want regime change, and they’d be eager to sign up to a regime-change project.”

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