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Conflicting Reports on Kurdish Militant Clash; Tehran Goes to the Dogs

18 Jul 2011 12:32Comments

Press Roundup provides a selected summary of news from the Farsi and Arabic press and excerpts where the source is in English. Tehran Bureau has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. Please refer to the Media Guide to help put the stories in perspective. You can follow breaking news stories on our Twitter feed.

Iran Daylight Time (IRDT), GMT+4:30

KurdistanPseudoMap.jpg12:30 p.m., 27 Tir/July 18 Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps were involved in a major clash over the weekend with Kurdish militants near the Iran-Iraq border, but reports differ to a significant degree over the casualties suffered by the respective sides, where exactly the battle took place, and even which Kurdish nationalist organization was involved.

The following version of events is from the English-language website of IRNA, the Islamic Republic's official news agency. It is datelined Sardasht, in Iran's West Azerbaijan province. PJAK is the abbreviation for Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane, or the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan.

The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) managed to destroy the biggest compound of anti-revolutionary forces and PJAK terrorist group in this northwestern Iranian city late Saturday.

An informed source told IRNA on Sunday that dozens of anti-revolutionaries were killed and wounded in the operation launched by the IRGC against the terrorists.

"Bodies of the terrorists are being transferred to Sardasht," added the source.

He said the operation occurred in Amirabad region in Vazineh district in Sardasht, lasting from late Saturday until Sunday dawn.

"Another PJAK agent, who was injured in the operation, [has been] taken by the IRGC," the source added.

He said, "The biggest base of the anti-revolutionary forces 50 kms from Sardasht on the zero border point is now under the IRGC['s] control."

The source concluded that in the operation the PJAK forces left behind considerable amounts of ammunition and various heavy machine-guns before fleeing the scene of [the] clash.

Amsterdam-based Radio Zamaneh provides a very different version of the clash:

Conflicts between Iranian military forces and Turkey's Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) continued through to Sunday morning in Iraqi territory, said PKK spokesman Ahmad Denise.

Denise told Zamaneh's correspondent that the conflicts began two days ago when Iranian forces entered Iraqi Kurdistan territory and subjected PKK forces to artillery attack.

He added that Iranian forces have suffered more than 50 deaths and injuries, while four PKK members were killed and two have been wounded.

Denise said Iranian forces have now retreated in two areas[...]

Iraqi Kurdistan media reported that Islamic Republic forces have called on residents in the border regions to leave their homes within 72 hours.

Denise reported that over the last 15 days, the Iraqi Kurdistan border region has been subjected to heavy artillery attack.

PJAK and PKK are allied but, at least nominally, distinct organizations. PKK -- aka Kongra-Gel, or KGK -- is currently on the U.S. State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations; PJAK is not.

***
132174214.jpgDespite Iran's legal prohibition on the purchase of dogs as pets and Ayatollah Nasser Makarem Shirazi's fatwa last year condemning their ownership, the influence of Western media is making the pet dog an ever-more desirable Iranian status symbol, reports the Wall Street Journal's Farnaz Fassihi.

For some time, couriers have been bringing in dogs for sale via passenger airline flights, falsely claiming the animals as their own personal pets. When authorities caught onto the scheme last year and raised the airport fee for bringing in a dog from $50 to $800, some sellers turned to smuggling canines overland via tour buses and trucks from Armenia and Turkey.

While the popularity of pet dogs continues to grow, the regime resists:

This summer, so-called morality police are cruising the streets looking to enforce the anti-dog law. The punishment varies from a fine of up to $500 if the dog is seen in a public space to temporarily confiscating cars and suspending drivers' licenses if the dog isn't contained in a carrier inside the car.

To evade detection, pooch owners are resorting to middle-of-the-night walks and driving hours to the countryside just so their pets can roam. Vendors charge the equivalent of up to $10,000 for top dogs and operate so covertly that some blindfold potential buyers en route to the kennel. [...]

Milad, a 24-year-old owner of a white terrier, had a harrowing run-in with the morality police. He was driving home in Tehran with the dog in the front seat from a friend's house when a police car spotted him and signaled for him to pull over. He refused and, he says, the police chased him to the door of his house. He opened the car door to let the dog escape but an officer jumped out and pulled a gun on the dog, he says.

"I threw myself on my dog and said, 'You have to shoot me before you kill him,'" Milad says. A group of neighbors came out to defend him and, he says, eventually the police backed off from killing or confiscating the dog. But they suspended Milad's driver's license for six months and took his car for three months.

The images you see here are from the semiofficial Mehr News Agency, which is operated by the Islamic Propagation Organization. Mehr itself obscured the faces of the clients at the veterinarian/grooming facility, the sort of operation whose legal standing in the Islamic Republic seems to shift by the season. Last year, Raha Namy wrote a commentary for Tehran Bureau in which she examines just how much dogs, their status, and their treatment reveal about Iran today: "We Are Our Dogs."

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Copyright © 2011 Tehran Bureau

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