Kurds in Iran begin to rebel?

A decision by a Kurdish opposition group to take up arms against Iranian authorities has senior officials in Tehran worrying that Saudi Arabia is seeking to undermine its stability in a deepening of their regional rivalry.

Riyadh denies the charge. But tension between the two countries is surging, with Saudi Arabia and Iran supporting opposite sides in wars in Syria and Yemen and rival political parties in Iraq and Lebanon. The contest has largely hewed along sectarian lines as mainly Shi'ite Iran and Saudi Arabia, a predominantly Sunni country, vie for influence.

That competition, officials in Tehran worry, has now spread inside their borders, thanks to what they fear is Riyadh's exploitation of the Islamic Republic's communal rifts.

They point to clashes -- the first in almost 20 years -- between the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (PDKI) fighters and Revolutionary Guards in the northwest in June and July that left several dead on both sides.

As fighting escalated, Iranian forces shelled suspected Kurdish military bases in northern Iraq, raising the prospect that the conflict could spread across the border.

"(Saudi Arabia) gives money to any anti-revolutionary who comes near the border and says 'Go carry out operations,'" Mohsen Rezai, the former head of the Revolutionary Guards said after one round of clashes, according to the Tabnak website. "When they ask, 'Where should we carry out operations?' they say, 'It's not important. We want Iran to become insecure.'"

Iran’s 8 to 10 million Kurdish community is mostly Sunni. In addition to the claims about Saudi funding for Kurdish armed groups, Iranian officials have also accused Riyadh of stirring up trouble among Iran’s other Sunni ethnic minorities like the Baluch in the southeast of the country and Arabs in Iran's southwest.

The PKDI denies receiving Saudi support. And for their part, Saudi officials deny meddling in Iranian affairs. Riyadh in turn accuses Iran of stirring up trouble amongst its Shi’ite minority, a charge Iranian officials have denied.
There is more.

I suspect both sides are stirring up the minorities in the other.  I think it is most reactionary by the Saudis who have seen Iran attempt to undermine its authority with its Shia minority and support a Shia rebellion on its southern flank in Yemen.  With neither side ready for open warfare with the other, supporting proxy forces is the natural route of defense.


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