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At the same time, the available evidence indicates that the persistent grievances felt by Iranian Kurds are what fuel PJAK and other Kurdish opposition movements.In this context, if outside forces—both state actors hostile to the Islamic Republic and radical Sunni extremists—are involved, they are exacerbating an already tenuous situation on the ground.Conclusion Violent rebellion in Iranian Kurdistan led by PJAK will continue to test the domestic stability of the Islamic Republic in its Kurdish regions.In light of the myriad challenges facing Iran in both the domestic and regional spheres, however, there are no indications to suggest that PJAK in and of itself can pose a serious threat to the overall durability of the regime.
Al-Qa`ida factions originating in northern Iraq were also blamed for the attempt on the life of an Iranian judge and the September 2009 murder of a Sunni Kurdish cleric supportive of Tehran. In addition to eliciting confessions for the assassination by the alleged perpetrators, Iranian authorities also claimed to have uncovered a cache of weapons and explosives that included suicide vests destined to be used in future attacks against public officials in Iran directed by al-Qa`ida in northern Iraq. Furthermore, Iran also announced on December 30, 2010 that it had detained alleged members of al-Qa`ida in West Azerbaijan Province. The potential role of foreign state actors keen on destabilizing the Islamic Republic by sowing internal unrest, or involvement by Sunni extremist groups in militancy in Iranian Kurdistan, cannot be ruled out.
The domestic political landscape in Iran, specifically the numerous ethnic and sectarian minorities in the country, is also beginning to draw more attention.
Through collective displays of peaceful activism to organized campaigns of violence, a number of movements purporting to stand for the interests of ethnic and sectarian minority communities who see themselves as victims of state-directed oppression are increasingly capturing the spotlight.
Critical infrastructure, including energy pipelines, has also been targeted by PJAK in an attempt to disrupt the Iranian economy. PJAK’s objectives are indirectly bolstered by an organized political network consisting of human rights and lobbying organizations, Iranian Kurdish political parties operating in exile, and independent supporters that advocate on behalf of Iranian Kurds in the diaspora, especially in Europe where the group counts on the sizeable Kurdish diaspora for political, financial, and material support. Organizations operating outside of Iran and united in their advocacy for the federalization of Iran along ethnic and regional lines helps to strengthen PJAK’s cause.
PJAK also operates a sophisticated information campaign that includes a network of websites containing political material framed in human rights and democracy discourse in Kurdish, Farsi, English, and other languages. PJAK uses online and other media venues to claim responsibility for its attacks as well as to publicize its positions on events impacting Kurds in Iran and the wider region.