[..] The areas most affected by the fighting are within the strongholds of Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. Each has a history of close ties with Iran going back four decades – but because both allied themselves with the United States in toppling Saddam Hussein in 2003, Tehran suspects them of trying to foment a Kurdish insurgency in Iran as part of a bigger “American plot” to destabilize the Islamic Republic.
Yet the three Kurdish groups involved in the anti-Khomeinist insurgency can hardly be regarded as vassals of either Iraqi Kurdish chief.
The group most active in the recent fighting is a new outfit, the Kurdistan Free Life Party, better known by its Kurdish acronym, PJAK. Judging by its literature, PJAK is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) a guerrilla movement of Turkish Kurds that has been fighting for a Kurdish state in eastern Anatolia since the 1970s.
Ironically, Tehran has given the PKK shelter and support against Turkey for years, as a means of bleeding NATO’s lone regional member. Some claim that Ankara may have decided to repay Tehran in its own currency by creating PJAK. Others, however, regard PJAK as an effort by PKK to expand its constituency beyond Turkey.