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Ethnic Feud Divides Warring Turks and Kurds in Iran

 
 By William Branigin
 Washinrton Post Foreign 8 rvice
 NAQADEH, lran, April 23 A jeep
 full of Azerbaijapi Turks halted on
 the bridge, dragged out the body of a
 dead Kurd and threw him into the
 roiling waters of the Gued4ar River.
 A crowd quickly gathered and
 cheered as the Kurd, dressed in the
 traditional baggy trousers and tunic,
 disappeared into the muddy water
 When the body bobbed to the surface,
 children threw rocks at it as it floated
 downsti earn in the swilt current.
 That was an indication an the wai
 to tins embattled downtown that, de
 s ite a government4mposed truce, the
 hatred, fear and suspicion dividing
 Turkisi'- and Kurdish-speaking Irani-
 ans here is far from resolved,
 The cease-fire, in principle, had
 taken effect at 5 p m It was ordered
 by Iranian Army troops, backed by
 tanks and artillery, who moved into
 Naqadch to stop four days of fierce
 clashes between the two well armed
 ethnic groups which, although Irani-
 ans, refer to themselves as Kurds and
 Turks. Their battles underscore the
 flareup of ethnic tension here since
 the Islamic revolution emptied the
 central government in Tehran of
 much of the authority it had under
 the shah
 Nearer Naqadeh, flames and smoke
 rose from a mud brick and thatch vil-
 lage in the middle of a fertile plain.
 Reside its said Turkish speaking Azer-
 baijarns had attacked the village's
 Kurdish residents and set fire to their
 houses,
 Apparently outnumbered in this re
 glen by the Turks, many Kurds were
 said to have fled into the surrounding
 hills Known as fearsome warriors,
 the Kurds have specialized in moun-
 tain fighting and guerrilla tactics dur-
 ing past struggles for an independent
 state against the government of neigh
 boring Iraq.
 Stacking the odds against the Kinds
 here is the fact that about 600 Isanian
 troops—both regulars and a redtag
 assortment of “Islamic revolutionary
 guards' loyal to the committee of Ay-
 atollah Ruholla't Khomeini — are
 overwhelmingly, Azerbaijani Turks
 They seemed to work hand in glove
 with the Amrbaijani residents of
 Naqadeh, who have been battling the
 Kurcis In house-to-house fighting since
 a still unexplained shooting incident
 disi upted a meeting of the Kurdistan
 Democratic Party on Friday
 Inside Naqadeh, whose 20,000 scsi
 dents are roughly divided between
 Kurds and Turks, a meeting of gov-
 erhment representatives and religious
 leaders representing both sides signed
 the third cease fire ag -cement in as
 many days
 “For the time being eveiythrng has
 stopped and the people aie gathering
 their dead,” said Iral Tabs izi, the dep-
 uty governor general of west Azerba-
 ijan Province,
 He said the two sides ‘reached an
 agreement not to shoot any more and
 for all those wlo left town to come
 back and saturn to woik,”
 Tabrizi said the casualty toll in four
 days of fighting so far was “not more
 than 100 dead and 150 injured,” Some
 BY Dave Cook—The Washington Post
 residents claimed as many as 1,000
 e som ed In the fighting,
 The Tu”kish combatants in Naqadeh
 related horrific tales of Kurdish atroc
 sties committed against Azerbaijani
 m n, women a sd children, Excited
 Turks claimed that Kuids slashed the
 throats of a number of children and
 wrote slogans on the wall with their
 blood But neither a group of visiting
 correspond nts nor a resident corres
 pondent in the town for a Tehran
 newspaper saw any evidence of this
 In m effoit to consolidate the
 cease tire, tue Army aeciarea an over-
 night curfew in Naqadeh, starting at 8
 p,m,, officials said, But the truce
 agreement appeared to have been
 i-cached without the endorsement of a
 major party of the conflict, Officials
 in Naqadeh said the Kurds were rep-
 resented by a Sunni Moslem religious
 leader, Sheik Saleh Rahimi, No repre-
 sentative of the Kurdistan Demo
 cratic Party participated
 The party's agitation for an autono
 mous, socialist Kurdistan seems to
 nave oecome a major zactor exacer-
 bating traditional animosity between
 the twoS groups, In addition to politi
 cal at i ethnic differences, sectarian
 divisions have been a key element
 While the Kurds are predominantl r '
 Sunni Moslems, the Azerbaijanss be- '
 long lo the Shnte mahority led b
 Khomeini -
 The Kurds and the Turks have rep-
 utations as fierce, merciless fighters
 whose code of honor is synonymou's 4:
 with revenge, It is a code which tends si
 to militate against an easy solution to
 the conflict, which threatens to engulf
 Iran's approxImately 3 5 million
 Kurds and 4 million Azerbaijanis . i
 A truce committee reached an eav
 her cease-fire agieement Sunday, off!
 c'ials said, but there was so mueh,i
 shooting in Naqadeh that an an
 nouncement of it over loudspeakerg '
 from minarets of local mosdues cou1d
 not be heard above the din,
 According to Seyed Hamid Ad1ani 4
 a prominent Shiite' religious leader in
 ‘inc area, the oniy thing an earlier
 meeting accomplished was an agree-
 ment by each side not to bring weap
 ens to future cease fire talks, Adlani4
 himself likes to carry an automatic ri'
 lie a habit whicl at first glance
 seemo incompatible with his tuiban ;(
 and flowing robes.
 Despite the cease-fire, and theix
 claim to have the upper hand the Az- ,
 e baijani Turks are decidedly nervous,
 about Kurdish reprisals, On the road
 fi am Orumiyeh, formerly Rezayieh
 to Naqadeh, a car full of Turks whu
 had stopped to help another motoris
 stood guard by the two vehicles witI
 their r'fles pointed toward the moun
 tam off to the west,
 Gesturing toward the hills, thea
 leader of the gioup said, “You can't
 see them, but the, Kurds are back ins
 there somewhere,”
 Also illustrative of the fratriridal -
 nature of the conflict here was the at- '
 titude of an Azerbaijani taxi driver,
 After describing alleged Kurdish s
 atrocities and acts of bloody Turkisn
 vengeance in great detail, he sighed'
 and said: “We are all brothers, bu
 sometimes things like this come up,” ,
 Ethnic Feud Divides Warring Turks and Kurds in Iran
 By William Branigin Washington Post Foreign Service
 The Washington Post (1974 Current file); Apr 24, 1979;
 ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post (1 877 1994)
 pg. A14
 Blocked due to copy right
 See full page image or
 microfilm.
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 oc!aLed Pr 5
 , prkish-s eaki Jransans man position at Naqadeh, site of fighting between them and Kurdish tribesmen,
        
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