Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 5 – 11 April 2013

NEWS
1. Turkish Minister Makes Economic Case for Peace With Kurds
2. Osteoporosis of Turkish economy in 10 years of AKP governments
3. In letter to chief, PKK announces two worries
4. Wise People Meeting: “We Are Just Starting”
5. Erdogan’s ‘wise’ step to help Kurd peace talks
6. BDP delegation returns to Ankara
7. Roboski: A part of the peace process in Turkey
8. Ireland ready to help Turkey-Kurds peace

9. MAZLUMDER released violation rights report
10. Anatolia news agency to start broadcasting in Kurdish in September
11. Symposium on Ottoman history of seas and waterways
12. Iraqi Kurdistan sells first crude via Turkey
13. Davutoglu: Turkey Seeks  ‘Democratic System’ in Syria
14. Syria air raids target Aleppo Kurds: Watchdog
15. Mistrust mars deal between Syria rebels and Kurdish fighters

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
16. Should the Turkish Government Break The Law For Peace?
17. The Wise Men of Turkey
18. Can Turkey Leverage Kurdish Crude?
19. The Curse of Ataturk
2
0. To build a ‘greater Turkey’ with the Kurds
21. Turkey Gives Politics a Chance
22. All change in Turkey
23. Turkey Analysis: Erdogan’s Risky Game on The Kurdish Issue
24. Have Syria’s Kurds Had a Change of Heart?
25. Amid Syria’s Atrocities, Kurds Scratch Out a Home

 

NEWS
1. Turkish Minister Makes Economic Case for Peace With Kurds
5 April 2013 / Wall Street Journal
Turkey’s finance minister on Friday made the economic case for a rapprochement with Turkey’s Kurdish minority, saying it could free up billions in military spending and spur tax cuts for all Turks. Speaking with The Wall Street Journal in an interview conducted on social-networking site Twitter, Mehmet Simsek said that ending the three-decade conflict with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, would dramatically improve economic efficiency by closing loopholes in Turkey’s informal economy. It would also enrich Turkey’s middle classes, many of whom remain deeply skeptical about the monthslong peace process.

2. Osteoporosis of Turkish economy in 10 years of AKP governments
6 April 2013 / Hurriyet
What is the state of affairs in Turkey after 10 years of Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments? Some observers, especially foreign ones looking from outside, indicate that they don’t see a great deal of problems. In order to explain the real situation to these observers, I use the metaphor “a bone disease with no symptoms,” or osteoporosis, as the experts say. Osteoporosis itself has no symptoms, its main consequence is the increased risk of bone fractures, which especially occur in the wrists and hips. But the fractures in the vertebrae are asymptomatic and doctors have difficulty in diagnosing them. They lead to a loss of height and a stooped posture, etc. Sometimes this is without pain, and even if the patient has pain, he or she usually cannot relate it to the bones.

3. In letter to chief, PKK announces two worries
9 April 2013 / Kurd Press
The officials of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) officials in Kurdistan Region’s Qandil Mountains announced their two “big worries” in a letter to the party’s jailed leader Abdullah Ocalan.  In their letter to Ocalan’s call for PKK withdrawing from Turkey, the Party’s officials said they have two big concern in withdrawing from Turkey, that include; Turkey attack on the militants during the withdrawal and also Turkey government’s killing of time in the peace process and neglecting the rights of the Kurds. The letter was given to pro- Kurdish Peace and Democracy (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtas and BDP deputy Sirri Suraya Onder to take it to Turkey government and Ocalan, who sent his letter through the BDP officials last Wednesday.

4. Wise People Meeting: “We Are Just Starting”
5 April 2013 / Bianet
Turkey’s Wise People Delegation gathered at Dolmabahce Palace last night, having a 5-hour long meeting on the ongoing peace process with the participation of PM Erdoğan. Only Fadime Özkan, Star newspaper columnist, have not attended the meeting as she was out of the country. Orhan Gencebay, musician, became the first to leave the meeting. Around 11pm local time, the meeting ended with no statement from the government wing. Wise people were awarded with neck ties, scarfs and CDs. According to the information provided by wise people, the commission will function as follows:
* The commission will work independently and will not represent neither the government nor AKP. PM Erdoğan underlined this.
* Each region will determine its own working methods, essentials, and stakeholder meeting lists. […]

5. Erdogan’s ‘wise’ step to help Kurd peace talks
4 April 2013 / Arab News
Turkey said yesterday it has set up a consultative body of “wise people” to help shape public opinion on the latest peace process with Kurdish rebels. The initiative, which involves an array of figures including popular actors and singers, follows a cease-fire call last month by jailed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Ocalan. The group of “well-respected people whose common ground is democracy and freedoms” is due to have its first meeting with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan today, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told reporters. The 63-member group is being asked to inform people across Turkey about the budding peace process aimed at ending the outlawed PKK’s 29-year armed campaign for self-rule that has killed some 45,000 people, mostly Kurds.

6. BDP delegation returns to Ankara
9 April 2013 / ANF
Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş and Istanbul deputy Sırrı Süreyya Önder left Hewler on Monday after they delivered Öcalan’s second letter to Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) executives in Kandil on 5 April. Following the delivery of the letter and a meeting with BDP members, KCK executives handed in their reply letter to the BDP delegation on Monday. Making a short statement before leaving Kandil, Demirtaş said they didn’t know about the content of the letter which -he noted- had been given to them in an envelope. Demirtaş said they would enable the delivery of KCK’s letter to the Kurdish leader through relevant authorities. He remarked that a BDP delegation could pay the fifth visit to Imralı to discuss most recent developments face to face after Öcalan received that letter.

7. Roboski: A part of the peace process in Turkey
6 April 2013 / Alliance for Kurdish Rights
A parliamentary Human Rights Examination Commission in Turkey has voted in favour of a report put forward by a subcommision about the Roboski Massacre. The report has caused public outcry among families of the 34 victims, human rights organisations, political parties and Kurds in general because no one is held responsible for the massacre that is described as “not an intentional act.” Turkey’s ruling party, AKP, continues to insist that it was an “unfortunate operational accident” and Turkish military claims in the same manner that it had made a mistake based on information collected from American drones that spotted the group of Kurds who were smuggling goods across the border between Iraq and Turkey. The military thought it was members of PKK and therefore bombed the area.

8. Ireland ready to help Turkey-Kurds peace
10 April 2013 / eKurd
Ireland is ready to share its experience with Turkey on ending decades of violence, a negotiator for the Good Friday Northern Ireland accords said Wednesday. Dominic Hannigan, a former head of the Good Friday Agreement committee, told his Turkish and Kurdish counterparts that they must “take risks” for peace if they hope to end three decades of armed struggle. “It’s a long road. Nobody is going to sign a peace agreement overnight,” Hannigan told AFP. Turkey is exploring outside models including the ending of “The Troubles” between Britain and the Irish Republican Army through the Good Friday agreement in 1998. A group of Irish lawmakers visited Ankara this week for discussions with Turkey’s political parties to tell about their experience with the IRA which fought for a united Ireland.

9. MAZLUMDER released violation rights report
7 April 2013 / ANF
MAZLUMDER (Human Rights and Solidarity for Oppressed Peoples association) has released its report on right violations in 2012. According to the report 138 people died as a result of 131 incidents, including murders by unknown people and suspicious deaths.The report also highlights that 13 people died in prisons. A total of 10.350 people were taken into custody and 656 people were remanded in custody. Speaking at the press conference organized for the launch of the report MAZLUMDER Executive Board Member and Deputy General Secretarian Haşim Savaş said Turkey is still behind when it come to address problems in order to solve them.

10. Anatolia news agency to start broadcasting in Kurdish in September
6 April 2013 / Hurriyet
Turkey’s leading public news agency, Anatolia news agency, is preparing to begin broadcasting in Kurdish from Sept. 1, Director Kemal Öztürk said April 5. The agency, which is marking its 93rd anniversary April 6, aims to become one of the world’s top news agencies by 2020, Öztürk said, adding that they had conducted rigorous studies prior to the launch of the Kurdish edition service in the Sorani dialect.  “Our first target will be the northern Iraqi media. There are around 30 media organizations in the region that pick news related to Turkey from the Fırat news agency,” Öztürk told Star daily, referring to the pro-Kurdish agency which has frequently been targeted by Turkish judicial officials.

11. Symposium on Ottoman history of seas and waterways
6 April 2013 / World Bulletin
A symposium organized by Erciyes University will present and open discussions about the history of bodies of water. 130 scientists, historians, researchers and military officials from different countries in the world, ranging from America to Sudan, will participate in the Symposium on Rivers and Lakes in the Ottoman Empire. The symposium will address the unknown 500 year history of waterways. With 2013 being the year of Piri Reis, an Ottoman admiral, geographer and cartographer, the Department of Maritime Transport and Communications and the Ministry of Water Affairs and Forestry have organized a symposium on bodies of water to be held at Erciyes University from May 2 to 3.

12. Iraqi Kurdistan sells first crude via Turkey
6 April 2013 / World Bulletin
The first cargo of Iraqi Kurdistan’s crude oil has been sold on the international market, industry sources said, as the autonomous northern region ramps up trade the central government views as illegal. The crude pumped from Genel Energy’s Taq Taq oilfield was trucked over Iraq’s northern border with Turkey and sold via tender for loading in April. One trader said the cargo sold was 30,000 tonnes, which at Friday’s market prices was worth around $22 million. “I said we may have interest for this 30,000 tonne cargo and they (Powertrans) said we already sold it,” said the prospective buyer. S.E.T. Select Energy GmbH, an energy firm based in Hamburg, Germany, won the tender issued by intermediary Powertrans, according to two industry sources.

13. Davutoglu: Turkey Seeks  ‘Democratic System’ in Syria
9 April 2013 / Al Monitor
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu is probably one of the world’s busiest men. In other words, it’s not easy for a journalist to have a chance for a long interview with him. That is why I was pleased last weekend to get a call from his media adviser inviting me to join Davutoğlu’s official trip to the Netherlands. The minister would stay in the Dutch capital only for 12 hours for an international summit, I was told, before flying to Kyrgyzstan for another meeting. But he would have free time on the plane.

14. Syria air raids target Aleppo Kurds: Watchdog
6 April 2013 / Zee News
Syrian warplanes on Saturday raided a flashpoint majority Kurdish district in the northern city of Aleppo, a watchdog said, while air strikes were also reported on the outskirts of Damascus. “A warplane raided the west of Sheikh Maqsud in Aleppo city, killing at least five civilians and wounding several others,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, as violence in the politically sensitive neighbourhood escalated.  The strike comes days into fierce clashes pitting Kurdish fighters against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad, and the arrival of Syrian rebels in the neighbourhood, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. The area targeted by the air strike is under control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Syria’s branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdel Rahman told a news agency.

15. Mistrust mars deal between Syria rebels and Kurdish fighters
9 April 2013 / Daily Star
In the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsoud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, Arab rebels and Kurd fighters say they are fighting together against the regime of President Bashar Assad. But on the ground, the reality is rather more complex. Standing at the entrance to Sheikh Maqsoud, rebel commander Abu Ahmad wears an orange, green and red scarf – the colors of the Kurdish flag. Nearby, two flags fly together: that of the Kurds, alongside the green, black and white standard of the Syrian revolt. “I wear the colors of my Kurdish brothers, even if I am an Arab,” says Abu Ahmad, proudly.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

16. Should the Turkish Government Break The Law For Peace?
5 April 2013 / Al Monitor
Security and disarmament dimensions of the peace process between the Turkish government and the PKK have had three critical thresholds, each more decisive than the last: First a cease-fire, then the withdrawal of armed PKK forces from Turkey and, finally, the PKK fully disarming. We are now in the first phase of a cease-fire. This, the easiest phase, is proceeding successfully. There have been many cease-fires between the PKK and the Turkish state. Most of those were made possible by the state more or less respecting the movement’s decision to cease action. The longest-lasting period of no action was the one initiated unilaterally by the movement after the handing over of Abdullah Ocalan to Turkey in 1999. The organization ended that period in 2004, also unilaterally.

17. The Wise Men of Turkey
7 April 2013 / Rudaw
A Wise Men commission has emerged in Turkey, entrusted — in the words of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan — with the challenge of preparing the ground for   “psychological operations” to settle the Kurdish question in Turkey once and for all. The Wise Men, a lexical misnomer with underlying sexist connotations as it contains a few women, is essentially geographically constructed to include heads and representatives from seven regions of the country. They represent social, academic, cultural, historical, economic, and political domains.

18. Can Turkey Leverage Kurdish Crude?
8 April 2013 / Al Monitor
The proposed energy framework between Turkey and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has raised hopes for independent Kurdish oil exports and a viable way to pay international oil companies (IOCs) in the Kurdistan Region. Some think the framework could eventually give the Kurds an alternative revenue source that replaces Ankara for Baghdad as the region’s financier. Yet, while encouraging Kurdish energy development, Turkey still has made no clear commitment to an independent pipeline that would circumvent Iraqi state sovereignty. This is because Ankara’s endgame is not only securing Kurdish crude, but maximizing Turkish commercial interests in Iraq. Doing so will likely entail negotiations with Baghdad that include Erbil, but which prioritize Iraq’s territorial integrity, secure Ankara’s interests and seek concessions from the Kurds.

19. The Curse of Ataturk
5 April 2013 / IHT
“How happy is the one who says ‘I am a Turk,’” said Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, speaking in an emotional finale of a speech in 1933 — a time when Turkey was still trying to forge a national identity out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire. The notion seemed simple enough: If you think you’re Turkish, then you are. Of course, it’s not that straightforward. On the one hand, Article 66 of the 1982 Constitution defines a Turk as someone who feels the bonds and benefits of citizenship rather than in terms of ethnicity or race. On the other hand, Article 3 states that Turkish is the country’s sole official language, and Article 24 makes religious education compulsory. Throughout the document, as well as in political discourse and popular parlance, the notion of “Turkishness” is both ill-defined and staunchly defended.

20. To build a ‘greater Turkey’ with the Kurds
7 April 2013 / Todays Zaman
The ultimate fear of the Turks about the Kurdish demands is that they will eventually lead to the division of the country and an independent Kurdistan will be carved out of Turkey. This fear that prevails among the Turks is an important stumbling block for the current peace process. To overcome this, new language that constructs a common future for the Turks and the Kurds within a “greater Turkey” has been formulated and spoken by both Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan and the Turkish government. Let’s first explore the roots of the fear and then address the new “remedy” that is expected to overcome this psycho-historical resistance to the peace negotiations with the Kurds.

21. Turkey Gives Politics a Chance
4 April 2013 / Brookings
Late last month, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu called to apologize to his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the death of Turkish citizens during a military operation against the ship Mavi Marmara in 2010. The call came within a day of Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Öcalan’s declaration of truce and call for “the guns [to] be silenced and politics dominate.” These two developments are clearly independent of each other. But they point to the possibility of a very different Middle East, one that breaks with the violent conflicts that are spreading across the region, including in Syria, Gaza, Egypt and Iran. One striking common denominator in all these persistent conflicts is the absence of negotiations, let alone negotiated settlements.

22. All change in Turkey
April 2013 / Socialist Review
Turkey’s ruling Islamic AKP party has been committed to neoliberalism and expanding Turkey’s regional influence. But, argues Roni Margulies, there has also been a major reshaping of the relationship between society, the state and the once all powerful Turkish military. Looking at Turkey from the outside can be a baffling exercise for anyone used to the usual political categories of the West. At first sight, everything seems to fit neatly into place. There is a sort of Islamic party in government. The governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) is a conservative neoliberal party.

23. Turkey Analysis: Erdogan’s Risky Game on The Kurdish Issue
7 April 2013 / EA Worldview
In the past week, there have been two significant developments in the “peace process” between the Government and the insurgent Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Opposition deputies of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) have paid a fourth visit to the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyyip Erdogan has selected 49 “wise people” — seven for each of seven regions — to promote the talks to the Turkish public. On the surface, then, this continues to be advance towards the “historic” resolution of the Kurdish issue. Dig a bit deeper, however, and you wll hit a major block: the ambitions of a Prime Minister trying to maintain and increase his power at every step of the process.

24. Have Syria’s Kurds Had a Change of Heart?
8 April 2013 / Huffington Post
“Deal with your friends as if they will become your enemies tomorrow, and deal with your enemies as if they will become your friends tomorrow.” It’s a proverb passed along through Kurdish generations — and a telling pretext to the Kurdish strategy in today’s conflict in Syria. In recent weeks, this once dormant player has awoken from its slumber, and may just provide Syria’s desperate rebels with a much needed boost to break their deadlock with the Assad regime. Reports indicate that YPG militiamen and Syrian rebels have agreed to share control of the strategic Sheikh Maqsood District of northern Aleppo, cutting off regime supply routes to a hospital, prison, and other key positions. Rebel fighters entered the district largely unopposed on March 31. On April 6, the Syrian military bombarded Kurdish neighborhoods in northern Aleppo, killing 15 people in a likely response to this new arrangement.

25. Amid Syria’s Atrocities, Kurds Scratch Out a Home
2 April 2013 / The Atlantic
In northeast Syria, Kurdish militias have carved out a zone of control independent from both the Assad regime and the Syrian rebels. The power on the ground in this area is the Syrian franchise of the PKK guerrilla organization, a militant nationalist Kurdish movement that has been waging war against Turkey since 1984. The Syrian Kurds are determined to preserve their fragile autonomy, but rebels, backed by the Turkish government, are equally committed to nullifying it.

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