Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 26 July – 1 August 2013

 

Save Roj TV – Independent voice of the Kurds

 “The issues at stake are high for not only is there a clear principle of freedom of speech involved, the voice of the Kurds should not be stifled at this crucial moment when all sides need to be heard if dialogue is going to have a chance of success. For any lasting peace to be achieved the issues will need to be fully debated by the Kurdish side and the people need to be informed about developments in order to be able to accept any agreements that may emerge. Roj TV is a popular channel among Kurds, whom it provides a reliable source of information and it has been playing a valuable role in informing the audience about key political developments.”

 Read the rest of our statement in support of Roj TV

 You can now find us Facebook for news on political developments across Kurdistan and updates on our work

https://www.facebook.com/PeaceInKurdistanCampaign

NEWS
1. Grand Kurdish Congress to take place in Arbil in next month
2. Kurdish National Conference to be held Aug 19 in Erbil
3. Öcalan: The government must take steps to advance process
4. Senior Kurdish rebel warns Turkey to progress reforms by September
5. Kurds could help shift course of war in Syria
6. Salih Muslim’s Ankara Visit Marks Major Policy Change
7. Ex-Minister Blasts Turkey’s War Rhetoric against Syrian Kurds
8. Muslim visit to Turkey proficouos
9. Syrian Kurd Leader: Turkey Changes Position, Vows Aid
10. Senior Syrian Kurdish official assassinated near border
11. Top Kurdish politician killed in bomb blast in Syria
12. Car bomb kills Syrian Kurdish politician
13. PYD on al Qaida plans in Syria
14. Lawyers in Turkey seek retrial for Kurdish rebel leader Ocalan
15. Turkish Foreign Ministry recruits Kurdish Diplomats
16. Al-Qaeda Militants Travel To Syria Via Turkey
17. Banning of Kurdish station controversial

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
18. National Conference: One nation, one discourse
19. Kurdish National Conference: A Historical Event for the Kurds
20. Turkey’s Missed Opportunities
21. Has Turkey Made U-Turn On Syria’s Kurds?
22. The assurances on al-Qaeda to Syrian Kurds
23. Kurdish ‘nationhood’
24. T
urkish Protests, Syria Crisis Will Boost Turkey-PKK Peace Process
25. What Does the PYD Want From Turkey?
26. Stratfor Report – Turkey’s Losses
27. Turkey’s Missed Opportunities With the Kurds
28. Foreign policy implications of the Kurdish peace for Turkey

STATEMENTS AND APPEALS
29. Save Roj TV – independent voice of the Kurds
30. Lift the ban on the PKK, Freedom and Justice for the Kurds!

NEWS

1. Grand Kurdish Congress to take place in Arbil in next month
29 July 2013 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
On July 22, 2013 representatives from 39 different Kurdish parties in Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran attended a preliminary congress in Arbil to discuss regional developments. Massoud Barzani, president of KRG and host of this event said that “Our main goal in holding this congress is for all Kurdish political factions to reach a shared strategy and voice.” In addition to this, Barzani demanded from participants to leave narrow ideologies and work together in patriotism.

2. Kurdish National Conference to be held Aug 19 in Erbil
31 July 2013 / World Bulletin
The Kurdish National Conference is set to begin on August 19 in the Iraqi city of Erbil. The Kurdistan Democratic Party wanted the conference to be held earlier, sources said. Consisting of 21 people, the preparation committee of Kurdish National Conference convened on Tuesday and agreed for the conference to begin on August 19 and last three days. The attendees are determined by the preparation committee, and 500 people representing Kurds from various states including Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran would attend the conference.

3. Öcalan: The government must take steps to advance process
30 Jul 2013 / ANF
DIHA News Agency has reported the words Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan said to his sister Fatma and uncle Süleyman Arslan. “The government – Öcalan said – should take steps for the solution process by October 1. I have successfully completed the first phase of the process – he added – and I started the second stage, but the government is supposed to take some steps either”. Öcalan added: “I did my best in this regard. I’m not saying I will withdraw from the process after October 1 – he stressed – but by then if no step is taken how can we actually talk of a process. What else can I do?” he asked.

4. Senior Kurdish rebel warns Turkey to progress reforms by September
31 July 2013 / Reuters
The Turkish government must take concrete steps by September to advance a peace process with Kurdish militants or risk a return to hostilities, the co-head of the rebels’ political wing was quoted as saying on Wednesday. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the government opened peace talks last October with the goal of ending a conflict which has killed 40,000 people in three decades and stunted the development of Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast. But the process has faltered in recent weeks, with Ankara complaining a withdrawal by PKK fighters into northern Iraq is happening too slowly. Its fragility has been highlighted by isolated militant attacks on military outposts. “From now on, steps must be taken. September 1 is the deadline,” Cemil Bayik, who was promoted earlier this month to become deputy to jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, told Firat News, a website with links to the militants.

5. Kurds could help shift course of war in Syria
29 July 2013 / Reuters
The head of Turkey’s main Kurdish party has welcomed contacts between the Ankara government and Syria’s Kurds, saying it could step up pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and help change the course of the civil war. Turkish intelligence officers met in Istanbul last week with Saleh Muslim, head of Syria’s Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Kurdish group whose militias have been fighting for control of parts of Syria’s north near the Turkish border. The meeting followed Muslim’s declaration that Kurdish groups would set up an independent council to run Kurdish areas of Syria until the war ends. Ankara fears that kind of autonomy could rekindle separatist sentiment among its own, much larger Kurdish population as it seeks to end a 30-year-old insurgency.

6. Salih Muslim’s Ankara Visit Marks Major Policy Change
29 July 2013 / Rudaw
The Democratic Union Party (PYD) has reassured Ankara that his group’s call for a local administration in Syria’s Kurdish regions does not mean that the group is looking to divide Syria. Salih Muslim, leader of the PYD, met with Turkish officials last week, marking a major policy change between two sides deeply suspicious of each other. Muslim who flew to Turkey from Erbil, told the media that he was in Turkey to allay Ankara’s concerns over Kurdish separatism, and to explain why the Syria’s Kurdish regions needed a  local administration to run their own affairs. “Kurds will need to have a status in the new order in Syria,” Muslim told Anadolu News Agency. “But what’s in question now is a provisional arrangement until we arrive at that phase. It’s not about making a constitution, but practical rules are necessary.”

7. Ex-Minister Blasts Turkey’s War Rhetoric against Syrian Kurds
31 July 2013 / Fars News Agency
“Turkey’s military intervention against Kurds in Northern Syria would be tantamount to aggression against the entire Syria because this region comprises Arab tribes and followers of different religions,” Issa Darvish told FNA in Damascus on Wednesday. Darvish noted that Turkey pursues psychological warfare against Syrian Kurds in a bid to strengthen the deteriorating morale of the armed rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government.  “Under the present conditions the issue of Turkey’s intervention in Syria will not be nothing more than a propaganda war to boost the armed rebels’ morale,” he added. Last week, a senior Turkish politician lambasted Prime Minister Recep Teyyip Erdogan for his interfering policies in Syria, and said such an approach will lead to civil war in the Muslim country.

8. Muslim visit to Turkey proficouos
27 July 2013 / ANF
Democratic Union Party (PYD) co-chair, Salih Muslim, who is currently in Turkey, underlined that Syrian Kurds will seek a “new status” in the new political system to be established in Syria. Muslim added that there is a need for a provisional council in the territory controlled by Kurds in northern Syria, which could also include Arabs, Syriacs and Turkmens, to guarantee governance until the two-year-long conflict reaches a settlement. “By all means,- said Muslim – Kurds will need to have a status in the new order in Syria. But what’s in question now is a provisional arrangement until we arrive at that phase. It’s not about making a Constitution, but practical rules are necessary.”

9. Syrian Kurd Leader: Turkey Changes Position, Vows Aid
28 July 2013 / al Manar
The head of the main Syrian Kurdish party said on Sunday that Turkey has changed its position and will provide the Kurds in Syria with humanitarian aid. “A promise has been made. Turkey is going to help our people in all areas. That is to say it will provide humanitarian aid,” said Saleh Muslim, co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), in an interview published Sunday in the Turkish daily Milliyet. “I can say that Turkey has changed its attitude towards the PYD. The simple fact that I am here already shows the biggest change,” said Muslim, who was invited to Istanbul by Turkey’s foreign ministry and met Turkish officials on Friday.

10. Senior Syrian Kurdish official assassinated near border
30 July 2013 / Hurriyet
A prominent Syrian Kurdish politician was assassinated on July 30 outside his home near the Turkish border when a bomb planted in his car exploded. Isa Huso, a member of the Supreme Kurdish Council diplomacy committee was assassinated as he left his house in the morning in the Syrian Kurdish city of Qamishli. Huso, 60, had worked for Kurdish freedom and actively participated in the founding congress of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). The PYD is the main Kurdish party in Syria and is considered a branch of Turkey’s outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Turkey’s Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) condemned the attack, saying it had been perpetrated against all Kurdish people.

11. Top Kurdish politician killed in bomb blast in Syria
29 July 2013 / Press TV
An eminent Kurdish politician has been killed in a car bomb attack in Syria near the Turkish border, Kurdish political sources say.  According to a source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the politician identified as Isa Huso lost his life after the bomb, planted in his car, went off outside his house in the Syrian town of Al-Qamishli on Tuesday.  This comes while Kurdish fighters, who are opposed to foreign interference in Syria, have been battling foreign-backed militants in the north in recent months.  On July 21, Kurdish militants took control of a key checkpoint controlled by al-Qaeda-linked militants and seized light weapons, ammunition, a vehicle mounted with a heavy machine gun, and a mortar launcher.

12. Car bomb kills Syrian Kurdish politician
30 July 2013 / Reuters
A prominent Syrian Kurdish politician was assassinated early on Tuesday outside his home near the Turkish border when a bomb planted in his car exploded. Isa Huso, a member of the foreign relations committee in the Higher Kurdish Council, a group formed to unite Syrian Kurdish parties, was leaving his house in the Syrian town of Al Qamishli when the bomb exploded, Kurdish political sources said. Kurdish activist Massoud Akko said Huso, who was in his fifties, was a moderate who was imprisoned several times under Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and during the rule of Assad’s late father for campaigning for human rights.

13. PYD on al Qaida plans in Syria
30 July 2013 / ANF
The PYD (Democratic Union Party) has released a lenghty and detailed document on Al-Qaida and its project to establish an Islamic emirate and cleansing Kurds. The document starts with an analysis of Al-Qaeda which is, recalls the document, an islamist Salafist organization which have attacked civilian and military targets in various countries, most notably they were behind the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Some of the techniques used by the Al-Qaida includes suicide attacks and simultaneous bombings.

14. Lawyers in Turkey seek retrial for Kurdish rebel leader Ocalan
26 July 2013 / Reuters
Lawyers for Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, serving a life sentence in Turkey for treason, on Friday filed a request for his retrial, arguing recent legislative changes pave the way for new legal proceedings and a fairer trial. Ocalan, 64, is viewed by nationalist Turks as responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of people in a 29-year war between the army and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) before his capture and conviction in 1999. But for many Kurds, who make up an estimated 20 percent of the population, Ocalan embodies their struggle for greater political and cultural rights in Turkey. Any retrial could prove deeply polarizing as the government seeks to negotiate an end to the long-running conflict with the PKK. A Justice Ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity, in Ankara said retrying Ocalan now was “impossible”.

15. Turkish Foreign Ministry recruits Kurdish Diplomats
27 July 2013 / Kurdish Globe
Following the changes made in the police of Turkey toward Kurds and after the attempts made for promoting peace process between Turkey and Kurds, the Turkish government has started taking practical steps. According to Press Turk website, Turkey?s Foreign Affairs Ministry has appointed ten Kurdish diplomats as the government representative in the Kurdish areas. The Foreign Ministry is looking for Kurdish-speaking personnel to appoint as diplomats to regions where the Kurdish language is spoken, such as northern Iraq.  These individuals not only have to speak an advanced level of English, French or German but also must speak Kurdish.

16. Al-Qaeda Militants Travel To Syria Via Turkey
28 July 2013 / Al Monitor
During the 2½ years of clashes in Syria, there has been constant debate about how Turkey’s borders were crossed. There were reports that Islamic groups going to fight regime of President Bashar al-Assad — first and foremost al-Qaeda, which has supporters in Turkey — were crossing over the Turkish border. To find out more, we met with people close to al-Qaeda in Istanbul. These people are shopkeepers who live in the Fatih district of Istanbul, but who won’t give their names. They have interesting things to say about the Syrian war. These sources told us that following the eruption of war in Syria, al-Qaeda elements from Europe, the Caucasus, Afghanistan and North Africa began crossing into Syria via Turkey. These sources also had interesting things to say about the clashes with the Kurdish PYD and how the border is crossed.

17. Banning of Kurdish station controversial
30 July 2013 / Ice
A court in Copenhagen has shut down a Kurdish TV station and fined it more than 1 million euros for promoting terrorism, but the decision has created a fuss. The station, Roj TV, part of Mesopotamia Broadcasting, operates out of Denmark, appealing to the cause of the Kurds in Eastern Turkey. The ruling appears to have come from diplomatic pressure in Denmark from the Turkish government, with evidence in wikileaks papers of some political bargaining to influence the case. A public appeal has been launched by the Copenhagen Post in solidarity with the Alliance for Kurdish rights and has already attracted some important endorsements, such as Noam Chomsky and John Berger.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

18. National Conference: One nation, one discourse
27 July 2013 / Kurdish Globe
It’s more than a quarter of a century, due to some internal and regional factors, those political parties which haven’t been able to meet and agree on holding a national conference in the four parts of Kurdistan, on July 22nd 2013, under the auspicious of President Masoud Barzani and in presence of 39 Kurdish political parties held a meeting for unifying opinions, planning and making ground for holding a national conference in Erbil in September.  Things went well and all the parties agreed on forming a 21-member committee dividing them according to population. Seven members from Northern Kurdistan (Turkey), five from Southern Kurdistan (Iraq), five from Eastern Kurdistan (Iran) and four from western Kurdistan (Syria). The duty of this committee is to prepare plans and provide the conference necessities.

19. Kurdish National Conference: A Historical Event for the Kurds
29 July 2013 / Rudaw
Last week, 39 Kurdish political groups gathered in Erbil under the auspices of Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani for preliminary talks about a National Conference.  This gathering rekindled Kurdish hopes of achieving all of their national ambitions, and could go down as an historical day. Throughout decades of struggle in the region, the Kurds have always been eager to maintain the peaceful nature of their fight. And the main goal of this National Conference is to tell the world that the Kurds — who have their own culture, language and land — want to live in peace with their neighbors.

20. Turkey’s Missed Opportunities
31 July 2013 / AINA
Earlier this month, two Al-Monitor contributors wondered how Turkey turned from the healthy man into the lonely man of Europe and the Middle East so quickly. The answer lies in a favorite device of history buffs: counterfactuals. What if Alexander the Great had lived longer and expanded his domains further? What if the Chinese and not the Europeans had “discovered” the Americas? Exploring alternative directions in history equips us with a deeper understanding of the past and present. Thus, our question: What if the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan had acted differently at critical turning points in the past few years? An investigation like this is apt to start with the Kurdish question — still Turkey’s most important obstacle in becoming a democratic country.

21. Has Turkey Made U-Turn On Syria’s Kurds?
30 July 2013 / Al Monitor
The visit to Istanbul  last week Thursday and Friday of Salih Muslim, the co-chairman of the Democratic Union Party, PYD, identified as the Syrian twin of Turkey’s notorious armed Kurdish organization, the PKK, came as a surprise. If you listen to what Salih Muslim said the results of the visit were equally surprising. From his remarks, we understand that Turkey is on the verge of radical and crucial changes in its approach to Syrian Kurds and especially to the PYD itself. To fully grasp this “U-turn” towards the Syrian Kurds, which will definitely reflect on the Kurdish issue in Turkey and on Turkey’s overall Syria policy, you have to remember that Salih Muslim was invited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the instructions of Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

22. The assurances on al-Qaeda to Syrian Kurds
1 August 2013 / Hurriyet
The fact that the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), has dominated the fundamentalist al-Nusra organization during clashes in Ras al-Ayn next to Ceylanpınar has dramatically revealed the dilemma Turkey is facing. Ankara’s northern Syria dilemma can be characterized in two questions: Which one of the options below is more amenable to Turkey’s interests?
A) For Ras al-Ayn to be controlled by the PYD, which is in line with the PKK, with whom Turkey has started a peace process.
B) For the town to remain under the control of the jihadist al-Nusra, which does not hide the fact that it is in league with al-Qaeda and which is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States. PYD leader Salih Muslim spoke to M. Ali Çelebi from daily Özgür Gündem and from this interview, we understand that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has gone for the first option.

23. Kurdish ‘nationhood’
29 July 2013 / Hurriyet
The main problem with Turkish politics concerning Kurds is that “Turks” cannot accept any prospect of Kurds ruling themselves. Turks in general and the present government in particular resist the idea of Kurdish “nationhood” and that is it. The Kurds may be latecomers but the Kurdish problem is a “national problem,” and first of all, this reality has to be acknowledged. Otherwise, Turkey’s domestic and regional politics concerning the Kurds will not lead anywhere positive. Recently it has been the Kurds of Syria and their Democratic Union Party (PYD) that became the focus of controversy. In the very beginning, a year ago, Turkey expressed a very harsh reaction when the PYD declared some sort of self-rule in Kurdish regions. As Turkey lowered its tone against the PYD of northern Syrian Kurds, the basic idea that Kurds should not form any political identity has not changed.

24. Turkish Protests, Syria Crisis Will Boost Turkey-PKK Peace Process
29 July 2013 / Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
OP-ED – The Gezi Park protests in Istanbul’s Taksim Square, which shook Turkey at the end of May, represent a turning point in Turkey’s contemporary political history. Although their main target was Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his style of government, the protests, in combination with developments in Syria’s civil war, will have significant consequences for the ongoing peace process with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). At the same time, the need to effectively address the Kurdish issue could accelerate recent shifts in Turkey’s stance on the Syrian crisis.

25. What Does the PYD Want From Turkey?
27 July 2013 / Orsam
Since the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took over most the Kurdish-dominated regions of Syria since July 19th 2012, there have been worries in Turkey over a de-facto Kurdish autonomy in Syria and fears this could threat the territorial integrity of Turkey. On 12 July, the pro-Kurdish Hawar News Agency (ANHA) reported for the first time, that the PYD had plans to form an interim government, constitution and parliament. Despite of this, most people seem to forget that a Kurdish autonomy in Syria would be difficult to achieve, since the Kurdish areas are fragmented into three Kurdish regions Afrin (Efrîn), Ayn al-Arab (Kobanê), and the Hasakah (Hesîçe) province. [1] Therefore, a small minority of Syrian Kurds think it’s easier to have three Kurdish ‘autonomous’ small regions in Syria.

26. Stratfor Report – Turkey’s Losses
26 July 2013
/ Mesop
Roughly two years ago, the region and wider international community welcomed Turkey’s geopolitical resurgence — guided by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, or AKP — as a check on Iranian influence. Then the Arab spring came, bringing with it a major opportunity for Ankara to expand its geopolitical footprint in the Middle East, a key Turkish objective that had been blocked by Iranian influence. Now, however, it appears that Ankara has lost more than it sought to gain, in areas stretching from the Levant to the Persian Gulf region to North Africa. Saleh Muslim, the leader of the main Syrian Kurdish separatist movement Democratic Union Party, or PYD, arrived in Istanbul on Thursday for what is being described by the Turkish press as “unexpected” talks with Turkey’s national security leadership. The visit comes a day after Erdogan held an emergency meeting with his top associates to discuss developments in northern Syria.

27. Turkey’s Missed Opportunities With the Kurds
28 July 2013 / Al Monitor
The idea of convening a Kurdish National Congress of Kurds from “four parts” in the Iraqi Kurdistan — or South Kurdistan — town of Erbil that has become the Kurdish national center goes back four years. What is meant by “four parts” are the four countries Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, where the Kurds have been forced to live without their own state despite their sizable populations and geographical continuity. An important element in the injustices heaped on the Kurds occurred after World War I, when Western colonial powers reshaped the region on the rubble of the Ottoman Empire with the creation of Persian, Arab and Turkish nation states (Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey). But this doesn’t mean one should overlook the Kurdish social structures that are vulnerable to divisions, tribal rivalries, internal conflicts and their feeble national consciousness that enhances such injustices.

28. Foreign policy implications of the Kurdish peace for Turkey
26 July 2013 / Al Jazeera
As the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continues its relocation across the border into northern Iraq, analysts in Turkey have written extensively on the potential domestic benefits. For decades, the conflict in Turkey has hindered democratisation, stifled free expression, hampered economic progress and attenuated the bonds between state and society. Crafting a peace settlement would remove the biggest impediment to increased democratisation, more robust civil liberties, and economic development. This in return would improve state-society relations. Thus, the domestic gains of peace with the PKK are evident. However, little discussed, but no less important, are the foreign policy implications of the peace.

STATEMENTS AND APPEALS

29. Save Roj TV – Independent voice of the Kurds, by Peace in Kurdistan campaign and CAMPACC.

30. Lift the ban on the PKK, Freedom and Justice for the Kurds! by Peace in Kurdistan campaign and CAMPACC. You can still sign the appeal using the online form.

 

 

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