Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 23 – 30 August 2013

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NEWS
1. VIDEO: PYD Claims Ankara in Bed with Terrorist Groups in Syria
2. Kurds face ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Islamist groups – party leader
3. PYD co-chair: Kurds in Rojava will defend themselves if attacked
4. Over 50,000 Syrian refugees cross into Iraq in two weeks
5. Syria’s Kurds Formally Join Opposition Coalition
6. Kurdish women take to the streets in solidarity with Rojava
7. End to Anti-Terror Law the ultimate aim of peace process: Justice minister
8. Syrian Kurdish Leader Warns on Turkey’s Peace Process
9. Kurdish National Conference to begin on September 15
10. BDP opposes Turkey’s involvement of Syria intervention
11. Turkish soldiers allegedly crossed into villages in Afrin – FLASH
12. ‘Attacks on independence of lawyers’ must end in Turkey: International body
13. Campaign against Facebook’s censorship of Kurds
14. Facebook: PKK-related content against our rules

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. “To bomb or not to bomb”, by Michael M. Gunter
16. The Kurdish resistance in the villages of Rojava
17. Only a peace conference, not air strikes, can stop further bloodshed
18. Syria Intervention: Anticipating Russia’s Response
19. Ascent of the Kurds
20. An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing
21. Taking Punitive Military Action Against the Syrian Regime
22. Stanislav Ivanov: “The problem of establishing a Kurdish state is not relevant today”
23. One Way to See the Killing in Syria

ACTIONS
24. NATIONAL DEMO: No attack on Syria
25. EFJ writes to EU commissioner condemning Turkey media arrests

STATEMENTS
26. ELDH Statement: An Alleged Crime Against Humanity Should Not Be Punished By An Illegal Use Of Force

NEWS

1. VIDEO: PYD Claims Ankara in Bed with Terrorist Groups in Syria
24 August 2013 / Rudaw
The Democratic Union Party, also known as the PYD, has accused Ankara of arming militant in Northern Syria to fight against them. Officials from the PYD, the dominant Kurdish party in Northern Syria, also claim that the Turkish government has indirect relations with Islamic groups in the war torn country.

2. Kurds face ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Islamist groups – party leader
28 August 2013 / RT
Syrian Kurds do not support either the government or the rebels, but only want to protect themselves from massacres and ethnic cleansing by Islamist rebel groups, who ignore all democratic principles, says Syrian Kurdish leader Saleh Muslim. While there is no end in sight to the bloody Syrian conflict, another front in the civil war has erupted within the country – between the Kurdish militia and Islamist rebels in Northern Syria. Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamist groups operating in the country, including the al-Nusra Front, are trying to capture Kurdish territories and make them part of an Islamist state they want to create in the region.

3. PYD co-chair: Kurds in Rojava will defend themselves if attacked
29 August 2013 / ANF
Asya Abdullah, co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), spoke to ANF about the recent chemical attacks in Syria and the increasing prospect of Western Intervention. She also reflected on current conditions in Rojava, and the role of Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey in deepening the crisis in the Rojava. Abdullah claimed that the Islamists attacking Rojava had suffered important reverses, but that their goals remained the same: to take over Rojava and to destroy the resistance of the YPG and the Kurdish people. Referring to the embargo currently in force on the borders of both Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, Abdullah said that South Kurdistan’s (Iraqi Kurdistan) policy of keeping the border crossings closed was a policy aiming to depopulate Rojava. “Instead of for commerce or humanitarian aid the border was opened to let refugees cross.

4. Over 50,000 Syrian refugees cross into Iraq in two weeks
27 August 213 / Middle East Online
More than 50,000 Syrian refugees have crossed into Iraq’s Kurdish region in less than two weeks, an official said Tuesday, as authorities rush to house them in more permanent camps. A new wave of Syrians began pouring into northern Iraq in mid-August, seeking refuge from fighting between Kurdish forces and Islamist rebels, as well as from an economy in tatters. “More than 50,000 refugees have come to the Kurdistan region of Iraq since August 15,” Dindar Zebari, the deputy chief of the Iraqi Kurdish foreign affairs department. He said that the three-province autonomous region in northern Iraq was working to open new camps and meet the needs of refugees.

5. Syria’s Kurds Formally Join Opposition Coalition
28 August 2013 / Al Monitor
Officials in the opposition’s Syrian National Coalition, led by Ahmad al-Jarba, and the Kurdish National Council (KNC), led by Abdel Hakim Bashar, signed an agreement that resulted in Bashar being appointed vice president of the National Coalition and the Kurdish entity joining the opposition bloc. However, the leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), Salih Muslim, told Al-Hayat that he rejects any agreement that is not signed with the Kurdish Supreme Committee. Abdel Hamid Darwish, head of the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party, told Al-Hayat that the talks between the National Coalition and the KNC culminated in a 16-article agreement that was signed by both parties in Istanbul a day earlier.

6. Kurdish women take to the streets in solidarity with Rojava
30 August 2013 / ANF
Thousands of Kurdish women are taking to the streets every day in solidarity with the people of Rojava which has been facing attacks by al-Qaeda linked armed gang groups targeting the revolution of the Kurdish people in Syria’s Kurdish territory. The march Democratic Free Women’s Movement (DÖKH) staged in Urfa was joined by hundreds of women included BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) provincial deputy co-chairs Leyla Akça and Halit Yıldıztekin. Police often warned women not to chant illegal slogans as they often shouted “Bijî Serok Apo”, “Bijî berxwedana YPG” [Long live the YPG resistance]. Making a statement to the press on behalf of demonstrators, DÖKH activist Sibel Sütpak pointed out that it was women and children who suffered most in the conflict environment in the Middle East.

7. End to Anti-Terror Law the ultimate aim of peace process: Justice minister
24 August 2013 / Hurriyet
The government aims to abrogate Turkey’s Anti-Terror Law (TMK) by establishing a peaceful climate after the Kurdish peace process is brought to its conclusion, Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin said during a live interview Aug. 23. Asked if the new reform package prepared by the government to give more momentum to the process foresaw changes with respect the Anti-Terror Law, Ergin said that their ultimate aim was to eliminate the need for such legislation.    “In each package there are some articles regarding the Anti-Terror Law. However, it’s not very adequate to modify it all the time. Our main wish is to remove the climate of terror in our country so that we do not need the Anti-Terror Law,” Ergin said during the interview aired by private broadcaster Kanal 7, adding that the TMK could eventually be lifted at the end of the process launched eight months ago.

8. Syrian Kurdish Leader Warns on Turkey’s Peace Process
28 August 2013 / Wall Street Journal
Turkey’s near year-long bid to make peace with its Kurdish minority has hit major roadblocks in recent months with Kurdish militants now warning that the process could disintegrate. Syrian Kurds, who have carved out a degree of autonomy in the war torn country’s northeast, are also watching the process with alarm. Salih Muslim, the leader of the leading group in Syria’s Kurdish regions, the Kurdish Democratic Union, or PYD, said on Tuesday that the slow pace of the process was “creating suspicions”. Stressing that he had not read Mr. Bayik’s statements, and speaking on his own behalf, Mr. Muslim said that the slow pace of the peace process, which started with high hopes, is worrying.

9. Kurdish National Conference to begin on September 15
25 August 2013 / Kurdish Globe
A planned Kurdish National Conference that will bring together Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria will take place September 15-17, according to its preparation committee. A planned Kurdish National Conference that will bring together Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria will take place September 15-17, according to its preparation committee. After a meeting of the Kurdish National Conference Preparation Committee in the Kurdistan region capital of Erbil on August 20, it was announced that the three-day conference would begin on September 15.  The conference was originally scheduled for August, but has been delayed due to incomplete preparations.  The extra days are expected to allow the infrastructure to be completed in good time.

10. BDP opposes Turkey’s involvement of Syria intervention
28 August 2013 / World Bulletin
Pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) deputy Pervin Buldan has stated that the party would never give the nod to Turkey’s involvement in a possible Syria intervention, the signals of which are already being given by the West. Turkish officials have shown their support to such an intervention into Syria to stop the bloodshed. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu made it clear early this week that Turkey could join a possible international coalition to take action against the Syrian regime if the UN fails to implement sanctions against the government of Bashar al-Assad, which allegedly recently used chemical weapons against Syrians in south Damascus. Buldan also said that from the very beginning of the Syrian crisis, the party is against any foreign intervention into Syria.

11. Turkish soldiers allegedly crossed into villages in Afrin – FLASH
29 August 2013 / ANF
Sources close to Kurdish Front Jabhat al-Akrad reported that a group of 20-25 people wearing Turkish military uniforms and masks entered the village of Çobanbey (across the Elbeyli district of Kilis province) on Wednesday afternoon. After going to the al-Nusra headquarters in the village, the group, allegedly soldiers of Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), raided the Karagöz village late in the evening, accompanied by militants of the radical Islamist al-Nusra Front. The group and gang members kidnapped three Kurds in the village. The whereabouts of the Kurdish civilians still remains unknown. Some people linked to Al-Qeada and the Turkish Intelligence Service (MIT) have allegedly informed against some patriot Kurds intended to be kidnapped.

12. ‘Attacks on independence of lawyers’ must end in Turkey: International body
21 August 2013 / Hurriyet
Voicing concerns over increasing attacks against lawyers’ independence in Turkey, the president of the International Association of Lawyers (UIA) has sent a letter to the country’s prime minister, urging Turkish officials to immediately end any action curtailing the independence of the country’s bars. The letter penned by UIA President Jean-Marie Burguburu was sent to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Aug. 5, the Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TBB) announced Aug. 21. In his letter, Burguburu said the UIA has been “regularly alerted over the past months about the increase in attacks against the independence of the legal profession in Turkey,” as he particularly focused on pressures exerted on lawyers of protesters during and after the Gezi Park unrest.

13. Campaign against Facebook’s censorship of Kurds
28 August 2013 / ANF
The criticism against Facebook’s increasing political censorship against opposition Facebook group pages in Turkey is growing as more and more pages have been closed by Facebook administration in recent months. Yeni Özgür Politika and FedBir Kurdish Federation UK have launched a campaign urging Mark Zuckerberg,CEO of Facebook, to “Stop Censoring Kurdish Content on Facebook on Behalf of one of the World’s Worst Human Rights Abusers,Turkey”. The organisers say the social network violates Kurdish Facebook users’ right to to express their political views and organize their demands through social media. The campaign is also supported by a number of politicians, journalists, academics and artists worldwide. The signatures collected will be conveyed to Facebook authorities following a demonstration to take place in London and a meeting with the authorities of the social network.

14. Facebook: PKK-related content against our rules
29 August 2013 / Todays Zaman
Richard Allan, a corporate official of Facebook Inc., confirmed that the company closed the accounts of numerous Kurdish politicians that had content linked to the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) because terrorism-related content is prohibited on the social networking site, in the Radikal daily’s Thursday edition. Facebook reportedly closed between July 6 and Aug. 12 the profiles of more than 10 Kurdish politicians on its site, in addition to several pro-Kurdish pages. When speaking to Radikal about the decision, Allan, director of Facebook policy in Europe, explained that Facebook had received complaints from users regarding those pages and that when the company checked, they found expressions of approval for terrorist organizations, which he said runs contrary to Facebook’s terms of service.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. “To bomb or not to bomb”, by Michael M. Gunter
30 August 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
On August 21, the Syrian regime apparently used chemical weapons against the opposition in the eastern suburbs of Damascus, killing anywhere from 500-1,300 people, the numbers vary according to U.S. intelligence reports made public. While the Assad regime has long had a great deal of innocent blood on its hand and now may be guilty of using chemical weapons, this is not a sufficient reason for the United States and its Western allies to bomb Syria. In the first place we are not even certain the Syrian regime actually used these weapons. U.S. intelligence on these matters has erred and lied to the world before.

16. The Kurdish resistance in the villages of Rojava
29 August 2013 / ANF
People’s Defense Units (YPG) and Women’s Defense Units (YPJ) guerrillas in Rojava are engaged in fighting al-Qaeda-linked armed groups since 15 July 2013. A remarkable part of the region has been cleared of the gang groups as a result of the resistance by Kurdish guerrillas as well as by local people supporting them in the villages, towns, districts and provinces of western Kurdistan. Radical Islamist groups intensified their attacks against Rojava as of 19 July, the anniversary of the Rojava revolution in 2012. Kurdish fighters have since been resisting against the attacks by not only the gang groups organized and backed by Turkey but also against those by the Ba’ath regime. Attacks targeting the regions of Aleppo, Efrîn, Serêkaniyê, Girkê Legê, Çilaxa, Kobanê and Girê Sipî (Tal Abyad) aim to invade the Kurdish region and to break the will of the Kurdish people fighting for freedom.

17. Only a peace conference, not air strikes, can stop further bloodshed
26 August 2013 / Independent
American, British and French air strikes by planes or missiles look probable in retaliation for the  alleged use of poison gas by the Syrian army against people in rebel-held areas of Damascus. Controversy rages about whether or not this is the right thing to do, an argument coloured by memories of official mendacity over Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction in 2003 and Nato’s destruction of Muammar Gaddafi’s regime in 2011 under the guise of a limited humanitarian operation.  What armed intervention by foreign powers in Syria will not do is bring an end to the present bloody stalemate in the two-and-a-half-year-old civil war. But governments in Washington, London and Paris should realise that in one respect the slaughter by chemical weapons of hundreds of people in Damascus on 21 August is an opportunity as well as a crime.

18. Syria Intervention: Anticipating Russia’s Response
27 August 2013 / The National Interest
The latest crisis about whether or not chemical weapons were deployed by the Syrian government is following a well-established script. The United States has concluded that the perpetrator was likely the government of Bashar al-Assad, while Russia wants to wait until a United Nations inspection process is completed—but has already strongly hinted that it blames any chemical weapons use on opposition forces who it believes seized such weapons from the government’s arsenal. Moscow is urging the international community to let an inspection process continue—something that could take weeks to come up with any definitive result. Any further delay is politically unfeasible for an Obama administration coming under tremendous pressure, both from domestic political forces as well as from allies in Europe and the Middle East, to make good on the president’s “red line” declaration.

19. Ascent of the Kurds
29 August 2013 / Counterpunch
For almost a century, the Kurds–one of the world’s largest ethnic groups without its own state–have been deceived and double-crossed, their language and culture suppressed, their villages burned and bombed, and their people scattered. But because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the Syrian civil war, and Turkish politics, they have been suddenly transformed from pawn to major player in a pivotal part of the Middle East. The Kurds–who speak a language distantly related to Farsi, the dominant language of Iran–straddle the borders of north eastern Syria, northern Iraq, and western Iran, and constitute a local majority in parts of eastern and southern Turkey. At between 25 to 30 million strong, they have long yearned to establish their own state. Now, with their traditional foes weakened by invasion, civil war, and political discord, the Kurds are suddenly in the catbird’s seat.

20. An attack on Syria will only spread the war and killing
27 August 2013 / Guardian
All the signs are they’re going to do it again. The attack on Syria now being planned by the US and its allies will be the ninth direct western military intervention in an Arab or Muslim country in 15 years. Depending how you cut the cake, the looming bombardment follows onslaughts on Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Mali, as well as a string of murderous drone assaults on Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan. The two former colonial powers that carved up the Middle East between them, Britain and France, are as ever chafing for a slice of the action as the US assembles yet another “coalition of the willing”. And as in Iraq and Sudan (where President Clinton ordered an attack on a pharmaceuticals factory in retaliation for an al-Qaida bombing), intelligence about weapons of mass destruction is once again at the centre of the case being made for a western missile strike.

21. Taking Punitive Military Action Against the Syrian Regime
26 August 2013 / Washington Institute
Washington may be approaching a decision to take direct military action against the Syrian regime for its increasingly certain role in the August 21 chemical weapons strike in the Damascus area. Any such action should be planned with an eye toward achieving several limited but important military objectives: namely, showing resolve in holding the regime accountable for use of chemical weapons, warning the regime that further use will lead to potentially escalating strikes, and reducing the regime’s ability to conduct CW attacks. These objectives are well within the capabilities of U.S. and allied forces and could be achieved with limited, low-risk (though not “no risk”) actions. They do not require an overwhelming attack on the entire regime structure and its forces, though provision for follow-on strikes and regime retaliation.

22. Stanislav Ivanov: “The problem of establishing a Kurdish state is not relevant today”
27 August 2013 / Vestnik Kavkaza
Senior Researcher of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Ph.D. in history and Ph.D. in economics Stanislav Ivanov told VK about Syria, Turkey, the Kurds and the North Caucasus. Today we publish the first part of the interview concerning the Kurdish problem.
Do you think the Kurds can speed up settlement of the Syrian conflict? I don’t think so. Today the Kurds take a positively neutral position and have no intention of fighting for any side. The inter-Arab conflict won’t bring anything positive to them. However, today they have received no guarantees from the armed opposition and international terrorists, who are out of control. Of course the Kurds cannot fight for the armed opposition. They await a settlement of the conflict. Notwithstanding who will rule in Damascus, the most important thing for them are the rights and freedoms of the Kurds protected in a new constitution, new laws.

23. One Way to See the Killing in Syria
29 August 2013 / IPS
Zuhair Hassib did not witness the last and the most ghastly massacre in Syria. Images of last year’s Siege of Homs were enough for the artist to have seen. His paintings have brought those horrors home in a way pictures could never have. On a canvas, black and red silhouettes surround a group of pale and naked children about to be massacred. “Beauty is the best tool to convey suffering,” says Hassib, one of the most renowned painters in the Middle East. A part of Hassib’s work has been on display since Jun. 20 at the main art gallery in downtown Suleymania, 260 kilometres northeast of Baghdad. It is a collection of 20 paintings among which women and “a symphony of eight pure colours” are seemingly the main threads.

ACTIONS

24. NATIONAL DEMO: No attack on Syria
After Wednesday’s Downing Street protest, Stop the War has called for a national demonstration to demand No Attack On Syria. We will gather on Temple Place, off Embankment (nearest tube: Temple). We will march via Parliament and Downing Street, ending in Trafalgar Square where a rally will be held. More information on the demonstration here: https://www.facebook.com/events/215085785319747/

25. EFJ writes to EU commissioner condemning Turkey media arrests, 29 August 2013.

STATEMENTS

26. ELDH Statement: An Alleged Crime Against Humanity Should Not Be Punished By An Illegal Use Of Force, 28 August 2013.

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