Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 20 – 27 September 2013

PANEL DISCUSSION

Anti-terror Legislation and the Obstruction of Justice

The Implications of Mass Trials in Turkey for the Peace Process with the Kurds

Wednesday 9 October 2013, 6.30pm

 Venue: Garden Court Chambers, 57-60 Lincolns Inn Fields, London WC2A

(closest tube Holborn)

Chair: Prof Bill Bowring School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London; President of the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH); International Secretary of the Haldane Society and Founder and Chair of the International Steering Committee, of the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC).

Panelists: Margaret Owen OBE, barrister/Door tenant, 9 Bedford Row Chambers; Bronwen Jones, barrister, Tooks Chambers; Tony Fisher, solicitor and Law Society Human Rights Committee member; Hugo Charlton, barrister, 1 Grays Inn Square Chambers; Ali Has, solicitor/advocate and member of the Law Society Human Rights Committee International Action Team; Mark Jones, barrister, St Ives Chambers.

Organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC), European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights (ELDH)

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NEWS
1. Kurdish Party in Turkey Steps in Again to Prod Ankara-PKK Peace
2. Kurdish militants tunnel out of Turkish prison
3. PKK’s 11th Congress: Our Project is a Democratic Project for the Whole Region
4. Öcalan’s proposals to move the process forward
5. At Least 20K Convicted of “Armed Organization” in 4 Years
6. Alevi Anger Boils Over in Ankara
7. Amed conference on peace
8. Turkey Stands With al-Qaeda Against the Kurds
9. Government-al-Nusra links exposed
10. New hearing in journalists trial
11. 3rd International Law Symposium this weekend in Istanbul
12. Family Boycotts Retrial for Murder Of Turkish-Armenian Journalist
13. YPG Commander Sipan Hemo: ‘Give Us Real Support’
14. PYD & Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria will be working together
15. Extremists Take Syrian Town Near Turkey Border
16. Rebel-on-Rebel Violence Seizes Syria
17. Iraq asks Kurds to link new oil pipeline to its network
18. Iran: Halt the execution of four Kurds on death row

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
19. PKK’s Kurdish Education Demands Spark Debate in Turkey
20. Interview with Abbas Vali on Syria, Kurds and Turkey
21. An Escape Tunnel from “Democracy”
22. Erdogan’s Syria Frustrations
23. Turkey’s Syria Nightmare Goes From Bad to Worse
24. Syrian Kurdish Leader Interview: Ankara Supporting Jihadists
25. Has Turkey Reached A Strategic Impasse in the Mideast?
26. Turkey Should Postpone Bill On Sending Troops Abroad
27. Syrian Opposition, Kurdish Agreement Irrelevant Without PYD
28. Rojava’s Political Structure
29. Al-Qaeda’s Latest Target: Syria’s Civilian Activists
30. Podcast: “Putin and Lavrov pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire” – Kraus
31. The Shadow Commander

STATEMENTS
32. Kurdish Lawyers on Trial in Turkey: A Travesty of Justice

REPORTS
33. Brookings Foreign Policy Report: Syrian Crisis: Massive displacement, dire needs and shortage of solutions
34. The press and political processes in contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan: Final Report

 

NEWS

1. Kurdish Party in Turkey Steps in Again to Prod Ankara-PKK Peace
23 September 2013 / Rudaw
Turkey’s Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which helped negotiate a peace process between Ankara and the militant Kurdistan Workers Party, says it is stepping into the role again, amid mutual recriminations by both sides and threats by the PKK to halt a withdrawal of fighters. The BDP “will do whatever it can to make the process work,” said party leader Selahettin Demirtas. He said that a party delegation would meet with PKK leaders next week. Demirtas, who spoke to BDP members in Turkey’s largest Kurdish city, Diyarbakir, said that the party is trying to be a link for the three parties to the talks, the Turkish government, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan — who is in jail on Turkey’s Imrali island — and the PKK leadership at its Qandil Mountain base in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq.

2. Kurdish militants tunnel out of Turkish prison
25 September 2013 / Reuters
Security forces were hunting for 18 members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who escaped from prison in Turkey’s southeast by digging a 70-metre-long tunnel, police said on Wednesday. The prison break outside the city of Bingol comes days before Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan unveils a package of reforms designed to strengthen democracy and keep on track a fragile peace process to end an insurgency by Kurdish militants. The PKK has been fighting for autonomy for the mainly Kurdish southeastern region for almost three decades in a conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people. Among Kurds’ demands are changes to the anti-terrorism law that would make it more difficult to jail non-combatants for ties with the PKK. The prisoners who escaped overnight were convicted of or charged with belonging to the PKK or aiding and abetting the militants and are believed to be hiding in a mountainous, wooded area of Bingol province, security officials said.

3. PKK’s 11th Congress: Our Project is a Democratic Project for the Whole Region
23 September 2013 / Rojava Report
In an interview Özgür Gündem over the weekend, the paper sat down with Besê Hozat,  the co-president of the KCK. Hozat, who had just attended the PKK’s 11th Congress which took place earlier this month,  spoke to the paper about the ongoing peace negotiations and the effect that Öcalan’s continued imprisonment is having on their progress. Hozat called Öcalan a “strategic actor” and emphasized that the state must take a “strategic approach” to their negotiation with Öcalan which recognizes the importance of his position in the Kurdish movement. Hozat also pointed to recent developments in Turkey, particularly the Gezi protests, and affirmed that the struggle will carry on in it is strongest form within a union of democratic forces. She began, however, by stressing the importance of common democratic struggle among all peoples of the region. Below are some excerpts from the interview, translated into English

4. Öcalan’s proposals to move the process forward
25 September 2013 / ANF
While lawyers for Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan keep being denied visit permission with their client, and eyes are on Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his much awaited and speculated about “democratisation package”, it is worth it to publish some extracts from an interview realised by daily newspaper Özgür Gündem with BDP co-chairman Selahattin Demirtaş on his recent visit to the prison island of Imrali and talks with Öcalan. The visit was on the 15 of September and was the tenth visit by a BDP delegation. In the interview Selahattin Demirtaş underlined once again that, despite the adverse condition of the Imrali prison, Öcalan continues to make his contribution to the current process. Contrary to the noisy comments by many media, which read the announcement of an halt in the process of moving the guerrillas into South Kurdistan as a step backward, Demirtaş underlined that indeed the ceasefire is still on and this is important.

5. At Least 20K Convicted of “Armed Organization” in 4 Years
24 September 2013 / Bianet
Turkish Penal Code Article 314 issues for crimes regarding “armed organizations” in Turkey. According to a statement by Justice Minister Ergün, 66,126 individuals faced prosecutor investigation within Turkish Penal Code (TCK) Article 314 with 32,279 prosecuted and 20,265 convicted to a sentence in the past four years. The statement dates back to an official inquiry by BDP Iğdır deputy regarding the number of those who either faced prosecutor investigation, prosecution or conviction. Some of the highlights from the 2009-2012 period included:
* Prosecutor investigations originating from TCK 314 doubled from 2009 to 2012.
* 40 percent who faced prosecution were ordered to stand trial.
* Between 2009 and 2012, 53 percent of 38,135 prosecuted were convicted and only 17 percent were acquitted. The remaining cases were either dropped, unified or withdrawn from verdict.

6. Alevi Anger Boils Over in Ankara
23 September 2013 / Al Monitor
It is a bizarre sight. On a sealed-off street on Ankara’s outskirts, riot police equipped with a tear-gas-firing vehicle watch over the construction of a religious shrine, guarding the site from the very people for whom it is intended. Despite two weeks of street clashes earlier in September, workers continue to toil at what will eventually be a complex housing a Sunni mosque next to a cemevi, an assembly house and place of worship for Alevis, Turkey’s largest and long-stigmatized religious minority. Launched as a bridge-building initiative, the project in Tuzlucayir, a working-class Alevi neighborhood with a strong leftist tradition, has backfired badly. With Alevis already at the forefront of anti-government protests since June, the recent unrest has stoked fears that pressure is building along Turkey’s sectarian fault line.

7. Amed conference on peace
25 September 2013 / ANF
Basque lawyer Jonan Lekue was one of the international participants at the conference organized by GABB (Union of South Eastern Anatolia Region Municipalities) “Local Governments’ Meeting for Peacebuilding”. The conference main aim was to underline and discuss the fact that it is vitally important for the local governments to sustain people-oriented development by stimulating local resources and dynamics and to create new channels for dialogue to discuss new models of governance within the peace building process. “The conference was very interesting and issues were discussed very in depth. – says Lekue – I would say one of the most interesting things was to be given the opportunity to exchange and talk about the different experiences of so many different cities about conflict resolution at a local level”.

8. Turkey Stands With al-Qaeda Against the Kurds
23 September 2013 / Al Akhbar
The Turkish government is arguably the strongest backer of the armed Syrian opposition, especially the factions led by the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Turkey is also believed to be the main base for opposition fighters and their logistical and military supply lines. But while Turkish officials have no qualms about publicly acknowledging this direct support, Ankara denies it has any ties to al-Qaeda’s affiliates active in Syria. Turkey is also wary of seeing militants seize control of towns along the border with Turkey, such as Tall al-Abiad, Jarablos, and recently, Azaz, which is now settled by fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) following a ceasefire with the FSA’s Northern Storm Brigade. Nevertheless, it seems that the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has found it necessary to provide military and logistical support to al-Qaeda’s affiliates to fight the Kurds.

9. Government-al-Nusra links exposed
27 September 2013 / ANF
Kurdistan Center for Strategic Studies, Lekolin, has published a document which allegedly reveal the Turkish government’s links with al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front fighting Kurds in Rojava, West Kurdistan. The document, a circular letter Interior Minister Muammer Güler sent to the governor of Hatay, is alleged to have been sent to the governors of Mardin, Urfa and Antep as well. It has been published by daily Özgür Gündem today. The circular letter dated 15 March 2013 is themed “provision of the necessary support to al-Nusra mujahids Turkey backs against the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in line with its regional interests, and their settlement in public social facilities”.

10. New hearing in journalists trial
26 September 2013 / ANF
The sixth hearing of the trial against 46 journalists (22 of whom are still in prison) resumes today at Istanbul 15th Criminal Court. The 46 media workers were arrested on 20 December 2011 following the so called “KCK” (Kurdistan Communities Union) operation. In essence, the journalists are accused of being part of the so called “urban organisation” set up by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party). The hearing began with the defense statement of ETHA editor in chief Arzu Demir who spoke Kurdish and explained why she spoke Kurdish despite her mother language being Turkish. Demir, remarking that she expressed herself in Kurdish for moral, conscientious and political reasons, said that; “I am one of the Turkish suspects tried in this case. I am speaking Kurdish because of the deep pain I felt inside me when I saw that my mother language was being used as a means of torture against some others”.

11. 3rd International Law Symposium this weekend in Istanbul
27 September 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan campaign
On 28-29 September, the 3rd International Law Symposium will be held in the Küçükarmutlu area of Istanbul. This year’s theme is uprisings, and ‘being a revolutionary lawyers in the struggle for bread, justice and freedom’. Download a copy of the flyer here.
“LAWYERS ARE CONGREGATING TO TALK ABOUT JUSTICE
Lawyers are coming together for the third time.
Which lawyers? Lawyers of workers, of ghettos, of favelas and barrios, of serves without any land to their name, of students without any financial aids, of women who were attacked and violated, of natives, of massacred revolutionists, of patriots, of those in captivity, of the poor, the ignored and those who are held in disregard and
those who are being tried to erased out of existence in masses.
Lawyers of billions, who – had they gotten together themselves, instead those who speak for them – could decimate their common enemies.”

12. Family Boycotts Retrial for Murder Of Turkish-Armenian Journalist
20 September 2013 / Al Monitor
It was an assassination that left an extraordinary mark on the Turkish judiciary, justice and public conscience. So did the tragedy it symbolized. With the case of Hrant Dink returned to ground zero six years after the murder, the victim’s family lost its patience in an open letter. Hrant Dink, editor of the weekly Agos, the voice of Turkey’s Armenian community, was gunned down on Jan. 19, 2007, in a busy Istanbul street by a young man named Ogun Samast. The murder reverberated beyond Turkey’s borders in a matter of hours. Dink was the 62nd journalist to be killed in Turkey since a libertarian constitution was introduced in 1908. Yet, because of his Armenian background and much-admired courage, along with the reform process Turkey was undergoing, his murder trial, which opened in July 2007, became the most significant litmus test for Turkish justice.

13. YPG Commander Sipan Hemo: ‘Give Us Real Support’
23 September 2013 / Rudaw
Sipan Hemo, commander of the Kurdish Peoples Defence Units (YPG) in Syria, says that attacks by extremist Islamist groups against the Kurdish areas of Syria have not ceased in the past two months, but that his forces have repelled the attacks and defeated the jihadists. He said in an interview with Rudaw that, despite the exodus of refugees from Syrian Kurdistan, “80 percent of the people have not gone anywhere and are supporting the YPG.” Hemo said that Kurds in Turkey should dramatically increase their political support for Syrian Kurds in their struggle for self-rule. “Showing affection or pity for us does not work,” he said. Hemo added that leaders in the Kurdistan Region should also – once and for all – declare how they feel about “the Kurdish revolution in Rojava.” Here is an edited transcript of the interview.

14. PYD & Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria will be working together
23 September 2013 / Mesop
Aldar Xelîl, Îlham Ehmed, Ebdulselam Ehmed, Hekem Xelo who are members of Kurdish High Council and co-chair of PYD Asya Abdullah, Cemal Şêx Baqî who is an executive of the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria, member of political buero Ebdulmecîd Sebrî, and members of the central committee Cemal Hemo, Fethulah Hiso and Mîro Mîro attended the meeting. After the two hours lasting meeting, the attendee released a shared statement about the meeting and stated that two parties will work together in some cases. It is also stated that Rojava is a main part of Syria and nobody can reach a solution for Syria’s problems if representatives of Rojava are excluded from Geneva Conference.They also draw attention to gangs’ attacks which supported by Turkey on Rojava and called on all parties in Rojava to be united against the attacks.

15. Extremists Take Syrian Town Near Turkey Border
18 September 2013 / New York Times
An extremist group linked to Al Qaeda routed Syrian rebel fighters and seized control of a gateway town near Syria’s northern border with Turkey on Wednesday, posting snipers on rooftops, erecting checkpoints and imposing a curfew on the local population. The takeover of the town, Azaz, by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, reflected the rising strength of extremist fighters in northern and eastern Syria and their rapidly deteriorating relations with more mainline rebels.  By early Thursday, Islamist rebel leaders had intervened to stop the fighting, although most of the town appeared firmly in the hands of the extremists, opposition activists said. The extremists had not seized the nearby Bab al-Salameh border crossing with Turkey. Azaz sits just south of the border crossing on the road to Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, and has served as an important artery for the rebellion in northern Syria, allowing arms, fighters and supplies to move in and refugees fleeing the violence to leave the country.

16. Rebel-on-Rebel Violence Seizes Syria
18 September 2013 / Wall Street Journal
An al Qaeda spinoff operating near Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, last week began a new battle campaign it dubbed “Expunging Filth.” The target wasn’t their avowed enemy, the Syrian government. Instead, it was their nominal ally, the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army. Across northern and eastern Syria, units of the jihadist group known as ISIS are seizing territory—on the battlefield and behind the front lines—from Western-backed rebels. Some FSA fighters now consider the extremists to be as big a threat to their survival as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. “It’s a three-front war,” a U.S. official said of the FSA rebels’ fight: They face the Assad regime, forces from its Lebanese ally Hezbollah, and now the multinational jihadist ranks of ISIS.

17. Iraq asks Kurds to link new oil pipeline to its network
24 September 2013 / Reuters
Iraq’s central government has asked the autonomous Kurdish region to connect its new oil pipeline with one from Kirkuk to Ceyhan in Turkey in a way that allows Baghdad to measure crude flows, Iraq’s deputy prime minister for energy affairs said on Tuesday. Kurdistan is expected to complete the new 300,000 barrel per day (bpd) oil pipeline to Turkey in the next few weeks, increasing the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) control over its resources in a dispute with Baghdad. “We have asked the KRG to connect it to the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline before the pumping station so that we can meter exactly how much crude has been pumped,” Hussain al-Shahristani said, adding that Baghdad had not received any response.

18. Iran: Halt the execution of four Kurds on death row
20 September 2013 / Amnesty International
The Iranian authorities must urgently halt the execution of four Sunni Muslim men from Iran’s Kurdish minority who could be executed within days, Amnesty International said. “The death penalty is a cruel and inhuman punishment and represents a flagrant violation of human rights. The death sentences of these men must be immediately revoked and a re-trial in line with international standards must be ordered,” said Hassiba Hadj Saharoui, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

19. PKK’s Kurdish Education Demands Spark Debate in Turkey
20 September 2013 / Al Monitor
Post-Ottoman Turkey holds the distinction of being the only country that made Circassians forget their mother tongue. After the 1864 Circassian exodus scattered the community across alien lands, members of Circassian associations would grumble in closed-door meetings, “Turkey, a country we fought for, made us forget our language, but Russia, the country that exiled us, let our language live on.” I saw what they meant when I first traveled to the Caucasus. In the media house in Cherkessk, the capital of the Russian Federation’s Karachay-Cherkess Republic, a separate newspaper was published on each floor: in Russian, Adyghe, in Karachay, Nogai and Abaza. I visited all of them and listened to their stories.

20. Interview with Abbas Vali on Syria, Kurds and Turkey
23 September 2013 / Bianet
Bianet interviewed Abbas Vali, professor of sociology at Bosporus University, on the current events in Syria and its context in the world politics. Vali considers Turkey’s foreign policy as failure given the situation of Rojava, Obama’s decision to delay military intervention and Asad’s use of chemical weapons. One of the reasons for this failure, as Vali puts it, is the weakness of internal political opposition that impedes the government to work efficiently. Asserting that Turkey’s prominent objectives to support a military action in Syria is to prevent the foundation of an autonomous Kurdish region in Rojava, Vali thinks that Turkey has done wrong by aligning the peace process with PKK and its foreign policy towards Syria.  According to Vali, the key to prevent a military operation in Syria is to negotiate with Russia and Iran. A resolution without a military operation also seems to be possible if the U.S. Congress can work on a decision that would satisfy the needs of all parties.

21. An Escape Tunnel from “Democracy”
26 September 2013 / Rudaw
I was going to write this week’s column on the recent election in Iraqi Kurdistan. Like many people, I was heartened to see an election day with few problems, high participation and some surprises.  With some political parties still a bit divided in their reaction to the election and official, final results still pending, however, I think I will wait a bit longer before commenting more. Instead, I would like to talk about a recent event in Turkey, where elections and the rule of law supposedly enjoy a much longer history.  Turkish news outlets reported that on September 25th, some 18 imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) members “escaped from a prison in the eastern province of Bingol via a tunnel.”  Most readers in Turkey probably read with interest about how the prisoners apparently spent around a year secretly digging their escape tunnel, which was 80-meters long and ended outside the outer walls of the prison in a waste-water canal. Prison authorities were unable to find soil left over from digging the tunnel or shovels and other tools needed to dig such a tunnel, and they lost the tracks of the prisoners shortly after the tunnel’s exit. The escape seems to include many good elements for an action drama, in fact.

22. Erdogan’s Syria Frustrations
26 September 2013 / Middle East Institute
On September 5, 2012, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the United States “lacked initiative” in dealing with the crisis in Syria. “There are certain things being expected from the United States. Obama has not yet catered to those expectations,” he said. A year later Erdogan finds himself at sharper odds with the U.S. administration, whose decision to head off planned strikes on Syria has left him in a lonely spot both at home and in the region. To Erdogan, a strong advocate of regime change, anything short of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster carries the risk of further weakening his hand domestically and regionally. Only a few years ago Turkey was praised as a non-sectarian actor mediating regional conflicts through its access to various actors from Iran to Israel, Hamas to Fatah.

23. Turkey’s Syria Nightmare Goes From Bad to Worse
20 September 2013 / Al Monitor
Turkey’s Syria nightmare keeps going from bad to worse. Ankara is already smarting that Syrian Kurds with close links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have taken control over some areas adjoining the Turkish border. It has to contend with the possibility that an al-Qaeda-affiliated group may entrench itself in another swath of land adjoining Turkey. Not surprisingly Turkish commentators have already started referring to certain regions along the highly porous border with Syria, which is nearly 900 kilometers [560 miles] long, as “Turkey’s North-West Frontier Province,” a reference to the lawless region of Pakistan that is a hotbed of Islamic terrorism. The latest clashes between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the group that calls itself the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS for short, reportedly broke out on Sept. 18 in the town of Azaz, just across the border from Kilis in Turkey.

24. Syrian Kurdish Leader Interview: Ankara Supporting Jihadists
23 September 2013 / Al Monitor
Syrian Kurdish leader Salih Muslim, speaking at the 17th Scandinavian Kurdish Culture Festival on Sept. 16, voiced strongly worded accusations against Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the AKP government. Muslim, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), identified as the Syrian extension of the PKK, charged the AKP government with supporting jihadist groups fighting the Kurds. He said, “On the one hand you are talking to us, but you let loose your dogs, jackals and foxes against us. We will defend ourselves with our free will and our own people, and we will achieve victory.”

25. Has Turkey Reached A Strategic Impasse in the Mideast?
17 September 2013 / Al Monitor
Turkey has been wrong-footed again on Syria. No doubt, the inventors of “precious loneliness” could craft another definition for this situation too. Yet it is obvious that Ankara’s Syria calculations have gone awry once again. The British have a saying about “flogging a dead horse.” The matching Turkish idiom could be “saying amen to an improbable prayer.” That’s where Ankara has ended up, pursuing a narrow-minded policy on Syria while aggrandizing its own role. The government of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) assumed that a US-led Western coalition would finally move to strike and overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons. And it didn’t make a secret of its willingness to be part of the coalition.

26. Turkey Should Postpone Bill On Sending Troops Abroad
23 September 2013 / Al Monitor
On Thursday, Sept. 19, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed his desire to extend without delay the parliamentary authorization that would expire in two weeks that allows the government the full authority to decide on sending troops to Syria. “The new legislative permission that will be introduced to the parliament could share the same content as the previous one, or it may contain some differences. The Foreign Affairs Ministry and the chief of staff are now working on the details of this new bill,” he said, and added that he would give the final go-ahead after taking a careful look at it. Despite the objection of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) last year, the parliament passed the aforementioned authorization on Oct. 4, 2012, valid for one full year, with Decision No. 1025.

27. Syrian Opposition, Kurdish Agreement Irrelevant Without PYD
23 September 2013 / AINA
The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) approved on Sept. 16 the first agreement to incorporate a major Kurdish bloc, the Kurdish National Council (KNC). Despite reservations on both sides, the two groupings are supposed to meet to announce the alliance officially by the end September. However, on Sept. 8, the KNC reached a separate deal with the other main Kurdish alliance — the People’s Council of West Kurdistan (PCWK) — which is affiliated with the Democratic Union Party (PYD), to draft the constitution of a transitional Kurdish government to be elected 4 to 6 months later. The KNC signed the latter agreement as a member of the Kurdish Supreme Committee (KSC), a coalition formed with the PCWK in 2012, even though such an initiative remains completely unrecognized by the SNC.

28. Rojava’s Political Structure
23 September 2013 / Jadaliyya
In 1990 Osman Sebrî wanted to pick himself up from his sickbed in Damascus to greet his guest standing. He was eighty-five years old, and in no condition to walk. His guest, Abdullah Öcalan, leaned toward his bed, embraced and saluted him. Arrested along with his uncle during the Sheikh Said Rebellion, set free and then rearrested in 1928, Osman Sebrî was one of the most prominent Kurdish youth forced to flee Turkey and migrate to Syria under pressure from the Turkish state in 1929. When he arrived in Syria, Sebrî joined Xoybun—an organization founded in Beirut by Kurdish intellectuals in exile. A living witness to Kurdish history from 1925 into the 1990s, Sebrî—also known as Apê Osman—and Öcalan talked about Xoybun for hours on end during Öcalan’s visit. At one point in the conversation with Öcalan, tears came to Apê Osman’s eyes, and he told Öcalan: “You are realizing our dreams. I have never been so proud at any time of my life. Now there is an organization to liberate Kurdistan.”

29. Al-Qaeda’s Latest Target: Syria’s Civilian Activists
24 September 2013 / Al Monitor
This is my third visit to Aleppo in the last year, but the first time that I saw fear in the eyes of my Syrian activist friends accompanying me. They are not afraid of Bashar al-Assad’s regime or of bombs or of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). Rather, what scares them are the checkpoints manned by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS — also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), the main al-Qaeda force in Syria. Kidnappings and executions have been steadily increasing. Hazim al-Azizi, a photographer at the media center in Azaz, was the latest Syrian activist to be killed by al-Qaeda. An ISIS sniper shot him on Sept. 18, when the town of Azaz, 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) from the border with Turkey, became the scene of two days of heavy fighting between the ISIS and FSA. On the same day, ISIS gunmen kidnapped Mohammed Nur Amuri, director of the Azaz media center, along with nine other activists in his office. One man, Abu Mohammad, managed to save himself.

30. Podcast: “Putin and Lavrov pulled Obama’s chestnuts out of the fire” – Kraus
On the back of the diplomatic events unfolding over Syria, Peter Lavelle asks his guests in Moscow and London: can Russia be seen as an honest broker on the world stage?  With Peter Lavelle are: Bill Bowring, Professor of Public International Law at Birkbeck College; Alexander Mercouris, a legal expert; Eric Kraus, Director at Principal Asset Management.

31. The Shadow Commander
26 September 2013 / The New Yorker
Last February, some of Iran’s most influential leaders gathered at the Amir al-Momenin Mosque, in northeast Tehran, inside a gated community reserved for officers of the Revolutionary Guard. They had come to pay their last respects to a fallen comrade. Hassan Shateri, a veteran of Iran’s covert wars throughout the Middle East and South Asia, was a senior commander in a powerful, élite branch of the Revolutionary Guard called the Quds Force. The force is the sharp instrument of Iranian foreign policy, roughly analogous to a combined C.I.A. and Special Forces; its name comes from the Persian word for Jerusalem, which its fighters have promised to liberate. Since 1979, its goal has been to subvert Iran’s enemies and extend the country’s influence across the Middle East. Shateri had spent much of his career abroad, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where the Quds Force helped Shiite militias kill American soldiers.

STATEMENTS

32. Kurdish Lawyers on Trial in Turkey: A Travesty of Justice, Press Statement by UK delegation to KCK trial of lawyers in Istanbul, 23 September 2013.

REPORTS

33. Brookings Foreign Policy Report: Syrian Crisis: Massive displacement, dire needs and shortage of solutions, 18 September 2013.

34. The press and political processes in contemporary Iraqi Kurdistan: Final Report, by John Hogan and John Trumpbour, September 2013. Read the full report (pdf)

 

 

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