Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 2 – 8 November 2013

 

Seminar Notice

SOAS Kurdish Society in association with Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

The long road to peace and reconciliation in Turkey

Opportunities for genuine dialogue between Ankara and the Kurds

Saturday, 16 November, 4-6pm

SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H OXG, Room L67, Main Building

Speakers: Judge Essa Moosa, International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, South Africa
Akif Wan, Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) UK Representative
Chair: Birgul Yilmaz, PhD Candidate in Linguistics & Teaching Fellow, SOAS, Faculty of Languages and Cultures

The key speaker at this seminar will be Judge Essa Moosa, a distinguished human rights advocate from South Africa, who is making a brief visit to London and will bring his considerable experience of involvement in the successful anti-apartheid struggle to contribute towards a peaceful democratic resolution of the Kurdish question, in this case in Turkey. Mr Moosa will discuss his work with the new International Peace and Reconciliation Initiative, established a year ago in response to a call from Archbishop Desmond Tutu for the Turkish government to begin negotiations with the Kurdish movement.

Free and open to all!

More information

NEWS
1. OK: The AKP will be the loser
2. PKK: Three conditions to move the Turkish-Kurdish peace process forward
3. New Pro-Kurdish Party in Turkey Hopes to Unite Opposition
4. European officials gather in Istanbul to discuss top terror threats
5. Separation between Kurds and Kurds: Turkey mayor protests against Syria wall
6. Kurds protest against wall along Turkey’s border with Syria
7. Turkish police fire tear gas as Kurds protest against Syria wall
8. Syrian Kurds take full control of Ras al-Ain
9. Syrian Kurds Complain Their Fight against Al-Qaeda Going Unnoticed
10. Kurds drive Islamist militants from more of northeast Syria
11. Syrian Kurdish Front Divided as Geneva II Approaches
12. News briefing from Western Kurdistan
13. Baghdad Moves on Kirkuk, as Kurds Advance on Pipelines Deal With Turkey
14. KONGRA GEL calls for solidarity against the PKK ban in Germany

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. Ankara’s Middle East Policy Post Arab Spring
16. Turkey and its neighbours: A reset?
17. Syrian Kurdish leader: Turkey may end proxy war
18. Obstacles to Kurdish Autonomy
19. Erdogan’s ‘morality police’ assume duty
20. For Kurdish Women, It’s a Double Revolution
21. Iraq’s fake democracy
22. Iran’s Rouhani and the Kurds: Don’t Hold Your Breath
23. Iranian Kurdistan: London Conference Addresses Plight Of Kurdish Women

STATEMENT
24. One Woman’s Revolt Against the Wall of Shame

REPORTS
25. Report on Investigation and Evaluation of Turkey-Rojava Border Crossings
26. The MENA Report by the Cordoba Foundation

ACTIONS
27. Journalists are not Terrorists – Urgent Appeal of Life Sentences Given to Turkish Journalists

 

NEWS

1. OK: The AKP will be the loser
3 November 2013 / ANF
Speaking to ANF about the democratic resolution process Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan initiated on 21 March 2013, KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council member Sabri Ok said that this process has been led by significant unilateral steps by the Kurdish side, such as the ceasefire and the guerrillas displacement into South Kurdistan, but no single step from the Turkish state and government’s side. Ok remarked that the Turkish state and government have also ignored the Wise People’s reports that highlighted proposals for the provision of mother tongue education, improvement of leader Öcalan’s conditions and his freedom.

2. PKK: Three conditions to move the Turkish-Kurdish peace process forward
7 November 2013 / eKurd
The deputy leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party PKK Cemil Bayık has put forward three conditions in order for the continuation of the democratic resolution process in search of a peaceful question to the Kurdish question; improvement of jailed Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan’s situation, a change in legal arrangements and the participation of a third party in the negotiations.  Speaking to journalist Faruk Balıkçı, Bayık remarked that the democratic resolution process was initiated by Öcalan and advanced by the unilateral steps of the Kurdish side. Bayık pointed out that the AKP government has on the other hand taken no steps intended for a solution and wanted to break the will of the Kurdish people by following policies deepening the war in the country.

3. New Pro-Kurdish Party in Turkey Hopes to Unite Opposition
6 November 2013 / Rudaw
Turkey’s newly-emerged People’s Democratic Party (HDP), which was reportedly formed at the suggestion of the jailed leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Ocalan, is out to change the Turkish political scene. As an umbrella party for the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and with hopes of collecting all leftist groups under its wing, the HDP aims to win over voters from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) in upcoming local and parliamentary elections. “The HDP can take the votes of the CHP, which has been pretty unsuccessful as an opposition party and has no policy at all to come to power,” said Bircan Yorulmaz, a member of the new party’s assembly. “Many people voted for the CHP out of necessity because of lack of an alternative,” said Yorulmaz, whose party wants to fill what it sees as a vacuum in Turkey’s political left.

4. European officials gather in Istanbul to discuss top terror threats
5 November 2013 / SETimes
Security officials in Turkey joined with their counterparts from Europe recently to express the need for improved communication and information sharing in the on-going battle against terrorism.  Turkey and the Council of Europe co-organised the International Conference on National and International Co-ordination in Counter Terrorism, which drew representatives from the Council of Europe’s 47 member states and five observer states to Istanbul on October 24th-25th. The conference included discussions of the threat posed by home-grown terrorism, radicalisation, and global terror organisations like al-Qaeda. Tunc Ugdul, director for security and intelligence with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told SETimes that the country “has serious experience” in dealing with terrorism during the past four decades.

5. Separation between Kurds and Kurds: Turkey mayor protests against Syria wall
5 November 2013 / Middle East Online
A Kurdish mayor on hunger strike in Turkey to protest the building of a barrier on the border with Syria accused Ankara on Tuesday of putting up a “wall of shame”. Ayse Gokkan of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (BDP), who has been on hunger strike for seven days, says the wall will divide the Kurdish people and has called it a “black stain on history”. The government has denied it is building a “fully-fledged wall” but local sources said construction began last month in the town of Nusaybin in Turkey’s Kurdish-dominated southeast. The move reflects Ankara’s growing fears of a spillover of the Syrian conflict along the 910 kilometre (560 mile) border, they said. Nusaybin faces the northeastern Syrian town of Qamishli, which has seen clashes between jihadists and Kurdish militants. But Gokkan, whose town has a large Kurdish population many of whom have relatives on the other side of the border, said the barrier would divide people.

6. Kurds protest against wall along Turkey’s border with Syria
7 November 2013 / Chicago Tribune
Thousands of Kurds protested on Thursday against Turkish plans to build a wall along the Syrian border, calling it a move to stop Kurdish communities strengthening cross-frontier ties as Syria splinters from civil war. The rally underscored the sectarian strains spilling over from Syria’s war, which grew out of a 2011 uprising against President Bashar al-Assad and has fragmented into a patchwork of antagonistic ethnic and sectarian pockets that risk destabilizing neighboring Middle Eastern countries. Riot police tolerated the protests, organized by Turkey’s pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), for much of the day but fired tear gas to disperse groups of demonstrators as a sit-down protest began following the main speeches.

7. Turkish police fire tear gas as Kurds protest against Syria wall
7 November 2013 / Reuters
Turkish riot police fired tear gas on Thursday to disperse Kurdish protesters demonstrating against government plans to build a wall along part of the border with Syria. Thousands of mostly young men, many waving red, yellow and green Kurdish flags, had earlier gathered to protest the plans in the Turkish town of Nusaybin, separated from the Syrian town of Qamishli by a strip of no-man’s land and barbed wire fencing. Officials said last month Turkey was building a two-meter high wall to stop people bypassing checkpoints and prevent smuggling near Qamishli, where Kurdish fighters, Syrian rebel units and Arab tribes have regularly clashed. Kurdish groups have decried the move as a government effort to prevent Kurdish communities on both sides of the Turkish-Syrian border from strengthening ties.

8. Syrian Kurds take full control of Ras al-Ain
6 November 2013 / Tehran Times
Kurdish fighters in northern Syria expelled al-Qaeda-linked militants from the majority Kurdish area of Ras al-Ain on the Turkish border, an opposition monitoring group says.   “The Committees for the Protection of the Kurds (YPG) have taken over the Manajeer area, scene of battles with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), Al-Nusra Front and other rebel groups,” the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday, according to media reports. The capture of Manajeer left the whole of the area around the strategic border town of Ras al-Ain in Kurdish control, the group said. The advance came a day after reports that Kurdish fighters had driven terrorist groups out of 19 towns and villages across northeastern Syria, and a week after they captured the key Iraqi border crossing at Yaarubiyeh.

9. Syrian Kurds Complain Their Fight against Al-Qaeda Going Unnoticed
7 November 2013 / Rudaw
Kurds in Syria complain that their fight against al-Qaeda is going unnoticed and unsupported, while international attention remains focused on rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar Assad. “We are fighting America’s war on terror right here on the ground,” Dijwar Osman, a Kurdish fighter, recently told US based Foreign Policy magazine. “Our enemies are those al-Qaeda fighters who want to destroy our 4,000-year-old Kurdish culture.” From the beginning of the Syrian civil war more than two years ago, the Kurds have chosen neutrality and tried to keep their areas out of the conflict. But now that they find themselves in a fierce battle with radical Islamic groups, they believe they deserve some recognition.

10. Kurds drive Islamist militants from more of northeast Syria
5 November 2013 / Daily Star
Syrian Kurdish fighters have captured more territory from Islamist rebels in northeastern Syria, a Kurdish militant group said on Monday, tightening their grip on an area where they have been setting up autonomous rule. The Kurds said they had routed their rivals in three days of battles, while Islamist sources spoke of a tactical retreat.  Syria, tugged by various regional conflicts, has frayed into a patchwork of warring ethnic and sectarian pockets, tilting the balance of power in some of its Middle Eastern neighbors. Kurdish assertiveness has posed a quandary for Ankara as it tries to make peace on its own soil with militants from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a rebel group which has fought for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

11. Syrian Kurdish Front Divided as Geneva II Approaches
2 November 2013 / Al Monitor
As pressure intensifies for the Geneva II conference to find a solution to the Syrian crisis, cracks on the Kurdish front are getting deeper. The Kurdish National Council — controlled by Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq — prefers to attend Geneva as an adjunct of the Syrian National Coalition. The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), however, wants to sit at the table as part of the Kurdish Supreme Council, which they had set up with the Kurdish National Council as a result of the Erbil Accord.  The gap between them doesn’t appear to be manageable. Geneva may well see more than one Kurdish delegation. Kurdish parties are rapidly polarizing as KDP under Barzani and the PKK/PYD.

12. News briefing from Western Kurdistan
8 November 2013 / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign
Latest news update from the Democratic Union Party (PYD) West Kurdistan Media & Public Affairs Office –Europe.

13. Baghdad Moves on Kirkuk, as Kurds Advance on Pipelines Deal With Turkey
7 November 2013 / Rudaw
Iraqi Oil Minister Abdelkarim al-Luaybi arrived for a visit to Kirkuk just as the autonomous Kurdistan Region, which forbids oil developments in the disputed province, was finalizing its own pipeline deal with Turkey that Baghdad has vehemently opposed. “The visit is to inspect BP’s progress in its oil discovery in the province,” said Luaybi, who was accompanied by Bob Dudley, CEO of the British energy giant. The minister’s arrival is seen as a threat by Baghdad to go ahead with developing a major contested oil field in Kirkuk, unless Erbil desists in its growing cooperation with Turkey. In January, when Baghdad publicly announced the deal with BP, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called it “illegal.”

14. KONGRA GEL calls for solidarity against the PKK ban in Germany
8 November 2013 / ANF
The Co-Presidency of the KONGRA GEL has released a statement about the mass march to take place in German capital Berlin on 16 November to mark the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) ban by the German state. Pointing out that Turkey’s persistence in security policies in relation to the Kurdish question was mainly because of the support it receives from international forces and from Germany in particular, KONGRA GEL said it was because of these policies that the German state introduced a ban on the PKK 20 years ago. Commenting this ban as an attitude against the solution of the Kurdish issue, KONGRA GEL underlined that PKK was the strongest organized power of the Kurdish people that has brought the Kurdish question to the agenda and imposed a solution for it.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. Ankara’s Middle East Policy Post Arab Spring
November 2013 / Washington Institute of Near East Policy
Soner Cagaptay: In 2002, Turkey’s Justice And Development Party (AKP) entered office and launched an ambitious plan to become a regional power. This effort was ultimately aided by phenomenal economic growth, which made Turkey the Middle East’s largest economy. In its foreign policy, the AKP government pursued a “zero  problems with neighbors” policy based on wielding soft power to gain influence. This posture by the AKP marked a shift from the country’s former approach to foreign affairs. Following the republican ethos of modern Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, its citizens—and especially its foreign policy elites had  come to think of themselves as part of a European nation placed accidentally next to the Middle East. Given this mindset, they preferred to stay away from the region and its complicated problems. (pdf)

16. Turkey and its neighbours: A reset?
8 November 2013 / Economist

IT WAS widely expected to spark a fresh burst of anti-Israeli vitriol from Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s increasingly paranoid prime minister. Last month an article in the Washington Post claimed that Hakan Fidan, the head of MIT, Turkey’s national spy agency, had outed ten Iranians working for Israel to his colleagues in Iran. In the eyes of Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party the allegations were part of a purported Zionist conspiracy to topple their government. Yet when Israel denied involvement in the leak, Mr Erdogan declared that Turkey must accept Israel’s words. The prime minister’s dovish pronouncements have been followed by surprise visits to Ankara by the foreign ministers of Iran and Iraq. Turkey now says it will not import oil from Iraq’s Kurds without the Iraqi central government’s consent, easing worries that Turkey is encouraging Kurdish independence.

17. Syrian Kurdish leader: Turkey may end proxy war
7 November 2013 / Al Monitor
Saleh Muslim, the co-chairman of Syria’s most powerful Kurdish party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), has been holding talks in Geneva with Russian and Western officials in preparation for the planned Geneva II peace conference between the Syrian government and opposition groups. I caught Muslim in Paris on Nov. 7 to seek his views on what progress had been achieved and where his group stood on a solution to the two-year Syrian conflict. Muslim said the Geneva II talks were unlikely to take place in the near future. He blamed the lack of progress on the Istanbul-based Syrian National Coalition (SNC), and regional powers Turkey and Saudi Arabia. All are demanding that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down as a precondition for any peace agreement. Saudi Arabia is opposed to Iran’s participation. That position is expected to be reiterated when the SNC meets in Istanbul on Nov. 9 and 10.

18. Obstacles to Kurdish Autonomy
7 November 2013 / Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Syrian Kurds proved successful in fighting an external enemy this past July when Kurdish fighters successfully pushed out al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic extremists from the small border crossing town of Ras al-Ayn. But resolving intra-Kurdish disagreements and conflicts may prove a far more difficult task. However, a resolution to these disagreements is vital for Kurds, because although the outcome of Syria’s conflict is unclear, one thing is certain: Syrian Kurds have an unprecedented opportunity to establish political autonomy. However, major political divisions within the Syrian Kurdish community and their respective regional and political patrons may undermine their chance for autonomy. Rivalries between Syria’s main Kurdish factions—the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria (KPDS), the Progressive Democratic Party (PDK), and the Democratic Union Party (PYD)—run deep and have stood in the way of a coherent vision for their future.

19. Erdogan’s ‘morality police’ assume duty
6 November 2013 / Al Monitor
It all started with the leak of remarks made by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a closed meeting over the weekend. According to media reports, Erdogan said university students — boys and girls — were sharing flats in the western province of Denizli due to a shortage of dorms, and that this was unacceptable. “Students, boys and girls, are living together in the same homes because the dorms are insufficient. This is incompatible with our conservative democrat nature. I’ve seen this in Denizli. I’ve instructed the governor. Whatever is necessary will be done,” Erdogan was quoted as saying.

20. For Kurdish Women, It’s a Double Revolution
4 November 2013 / IPS
“I got married when I was 14 and I already had four children at 20,” recalls Nafia Brahim. In her fifties now, she is working hard so that no other woman loses control of her life. Brahim is one of 12 members of the assembly that runs the Centre for Training and Empowerment of Women in Qamishli, 680 kilometres northeast of Damascus. Theirs is a multidisciplinary action.  “We organise sewing and computer workshops for women but we also teach the illiterate to read and write in Kurdish language, we have gymnastics for the pregnant… all run by and for women,” Brahim tells IPS. The most sought after course is called ‘women and rights’. “The emancipation of women begins when each of us finally understands that we actually have the right to emancipate, to be an individual capable of leading our own lives,” says Brahim, with all the enthusiasm of someone who has just been through the process.

21. Iraq’s fake democracy
5 November 2013 / Al Ahram
Iraq’s political system after the US-led invasion in 2003 that triggered the end of the era of former president Saddam Hussein has long been touted as a nascent democracy and sometimes used as a kind of bumper sticker to trumpet democratisation throughout the Arab world. Yet in practice Iraq’s executive and legislative branches of government have been dysfunctional, deadlocked and trapped in ethno-sectarian strife. Moreover, Iraq’s decade-long failure of good governance has provided fodder to sceptics who have argued that there is no such thing as a successful Arab and Muslim democracy.   A row in recent weeks over amending the electoral law has now shown how entrenched political groups have made a mockery of democracy in the country and raised concerns that the new bill will produce another gridlocked parliament and a stalemated government.

22. Iran’s Rouhani and the Kurds: Don’t Hold Your Breath
2 November 2013 / Rudaw
As the outside world expects Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani to mend Tehran’s relations with the international community, his country’s own ethnic groups – the Kurds, Azeris, Arabs and Baluchis — expect him to redress their cultural and political grievances. Rouhani was the ideal candidate for many Iranian Kurds, who backed his campaign and voted for him in the June polls. Abdullah Suhrabi, former Kurdish MP in the Iranian parliament, says that Rouhani has not kept any of the promises he made to the Kurds in the city of Sanandaj in the last days of his campaign. “The first article of the 10-point statement (by Rouhani) that the minorities would be included in the cabinet as ministers and presidential deputies has been broken,” Suhrabi told Deutsche Welle’s Persian service in an interview.

23. Iranian Kurdistan: London Conference Addresses Plight Of Kurdish Women
6 November 2013 / UNPO
“Kurdish women in Iran face a double-whammy: They are a minority ethnicity and they are women in an unequal society,” according to Margaret Owen, an activist and speaker at the third annual conference in London on Kurdish women in Iranian Kurdistan. “In countries other than Iran, Kurdish women are slightly better off, because they have been able to fight for and hold onto their freedoms,” the human rights activist with long-standing expertise on Kurds, told Rudaw on the sidelines of last weekend’s two-day conference. A range of speakers including Nazaneen Rashid, a women’s rights activist discussing the problem of self-immolation among Kurdish women, and Soraya Fallah, an activist, victim of torture and former Ms Exoti-Lady Kurdistan 2011, participated at the conference. It was held at Colet House, a grand building in west London built as a studio for artists and now owned by the Study Society, an association known for its whirling dervishes and mystical meditation.

STATEMENT

24. One Woman’s Revolt Against the Wall of Shame, KNK Statement, 1 November 2013.

REPORTS

25. Report on Investigation and Evaluation of Turkey-Rojava Border Crossings, Human Rights Association (IHD) Report, 11 October 2013.

26. The MENA Report by the Cordoba Foundation (pdf), Vol. 1 – Issue 10 – October 2013.

ACTIONS

27. Journalists are not Terrorists – Urgent Appeal of Life Sentences Given to Turkish Journalists, EFJ Appeal to Stand up for Journalism. 5 November 2013.

 

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