Kurdish News Weekly Briefing, 5 – 6 June 2014

 

PUBLIC MEETING
Organised by SOAS Kurdish Society and Peace in Kurdistan campaign

“Living Freedom”: The Evolution of the Kurdish Conflict in Turkey and the Efforts to Resolve It

Friday 20 June, 2014, 6.30pm
Venue: Room B102, Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh St, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

Luxshi Vimalarajah, Programme Director of Dialogue, Mediation and Peace Support Structures at the Berghof Foundation
Adem Uzun, Executive Member of Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) on video
Selma Benkhelifa, Lawyer, Progress Lawyers Network, Belgium
Jean Lambert MEP
Desmond Fernandes,
Peace in Kurdistan Campaign & CAMPACC
Chaired by Margaret Owen OBE, International Human Rights Lawyer & Patron of Peace in Kurdistan Campaign

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NEWS
1. Ocalan: Stop the construction of military posts
2. At least 2 die in Turkey-Kurd clashes
3. Two protestors killed, PKK calls on young Kurds to join as recruits
4. Clashes in southeast Turkey after Kurds shot
5. Turkish PM Erdogan vows to punish flag protester

6. Dispatches: One Year After Turkey’s Gezi Protests, Activists on Trial

7. Turkey ignored direct warnings of ISIS attack on Mosul

8. Syrian Kurdistan’s YPG: We will fight against Islamists side by side with Iraqi Kurdistan’s people

9. “ISIS Crisis Urges Kurdish Unity”

10. US-NATO “Water War” against Syria: Turkey Suspends Pumping Euphrates’ Water

11. Kirkuk Under Kurdish Peshmerga Control

12. Kurdish Fighters Take a Key Oil City as Militants Advance on Baghdad

13. Iraqi Kurdish forces take Kirkuk as Isis sets its sights on Baghdad

14. Rouhani says Iran ready to ‘fight and combat’ terrorists in Iraq

15. Amnesty calls on Iran to halt execution of 33 Kurds

16. The system of Free Women Society of East Kurdistan (KJAR) was established

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYIS

17. Turkey at a Crossroads

18. Syrian Kurds continue to blame Turkey for backing ISIS militants

19. Why is Jabhat al-Nusra no longer useful to Turkey?

20. The United States Should Reconsider the Kurds

21. Telling Mountainous Kurdistan the World is Flat

22. Syria’s Looming Water Calamity

23. Will an independent Kurdistan emerge from Syria-Iraq chaos?

24. Behind the Lines: An ‘Islamic state’ is born – Jonathan Spyer

25. Why Iraq should consider separate Sunni and Shia regions

26. Robert Ford on the ISIS Offensive in Iraq

 

REPORTS

27. Amnesty International: Updated briefing on sieges across Syria

 

STATEMENTS

28. KCK statement: “Our resolve for a political and democratic settlement has been abused”

29. KCK statement: “We need unity to defend Rojava and South Kurdistan”

30. Amnesty International: Children among 15 civilians summarily killed in northern Syria

 

BOOKS

31. In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria

 

NEWS

1. Ocalan: Stop the construction of military posts
10 June 2014 / ANF
Kurdish Leader Abdullah Ocalan has reacted strongly to the construction of military posts by the AKP government and said: “The incidents in Lice are related to the AKP’s taking no positive steps from the very beginning of the process; continuing the construction of military posts, deploying additional troops, ignoring the sick prisoners”. Calling on the AKP to stop the construction of military posts, Öcalan said “AKP must not draw an mage of war to the public”. Öcalan also said “we will not accept the hegemony of the AKP”. He additionally emphasised the importance of municipalities gained by the BDP, saying that the aim must be to serve  all citizens.

2. At least 2 die in Turkey-Kurd clashes
9 June 2014 / CNN
Crowds of mourners gathered Sunday to bury a young man in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir after clashes the previous day between Kurdish protesters and Turkish security forces turned deadly. A member of parliament from a pro-Kurdish political party told CNN at least two people were shot dead in Saturday’s clashes, with at least two more in critical condition.The violence unsettled a peace process between the Turkish government and Kurdish rebels, who have been waging a guerrilla war in the predominantly Kurdish southeast for 30 years.

 

3. Two protestors killed, PKK calls on young Kurds to join as recruits

8 June 2014 / Cihan
Following a clash, in which two protestors were killed, between supporters of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), who has blocked a higway in Turkey’s South east for more than two weeks, and security forces, the Kurdistan Communities’ Union (KCK), an umbrella organization that includes the PKK, has called on young Kurds to join the PKK. The tension on the Diyarbakır-Bingöl highway, which has been blocked, since May 24, by members of the Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement (YDGH), youth wing of the PKK, turned into a clash late on Saturday when fire was opened on security forces which have been struggling to clear the highway of roadblocks and protestors.

4. Clashes in southeast Turkey after Kurds shot
8 June 2014 / Al Jazeera
Demonstrators and police have clashed in Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkey as tensions mounted a day after two Kurdish men died of gunshot wounds in earlier protests that turned violent. Police fired tear gas and water cannon on Sunday at demonstrators who threw stones and burnt barricades following the funeral of one of the victims killed on Saturday in the Lice district of Diyarbakir province, the AFP news agency reported.”War, war, war! No to peace!” chanted thousands of mourners, including politicians, who marched behind a placard reading “Revenge.”Police also briefly clashed with Kurdish protesters in Hakkari, another Kurdish-majority southeastern city, and in Bagcilar, a working-class district of Istanbul.

5. Turkish PM Erdogan vows to punish flag protester
9 June 2014 / BBC News
Turkey’s prime minister has vowed to make a Kurdish protester who took down the national flag “pay the price”. Photographs taken on Sunday showed a masked protester scaling a flagpole inside a Turkish military base in the majority-Kurdish Diyarbakir province. Kurds demonstrated again on Monday against plans to build a new army base in the area. On Sunday, two Kurdish protesters died after being shot the previous day in clashes with government troops. The upsurge in tensions sparked by the deaths and the plans to build the army base are seen as a threat to the peace process. It began in 2012 in an attempt to end a 30-year insurgency by rebels of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which has claimed at least 40,000 lives.

6. Dispatches: One Year After Turkey’s Gezi Protests, Activists on Trial
13 June 2014 / bianet
Today, one year after the mass Gezi Park protests erupted in Turkey, organizers of the original campaign against the urban redevelopment of the park in central Istanbul will stand trial on criminal charges. While they are among thousands who have faced criminal proceedings for their part in protests throughout the country, the police who violently dispersed them have largely escaped justice. The images that reverberated around the world showed a police assault on mainly peaceful protests in which crowds repeatedly floundered in a sea of teargas and people were swept off the streets by water cannons. Police unlawfully fired teargas canisters directly at the crowd, turning them into lethal weapons which killed two people, blinded 11, and inflicted serious head injuries on scores more. Three other demonstrators and a police officer died during the protests.

7. Turkey ignored direct warnings of ISIS attack on Mosul
12 June 2014 / Al Monitor
The seizure of 49 staff members of the Turkish consulate in Mosul by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants has refocused attention on Turkey’s failing Middle East policy and exposed embarrassing flaws in its handling of diplomatic security.As Turkish leaders scramble to find a way out of the crisis, details of the security lapses that led to the storming of the consulate are beginning to emerge. Unless the hostages are released unharmed, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan could face a political crisis of a scale that might yet torpedo his candidacy for the August presidential race.

8. Syrian Kurdistan’s YPG: We will fight against Islamists side by side with Iraqi Kurdistan’s people
10 June 2014 / eKurd
Syrian Kurdistan,— Following the fall of the city of Mosul to the Islamic-jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) linked to al-Qeda, the defence forces of Syrian (West) Kurdistan, the Kurdish People’s Protection Units YPG, has issued a statement saying it is ready to defend South (Iraqi) Kurdistan against these gangs.
Today gangs affiliated to ISIS gained control of the city of Mosul after launching fresh attacks on Saturday. This follows ISIS taking over the city of Fallujah and parts of Ramadi in Anbar province in January.fer

 9. “ISIS Crisis Urges Kurdish Unity”
12 June 2014 / bianet
bianet interviewed Kurdish Democratic Unity Party (PYD) Co-President Salih Müslim Muhammad following ISIS’ (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) invasion of Mosul. The developments show that Kurds must act together, said Müslim.  Saying they had been left alone in the battle against ISIS, he remarked that they always extended a hand to collaborate, but Turkey never took it.
How will ISIS seizing Mosul affect war in Syria?
We said it multiple times: Stability in Syria concerns the entire Middle East. We said that it could spread everywhere if there is no stability, it’s taking place now. Tomorrow it could spread to other places too, to Lebanon, to Jordan, to Turkey…

10. US-NATO “Water War” against Syria: Turkey Suspends Pumping Euphrates’ Water
7 June 2014 / Global Research
Violating international norms, the Turkish government recently cut off the water supply of the Euphrates River completely. In fact, Ankara began to gradually reduce pumping Euphrates water about a month and half ago, then cut if off completely two weeks ago, according to information received by Al-Akhbar. A source who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that water levels in the Lake Assad (a man-made water reservoir on the Euphrates) recently dropped by six meters from its normal levels (which means losing millions of cubic meters of water). The source warned that “a further drop of one additional meter would put the dam out of service.”

11. Kirkuk Under Kurdish Peshmerga Control
12 June 2014 / Rudaw
The multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, home to one of Iraq’s largest oil fields, was taken over by Kurdish Peshmerga forces after Iraqi government troops left the city ahead of a possible attack by radical Islamic insurgents who have already seized two major Iraqi cities.Jabar Yawar, a spokesperson for Kurdistan’s Peshmerga, says Kurdish forces took “full control” of the city Thursday morning because they could not risk leaving the city’s Kurdish residents, who comprise majority of the city’s population — and the oil fields — to the mercy of the radical militants. Partly because of its vast oil reserves, Kirkuk has long been a flashpoint between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) forces.

12. Kurdish Fighters Take a Key Oil City as Militants Advance on Baghdad
12 June 2014 / New York Times
Kurdish forces exploited the mayhem convulsing Iraq on Thursday to seize complete control of the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk as government troops fled in the face of advancing Sunni militants. The insurgents pressed their advance southward toward Baghdad, warned officials of occupied Mosul to renounce allegiance to the central government and threatened to destroy religious shrines sacred to Shiites.At the same time, militias of Iraq’s Shiite majority rushed to fill the vacuum left by the abrupt disintegration in the government’s security forces, vowing to confront the Sunni militants, defend Baghdad and protect other threatened cities including Samarra, 70 miles north of the capital. Thousands of volunteers were reported to be mobilizing. “We hope that all the Shiite groups will come together and move as one man to protect Baghdad and the other Shiite areas,” said Abu Mujahid, one of the militia leaders.

13. Iraqi Kurdish forces take Kirkuk as Isis sets its sights on Baghdad
12 June 2914 / Guardian
The crisis in Iraq escalated rapidly on Thursday as Iraqi Kurdish forces took control of key military installations in the major oil city of Kirkuk and the Sunni jihadi group Isis revealed its intention to move on Baghdad and cities in the southern Shia heartland.Kurdish peshmerga fighters entered Kirkuk after the central government’s army abandoned its posts in a rapid collapse during which it lost control of much of the country’s north. Iraq has been fragile since the 2003 US-led invasion and the latest developments have raised fears that it is in danger of splintering along ethnic and sectarian lines.

14. Rouhani says Iran ready to ‘fight and combat’ terrorists in Iraq
12 June 2014 / Al Monitor
The rapid advance of Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) forces and the quick fall of Mosul on June 10 has become a matter of concern in Tehran, as the Iraqi army showed shocking weakness in this first serious encounter since the US withdrawal from Iraq. Mosul is closer to the Iranian border than it is to Baghdad, which has been victimized by jihadist terrorism and might be within ISIS’s sights. In an interview with Al-Monitor, a senior Iranian National and Regional Security Affairs official who requested anonymity said, “Some countries are trying to take revenge in Iraq for their defeat in Syria.” He accused countries who fueled the war in Syria of being behind the latest developments in Iraq, if indirectly.

15. Amnesty calls on Iran to halt execution of 33 Kurds
13 June 2014 / eKurd
The Iranian authorities should quash the death sentences of 33 Sunni Muslim men, including possibly a juvenile offender, convicted of “enmity against God” (moharebeh), and impose an immediate moratorium on all executions, 18 human rights organizations and one prominent human rights lawyer said today. The call comes amid serious concerns about the fairness of the legal proceedings that led to the men’s convictions and the high number of executions reported in Iran during the last year, including the June 1, 2014 hanging of a political dissident, Gholamreza Khosravi Savadjani, on the same charge.

16. The system of Free Women Society of East Kurdistan (KJAR) was established
3 June 2014 / Rojhelat

The fourth conference of Women’s Union of East Kurdistan (YJRK), was started with the slogan of “with the deepening of the ideology of women’s liberation, to build democratic self-management” and was held in the mountains of Kurdistan. Consequently, the System of Free Women Society of East Kurdistan (KJAR) was established.In this case the Women’s Union of East Kurdistan (YJRK) issued a statement and said: “The same as (YJRK) due to the changes and the current situation in the Middle East and the international community, also the current situation of women society, we decided to renew our system by according to the system of free women society of the East Kurdistan (KJAR). It has been established while the women society has been forgotten. Women are still struggling and give great martyrs to achieve freedom and to obtain their own independent identity.

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYIS

17. Turkey at a Crossroads
6 June 2014 / Epoch TImes
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan secured his eighth big win in 14 years when his ruling AK Party won over 45 percent of the vote in local elections on March 30. After facing down corruption charges, mass protests, and accusations of authoritarianism, Erdogan may feel emboldened to run for president in Turkey’s first direct presidential election in August. Gönül Tol, Director of MEI’s Center for Turkish Studies, answers the most pressing questions on the upcoming election, the role of the Kurds, and implications for Turkey’s relations with the EU and the United States.
If Erdogan runs, will he win?
Erdogan’s bid for the presidency would face several domestic challenges. In a direct vote, he would have to win 50 percent in a country that is deeply polarized over his rule. His ruling AK Party secured support of around 45 percent nationwide in municipal elections. For a comfortable win, he would need the support of Turkey’s Kurds, who account for around a fifth of the population

18. Syrian Kurds continue to blame Turkey for backing ISIS militants
10 June 2014 / Al Monitor
A raised metal bed stands in a yard. The stench of rotting flesh chokes the air. A man in fatigues points to traces of blood blotting the earth, saying, “Women, children, they murdered them in their sleep. They even killed the dog; that’s what causing the smell.” Djvar Osman is a commander for the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Kurdish militia that controls a band of mainly Kurdish-populated territory in northeastern Syria they call Rojava. We are in al-Tleiliye, a tiny village close to the Turkish border that was raided May 29 by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

19. Why is Jabhat al-Nusra no longer useful to Turkey?
10 June 2014 / Al Monitor
Reluctantly perhaps, given the time it took it to do so, Turkey on June 3 finally designated al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization. The decision was seen as further proof of Turkey’s failed Syria policy, which has left the government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan little choice but to fall in line with the United States with regard to radical groups fighting in that country.The decision to ban Jabhat al-Nusra also comes tellingly less than a week after President Barack Obama announced that aid to Turkey, as well as Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq, would be increased so that they can “confront terrorists working across Syria’s borders.”

20. The United States Should Reconsider the Kurds
11 June 2014 / Atlantic Council
The United States has opposed Kurdish ambitions in both in Iraq and Syria for more autonomy, citing the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Iraqi and Syrian state. The Kurds have been one of the few genuinely pro-American people in the region and are currently the only force that is able to fight the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and protect Christians, not Baghdad nor Assad. The United States remains stuck in the old paradigm of Syrian and Iraqi states as created by the West through the Sykes-Picot agreement in 1916. Now, with the weakening of the Sykes-Picot borders as a result of the downfall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the Arab Spring in 2011, the United States should reconsider its policies of opposing Kurdish autonomy in both Iraq and Syria.

21. Telling Mountainous Kurdistan the World is Flat
7 June 2014 / Rudaw
Thomas Friedman, the Pulitzer Prize Winning journalist and author of bestsellers such as The World is Flat (2005), had some advice for the 2014 graduating class of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). Informing students that they lived in a hyperconnected, interdependent world — one where traditional geographic and national borders were “flattened” by global markets, environmental issues, international political movements, and revolutions in technology — Friedman offered some seductive wisdom. “You might as well do what you love because all the boring stuff is going to be done by robots, software, and machines.” I beg to differ. In Kurdistan, the world is still pretty round. Yes, there’s Facebook and a stock of thoroughly globalized repatriates from the diaspora. But old-fashioned geopolitical realities affect every part of life here from oil exports (the lifeblood of the economy) to security issues.

22. Syria’s Looming Water Calamity
2 June 2014 / National Review
Two reports from Beirut’s Al-Akhbar point to potentially catastrophic water problems about to affect Syria. The lesser concerns Aleppo, where mortar shells and barrel bombs have slackened off but Islamist rebels have shut down the city’s potable water supply, forcing Aleppan residents in government-controlled areas to depend on wells and trucks for limited, contaminated, and expensive water. Lines of women and children “have become ubiquitous in front of mosque fountains and government wells in order to fill small containers such as cooking pots, teapots and plastic bottles as well as small barrels,” the paper reports. According to an official at the Syrian Red Crescent, “The situation signals a humanitarian and health disaster.”

23. Will an independent Kurdistan emerge from Syria-Iraq chaos?
12 June 2014 / Legal Insurrection
We’ve been writing about the lack of a free and independent Kurdistan for years, It’s time for a free and independent Kurdistan. While the Palestinian agenda has dominated every international forum, the much more populous and ethnically distinct Kurds have been mostly ignored.  In part, this is because the Kurds span several nation states created by colonial powers after the implosion of the Ottomon Empire.  Turkey particularly has threatened war if a Kurdish nation emerges. In part it is because creating an independent Kurdistan does do not serve a political purpose of snuffing out the only Jewish state in the region. Developments are moving fast that could change everything.

24. Behind the Lines: An ‘Islamic state’ is born – Jonathan Spyer
12 June 2014 / Jerusalem Post
It’s too early to predict the results of the dramatic ISIS offensive in Iraq, but it is clear that the country is now in the midst of a full-blown sectarian war.In a stunning and deeply significant development, the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization this week captured the city of Mosul. They then moved on to take Tikrit unopposed and according to reports yesterday were headed toward the capital, Baghdad. Five-hundred thousand people have fled Mosul in the wake of its conquest by the jihadis. The city, which has an Arab majority population along with large Kurdish and Turkmen minorities, is Iraq’s second largest. Its capture was the latest and most significant success in an offensive launched by the ISIS jihadis a week ago.

25. Why Iraq should consider separate Sunni and Shia regions
13 June 2014 / Guardian
The seizing of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, by jihadists has sent shockwaves throughout the Middle East and the rest of the world. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), now controls or operates with impunity in territory stretching between Syria and Iraq, and will attempt to push to the south, take control of Baghdad and effectively put an end to Iraq as we know it. But Iraq can still be saved. In the short-term the country, with the support of either regional powers such as Iran and Turkey or the broader international community, must hit back fast and hard at the Sunni north.

26. Robert Ford on the ISIS Offensive in Iraq
12 June 2014 / Middle East Institute
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni militant group controlling territory spanning the border between the two country’s northern regions, made a rapid advance toward Baghdad this week, seizing control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and Tikrit, and attacking the refinery town of Baiji. Forces from Iraqi Kurdistan have since moved to secure Kirkuk as the Iraqi central government’s military has fled in disarray. Robert Ford, former U.S. ambassador to Syria, explains how ISIS has been able to conduct its offensive, and what Iraqis, other states in the region, and the United States should do to restore stability.

 

REPORTS

27. Amnesty International: Updated briefing on sieges across Syria, 12 June 2014.

 

STATEMENTS

28. KCK statement: “Our resolve for a political and democratic settlement has been abused”, 8 June 2014.

29. KCK statement: “We need unity to defend Rojava and South Kurdistan”, 11 June 2014.

30. Amnesty International: Children among 15 civilians summarily killed in northern Syria, 5 June 2014.

 

BOOKS

31. In the Lion’s Den: An Eyewitness Account of Washington’s Battle with Syria, by Andrew Tabler.

 

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