KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 26 July – 1 August 2014

NEWS

1. KCK will write a letter to Öcalan
2. Freedom for Öcalan campaign supported by prisoners
3. KCK: Attack on Demirtaş’s stand unacceptable
4. Kurdish founder member resigns from AKP
5. OSCE Election Observation Mission to visit HDP today
6. OSCE slams use of public funds for Turkish PM Erdoğan’s presidential campaign
7. Turkish Army Build-Up On Syrian Border Near Afrin
8. Fierce battle between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State jihadists kills 49: NGO
9. People celebrate Eid with YPG-YPJ fighters in Kobanê
10. Interview With YPJ Commander In Kobanê
11. Kurd YPG wins battle, ‘capturing several ISIS jihadist positions’
12. Centre to combat violence against women in Rojava
13. Syrian Kurds appoint Arab governor in Hasakah, bid for international support
14. Syriacs call for joint struggle against ISIS savagery

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. LISTEN: Fearless Women in Turkish Kurdistan
16. VIDEO: Erdogan lined up for victory in presidential polls
17. Turkey’s “Multi-Scenario” Foreign Policy
18. The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions
19. Gaza Crisis Shows Turkey’s Declining Regional Influence
20. FILM: “Liberated”, Syria’s Kurds 10 Days After “Liberation”
21. Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat – ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
22. Rojava revolution: building autonomy in the Middle East
23. 10,000 Bodies: Inside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Crackdown
24. Islamic State destroys tombs, mosques in Mosul

REPORTS

25. The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions: The Peace Process in Context
26. ISIS violations and chemical weapons on civilians in Kobani canton

 

NEWS

 

1. KCK will write a letter to Öcalan
27 July 2014 / ANF
An HDP delegation has travelled to Kandil and met KCK executives.
After attending the meeting, group deputy chair Pervin Buldan stated that the KCK executives will write a letter in response to the letter of the PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan in the next few days. Buldan also said that they made an application in order to go to İmralı before the presidential election and meet with Mr Öcalan. The delegation. consisting of HDP group deputy chairs İdris Baluken and Pervin Buldan, HDP Istanbul MPs Sırrı Süreyya Önder and Diyarbakır independent deputy Leyla Zana, travelled to Kandil and spoke to KCK Executives on 24 July.

2. Freedom for Öcalan campaign supported by prisoners
1 August 2014 / ANF
316 political inmates jailed in prisons in Marmara Region supported the signature campaign initiated for the freedom of PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) leader Abdullah Öcalan. The signature campaign for the freedom of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan which has been continuing since February has also been supported by prisoners in the Marmara Region. Including 151 inmates in Tekirdağ F-type Prison, 13 in Tekirdağ T-type Prison, 42 in Ümraniye T-type prison and 10 prisoners in Ümraniye E-type Prison, a total of 316 prisoners on PKK trial signed their petitions and sent them to the Association for Solidarity with the Families of Prisoners (TUAD).

3. KCK: Attack on Demirtaş’s stand unacceptable
1 August 2014 / Hurriyet
KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Executive Council Co-presidency has released a statement regarding the conflict in Nurtepe neighbourhood of Kağıthane district in Istanbul, calling on the People’s Front to avoid approaches that may lead up to provocations and attacks. Tension in the neighborhood remains high for the last two days since members of the People’s Front tried to remove a stand set up by the Free Democratic Alevi Association in support of the HDP’s Presidential candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, leading to clashes that once again broke out last night. During yesterday’s armed clashes İbrahim Öksüz (14), on his way home from his job in a garment workshop, was wounded by a stray bullet. He was taken to the Şişli Etfal Hospital, but died at around 11 pm.

4. Kurdish founder member resigns from AKP
28 July 2014 / ANF
Prominent Kurdish politician and founder member of the ruling AKP party in Turkey, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat, has announced his resignation from the party less than 2 weeks before the Presidential elections. Fırat, who was also a former deputy chair of the AKP, announced last week that he would support the HDP candidate Selahattin Demirtaş at the upcoming election. In the announcement on his facebook page, Dengir Mir Mehmet Fırat explained his stance on the presidential election, saying: “I see that this  has caused panic in the AKP. I therefore have to say that unfortunately some Kurds have deliberately been put forward in an effort to mislead the people.”

5. OSCE Election Observation Mission to visit HDP today
28 July 2014 / ANF
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Limited Election Observation Mission will visit the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Co-Chair Figen Yüksekdağ at the party headquarters in Turkish capital Ankara today. The Limited Election Observation Mission for the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, led by Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, has made observations and paid visits to various institutions since 10 July ahead of the presidential election in Turkey, scheduled for 10 August 2014.

6. OSCE slams use of public funds for Turkish PM Erdoğan’s presidential campaign
1 August 2014 / Hurriyet
Concerns that have prompted Europe’s security body to deploy a mission to observe Turkey’s upcoming first direct presidential election have apparently been proven right, as an interim report by the mission has highlighted a wide range of flaws. “The campaign activities of the prime minister are large-scale events, often combined with official government events. While other candidates actively campaign, the public visibility of their campaigns is limited,” said an interim report released July 31, with only days to go before the first round scheduled for Aug. 10.

7. Turkish Army Build-Up On Syrian Border Near Afrin
28 July 2014 / Rojava Report
The Turkish army is building up on its Syrian border near Kilis-Afrin. It is also reported that they allowed a large number of militants to mass through the Azaz border crossing into Syria late Saturday evening and early Sunday morning. It also moved at least six tanks and other armored vehicles and a large number of anti-aircraft weapons to its bases along the border in that area. The movements have largely occurred along the border between the villages of Mersava and Şilteht in the township of Sera on the Syrian-side and the villages of Bauğa and Karnebiye in the district of Kilis on the Turkish-side.

8. Fierce battle between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State jihadists kills 49: NGO
31 July 2014 / eKurd
A fierce battle between Syrian Kurds and Islamic State jihadists has killed nearly 50 fighters from both sides as the Kurds seized several IS positions, a monitoring group said Thursday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported fighting in eastern Syria between a Sunni tribe and the IS, with members of the tribe tweeting about an “uprising”. Wednesday’s fighting in Kobane (Ain al-Arab in Arabic) in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) killed 14 members of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and 35 Islamic jihadists. Dozens of fighters were wounded, said the Observatory. The Britain-based monitor said it was now “calm” after the fighting in the Ain al-Arab area in the restivewww.Ekurd.net northern province of Aleppo on the border with Turkey.

9. People celebrate Eid with YPG-YPJ fighters in Kobanê
28 July 2014 / ANF
People in Kobanê celebrated Eid al-Fitr today in resistance against ISIS gangs. People first of all visited the graves of the YPG and YPJ fighters who have lost their lives in the defence war and then celebrated the Eid of the fighters at the front. The people of Kobanê flocked into the cemeteries to pay their respects at the graves of YPG-YPJ martyrs on the morning of Eid. Gathering in the Martyr Dicle cemetery of, hundreds of people from Kobanê organised a ceremony and visited the graves of the YPG-YPJ fighters. Members of the Association of Kobanê’s Martyrs, TEV-DEM, YPG and YPJ fighters and the sons, daughters, spouses and parents of the fighters who lost their lives participated in the ceremony.

10. Interview With YPJ Commander In Kobanê
1 August 2014 / Rojava Report
In a new report from Özgür Gündem, Ersin Çaksu interviews Meryem Kobanê, the General Commander of the YPJ in the Kobanê Region. Meryem speaks about the situation in Kobanê, the war with ISIS, the history of the YPJ, and the progress of the revolution in Rojava more generally. Below is the entirety of the interview translated into English.
-How do you evaluate the near year-long fighting in and subsequent siege of Kobanê? What has happened in the past year, can you explain a little from the perspective of a commander in the war?
The fighting is Kobanê began a year ago on July 20th. The goal was to break apart the Kurdish regions. For this Kobanê was chosen. After Kobanê they planned to take control of the other parts one by one.

11. Kurd YPG wins battle, ‘capturing several ISIS jihadist positions’
31 July 2014 / Kurdistan Tribune
Kurdish forces in Rojava (north east Syria) have captured several positions of the ISIS jihadists, reports the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which says 35 jihadists and 15 members of the pro-Kurd People’s Protection Units (YPG) were killed in the fierce fighting. Kurdish fighters took several hills during the battle, which ISIS had previously seized and were using as military positions. ANF  reports that the fighting in the Kobanê canton is continuing and that at least 120 ISIS members have been killed in recent days, along with 14 YPG and YPJ fighters, four of them volunteers from North Kurdistan.

12. Centre to combat violence against women in Rojava
25 July 2014 / ANF
A women’s centre has been set up in the town on Qamishlo (Qamishli) in West Kurdistan (Rojava) to tackle the problem of violence against women. The centre brings together three communities: the Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians. The Sara Women’s Association is run by a committee consisting of 12 members, with six sub-committees: Funding, Law, Service-Projects, Media, Archive and External Relations. The association has already become a focal point for women of different ethnic backgrounds. One of the association’s directors, Necah Emin, spoke to ANF, underlining the fact that since women have common problems everyone can become a member of the association, regardless of ethnicity, religion or organisation.

13. Syrian Kurds appoint Arab governor in Hasakah, bid for international support
31 July 2014 / Middle East Eye
The de-facto Kurdish autonomous administration in Syria has appointed Humaydi Dahmam al-Assi al-Jarba, a cousin of Ahmet Jarba, former head of the Syrian opposition, as a co-governor in the province of Hasakah, to show the world that they do not marginalize minorities.
“They want to send a message of democracy to the world that they involve all [ethnic] components in the management of the region, and that they will not decide everything by themselves [the Kurds],” said Imad Talati, a journalist working with pro-opposition channel Orient TV in Qamishli.

14. Syriacs call for joint struggle against ISIS savagery
26 July 2014 / ANF
The Presidency of the Bethnahrin National Council (MUB), an organisation representing Syriac Christians in Europe, has issued an appeal for representatives of the Kurdish and Assyrian peoples to come together and wage a joint struggle against ISIS. MUB drew attention to the increasing attacks on Assyrian-Syriac-Chaldean and Kurdish peoples in the region following the capture of Mosul by ISIS on 9 June. MUB called on the administration of the Federal Kurdistan Region to follow the example of Gozarto (Rojava), saying the Syriac people had the potential and the values to revive Mesopotamia and Kurdistan, emphasising that it was time to establish a democratic, peaceful administration that would be an example to the world and would coexist fraternally with other peoples.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. LISTEN: Fearless Women in Turkish Kurdistan
31 July 2014 / BBC Worldservice
For decades, Turkey’s Kurds have been struggling against a state that used to deny their very existence as a separate people. More than 40,000 people have died – and hundreds of villages have been destroyed – in the war between the Turkish army and the militant Kurdish group, the PKK. But now, just when Kurds in neighbouring Iraq are considering establishing an independent state, and many believe the chaos in Syria will change borders across the region, Kurds in Turkey are increasingly reconciled to remaining within existing frontiers. As Turkey pursues peace talks with the PKK, the militant movement’s supporters talk of changing society, not borders. And already, they have initiated some radical experiments.

16. VIDEO: Erdogan lined up for victory in presidential polls
25 July 2014 / Frontline Club
Turkey’s prime minister Racep Tayyip Erdogan will win next month’s presidential elections and become the country’s first directly elected president, according to a panel of experts assembled at the Frontline Club on 22 July 2014. The Frontline Club event was chaired by Murat Nisancioglu, the head of Turkish Service at BBC Global News and brought together Alexander Christie-Miller, an Istanbul-based freelance journalist and Turkey correspondent for Newsweek, The Times and Christian Science Monitor; Fadi Hakura, associate fellow at Chatham House; Sir David Reddaway, British ambassador to Turkey between 2009 and January 2014; and Karabekir Akkoyunlu, who recently completed a PhD about political change in Iran and Turkey at LSE. The consensus of the panel was that Erdogan would win a convincing victory at the coming polls.

17. Turkey’s “Multi-Scenario” Foreign Policy
26 July 2014 / Research Turkey
Turkish foreign policy has always been a puzzling issue for both Western and non-Western scholars. Yet, the ascendance of the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi – AKP) to power in 2002 made things even more complicated as it signified the gradual break of a national ideological tradition and the emergence of a post-Kemalist, neo-Islamist, ideological framework. Despite the various existing explanations, analyses and interpretations of the AKP’s foreign policy, this paper seeks to contribute to this debate by employing a different (multi-scenario) approach. It assumes that the conduct of Turkish foreign policy is based on the existence of probable scenarios, often substitutionary to each other.

18. The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions
31 July 2014 / Centre for American Progress
Report summary: The past four years have swept away the old pillars of U.S. policy toward the Eastern Mediterranean. Egypt, a traditional American security partner, is confronting a staggering political and economic crisis. Syria has descended into a horrific civil war with no resolution in sight. Lebanon is clinging to basic stability in the face of long-standing sectarian tensions and a massive refugee crisis. Jordan remains a strong U.S. ally but faces structural threats that stem from demographic trends and the war in Syria. Iraq is once again engulfed in a struggle against militancy stoked, in part, by perceptions that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his supporters have institutionalized their ascendancy in a way unacceptable to Iraq’s minorities. Of course, governments across the region are struggling to confront the rising influence of violent Salafi jihadists. The seizure of Mosul—Iraq’s second-largest city and home to nearly 2 million people—by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, brought this reality into stark relief.

19. Gaza Crisis Shows Turkey’s Declining Regional Influence
29 July 2014 / Middle East Institute
The Israeli incursion into Gaza and the ensuing diplomatic efforts to end the violence have revealed Turkey’s waning influence in the region.  The Turkish government has been promoting itself as a potential mediator between Israel and Hamas.  The latter’s rejection of an Egyptian ceasefire in mid-July bolstered Turkey’s hopes of playing a key role, as did its inclusion in this past weekend’s Paris summit hosted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Capitalizing on his close ties to Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, Erdogan had been hoping to assume the role played by ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in securing the cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in November 2012.

20. FILM: “Liberated”, Syria’s Kurds 10 Days After “Liberation”
28 July 2014 / Rozh Ahmad
Recorded with a handheld camera rolling in the tradition of an observational documentary, “Liberated” is a short 25-minutes documentary filmed and edited by Rozh Ahmad and gives an insight into the early days of the 2012 Kurdish uprising in Syria’s Kurdish region commonly known as, ‘Rojava’. It shows how the Kurds, as the largest and yet one of the most oppressed minorities in Syria began to independently self-rule their towns and cities and rejected both the regime and Islamic rebels amid the civil war. Each scene of this short documentary introduces the Kurdish quest for freedom in Syria after years of denial and oppression faced under the Baath regime.

21. Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat – ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
28 July 2014 / The Independent
On the border between, Turkey and Syria, Muhammed Ahmad, a 23-year-old Syrian Kurd is waiting to return to the fight against Isis. He described Isis as formidable opponents. “It’s like they’re on drugs,” he said, “they charge at you in groups of 300 and, even though we shoot them like sheep, you know the next day there will be double.” But despite their dedication, Isis jihadists are human. He pulls out his phone and scrolls through grotesque pictures of Isis fighters he and his comrades have killed. Their faces are sunken, bloody and in some cases pummelled beyond recognition – a ritual performed by their fellow fighters, according to Mr Ahmad, to stop the identification of the dead.

22. Rojava revolution: building autonomy in the Middle East
25 July 2014 / Roar Mag
Kurdish rebels are establishing self-rule in war-torn Syria, resembling the Zapatista experience and providing a democratic alternative for the regionWith the rise of jihadist groups in the Middle East, I find myself troubled with the question of how the politics of “insurgency” in this region has shifted so dramatically from a secular leftist tendency that used to challenge political Islam and Islamic rules in the social life to an extremist Islamist tendency that finds its ideal society in the time of Prophet Mohammad centuries ago. It is not that left is not present or without alternative, but one cannot ignore how marginalized they have become.

23. 10,000 Bodies: Inside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Crackdown
25 July 2014 /  Wall Street Journal
At Hospital 601, not far from the presidential palace in Damascus, Syrian guards ran out of space to store the dead and had to use an adjoining warehouse where military vehicles were repaired. A forensic photographer working for Syria’s military police walked the rows and took pictures of the emaciated and disfigured corpses, most believed to be anti-Assad activists. Numbers written on the bodies and on white cards, the photographer said, told regime bureaucrats the identities of the deceased, when they died and which branch of the Syrian security services had held them. (Graphic image follows.)

24. Islamic State destroys tombs, mosques in Mosul
26 July 2014 / The Long War Journal
The Islamic State, the jihadist group that controls large areas of both Iraq and Syria, continues to destroy religious sites in the city of Mosul in an effort to eradicate all competing religious groups and their symbols from the city. On July 24 the Islamic State destroyed the Nabi Yunus Mosque, which had housed the Tomb of Jonah, after destroying the tomb itself earlier this month. Islamic State fighters wired the mosque with explosives and detonated the religious site in broad daylight.Jonah is recognized as a prophet in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and his tomb was visited and revered by members of all three religions.

REPORTS

25. The United States, Turkey, and the Kurdish Regions: The Peace Process in Context, by the Centre for American Progress. 31 July 2014.

26. ISIS violations and chemical weapons on civilians in Kobani canton, by the Free Media Union. 31 July 2014.

 

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