KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 2 – 8 August 2014

For updates on what is unfolding on the ground in Shingal, Iraq, Rojava and across Kurdistan, keep an eye on the Rojava Report (http://rojavareport.wordpress.com/) and Hawar News Agency (http://www.hawarnews.com/english/) which both bring you up-to-date news from the Kurdish perspective.
Also, check out Ronahi TV, a television broadcaster based inside Rojava, for interviews and other news on video: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnBXzcAUpsL0aQq_xfyRmuQ

NEWS
1. Öcalan: Patience is running out
2. Leaked document proves Syria-bound Turkish trucks were carrying arms
3. Turkish army launches operations in Şırnak, Bingöl and Dersim
4. Kurdish Party Seeks to Broaden Appeal in Turkey Polls
5. Turkish PKK militants urge all Kurds to fight Islamic State
6. 40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as Isis jihadists threaten death
7. Kurds unite to oust Iraq jihadists, rescue stranded civilian

8. ISIS captures two northern Iraqi towns
9. Iraq jihadis vow to “liberate” more Kurdish towns
10. The US should rethink its policy towards Kurds, report urges
11. Behind the lines: Under Gaza’s shadow, Islamic State advances
12. YPG and resistance units retake village from ISIS
13. Hundreds of people from Sinjar reach Silopi
14. UN expresses ‘extreme concern’ over children reported killed in Sinjar
15. Islamic State lashes out at signs of Erbil-Baghdad accord
16. HPG and YJA STAR guerrillas in Maxmur, fierce clashes reported
17. Kurds take more territory in Syria as government troops withdraw
18. U.N. chief, Security Council urge international help for Iraq
19. Kurds say ‘Words not enough’ as EU condemns militants in Shingal
20. Iraq crisis: Obama authorises air strikes in Iraq
21. Barack Obama authorizes air strikes against Islamist militants in Iraq
22. Obama authorises air strikes to prevent Iraq ‘genocide’
23. Pictures Of Yazidi refugees who fled ISIS, as UK rules out joining US In military action in Iraq to protect them
24. Turkey Vows it is Behind Erbil as Western Support Begins to Surge
25. Thousands of Yezidis massacred in Sinjar
26. Sinjar refugees: If it wasn’t for the guerrillas…
27. Rudaw Reporter: Death Toll on Shingal Mountain Rising by the Minute
28. HPG and YJA STAR guerrillas on their way to Sinjar
29. Kurds unite to fight militants, rescue 30,000 Yazidi civilians
30. Syrian-Kurdish militias fight IS after Peshmerga fighters’ retreat
31. Kurds continue to battle ISIS near Aleppo
32. Syria Kurds battle jihadists killing nearly 50
33. NGO Report: Syria Kurdish/ Jihadist battle kills 49

 

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
34. ISIS Consolidates
35. Turkey’s political system under an Erdogan presidency
36. Special Report : The doubt at the heart of Iraq’s Sunni ‘revolution’
37. ISIS Governance in Syria
38. The Deir Al Zour Intifada against Daesh
39. Timeline of ISIS in Mosul
40. Salih Muslim Speaks To Yeni Özgür Politika On ISIS Attacks In Sınjar
41. Tyrant or steadying hand?

STATEMENTS
42. Call for Urgent Prevention of Human Tragedy in Sinjar Region
43. PYD co-chair calls for urgent assistance from international community
44. 65 civil society organisations from South Kurdistan sign appeal for Kobane
45. EUTCC statement on ISIS
46. We support Demirtas – the only candidate for change for Kurds and all in Turkey

NEWS

1.Öcalan: Patience is running out
5 August / ANF News
Lawyer Mazlum Dinç, who met Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan on İmralı island yesterday, said that Mr Öcalan had stressed that the state was continuing to build dams and military posts and told him: “Patience is running out. I hope that this week the negotiation process will begin.” Lawyer Mazlum Dinç, who is also Mr Öcalan’s legal guardian, went to İmralı yesterday with Mazlum Poyraz, the son of prisoner Şeyhmus Poyraz and Cumali Karsu’s guardian Pervin Oduncu. After returning from the island Mazlum Dinç spoke to the press about his meeting with Mr Öcalan.

2. Leaked document proves Syria-bound Turkish trucks were carrying arms
1 August / Today’s Zaman
A leaked document has revealed that a large cache of arms was on its way to Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid, online news portal T24 reported.
The document signed by security services and main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) lawmaker Bülent Tezcan was published by the T24 on Friday, indicating that officials from the Turkish spy agency quickly seized trucks carrying arms to Syria while security services could take note what is inside the truck, including visual confirmation.

3. Turkish army launches operations in Şırnak, Bingöl and Dersim
8 August / ANF News
Turkish army has launched air supported operations in Cudi Mountain region in Şırnak, Kiğı and Yedisu area in Bingöl and rural areas in Pülümür district of Dersim.
The operation in Deresor and Deredevş areas near Cudi Mountain is also being joined by village guards from Görümlü (Bespin) and Çalışkan (Qite) towns in Şırnak’s Silopi district.

4. Kurdish Party Seeks to Broaden Appeal in Turkey Polls
7 August / naharnet
With a youthful and dynamic candidate, Turkey’s main Kurdish political force is seeking to broaden its appeal in presidential polls where the votes of the Kurdish minority are set to play a crucial role.
Selahattin Demirtas, a 41-year-old lawyer put forward by the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP), is hoping to win support not just from the 15 million strong Kurdish minority in Sunday’s polls but also ethnic Turks.

5. Turkish PKK militants urge all Kurds to fight Islamic State
4 August / Reuters
The PKK, which has spent three decades fighting for autonomy for Turkey’s Kurds, on Monday urged all Kurds to take up the fight against the Sunni militants of Islamic State, who have expanded their advance across Iraq into Kurdish-controlled territory.

6. 40,000 Iraqis stranded on mountain as Isis jihadists threaten death
7 August / The Guardian
Tens of thousands of members of one of Iraq’s oldest minorities have been stranded on a mountain in the country’s north-west, facing slaughter at the hands of jihadists surrounding them below if they flee, or death by dehydration if they stay.
UN groups say at least 40,000 members of the Yazidi sect, many of them women and children, have taken refuge in nine locations on Mount Sinjar, a craggy, mile-high ridge identified in local legend as the final resting place of Noah’s ark.

7. Kurds unite to oust Iraq jihadists, rescue stranded civilian
6 August / gulfnews
Kurdish fighters from Iraq, Syria and Turkey were coordinating operations in northern Iraq on Wednesday to reclaim areas lost to militants and rescue thousands of civilians stranded in nearby mountains.

8. ISIS captures two northern Iraqi towns
3 August / Alakhbar
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has captured two northern Iraqi towns, Zumar and Sinjar, and a nearby oil field after a battle with Kurdish forces who had control of the area, witnesses said on Sunday.
Witnesses said residents of Zumar and Sinjar were fleeing after Kurdish fighters put up little resistance against the militants.

9. Iraq jihadis vow to “liberate” more Kurdish towns
4 August / Reuters
The Islamic State group warned Monday it would seek to further expand into autonomous Kurdish territory after claiming key towns and areas over the past 48 hours.
“Islamic State brigades have now reached the border triangle between Iraq, Syria and Turkey. May God Almighty allow his mujahideen to liberate the whole region,” it said in a statement.

10. The US should rethink its policy towards Kurds, report urges
1 August / Today’s Zaman
The US should reach out and engage further with Kurdish groups to protect US interests in the Middle East, according to a new report issued on Thursday by the US advocacy group Center for American Progress.
“For the United States and Turkey, the rapidly changing political situation in Syria and Iraq underpins the need for new partners with whom to work toward regional stability and the provision of basic governance,” the report stated.

11. Behind the lines: Under Gaza’s shadow, Islamic State advances
8 August / The Jerusalem Post
In recent weeks, far from the attention of the world’s media, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS, formerly ISIS) has been fighting its enemies and expanding its borders.
There is mounting evidence that IS has obtained a chemical weapons capacity of some kind, and has utilized it on at least one occasion during intense combat against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The organization has achieved signal successes against regime forces in Raqqa and Hasakeh provinces that culminated in the capture of the Division 17 base, and the subsequent gruesome execution of over 200 members of the garrison.

12. YPG and resistance units retake village from ISIS
7 August/ ANF News
The village of Dugura, in the north of Mount Sinjar, has been retaken from ISIS gangs by YPG fighters and resistance units.
The village of Dugura was liberated from the ISIS gangs after an operation carried out by the YPG and the resistance units.

13. Hundreds of people from Sinjar reach Silopi
7 August / ANF News
Hundreds of people fleeing from the attacks and massacres of ISIS gangs in Sinjar have arrived in Silopi.
After KDP peshmerga withdrew from Sinjar, the ISIS gangs occupied the region and the people from Sinjar started to flee.
Some of them have now reached the Silopi district of Şırnak province. Entering North Kurdistan by the Habur border gate, the people from Sinjar were accommodated in houses built for victims of earthquakes after the town organisation of HDP and DBP and the Silopi Municipality declared a mobilisation.

14. UN expresses ‘extreme concern’ over children reported killed in Sinjar
6 August / ANF News
The United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) expressed “extreme concern” today over reports that some 40 children from northern Iraq’s Yazidi minority group died as a result of the violence being carried out in the Sinjar region by militants belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups.
“According to official reports received by UNICEF, these children from the Yazidi minority died as a direct consequence of violence, displacement and dehydration over the past two days,” Marzio Babille, a representative from UNICEF said in a statement today.

15. Islamic State lashes out at signs of Erbil-Baghdad accord
7 August / Middle East Eye
A huge assault the Islamic State launched on Kurdish positions in the province of Mosul on 2 August was a response to reports of newfound military and political cooperation between Baghdad and the Kurds, says the militant group. The reports follow hints at a political reconciliation between Erbil and Baghdad seen in the Iraq’s parliament successful election of a Kurdish president on 24 July.

16. HPG and YJA STAR guerrillas in Maxmur, fierce clashes reported
7 August / ANF News
HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and Women’s Guerrilla Army YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) guerrillas have arrived the town of Maxmur, 15-20 km to Maxmur refugee camp, where clashes have intensified as of Wednesday evening.
The Maxmur refugee camp (Martyr Rüstem Cudi Camp) which hosts Kurds forced to migrate from North Kurdistan during the times of war in 90’s, and the villages in the region have all been evacuated amidst intense clashes between HPG -YJA STAR, peshmerga forces, militia forces of Maxmur and ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) gangs.

17. Kurds take more territory in Syria as government troops withdraw
1 August / AINA
Kurdish leaders in Syria said Wednesday they took control of major territories after government troops completely withdrew from Hassakah province.
The reason behind the alleged Syrian troop withdrawal is not clear, but leaders of the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units (YPG) said they moved in and took control of many villages before Islamic militants seized the chance.

18. U.N. chief, Security Council urge international help for Iraq
7 August / Reuters
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Security Council on Thursday called for the international community to help Iraq’s government and people as the country struggles against a sweeping advance by Islamist militants.

19. Kurds say ‘Words not enough’ as EU condemns militants in Shingal
7 August / Rudaw
The European Union (EU) has expressed concern over the situation in northern Iraq, where tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing attacks by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), including dozens of Kurdish Yezidis daily dying on an arid mountain.
“We are deeply concerned by the humanitarian and security consequences of the ISIL assaults on the town of Sinjar (Shingal) and Zumar and surrounding provinces,” the EU said.

20. Iraq crisis: Obama authorises air strikes in Iraq
8 August / The Independent
President Barack Obama said late Thursday that he had authorised limited air strikes in Iraq to slow the advance of militant fighters of ISIS and confirmed that US Air Force cargo planes had begun humanitarian airdrops of food and other supplies in a bid to save the lives of religious minority Iraqis trapped on a mountain top.

21. Barack Obama authorizes air strikes against Islamist militants in Iraq
8 August / Rudaw
US President Barack Obama authorized on Thursday evening air strikes against militants of the Islamic State (IS/ISIL) in northwestern Iraq and humanitarian operations to “help save” thousands of Yezidis stranded on mount Shingal.
Obama also said that the United States would assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces in their war against the ISIL.

22. Obama authorises air strikes to prevent Iraq ‘genocide’
8 August / Middle East Eye
President Barack Obama has ordered US warplanes back into Iraqi skies to stop extremists from moving into autonomous Kurdistan and carrying out a potential genocide against displaced minorities.
The announcement of US involvement also came after the Islamic State group took control of Iraq’s largest dam, in one of the most significant developments in the two-month-old crisis.

23. Pictures Of Yazidi refugees who fled ISIS, as UK rules out joining US In military action in Iraq to protect them
8 August / The Huffington Post
These incredible pictures have emerged, showing the desperate plight of members of Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority as they hide from the Islamists who call them “devil worshippers” and will kill them if they try to return to their homes. […]
David Cameron has insisted the world must help the Yazidis in their “hour of desperate need”, as he backed US airstrikes to protect them – but ruled out UK military action, while condemning the “barbaric attacks” by IS.

24. Turkey Vows it is Behind Erbil as Western Support Begins to Surge
7 August / Rudaw
Deputy head of Turkey’s ruling party, Huseyin Celik vowed that Ankara would do all it could for the Kurdistan Region, the same day a newspaper reported that Turkish jets were over Iraqi Kurdistan.
“As a strategic neighbor the stability and security of the Kurdistan Region is important to Turkey and to keep that stability Turkey will do whatever falls on its shoulders,” Celik vowed on Thursday.

25. Thousands of Yezidis massacred in Sinjar
8 August / ANF News
Dimensions of the massacres committed by ISIS gangs in the South Kurdistan city of Sinjar are emerging more clearly as more fearful reports of deaths are coming through from the city.
At least three thousand people have been killed, five thousand abducted and 300 children and elders have died of hunger since the city was occupied by gangs on 3 August .

26. Sinjar refugees: If it wasn’t for the guerrillas…
7 August / ANF News
When the town of Sinjar fell into the hands of the barbarians of ISIS on 3 August, tens of thousands of people fled in terror. According to the UN around 200,000 people left their homes. Fear and worry were etched on the faces of those heading for the mountains, and more secure areas such as West Kurdistan, under the burning sun.

27. Rudaw Reporter: Death Toll on Shingal Mountain Rising by the Minute
Rudaw / 6 August
The death toll among thousands of Yezidi civilians on Shingal mountain is rising every minute, says Rudaw reporter, with dead bodies lying everywhere among the rocks.
“The children and elderly who have died are so many that they cannot be counted,” said Barakat Issa, Rudaw reporter. “In the past four days I have witnessed the death of many.”

28. HPG and YJA STAR guerrillas on their way to Sinjar
5 August / ANF News
HPG (People’s Defense Forces) and Women’s Guerrilla Army YJA Star (Free Women’s Troops) forces have mobilized to go to Sinjar for the protection of civilians from ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) gangs after PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) Executive Committee Member Murat Karayılan said in an interview to Stêrk TV on 4 August that guerrilla forces will respond to the attacks on the people of Sinjar.

29. Kurds unite to fight militants, rescue 30,000 Yazidi civilians
7 August / Middle East Eye
Kurds from Iraq, Syria and Turkey attempted to reclaim areas lost miltants in northern Iraq on Wednesday and rescue over 30,000 of mostly Yazidi civilians stranded in mountains without food or water.
The civilians fled to the Sinjar mountains after an attack by the Islamic State (IS) group over the weekend, which led to the deaths of as many as 500 people from Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority, according to a Yazidi lawmaker.

30. Syrian-Kurdish militias fight IS after Peshmerga fighters’ retreat
8 August / Alakhbar
More than 8,000 Iraqi families have crossed the border with Syria to escape the massacres being committed by radical jihadi group the Islamic State (IS). The Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) seems to have stepped in to cover the retreat of the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces from the area. The YPG has protected civilians as they fled to safety, while establishing new posts in Iraqi border areas to help fight the extremist onslaught that is now also threatening the villages of the Yazidi minority in Iraq.

31. Kurds continue to battle ISIS near Aleppo
1 August / Albawaba
A fierce battle between Syrian Kurds and ISIS militants in rural Aleppo province has killed nearly 50 fighters from both sides as the Kurds seized several ISIS positions, an anti-regime monitoring group said Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Nusra Front, the official Al-Qaeda franchise in Syria and bitter rival of ISIS, has seized territory in northwest Idlib also along the border with Turkey from local rebel groups

32. Syria Kurds battle jihadists killing nearly 50
31 July / Middle-East online
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”.

33. NGO Report: Syria Kurdish/ Jihadist battle kills 49
31 July / Breitbart
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”.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

34. ISIS Consolidates
August / London Review of Books
As the attention of the world focused on Ukraine and Gaza, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) captured a third of Syria in addition to the quarter of Iraq it had seized in June. The frontiers of the new Caliphate declared by Isis on 29 June are expanding by the day and now cover an area larger than Great Britain and inhabited by at least six million people, a population larger than that of Denmark, Finland or Ireland. In a few weeks of fighting in Syria Isis has established itself as the dominant force in the Syrian opposition, routing the official al-Qaida affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra, in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor and executing its local commander as he tried to flee.

35. Turkey’s political system under an Erdogan presidency
1 August / Open Democracy
On 1 July, Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party finally nominated its candidate for the upcoming presidential elections. The nomination of head of the party and head of government Recep Tyyip Erdogan was no surprise to either Turkish society or foreign observers. If Erdogan is elected, what does the future hold for Turkey, what kind of transformations might its political system undergo, and what implications will it have for Turkey’s democracy?

36. Special Report : The doubt at the heart of Iraq’s Sunni ‘revolution’
4 August / Reuters
Sheikh Ali Hatem Suleiman, one of the leaders of the Sunni revolt against the Shi’ite-led government of Iraq, sat cross-legged on a couch last month, lit another Marlboro Red, and discussed the struggle with visitors from his home city of Ramadi, where the uprising began late last year.
Instead of taking delight in the rebellion’s progress, though, the 43-year-old crown prince began lamenting the fact that Iraq’s patchwork quilt of ethnicities and religions was being torn apart. “How do we guard what we still have?” he asked his visitors.

37. ISIS Governance in Syria
July / ISW
The Islamic State’s June 2014 announcement of a “caliphate” is not empty rhetoric. In fact, the idea of the caliphate that rests within a controlled territory is a core part of ISIS’s political vision. The ISIS grand strategy to realize this vision involves first establishing control of terrain through military conquest and then reinforcing this control through governance. This grand strategy proceeds in phases that have been laid out by ISIS itself in its publications, and elaborates a vision that it hopes will attract both fighters and citizens to its nascent state. The declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria, however, raises the question: can ISIS govern?

38. The Deir Al Zour Intifada against Daesh
4 August / Leilashrooms
Syrians have repeatedly shown that they refuse to accept the tyrannies of either Bashar Al Assad or any extremist group that tries to impose its vision upon them. In the last couple of months, strengthened by American and Iraqi army weapons captured in Iraq, the Islamic State (formally ISIS and known locally as Daesh) has made dramatic gains in north and eastern Syria. Where it has gone it has imposed its hate-filled, reactionary interpretation of Islamic Law and severe restrictions on local people, committed sectarian massacres and other atrocities such as crucifixions and beheadings, and assassinated and imprisoned revolutionaries. But in the eastern province of Deir Al Zour, close to the Iraqi border, local popular resistance is now doing what the Syrian regime and American-funded Iraqi army failed to do; it is forcing Daesh out.

39. Timeline of ISIS in Mosul
29 July / AINA News
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) captured the city of Mosul, Iraq on June 10. Almost immediately thereafter it began to drive Assyrians out of Mosul and destroy Christian and non-Sunni institutions

40. Salih Muslim Speaks To Yeni Özgür Politika On ISIS Attacks In Sınjar
7 August / The Rojava report
PYD co-President Salih Muslim has given an interview to M. Ali Çelebi of Yeni Özgür Politika on the recent Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) attacks in Sinjar (Kurdish: Şengal). Muslim told the paper that ISIS and its foreign backers were implementing “Plan B” following their failure to capture Rojava.

41. Tyrant or steadying hand?
9 August / The Economist
ON A rainy Sunday evening Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was delivering a fiery speech full of references to the glories of Islam and Turkey’s Ottoman past when a woman on a stretcher was lifted to the podium. He knelt down, took her hand and offered comfort. “Allahu akbar [Allah is great],” she screamed. A sea of supporters, waving Palestinian and Turkish flags, went wild. These scenes at a recent rally in Istanbul have been repeated across Turkey as Mr Erdogan campaigns to become the country’s first popularly elected president.

STATEMENTS

42. Call for Urgent Prevention of Human Tragedy in Sinjar Region
4 August / KNK Statement

43. PYD co-chair calls for urgent assistance from international community
6 August / PYD Statement

44. 65 civil society organisations from South Kurdistan sign appeal for Kobane
5 August / Peace in Kurdistan
45. EUTCC statement on ISIS
5 August / EUTCC statement

46. We support Demirtas – the only candidate for change for Kurds and all in Turkey
8 August / Peace in Kurdistan Campaign Statement

Peace in Kurdistan
Campaign for a political solution of the Kurdish Question
Email: estella24@tiscali.co.uk
http://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com
Contacts Estella Schmid 020 7586 5892 & Melanie Sirinathsingh – Tel: 020 7272 7890
Fax: 020 7263 0596
________________________________________
Patrons: Lord Avebury, Lord Rea, Lord Dholakia, Baroness Sarah Ludford, Jill Evans MEP, Jean Lambert MEP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Hywel Williams MP, Elfyn Llwyd MP, Conor Murphy MP, John Austin, Bruce Kent, Gareth Peirce, Julie Christie, Noam Chomsky, John Berger, Edward Albee, Margaret Owen OBE, Prof Mary Davis, Mark Thomas, Nick Hildyard, Stephen Smellie

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