KURDISH WEEKLY NEWS BRIEFING, 9 – 15 August 2014

NEWS
1. Presidential candidates in Turkey able to campaign freely, but playing field not level, say international observers
2. Kurdish self-confidence gets a boost from polls
3. Striking success of HDP in election
4. KCK: HDP faces a historic responsibility
5. Islamic State extremists deliver ultimatum to trapped Yazidis: ‘Convert today – or die’
6. 700 Yezidi women put on sale by ISIS
7. While their own country is torn apart by war, Syrians are giving aid to Yazidis
8. Jelpke: PKK, not US planes, saved tens of thousands


9. YPG and PKK Forces: The Unsung Heroes of the War Against the “Islamic State”
10. 15,000 Izadi Kurds find refuge in north Syria: UNHCR
11. Armenia to Send Aid to Iraqi Yezidis
12. Maxmur area entirely cleansed of gangs
13. Yezidî elder: Come back and join the resistance
14. Kurds mobilise to fight Islamic State
15. In Turkey, a late crackdown on Islamist fighters
16. Islamic State militants threaten Turkey with violence if Euphrates water supply not restored
17. UK to deploy Tornado jets in Iraq for surveillance after Sinjar air drop fails
18. John Kerry insists any US moves in Iraq will not involve combat troops
19. Iraq: US plans rescue mission for besieged Yazidi refugees
20. EU ministers seek unity on arming Iraqi Kurdistan
21. Isis makes further advances in Syria while West vacillates over Iraq
22. Turkey played part in Islamic State’s success, commander says
23. RSF calls for an investigation into Deniz Fırat’s death
24. Iraq’s Maliki concedes defeat, backs PM designate
25. US firm says won’t take disputed Kurdish crude
26. Turkey ‘urges’ US to permit KRG oil sales

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS
27. How Kurdish Militias Have Successfully Fought Off the Islamic State
28. PKK-HPG commander tells BBC: We are much better experienced than the Islamic State
29. ISIS: Armed and dangerous
30. A Kurdish comeback
31. Kurds display self-reliance and unity in the midst of world apathy
32. The KRG should accept responsibility for the current calamity in Kurdistan
33. Another war in Iraq won’t fix the disaster of the last
34. Socialism, gender equality and social ecology in the mountains of Kurdistan
35. Reconquering Iraq and Syria
36. Syria’s Kurds benefit from the crisis?
37. To fix Iraq, don’t lose sight of Syria
38. Europe desperately seeking answers on Iraq
39. Crisis in the Middle East: The end of a country, and the start of a new dark age
40. The Iraq-ISIS Conflict in Maps, Photos and Video
41. The PKK’s Evolution, 30 Years On

REPORTS
42. ISIS attacks and Kurdish resistance in Kurdistan
43. International election observation mission

STATEMENTS
44. KCK: “We salute our people’s resistance
45. HDP: Humanitarian crisis in Shengal, Maxmur and Rojava
46. Call for aid at Newroz Campa in Rojava

ACTIONS
47. Write to your MP! ‘Action on the threat from ISIS’

NEWS

1. Presidential candidates in Turkey able to campaign freely, but playing field not level, say international observers
11 August / PACE
Three candidates, representing different political positions, were generally able to campaign freely, and freedoms of assembly and association were respected in the 10 August presidential election in Turkey, international election observers said in a statement issued today. However, the Prime Minister’s use of his official position, along with biased media coverage, gave him a distinct advantage over the other candidates.

2. Kurdish self-confidence gets a boost from polls
12 August / DW
The Kurdish candidate’s good showing in Turkey’s presidential elections has given Turkish Kurds a boost. Selahattin Demirtas’ party could develop into a real alternative to the unsuccessful Turkish opposition.

3. Striking success of HDP in election
11 August / ANF News
Despite the usual chicanery and oppression that occurs during every election in Turkey, the people’s candidate, Selahattin Demirtaş, obtained 9.8 % of the vote in yesterday’s Presidential election. This marked a more than 50% increase on the 6.1% vote achieved at the local elections on 30 March. For the first time in Turkey the President was elected by the people, instead of being selected by parliament.

4. KCK: HDP faces a historic responsibility
12 August / ANF News
Releasing a statement about the Presidential election held in Turkey and North Kurdistan on 10 August, KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) congratulated the HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) in the person of its candidate Selahattin Demirtal on the success achieved across the country. KCK underlined that the HDP faces now a historic responsibility and should continue to work more determinedly from now on because of the fact that the HDP project has succeeded and approved by the people.

5. Islamic State extremists deliver ultimatum to trapped Yazidis: ‘Convert today – or die’
10 August / The Telegraph
Hundreds of terrified families belonging to the besieged Yazidi sect have reportedly been threatened with execution if they refuse to convert to Islam today, according to reports.

6. 700 Yezidi women put on sale by ISIS
15 August / ANF News
A Christian priest in Ninova province, Enis Hana El Demniki, said that the barbaric inhuman terrorist organisation ISIS had taken 700 Yezidi women to market in Mosul to sell them.
Speaking to Al Arabia TV, Christian priest Enis Hana El Demniki stated that the ISIS gangs are a serious threat to the region and that many families had been displaced from their homes.

7. While their own country is torn apart by war, Syrians are giving aid to Yazidis
14 August / Huffington post
Fleeing approaching Islamic State militants, tens of thousands of members of the Yazidi community in Iraq have found refuge in an unlikely place — war-torn Syria.
The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) said Thursday that at least 15,000 Yazidi refugees are sheltering in Syria’s Kurdish north, after fleeing from Iraq in early August when the Islamic State captured Yazidi towns.

8. Jelpke: PKK, not US planes, saved tens of thousands
11 August / kurdishquestion
German Left Party (Die Linke) MP Ulla Jelpke, who is in Rojava, said that the PKK was ‘a guarantee of life’ for Yezidis and Christians in South Kurdistan and Iraq. Jelpke recalled that while the PKK is on EU and US ‘terror lists’, ISIS terrorists had carried out attacks in Syria using NATO member Turkey’s territory.

9. YPG and PKK Forces: The Unsung Heroes of the War Against the “Islamic State”
12 August / revolution news
The Islamic State’s (IS) fascist agenda regarding Iraq’sYezidi population was not a secret to anyone. Yet the Peshmerga forces of Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) president, Massoud Barzani, who had promised the Yezidis of Sinjar and surrounding areas protection, abandoned them without warning after being attacked, leaving them to their fate at the hands of the IS.

10. 15,000 Izadi Kurds find refuge in north Syria: UNHCR
15 August / Press TV
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Thursday that an estimated 15,000 Izadi Kurd refugees have taken shelter in the Kurdish regions of northern Syria.
The UNHCR also said it is working with local NGOs and other UN partners to provide humanitarian assistance to the displaced Iraqi Kurds who are staying in the Newroz camp in the al-Qamishli district of Syria’s al-Hasakah Province.

11. Armenia to Send Aid to Iraqi Yezidis
13 August / Asbarez
Responding to appeals from leaders of Armenia’s Yezidi community, the Armenian government has decided to provide humanitarian assistance to their ethnic kin in northern Iraq that have been forced to flee for their lives in the face of advancing Islamist militants.
One of those leaders said on Wednesday that the government will allocate food aid worth $50,000. The Armenian Foreign Ministry confirmed this information.

12. Maxmur area entirely cleansed of gangs
11 August / ANF News
The Maxmur (Makhmour) Resistance Forces yesterday recaptured the town of Maxmur and surrounding villages from ISIS gangs following a counter attack.
While weapons and ammunition abandoned by the gangs was collected, residents began to return to their homes.

13. Yezidî elder: Come back and join the resistance
12 August / ANF News
Bedel Khalef Qasim, a Yezidi elder who has joined the Sinjar Resistance Units to fight against the attacks of the ISIS gangs, said only the Kurdish Freedom movement had supported them. He called on all Yezidis, saying: “it is shameful for us to throw ourselves on the mercy of the whole world. I say to the Yezidis that this place is our tomb, our honour and our dignity. Foreign places cannot help us. Come back and join the resistance units.”

14. Kurds mobilise to fight Islamic State
14 August / greenleft
The Kurdish people are facing an unprecedented challenge. Across a vast swathe of northern Syria and Iraq, the region’s Kurds are locked in a desperate and heroic struggle with the genocidal forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS).

15. In Turkey, a late crackdown on Islamist fighters
12 August / Washington Post
Before their blitz into Iraq earned them the title of the Middle East’s most feared insurgency, the jihadists of the Islamic State treated this Turkish town near the Syrian border as their own personal shopping mall.

16. Islamic State militants threaten Turkey with violence if Euphrates water supply not restored
11 August / RT
Islamic State militants have directly threatened Turkey with violence as they swore to “liberate” Istanbul in order to reopen a dam on the Euphrates River. Water flow to parts of Syria and Iraq is at a record low.
The apparent closure is especially unfavorable to the terrorist group, as its new ‘capital’ Raqqa, in northern Syria, is in that zone. This is creating a humanitarian catastrophe as water levels plummet in nearby Lake Assad.

17. UK to deploy Tornado jets in Iraq for surveillance after Sinjar air drop fails
11 August / The Guardian
Britain is deploying RAF Tornado jets to provide greater surveillance of northern Iraq after being forced to abort two attempts to drop aid for Yazidi refugees on Mount Sinjar amid fears that the cargo could have injured people on the ground.
Amid growing calls for a recall of parliament to allow Britain to join the US in launching air strikes against forces from the Islamic State (Isis), Downing Street announced an intensification of British involvement with the deployment of the Tornadoes to the region.

18. John Kerry insists any US moves in Iraq will not involve combat troops
12 August / The Guardian
US combat forces will not re-enter Iraq, John Kerry insists, but the US says it will explore more “political, economic and security options” as the country transitions out of political deadlock with a new prime minister.
During a visit to Australia for the annual Ausmin talks, the secretary of state told reporters the US government congratulated Haider al-Abadi on his nomination, and he urged the incoming prime minister to form a new, inclusive and functional cabinet “as swiftly as possible”.

19. Iraq: US plans rescue mission for besieged Yazidi refugees
11 August / The Guardian
At least half of the 40,000 people besieged by jihadists on a mountaintop in northern Iraq have escaped in the past 24 hours, aided by Kurdish rebels who crossed from Syria to rescue them.
The refugees, all members of the Yazidi sect, began streaming back into Iraqi Kurdistan after a perilous journey past Islamic State militants who had vowed to kill them and had surrounded their hideout on Mount Sinjar after storming the area early last Sunday.

20. EU ministers seek unity on arming Iraqi Kurdistan
15 August / eKurd
EU ministers convene in Brussels on Friday in a rare summertime meeting to seek unanimous approval for the shipment of arms to Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State jihadists.

21. Isis makes further advances in Syria while West vacillates over Iraq
14 August / The Independent
As the West dithers about how to respond to the plight of Christians and Yazidis fleeing fundamentalist gunmen, the fighters of Isis, which calls itself Islamic State, are making important gains hundreds of miles away in Syria.
In the last two days they have taken the towns of Turkmen Bareh and Akhtarin 30 miles from Aleppo, enabling them to take over the strategically valuable country on the way to the Turkish border. The Isis offensive started on Tuesday, reinforcing the position of the movement as the dominant force in the military opposition to President Bashar al-Assad. Isis already controls one-third of Syria, including most of its oil wells, while Sunni rebel groups hostile to Isis are fleeing, disintegrating or joining the victors.

22. Turkey played part in Islamic State’s success, commander says
15 August / Hurriyet
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), recently renamed has Turkey to thank for growing strong enough to conquer large swathes of Syria and Iraq, one of its commanders has suggested in an interview with the Washington Post published on Aug. 12.

23. RSF calls for an investigation into Deniz Fırat’s death
12 August / ANF News
As the United States began air strikes in support of Iraqi Kurdistan’s attempts to resist the Islamic State’s advance in northern Iraq, a Turkish journalist of Kurdish origin was killed during clashes between Kurdish and Islamic State forces in Makhmour refugee camp, 40 km southwest of Erbil, on 8 August, said Reporters Without Borders in a statement released on Monday.

24. Iraq’s Maliki concedes defeat, backs PM designate
15 August / eKurd
Iraq’s divisive premier Nuri al-Maliki dropped his bid to stay in power Thursday, bowing to huge domestic and international pressure as a jihadist-led offensive threatens to tear the country apart.

25. US firm says won’t take disputed Kurdish crude
12 August / Hurriyet
U.S. refiner Axeon Specialty Products will not buy or accept delivery of any cargoes of disputed Kurdish crude oil for its Paulsboro, New Jersey, refinery, according to a company news release received Aug. 11.
The tanker Minerva Joy, loaded with an estimated 300,000 barrels of Kurdish crude at the Turkish port of Dörtyol, arrived to Paulsboro on Aug. 11 as scheduled, but it has not been unloaded and is currently anchored, according to Reuters tracking data.

26. Turkey ‘urges’ US to permit KRG oil sales
14 August 2014 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
Ankara has called on Washington to permit Iraqi Kurdish oil sales to support them in their battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, Financial Times (FT) reported on Aug. 14. “This is urgent: Isis is now selling its oil, but the Kurds are not allowed to sell their oil,” the Turkish official told the Financial Times, referring to oilfields captured by the jihadist group in eastern Syria and around the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. According to the FT report, the official claimed ISIL was selling cut-price oil to the Syrian government and compared those sales with the legal obstacles faced by KRG exports.

COMMENT, OPINION AND ANALYSIS

27. How Kurdish Militias Have Successfully Fought Off the Islamic State
15 August 2014 / Vice
As the Islamic State has continued its shocking military advances throughout Syria and Iraq recently, much has been written about its seemingly unstoppable battle capabilities. But there’s one force that has scored a number of successes against its forces: the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG.
Though originally linked to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the most powerful Kurdish political party in Syria, the YPG is now seen as the armed force of all of Syrian Kurdistan. The PYD is also affiliated with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, or PKK, a group classified as terrorists by the US, the EU and Turkey, among others.

28. PKK-HPG commander tells BBC: We are much better experienced than the Islamic State
14 August / BBC (via Soundcloud)
In the last week we’ve been reporting how the Iraqi-Kurdish peshmerga militia in northern Iraq have struggled to hold ground in the face of the attacks by Islamic State. But reinforcements have arrived in the form of other Kurdish fighters from across the border, the PKK.

29. ISIS: Armed and dangerous
14 August / Financial Times
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as Isis but transformed into the Islamic State since it declared its caliphate at the end of June, has turned into a strategic threat of the first magnitude, writes David Gardner. What looked like a black-shirted horde of jihadi fanatics, taking opportune advantage of a demoralised army in a dismembered Iraq, is a movement of a qualitatively higher order than al-Qaeda, dwarfing anything the followers of Osama bin Laden were able to throw at the Middle East and the world.

30. A Kurdish comeback
11 August / Foreign Policy
Ali Sulaiman Abdullah rests on a concrete bench outside a small, run-down building in the foothills of Mount Qarachukh in northeastern Iraq. His khaki uniform, the baggy suit that Kurdish warriors traditionally wear, is stained with sweat and dirt. After a long day trying to defend Kurdistan from the Islamic State’s onslaught, Abdullah needs a break.
The 700 troops under Abdullah’s command have been battling the Islamic State for three days as the jihadists have advanced closer and closer to Erbil, the heart of Iraqi Kurdistan. This battalion is just one small part of the thousands of Kurdish forces currently fighting the Islamic State on nearly a dozen fronts in five provinces.

31. Kurds display self-reliance and unity in the midst of world apathy
15 August / TamilNet
During the course of the siege and following the takeover of the City of Sinjar in Southern Kurdistan by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), coordinated policies of eradicating the Yazidi and the Kurdish population were unleashed, forcing a mass exodus of people from the city of 300000 towards the inhospitable mountains adjoining the city. However, Kurdish forces from other parts of Kurdistan have displayed a historic and phenomenal cooperation in coordinating the Kurdish national resistance.

32. The KRG should accept responsibility for the current calamity in Kurdistan
10 August / eKurd
The defeat of Kurdish forces at the hand of a terrorist group sent a shockwave through Kurdistan. It caused the exodus of tens of thousands of Kurdistanis, many deaths, countless rapes and pillages. This cannot be considered as an ordinary defeat or a tactical withdrawal. It has far reaching implications for the Kurds and their image in Kurdistan and beyond.

33. Another war in Iraq won’t fix the disaster of the last
13 August / The Guardian
They couldn’t keep away. Barely two years after US forces were withdrawn from Iraq, they’re back in action. Barack Obama has now become the fourth US president in a row to launch military action in Iraq.
We’re now into the sixth day of US air attacks on the self-styled Islamic State, formerly known as Isis – the sectarian fundamentalists who have taken over vast tracts of Sunni Iraq and are carrying out vicious ethnic cleansing against minorities in the north.

34. Socialism, gender equality and social ecology in the mountains of Kurdistan
August / Kurdish Question
In the PKK controlled areas of Kurdistan (an area roughly the size of Switzerland, at the intersection of the borders between Iraq, Iran and Turkey) the Kurdistan Freedom Movement is implementing its proposed system of social organisation which it believes will lead to societal emancipation. Although this geography falls within the political borders of the Kurdistan Regional Government, since 2001 the PKK has (militarily and diplomatically) afforded itself an area in which it is able to realise its “utopia”.

35. Reconquering Iraq and Syria
10 August / Todays Zaman
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has proven to be a successful military machine as its militants have conquered large territories in quite a short time and pushed tens of thousands people — Kurds, Turkmens, Chaldeans, Shiites and Yazidis — to leave their homes and seek refuge in neighboring areas.

36. Syria’s Kurds benefit from the crisis?
10 August / BBC
In any assessment of the potential winners and losers from the political chaos in Syria, the country’s Kurdish minority could be among the winners.
The Kurds make up a little over 10% of the population. Long marginalised by the Alawite-dominated government, they are largely concentrated in north-eastern Syria, up towards the Turkish border.

37. To fix Iraq, don’t lose sight of Syria
13 August / ECFR
The designation of Haider al-Abadi as the new prime minister of Iraq is a significant step towards opposing the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq if his premiership can be secured and fulfils the potential to create an urgently needed cross-sectarian coalition against the jihadist group.
However, a fundamental ingredient is still missing in shaping a coherent – though challenging – strategy for targeting IS in Iraq. That is a concurrent strategy to deal with its presence in Syria. Without a policy to defeat IS in Syria, any approach in Iraq is doomed to failure.

38. Europe desperately seeking answers on Iraq
14 August / Deutsche Welle
Rightly, Europe remains hesitant about moving in military support of Baghdad given its continued inability to establish an inclusive government that addresses the fundamental political grievances that have enabled the “Islamic State” (IS) militant group’s rise.
But armed support for the Kurds to defend the hitherto stable region, now under imminent threat from IS, and provide some urgent humanitarian cover, represents a far narrower and immediately attainable mission. Critically, and unlike in Syria, where the West has struggled for three years to find a reliable address to which it can deliver armed assistance, the Kurdish regional government and peshmerga [Kurdish fighters – the ed.] represent a dependable and long-standing partner with whom Europe feels confident it can engage militarily.

39. Crisis in the Middle East: The end of a country, and the start of a new dark age
10 August / The Independent
Iraq has disintegrated. Little is exchanged between its three great communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurd – except gunfire. The outside world hopes that a more inclusive government will change this but it is probably too late.
The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them. Iraq is facing a civil war that could be as bloody as anything that we have seen in Syria and could go on for years.

40. The Iraq-ISIS Conflict in Maps, Photos and Video
14 August / NYtimes
The United Nations estimates that militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria have forced nearly 180,000 families — or more than a million people — from their homes in Iraq. The exodus roughly breaks down into three phases.

41. The PKK’s Evolution, 30 Years On
15 August / Rudaw
Today, as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) marks the 30th anniversary of the day it began its armed struggle for Kurdish rights in Turkey, the powerful group has little resemblance to its younger self.
What began as a guerrilla movement against Turkish repression of its estimated 15 million Kurds has transformed into a formidable force: in Turkey the PKK is engaged in a peace process with the government and in Syria its affiliates hold sway over the Kurdish regions (Rojava), where they have declared autonomy.

REPORTS

42. ISIS attacks and Kurdish resistance in Kurdistan
11 August / KNK
In this dossier we wish to share with you important about the ongoing war in Syria and Iraq. As you will gather from this information there is a great war happening in the Middle East and especially throughout Kurdistan. This report also shows that the terrorists of ISIS are carrying out a wholesale massacre against the Kurdish people and other ethnic and religious groups (Shia, Christian, Ezidi etc.) in the region. Kurds are engaged in a legitimate war of self-defence to put an end to this dirty war against humanity. They are fighting ISIS with limited arms and military technology and only have their willpower and the support of the people. The tragedy is that Kurds have been left alone in this war which threatens all of humanity. Despite this the Kurds are resolute in resisting.

43. International election observation mission
Republic of Turkey – Presidential Election, 10 August 2014
11 August / OSCE
The 10 August presidential election presented Turkish voters with an important opportunity to directly choose their president for the first time. Three candidates, representing different political positions, were generally able to campaign freely. Freedoms of assembly and association were respected. However, the use of official position by the Prime Minister as well as biased media coverage gave him a distinct advantage over the other candidates. Direct debates among candidates would have brought more balance and been an opportunity to further engage in a dialogue on key issues facing Turkey.

STATEMENTS

44. KCK: “We salute our people’s resistance”
14 August / Peace in Kurdistan
On the 14th of August 2007, our Yazidi people in the Shiba and Shex Khidir villages of Shingal suffered a bloodthirsty massacre in which 450 of Yazidi Kurds lost their lives. We vehemently condemn the perpetrators of this massacre and remember with respect the victims of the massacre.

45. HDP: Humanitarian crisis in Shengal, Maxmur and Rojava
14 August / Peace in Kurdistan
Since the Civil War in Syria, ISIS (Iraq and Sham Islamic State) has been caused a large scale tragedy in Syria, Iraq and Kurdistan. Millions of civilians had to flee from the ISIS invasions. Tens of thousands civilians were victims of the mass ISIS executions.

46. Call for aid at Newroz Campa in Rojava
15 August / Peace in Kurdistan
We are calling for all international organizations, human rights bodies, civil society organizations, United Nations bodies, the League of the Arab States, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, all humanitarian relief organizations, the international charity organizations, we are calling on all of them to stand with us, support us and live up to their humanitarian obligations and provide relief for the Yezidi people.

ACTIONS

47. Write to your MP! ‘Action on the threat from ISIS’
For the first time in two years, the vast humanitarian crisis caused by the brutality of ISIS against the Kurds has been thrust into the public eye, forcing the UK to make some critical decisions about how to act. This is in an opportunity to influence how government makes those decisions. We’ve drafted a model letter which you can use to send to your local MP. You can simply add the date and sign it, or you can use this as a guide to write you own

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