KURDISH NEWS WEEKLY BRIEFING, 7 – 13 February 2015

NEWS
1. Kurdish women commander welcomed by French President
2. PYD Co-Chair Abdullah: National Forces Should Establish A Security Corridor In Rojava
3. VIDEO: YPG, PYD conference Paris
4. PHOTOS: Syrians begin returning home after Kurdish forces recapture Kobane
5. Sisters in arms: Kurdish women in front line against IS
6. Syria Kurdish forces eye new border town
7. Kurds praise cooperation with rebels
8. UN envoy says Assad is part of the solution
9. Gov’t-HDP talks intensify on eve of possible start of Kurdish negotiations
10. KCK Co-Chair Cemil Bayik: Those Who Do Not Know How To Develop Alliances Can Create Neither Democracy Nor Revolution!
11. Roundup: Turkey’s peace process with Kurds gets complicated: analysts
12. 10 million 328 thousand signatures for Öcalan’s freedom
13. ‘We are marching to Strasbourg with millions of Kurdish signatures’
14. Gysi: Öcalan is a symbol and should be released

COMMENT. OPINION AND ANALYSIS
15. Turkey and its Kurds: Dreams of self-rule
16. French President-Kurdish PYD meeting challenges Turkey’s Erdogan
17. The Experiments of Rojava and Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) for launching the social revolution left no doubt it has to start from building the local groups
18. Victory in Kobane
19. Can the Revolution in Kurdish Syria succeed?
20. What’s Behind the Kurdish-Arab Clashes in East Syria?
21. Call to a New Life: HDP on eve of general elections
22. Why has Davutoğlu stolen Hakan Fidan from Erdoğan?
23. Vian Dakhil: Iraq’s only female Yazidi MP on the battle to save her people
24. The most important thing in the Middle East that no one is talking about
25. Middle Eastern Politics through the prism of IS: A brief assessment
26. The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State
27. Why Jordan is Islamic State’s next target
28. Surveillance, Targeting And The Criminalisation Of Kurds In The UK

STATEMENTS
29. Solidarity message on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of Abdullah Öcalan’s abduction and the events on the worldwide signature campaign on 13 and 14 February 2015 in Strasbourg, France

PRESS RELEASES
30. International Initiative:10.3 Million Signatures for Peace and Freedom for Öcalan

REPORTS
31. Washington Institute, Policy Focus 138: The Shiite Jihad in Syria and its regional effects

BOOK REVIEWS
32. J.K. Gani’s “The Role of Ideology in Syrian-US Relations” — Reviewed by Julio Rivera

EVENTS

See our Events page

NEWS

1. Kurdish women commander welcomed by French President
10 February 2015 / MED
After Kurdish forces` victory in Kobane against the isis brutality, Nasrin Abdullah, commander of the Kurdish Women`s Protection Units (YPJ) from Kobani and Asya Abdulla, the co-chair of the Kurdish Democratic Patriotic Union (PYD) were welcomed by French president Francois Hollande in Elysee Palace in Paris. The two ladies were accompanied by Khaled Issa, representative of PYD in France. Hollande congratulated the Kurdish leaders for winning back Kobani from the isis terrorists. Kurdish Peshmergas from Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) played also a important role in liberation of Kobani.

2. PYD Co-Chair Abdullah: National Forces Should Establish A Security Corridor In Rojava
10 February 2015 / Kurdish Question
PYD co-chair Asya Abdullah, speaking in Paris, said that 408 YPG/YPJ guerrillas had fallen in the struggle to liberate Kobanê, while 4,900 ISIS gang members had been killed. Abdullah added that national forces should be engaged in work to set up a security corridor in Rojava. Anne-Marie Lizin, from the Belgian Senate, demanded the PKK be removed from the ‘terror list’. PYD co-chairs Asya Abdullah and Salih Muslim, YPJ commander Nesrin Abdullah and PYD Paris representative Xalit Isa were amongst participants at a conference organised in the tenth Arrondissement (municipality) in Paris.

3. VIDEO: YPG, PYD conference Paris
10 February 2015 / YouTube
On Monday eventing in Paris, and for the first time in France, Nasrin Abdalla, Commander of YPJ (Women’s Protection Unit that fought in the front line against Daesh) spoke at a large a public meeting celebrating the victory in Kobane. She was joined by Aysa Abdullah, co-chair of the PYD, Saleh Muslim, co-chairman of the PYD, from Rojava, northern Syria. The meeting also included speeches by Khaled Issa, PYD representative in France, and representatives and friends of the Kurdish Democratic Council of France.

4. PHOTOS: Syrians begin returning home after Kurdish forces recapture Kobane
13 February 2015 / Hurriyet

5. Sisters in arms: Kurdish women in front line against IS
11 February 2015 / Yahoo News
Meet Nassrin Abdallah. With her diminutive height and broad smile, it doesn’t seem like she should strike fear into the hearts of hardened Islamic State jihadists. But this 36-year-old Syrian Kurd woman has been at the tip of the spear of the Kurdish forces that last month liberated the symbolic city of Kobane from IS militants. “In Kobane, women were fighting on all fronts, in all the trenches against a brutal enemy,” she told cheering crowds during a visit to Paris this week.

6. Syria Kurdish forces eye new border town
10 February 2015 / Middle East Online
Syrian Kurdish forces have set their sights on taking back from jihadists Tal Abyad, another strategic town on the border with Turkey, after recapturing Kobane, a monitor said Monday. Tal Abyad, located about 65 kilometres (40 miles) east of Kobane, is an Arab and Kurd town in the Syrian province of Raqa used by jihadists of the Islamic State group to cross into Turkey. The Sunni extremist IS seized Tal Abyad from Kurdish and rebel combatants who have been fighting to oust the regime of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad since 2011.

7. Kurds praise cooperation with rebels
12 February 2015 / Daily Star
For Kurdish fighters, last month’s victory over ISIS militants in the town of Ain al-Arab in northern Syria was only the beginning. Their ambition is to build on an alliance with moderate rebels in Syria and become the chief force fighting the extremists in the country. Its commanders say such an alliance could be just the partner that the West has been seeking all along in the battle against ISIS, which began its rise in 2013 and now holds a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

8. UN envoy says Assad is part of the solution
13 February 2015 / Middle East Online
Any peaceful solution to the fighting in Syria must involve President Bashar al-Assad, the United Nations envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura said Friday. “President Assad is part of the solution,” de Mistura told a joint press conference with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in Vienna. “I will continue to have very important discussions with him,” he added, noting that “the only solution is a political solution.” De Mistura, who was in Damascus this week where he met with Assad, is due to deliver a report on his mission to the UN Security Council on February 17.

9. Gov’t-HDP talks intensify on eve of possible start of Kurdish negotiations
13 February 2015 / Journal of Turkish Weekly
With the traffic in Ankara getting busier on the eve of an expected declaration that the talks between the government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) have shifted into formal negotiations, Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan, a key name in the talks, met on Feb. 12 with a member of the team visiting the jailed leader of the outlawed organization.  After the meeting, Akdoğan told reporters that the parliamentary debate on a controversial draft security bill, which has been strongly reacted against by all opposition parties, has again been suspended.

10. KCK Co-Chair Cemil Bayik: Those Who Do Not Know How To Develop Alliances Can Create Neither Democracy Nor Revolution!
Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) executive committee co-chair Cemil Bayik gave important messages regarding the upcoming elections in Turkey, in a piece published in Kurdish daily newspaper Azadiya Welat recently. Bayik said the results of the general election would determine the future of Turkey and called it the ‘most important general election in Turkey’s history.’ ‘Either the AKP and CHP’s mutual oligarchic party system will continue or there will be a move outside of this system,’ stated Bayik, with this move being the alliance of all revolutionary democratic forces in the country under the banner of the HDP.

11. Roundup: Turkey’s peace process with Kurds gets complicated: analysts
10 February 2015 / Global Post
Turkey’s settlement process launched at the end of 2012 to solve the country’s longtime Kurdish problem became complicated with the upcoming elections and a new draft security bill submitted to the Parliament, analysts said. “There are four months left until Turkish parliamentary elections, and one baffling issue is what the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) is up to,” political observer Yavuz Baydar said.

12. 10 million 328 thousand signatures for Öcalan’s freedom
13 February 2015 / Kurdish Info
10, 328, 623 signatures have been collected as part of the worldwide campaign for freedom for Kurdish people’s leader Abdullah Öcalan. The campaign which was initiated in the Belgium capital Brussels on 6 September 2012 and has been run across the world ended with a press conference in the French city Strasbourg today. Speaking here, Freedom for Öcalan Peace in Kurdistan Initiative member Reimer Heider announced that 10, 328, 623 signatures have been collected in the campaign since September 2012.

13. ‘We are marching to Strasbourg with millions of Kurdish signatures’
3 February 2015 / ANF
Sezai Uçar, one of the organisers of the march from Luxembourg to Strasbourg calling for the freedom of Kurdish People’s Leader Abdullah Öcalan, demanded the ban on the PKK be lifted. Uçar said: “On 13 February we will be in Strasbourg. We will hand over the signatures we have collected calling for freedom for Öcalan.” Kurds living in Europe are marching from Frankfurt, Bern and Luxembourg to Strasbourg to condemn the international conspiracy against Abdullah Öcalan.

14. Gysi: Öcalan is a symbol and should be released
13 February 2015 / Kurdish Info
German Left Party leader Gregor Gysi visited the Democratic Community Centre in Hamburg, where there are state elections on 15 February, saying: “Abdullah Öcalan is a symbol, and not only the Kurds are demanding his release, but many others. We, too, want this.” German Left Party Parliamentary leader Gregor Gysi attended a meeting at the Democratic Community Centre in Hamburg along with Cansu Özdemir, who is standing for re-election. After receiving information regarding the activities at the centre, Gysi said the Left Party was opposed on principle to the arms trade and was thus against the idea of arms being provided. Gysi criticised the German Government for only wanting to provide arms to peshmerga forces and for banning provision of arms to the PKK on account of it being on the ‘terror list’.

COMMENT. OPINION AND ANALYSIS

15. Turkey and its Kurds: Dreams of self-rule
14 February 2015 / Economist
ON A recent evening in Cizre, an old Kurdish settlement skirted by the Tigris river in south-east Turkey, a family grieves. Muhammad, their 20-year-old son, died fighting jihadists of Islamic State (IS) across the border in the Syrian town of Kobane shortly after Kurdish forces declared victory on January 26th. “Cizre gave 17 martyrs for Kobane,” says Mullah Qassem, an imam who has come to pay condolences. Pan-Kurdish sentiments have been sharpened by the battle against IS, in turn stirring the long-standing rebelliousness of Cizre, where a legendary Kurdish emir, Bedr Han, rose up against the Ottomans in the early 19th century. “Cizre is ours, Kobane is ours, we must fight for both,” says Muhammad’s mother, Selma.

16. French President-Kurdish PYD meeting challenges Turkey’s Erdogan
13 February 2015 / eKurd
French President Francois Hollande has initiated a diplomatic move strongly challenging President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who considers the Syrian Kurds’ People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the self-styled Rojava canton to be a terror organization and who is seriously disturbed by the US military assistance to the Kurds in their fight against the Islamic State (IS). On Feb. 8 at the Elysee Palace, President Hollande hosted Asya Abdullah, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), Nesrin Abdullah, the commander of the YPJ (YPG’s women units) and Khaled Issa, the PYD representative in France.

17. The Experiments of Rojava and Northern Kurdistan (Turkey) for launching the social revolution left no doubt it has to start from building the local groups
7 February 2015 / Anarkismo
The history of movements and human struggles wanting to launch a social revolution, rather than just a political revolution are scarce, and social revolutions have happened in very few countries. In spite of these facts those revolutions, or attempted revolutions, are still shining examples for us all. They remind us that either a revolution must be social or it does not exist as a revolution. In other words, it must be inclusive and must apply to all aspects of a human being’s life including their culture, education, economics, ecological & environment, health and care as well as the political.

18. Victory in Kobane
12 February 2015 / Revolutionary Communist
After 135 days of heroic resistance the defenders of Kobane cleared the city of Islamic State (IS) forces on 26 January 2015. Representatives of the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) said that they would proceed to clear the surrounding villages of IS. IS attacked Kobane on 15 September 2014. Over 200,000 people crossed the border into Turkey. Turkey’s President Erdogan said, ‘Kobane may fall very soon.’ The Kurdish fighters fought with determination, organisation and skill.

19. Can the Revolution in Kurdish Syria succeed?
2 February 2015 / University of Cambridge
We can but hope, argue sociologist Dr Jeff Miley and Gates Scholar Johanna Riha, who here summarise some of their observations following a recent field visit to Rojava in northern Syria, and give a brief overview of the political and social ideologies underpinning the Kurdish revolution.  Since the descent into civil war in Syria, revolutionary forces have seized control of the Kurdish region of Rojava. The mainstream media has been quick to publicise who the revolutionary forces in Rojava are fighting against: the brutality of Islamic State (IS); but what they are fighting for is often neglected. In December of 2014, we had the chance to visit the region as part of an academic delegation.
Listen to Dr Miley’s talk at the University of Cambridge on the same subject

20. What’s Behind the Kurdish-Arab Clashes in East Syria?
23 January 2015 / Carnegie Endowment
Major clashes broke out on January 16 in the northeastern Syrian city of Hasakah between fighters loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and the Kurdish militia known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The fighting shatters a long-standing local truce between the Assad regime and the YPG, who had teamed up to confront the Sunni extremist group known as the Islamic State, which controls much of the countryside around Hasakah.

21. Call to a New Life: HDP on eve of general elections
13 February 2015 / Dicle News
The legislative election on June 7th 2015 is the main political agenda in Turkey. Political parties have already begun preparing for their election campaigns despite the challenging domestic, regional and international conjuncture. One of the two main issues of the electoral agenda in Turkey at the moment is the political manoeuvre of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP-Halkların Demokratik Partisi) which is running for the election as a party instead of with independent candidates. 

22. Why has Davutoğlu stolen Hakan Fidan from Erdoğan?
11 February 2015 / Hurriyet
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has thrown a new curveball by explicitly expressing his opposition to the resignation of Hakan Fidan, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), from his post to run for parliament. Since news of Fidan’s resignation broke, Erdoğan has twice stated that he wanted Fidan to remain in his post, saying the MİT is not an ordinary institution and reiterating his confidence in the spy chief by describing him as “his secret keeper.” 

23. Vian Dakhil: Iraq’s only female Yazidi MP on the battle to save her people
8 February 2015 / Guardian
The young Yazidi woman in a blue headscarf says her name is Hana. She is 18. She is standing in the muddy courtyard of her new temporary home – an abandoned, unfinished building outside the Iraqi-Kurdish town of Zakho. Beside her is Vian Dakhil, a politician from the same religious minority. Hana is speaking rapidly and clutching Dakhil’s hand as though she’s terrified this

24. The most important thing in the Middle East that no one is talking about
5 February 2015 / Business Insider
Two of the most important actors in the Syria conflict are the al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS, Sunni extremist groups that have attracted thousands of foreign recruits based on violently differing views of how the global jihad should be waged. There’s a third jihadist vision contesting the Syrian battlefield, according to a major new study published by Phillip Smyth for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and it’s arguably been the most successful of the bunch.

25. Middle Eastern Politics through the prism of IS: A brief assessment
11 February 2015 / LSE Blogs
The Syrian crisis has altered local discourse and the foreign policy orientation of many of the regional state and non-state actors in the Middle Eastern region, not forgetting the powerful member states of the international community. This is illustrated by the explicit refusal of the European states as well as the US administration to become involved in direct interference in the Syrian crisis, despite the accelerating massacre of increasing numbers of citizens, and the heavily-curtailed reporting by the international media of the actual situation on the ground.

26. The Battle for Iraq: Shia Militias vs. the Islamic State
12 February 2015 / Vice
Last summer, the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) swept from Syria into northern Iraq, routing Iraqi security forces and seizing the city of Mosul. Soon afterward, the group declared the establishment of a dubious “caliphate” in the area it controls and rebranded itself the Islamic State. With Iraq’s army weakened and radical militants advancing on Baghdad, the country’s Iran-backed Shia militias — which have their own history of sectarian abuses — fought back, halting the Islamic State’s progress.

27. Why Jordan is Islamic State’s next target
10 February 2015 / Oakland Press
Jordan’s King Abdullah II was in battle gear last week, quoting Clint Eastwood and bombing Islamic State targets in retaliation for the horrific burning-alive of a Jordanian pilot. Is this a sign that Jordan is entering the war against the insurgent group in earnest, or is it a temporary show for a stunned Jordanian public?

28. Surveillance, Targeting And The Criminalisation Of Kurds In The UK
February 2015 / Kurdish Question
In an ongoing 10-part series for the Kurdish Question called Surveillance, Targeting And The Criminalisation Of Kurds In The UK, author Desmond Fernandes analyses how security services and counterterrorism agencies have targeted the Kurdish community in London over the years.
Part I:  Introduction
Part II: The New Penology of Risk Management

STATEMENTS

29. Solidarity message on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of Abdullah Öcalan’s abduction and the events on the worldwide signature campaign on 13 and 14 February 2015 in Strasbourg, France, 10 February 2015.

PRESS RELEASES

30. International Initiative:10.3 Million Signatures for Peace and Freedom for Öcalan, 13 February 2014.

REPORTS

31. Washington Institute, Policy Focus 138: The Shiite Jihad in Syria and its regional effects, February 2015.

BOOK REVIEWS

32. J.K. Gani’s “The Role of Ideology in Syrian-US Relations” — Reviewed by Julio Rivera, 7 February 2015.

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