Iraq, Syria, ISIS and Kurds: Geostrategic concerns for the U.S and Turkey – Gunter

Michael M. Gunter, professor of political science at Tennessee Technological University, has published a new article in the Middle East Policy Journal which analyses the geostrategic concerns of Turkey and the U.S in the Middle East. It is available via Middle East Policy Journal,

The rise of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq as well as the ongoing insurgency of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and now peace negotiations with the Turkish government have empowered the Kurds and challenged the existing political map of the Middle East. On July 19, 2012, the previously quiescent Syrian Kurds —largely under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), closely associated with the PKK — also suddenly emerged as a potential game changer in the Syrian civil war and what its aftermath might hold for the future of the Middle East. In an attempt to consolidate an increasingly desperate position, government troops were abruptly pulled out of the major Kurdish areas. The Kurds in Syria had suddenly become autonomous, a situation that also affected neighboring Turkey and the virtually independent KRG in Iraq. Indeed, the precipitous rise of the Kurds in Syria could become a factor in changing the artificial borders of the Middle East established after World War I by the notorious Sykes-Picot Agreement.

Read the article in full.

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PYD responds to government criticisms of the party in recent report

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), one of the leading parties in Rojava, has responded to criticisms about the party that were laid out in a recent Government report. The report was written as a response to a Foreign Affairs Select Committee document, entitled UK Government Policy on the Kurdistan Region of Iraqwhich was the result of an inquiry into theUK’s relationship with the KRG, including investment, foreign policy implications, and diplomatic relations.

The government’s response to that enquiry included a section on Syrian Kurdistan and the PYD, which it accused of maintaining links with the Assad government and refusing to work with the official Syrian opposition. It also suggested the party should make a greater commitment to pluralism and human rights, in total ignorance of the pluralism being engendered in Rojava’s political sphere which is no small part due to the PYD’s policies. It is worth giving the report a read.

The PYD’s co-chair Salih Muslim, recently submitted a response to the UK government’s accusations, which we reproduce below. Continue reading

Press Release:  Windsor General Election candidate endorsed by Syrian Political Party

Dr Derek Wall, Green Party parliamentary candidate for Windsor has been endorsed by Dr Alan Semo, UK representative of the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

This follows ongoing contact with the Green Party, of which Dr Wall is International Coordinator, and the PYD.

The PYD is the largest political party in Rojava, the autonomous region of Northern Syria.  The PYD is a mainly Kurdish political party which shares a number of key ideological stances with the Green Party.   Continue reading

Vasiliki Scurfield addresses Newroz reception in Parliament

The Kurdistan National Congress (KNK) held an event in parliament on 17 March, to celebrate Newroz, the Kurdish New Year. The event was hosted by MP Mike Gapes. The speakers were Vasiliki Scurfield, the mother of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, Michelle Allison, KNK UK women’s representative, Dr Alan Semo, PYD UK representative, and Dr Mohamed Kanyany, former KRG MP.

by Sofia Beatty

newroz parliament_vsAddressing a packed meeting in the House of Commons, Aysegul Erdogan, chairing, welcomed the speakers, with a special thanks to Vasiliki Scurfield, the mother of Konstandinos Scurfield, the ex-Royal Marine who died fighting with the YPG for the liberation of the Kurdish people. This year, said Aysegul, Newroz “takes on added significance, as this is the first Newroz since the victory of the Kurdish forces, the YPG and YPJ in Kobani, Rojava. This year, the fire of Newroz burns brighter than before. Newroz, for us Kurdish people, has a different meaning. To us, it means light over darkness, freedom over oppression, peace over war.” She praised the Kurdish spirit of resistance in the face genocidal acts against the Kurdish people, such as at Halabja. Continue reading

PYD: We have a common responsibility to prevent another genocide

We received this appeal from the Democratic Union party (PYD) representation in Europe, which calls on the international community to support YPG, YPJ and other defence forces as they resist the latest ISIS onslaught in the Til Hemis and Til Birak regions of Syria. 

An appeal to the international community

We have a common responsibility to prevent another genocide

It started with Kobane and Sinjar, and now we are witnessing the same developments in Til Temir, Serê Kanî and Al Hasaka. Since February 22th, these areas have come under a brutal and barbaric assault by the Islamic State. Triggered by their setbacks in Kobane, Til Hemis and Til Birak, the terrorists have launched a major terrorist campaign. No one has been spared, including women, children and so-called ”apostates”. Once again we have witnessed the horrendous enslavement of women by the hands of the terrorists, beheadings of innocent civilians and the destruction of churches and mosques. The tragic fate of our 300 kidnapped Christian’s brothers and sisters is sadly still unknown. Continue reading

Event: Newroz and the Kurdish people’s struggle for liberation

Hosted by Mike Gapes MP

 With contributions from Akin Birdal, former MP and honorary president of the Human Rights Association of Turkey (IHD); Akif Wan, KNK UK representative; Xusrew Zeki, KNK member; Ciwan Afrin, PYD UK representative; Dr Mohamed Kanyany, former MP, KRG; representative from UCFL, tbc*

An event celebrating Newroz and the spirit of resistance

Date/time: Tuesday 17 March, 6-8pm

Venue: Committee Room 9, Portcullis House, Westminster, SW1A 0AA Continue reading

Victory in Kobane: What next for the Rojava Revolution?

“ ‘The victory of capitalism is in its ability to capture the mind.’ Whereas a hundred years ago, if you were poor you would rebel; now if you are poor, you dream of winning the lottery.”

Quoting PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan at the most recent Peace in Kurdistan Campaign/Roj Women event at SOAS University, Havin Guneser of the International Initiative – Freedom for Ocalan Campaign gave a rich exploration of how one of the world’s most vibrant contemporary anti-capitalist rebellions led not only to victory in Kobane following a devastating 6-month siege by ISIS, but the development of a genuine social revolution. As Guneser explained, it was that social revolution, now embedded in the personal lives and working institutions of the people living in Rojava, that ultimately ensured that Kobane had the strength to fight off ISIS attacks. Continue reading

Kurdish activists celebrate victory in Kobane and call for further support in the struggle against ISIS

MEDIA RELEASE
29 January 2015

For immediate use

Kurdish activists in Scotland and their supporters gather in Glasgow on Saturday to celebrate the success of the Kurdish defence of Kobane where ISIS forces have been pushed out.

The gathering in the UNISON offices in Glasgow brings together Kurds living in Scotland along with political and trade union activists supportive of the struggle against ISIS and the struggle for Kurdish rights.

They will be joined by the Rebar Hajo, UK representative of the main Kurdish party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Michelle Allison and Akif Wan of the Kurdish National Congress (KNK). Continue reading

Asya Abdullah from Kobanê: Myth of the invincibility of ISIS collapses

After the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and the Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) had put a stop to the attacks of IS (the Islamic State) on Kobani, which had gone on since the 15th September 2014 and had been able to push the IS back on most fronts, the YPG explained that the complete liberation of Kobani would soon follow.


“Victory will be announced shortly”

Mazlum Kobanê, YPG commander on the eastern front, told ANF newsagency that in the YPG/YPJ operation of liberation which began on 23rd January, Sukulhal, Seyda Cami and Seyda streets were cleared, and the IS forces in the Kaniya Kurda area were pushed back: “The IS forces now only hold four places in this area. If our forces push forwards successfully on these four roads, the eastern front will be completely cleared and we can announce the victory of our heroic struggle against the IS in Kobanî to all our people”. Continue reading

Gunter: ‘Post-state entities reshaping Middle East map’

The urgency of the present situation facing the people of Kobane and the longer term implications of the transformation of the Middle East were issues addressed at the public meeting in the House of Lords on 12 January which was jointly organised by Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and Kurdistan National Congress (KNK).

Titled The Collapsed State Systems in Syria & Iraq and the Rise of ISIS & the Kurds, the meeting discussed the Kurdish role in the fight against ISIS and the alternative model offered by the establishment of the self-administration in Rojava.

As host, Lord Hylton stated the Kurds still need all the friends that they can get and this was especially the case in respect of the unrecognised entity of Rojava where urgently needed supplies were only getting through with great difficulty. Continue reading