Category Archives: Kurds and Kurdistan

The Turkish invasion of Syria: A new hope for Jihadists

What are the geopolitical stakes of Turkey’s invasion of Syria?

By Chris Den Hond. Published 10-16-2019 by openDemocracy

Translated by Janet Biehl

From the moment Trump ordered U.S. troops to withdraw from Syria, Turkey wasted no time in launching an invasion of northern Syria. To understand the geopolitical stakes, I asked four people close to the situation for their assessments:

Salih Muslim, is spokesperson for the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in northern Syria. Fehim Taştekin, is an analyst and journalist, based in Vienna. Agit Polat, is spokesperson for the Kurdish Democratic Council in France (CDK-F) and based in Paris. Raphaël Lebrujah, is a journalist in Qamishlo.

I asked each of them about several important topics. Continue reading

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Kurds Strike Deal With Syrian Government to Battle Turkey’s Offensive After Trump Orders Evacuation of Remaining US Troops

“About 130,000 people have been displaced in Syria… with at least 60 civilian casualties in Syria and 18 dead in Turkey.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-13-2019

A protest in support of the Kurds in front of the Turkish Embassy in Seattle. Photo: Amy Moreno/Twitter

Kurdish forces in northern Syria announced Sunday that the Syrian government has agreed to deploy troops to battle an ongoing Turkish offensive against the Kurds after U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of the remaining 1,000 American troops in the region.

Following a call with Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last weekend, Trump withdrew about 50 U.S. troops from the Turkey-Syria border. Critics accused Trump of betraying Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who allied with the United States in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS). Turkey on Wednesday launched airstrikes and ground incursions targeting Kurdish-held areas. Continue reading

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The Blunt Truth About Turkey’s Attack on US-Backed Kurds in Syria

The media’s framing of this offensive seems to be part and parcel of its overall coverage of the Syrian war since 2011.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 10-11-2019 by The Mind Unleashed

Turkey’s offensive into Syria bears all the hallmarks of a potential crime. It is also has the added uncertain elements of a potential regrouping of the remnants of the Islamic State’s caliphate, as thousands of prisoners could end up being freed once key positions are abandoned by Kurdish forces, or overrun by Turkey.

Yet no one seems to be asking if in fact this is one of the covert aims of the offensive, given Turkey has been heavily documented as a key backer of ISIS forces in Syria for years. Sounds absurd, but we are talking about a regime who was caught providing ISIS fighters with medical treatment. Continue reading

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Less Than 24 Hours After Saying ‘Time to Bring ‘Em Home,’ Trump Orders 1,800 US Troops to Saudi Arabia

“Remember when Donald Trump tweeted that he was ‘trying to end the endless wars?’ That was yesterday.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-11-2019

Less than a day after President Donald Trump bragged to supporters at a campaign-style rally in Minnesota Thursday that he was working hard to bring U.S. soldiers home from foreign wars, the Pentagon announced Friday that 1,800 troops and advanced weapons systems have been ordered to Saudi Arabia—a move critics decried as both hypocritical and deeply dangerous.

“This is a dangerous escalation of a crisis created by the president’s inability to conduct a coherent and sensible foreign policy and his reliance on the war hawks who profit from endless war,” advocacy group Win Without War said on Twitter. Continue reading

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Critics Warn ‘Deeply Chilling’ Betrayal by Trump Paves Path for Turkish Slaughter of Kurdish Allies

“One way in which Trump is very consistent and stable when it comes to American presidential norms over the decades is betraying Kurds.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 10-7-2019

Photo: Steen Schøn/Twitter

In a move that was cast by critics as both irresponsible and a betrayal of key allies in the Middle East, President Donald Trump announced Sunday that U.S. forces are withdrawing from north-eastern Syria and leaving the region’s Kurdish population vulnerable to slaughter as neighboring Turkey readies an invasion.

“The Americans are traitors,” a Kurdish official told NBC News as the news broke late Sunday night. “They have abandoned us to a Turkish massacre.” Continue reading

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Trump, Blackwater, and private war

A military drawdown in Syria and Afghanistan is good for America’s enemies – and contractors.

By Paul Rogers. Published 12-24-2018 by openDemocracy

Blackwater military helicopter in Baghdad Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2004. Wikicommons/U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Michael E. Best. Some rights reserved.

 

At the end of 2003 the United States-led war in Iraq was going badly wrong. It had started so well from the Pentagon’s perspective, as American troops entered Baghdad within weeks of launching the invasion in late March. The regime crumbled and a statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled. The sitting president George W Bush soon delivered a triumphal speech in front of a banner declaring “mission accomplished”. Even then it looked premature. At that point, the quick victory Washington expected was already running into quicksands.

By mid-summer, a rapidly evolving urban insurgency was inflicting serious casualties among the coalition of international (mainly US and British) forces. Many of the latter were killed. But improvements in trauma care meant that six or seven times their number were now surviving previously fatal wounds – albeit with appalling, life-changing injuries: loss of limbs and other body parts, severe abdominal injuries, PTSD at an almost unbearable level. Continue reading

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Trump-Tweeted US Troop Withdrawal Plan Would Hand Off Northeastern Syria to Turks


The Trump administration is set to rapidly withdraw U.S. military forces from northeastern Syria, where the U.S. has occupied around 30 percent of Syrian territory since mid-2016.

By Whitney Webb. Published 12-19-2018 by MintPress News

U.S. Soldiers observe Turkish forces in the distance while on patrol outside Manbij, Syria, August 7, 2018. These independent, coordinated patrols are to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS in the region. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Nicole Paese)

Editors’ note: The US has allied with the Kurds in 7 previous missions. This latest mistake by Trump will be number 8 in a long history of betrayal. The following announcement, made by Nancy Pelosi, is the tip of the iceberg of the catastrophic disaster that will unfold. ISIS has NOT been defeated.

In what is being characterized by some as a “drastic reversal,” reports in both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post have claimed that the Trump administration is set to rapidly withdraw U.S. military forces from northeastern Syria, where the U.S. has occupied around 30 percent of Syrian territory since mid-2016. The Pentagon has officially stated that there are 2,000 troops in Syria, though the true figure is believed to be closer to 5,000.

Continue reading

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US Airstrike Kills 54 Civilians in Syria in Push to Control Syrian Border

With the U.S. now unable to prevent Syrian government control of the Syria-Jordan border, Friday’s strikes are a sign that the U.S. effort to oust the Syrian government from Abu Kamal is likely to only grow stronger as its occupation of Syrian territory faces an uncertain future.

By Whitney Webb. Published 7-13-2018 by MintPress News

Abu Kamal after a January airstrike. Screenshot: Qasioun News

Around midnight on Friday, U.S.-led coalition warplanes in Syria conducted intensive airstrikes near Abu Kamal in the Deir ez-Zor province, with estimates of civilian casualties ranging from 30 to 54. Syrian state media agency SANA has claimed that at least 30 were killed and that most of the dead were women and children. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), often cited by international and particularly Western media, has asserted that 54 were killed.

According to local reports, the U.S.-led coalition strikes targeted the towns of al-Souseh and al-Baghouz Fowqani, east of the Euphrates river in the countryside around Abu Kamal. The bombings resulted in dozens of houses in the towns collapsing, resulting in numerous civilian deaths, as whole families were crushed by the rubble while they were sleeping. Continue reading

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Why the US Wants 30,000 Troops on Syria’s Border With Turkey

By Darius Shahtahmasebi. Published 1-18-2018 by The Anti-Media

On Saturday, the Defense Post reported that the U.S.-led coalition in Syria was building a 30,000-member “border force,” made up predominantly of Kurdish and Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), as well as some unspecified new recruits.

“The Coalition is working jointly with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to establish and train the new Syrian Border Security Force (BSF). Currently, there are approximately 230 individuals training in the BSF’s inaugural class, with the goal of a final force size of approximately 30,000,” CJTF-OIR Public Affairs Officer Colonel Thomas F. Veale told Defense Post. Continue reading

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With Trump Silent, Sanders and Dems Demand Aid for Iranian Earthquake Victims

“The U.S. has routinely offered to help the Iranian people in times of need. This time should be no different.”

Written by Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 11-17-2017.

A devastating 7.3 earthquake struck the Iran/Irag region, killing over 500 and leaving 9,000 injured. Image via Facebook.

As the death toll from the “horrific” earthquake that struck the Iran-Iraq border earlier this week climbs above 500, and as President Donald Trump remains entirely silent on the matter, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and four Democratic senators sent a letter on Thursday to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanding that the White House waive certain sanctions on Iran and allow aid to reach those desperately in need.

“After earthquakes in 2003 and 2012, the United States demonstrated its compassion and goodwill by offering assistance to the Iranian people and allowing private relief donations,” the senators wrote. “This time should be no different.”

While the 7.3 magnitude quake affected both Iran and Iraq, Iran bore the brunt of the overall destruction and casualties.

Under the current sanctions regime, Iranian-Americans living in the U.S. are prohibited from delivering funds to their friends and family members. As Al Jazeera reported on Thursday, several attempts by Iranian-Americans to set up fundraisers for Iran in the days following the earthquake have been stymied by U.S. Treasury Department rules.

“The way it is now, it is extremely difficult,” Tara Kangarlou, a New York-based Iranian-American journalist, said of the economic restrictions. “These are the moments that you realize how political tug of war are hurting ordinary Iranians.”

As for official U.S. government assistance, the Trump White House has been relatively quiet; the Treasury Department called the quake “tragic” in a statement to the Associated Press, but did not say whether the administration plans to mount any kind of response. Trump, himself, has not said a word about the quake, which Sanders and his Democratic colleagues noted was “the world’s deadliest of the year.”

In addition to killing hundreds and injuring over 9,000, a report from European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations found that the tremor damaged 12,000 buildings in Iran and Iraq.

Shortly after the earthquake struck, Sanders highlighted the “growing tensions” between the U.S. and Iran—particularly following Trump’s decision to decertify the Iran deal—and argued that providing relief to the Iranian people following such a devastating event “would be an important act of friendship.”

Read the senators’ full letter:

We write today concerning the recent earthquake that struck Iran on November 12. The latest reports indicate over 500 dead and thousands wounded, making this earthquake the world’s deadliest of the year. We urge you temporarily waive any existing restrictions that would impede relief donations in order to speed the delivery of aid.

While the earthquake affected both Iran and Iraq, most of the casualties are on the Iranian side of the border. After earthquakes in 2003 and 2012, the United States demonstrated its compassion and goodwill by offering assistance to the Iranian people and allowing private relief donations. The administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama both temporarily waived sanctions, and the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued general licenses to simplify aid delivery.

Under the Bush administration, an OFAC license authorized U.S. persons to provide cash donations to nongovernmental organizations, U.S. and non-U.S., assisting with relief efforts in Iran. At the time, OFAC also worked with aid organizations to clarify rules on donations of food and medicine and which Iranian entities could receive aid and eased banking constraints to ensure the timely receipt of donations in Iran. While we understand that a general license issued by OFAC in 2013 allows for U.S. nongovernment organization to deliver aid to Iran, we urge you make it easier for U.S. citizens to contribute to nongovernment organizations not based in the United States that are currently providing relief aid to earthquake victims in Iran.

Despite decades of animosity and no formal diplomatic relations, the United States has routinely offered to help the Iranian people in times of need. This time should be no different. We ask that you direct the Department of State to assist in aid efforts and to coordinate such efforts with OFAC and other relevant agencies in order to ensure aid arrives quickly.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your timely response.

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