Tag Archives: Syrian Kurds

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


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


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


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


Trump invites foreign terrorist to White House

Trump has investments and business dealings in Turkey, where his son enjoys hunting with rich businessmen. How Trump deals with Turkey in relation to ISIS could be in direct conflict with these business interests. Which one will Trump prioritize?

By Carol Benedict for Occupy World Writes

On Monday night, news broke that the Trump Administration revealed information to the Russian officials during their visit to the White House last week. This could not come at a worse time – right on the heels of the Comey firing and on the eve before another foreign power visits the White House.

On Tuesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visits US President Donald Trump at the White House. While many Americans who rely only on US news don’t see this as alarming, the international community, unafraid of hard hitting headlines, realizes that Turkey and Erdogan have been cooperating with ISIS in Syria since at least 2014 and the attack on the Kurdish city of Kobane.

The US has taken the stand that we do not negotiate with terrorists. Yet, Erdogan is invited to Washington to attempt to persuade our President to turn on the only reliable fighting force on earth capable of defeating ISIS on the ground. Last week it was announced that the US will arm the Syrian YPG/YPJ forces in the battle to take Raqqa, the ISIS stronghold and capitol in Syria.

Trump will place the security of the US at risk if he backs down from his commitment to arm the Kurds. He will reveal that he himself in indirectly working with ISIS by cooperating with Turkey’s government to assist in the defeat of the Syrian Kurds, which is Erdogan’s objective in Syria.

If you or someone you know are in or near the Washington DC tomorrow, you can add your voice to a protest taking place at Lafayette Square. Details below.

Protest Against The Erdogan Dictatorship.

Join supporters of human rights, religious liberty, and regional peace at a rally outside the White House (in Lafayette Park) during President Trump’s May 16th meeting with Turkish President Erdogan.

The protest will take place from noon to 2 pm.

Protesters will call on President Trump to challenge Erdogan on a broad range of issues, including:

— Erdogan’s post-coup consolidation of authoritarian power;
— Erdogan’s mass arrests of the HDP leadership;
— Erdogan’s vast purge of his political opposition;
— Erdogan’s arrest of record numbers of journalists;
— Erdogan’s restrictions on religious freedom and worship
— Erdogan’s Wikipedia ban and social media crackdown;
— Erdogan’s aggression against Kurds in Syria and Iraq;
— Erdogan’s anti-American rhetoric and actions;
— Erdogan’s continued military occupation of Cyprus;
— Erdogan’s obstruction of justice for genocide of Armenians, Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs and Greeks
— Erdogan’s illegal economic blockade of Armenia

There’s also a Facebook event page.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She is also an independent Journalist and a professional member of the US Press Association.


Collusion, Complicity or Neglect: How Media is Responsible for War Crimes

Imagine you wake up tomorrow to learn your city is under curfew, you have been stripped of your citizenship, all electricity, water and medical services have been stopped and no one is reporting anything in the news about any of it. Snipers are on rooftops, so you can’t go outside or be seen from a window. What would you do? How will you survive?

Written by Carol Benedict

Cizre after security forces "secured" the city. Image via Twitter.

Cizre after government forces “secured” the city. Image via Twitter.

President Recip Tayyip Erdoğan has asked for and received all legal clearance to now strip Turkish civilians of their citizenship for any actions or opinions expressed that are contrary to what the government narrative is.

This comes after recently gaining the ability to label journalists, academia and politicians as terrorists if they report, teach or campaign with any negative reflection on Erdogan or his government.

This totalitarian control is not limited to within the borders of Turkey. While in Washington DC, at a protest of his speech at the Brookings Institute, his security forces violently attacked peaceful citizens and called them terrorists. Turkish security physically assaulted a woman journalist and roughed up two of the Brookings Institute Management staff, including the building manager and stopped only when the threat of canceling the speech was presented. All this occurred before Erdogan’s motorcade even arrived, but after the Turkish security had taken pictures of every protestor they could.

The Ambassador from Germany in Turkey has been summoned – not once, but twice – by the Turkish government, demanding that a video posted on YouTube that mocks their “boss from Bosphorus” be pulled down. The response so far has been more views as the video gains popularity.

Reports have surfaced that prove Turkey’s government is in cooperative relationship with ISIS. Journalists arrested in Turkey include those who filmed Turkish military vehicles delivering weapons, food and medicine to ISIS jihadists inside Syria. The majority of foreign fighters route their travel through Turkey, and ISIS proudly displays the Turkish flag along side their infamous black one.

Turkey has removed al-Nusra from its terrorist list while refusing to allow America’s allies, Syrian Kurds, a seat at the Syrian peace talks. Without the Syrian Kurds, ISIS would be gaining territory in Syria, not losing it. Erdogan sees these gains by the Syrian Kurds as a threat to Turkey.

None of this compares to what is taking place inside Turkey itself.

The Kurdish population of Turkey resides primarily in the SE region. Cities and neighborhoods have been placed under siege and curfews by government forces. Erdogan claims this is being done to respond to terrorism, yet the majority of the over 5,000 deaths are to women, children and the elderly/ The destruction that has occurred is to Kurdish homes, business, schools, churches, cemeteries and infrastructure.

Hit particularly hard is the city of Cizre.

“What the people of Cizre were exposed to for many days and nights – artillery assaults by tanks and the sounds of mortar fire, explosives, rampages, announcements, harrassment of people staying in their homes – are clear violations of the right to life; they are, moreover, forms of torture. Some families who did not endure a loss of life, have come to see artillery, and their houses and cars being targeted by firearms, as something normal.”

After getting permits on March 2, 2016, lawyers of Libertarian Lawyers Association (ÖHD), Mesopotamia Lawyers Association (MHD), Asrın Law Firm (AHB), and the Foundation for Society and Legal Studies (TOHAV) entered Cizre to document human rights violations and legal processes.

Their harrowing preliminary legal report has just been released. To read the details is not for the weak of stomach or soul. Some of their conclusions were:

The barbarity in Cizre has been heavier and more serious than has been reflected to the public. Between 12/14/2015-03/02/2016, more than 280 civilians were killed during the clashes; among them there were women, babies, children and the elderly. The exact number of the deaths cannot be determined as most of the bodies are burned beyond recognition, distributed to different cities and buried without identification.

Documentation and data on the profound violation of right to life by special operation forces and snipers acting on behalf of the state according to the testimonies, violation of bodily integrity, forced displacement, deprivation of liberty, the hindering of essential needs, torture, discrimination and racism are all available. It is critical to designate the curfews and related operations as torture and maltreatment of the people of Cizre and to investigate them thoroughly. When violations this common, systematic and substantial are revealed, they become humanitarian law violations and crimes against humanity and assume legal stature. They must be investigated.

People who lived in Cizre were forced to leave Cizre. Any artillery fired by tanks or assaults by firearms on an individual’s house, close to his house, alley, neighborhood, or city is a part of a forced displacement. The execution of these operations and the format, techniques, and size of the curfew, leave the strong impression that all people in Cizre were defined as either “terrorist” or a “potential terrorist”. Cizre and its people are still being criminalized. Even the action of entering Cizre is seen as “suspicion of crime” by security forces; while those who enter the province are treated as “suspects”.

Not the faces of terrorists. Image via Twitter.

Not the faces of terrorists, children in Cizre wonder about their future. Image via Twitter.

While all this was happening, western media reported nothing. In the responsible world of ethical journalism, this is either complicity or collusion.

Turkey has a long history of wanting to rid itself of its Kurdish population. Hasan Cemal writes

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it cannot find a solution to a problem that has spawned 29 rebellions since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has banned the identity and language of a group of its own citizens but has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has forcefully displaced its own citizens and burned down their homes for years on end and yet has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has completely ignored law, created Susurluks [mafia-state relations], Ergenekons [deep states] and committed thousands of extrajudicial killings, but has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has carried out military coups, suspended democracy, disregarded law, fed feces to its own citizens as in the example of Diyarbakir Military Prison, but has not found a solution since 1923.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has not solved the issue, but conversely exacerbated and deepened it.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has spent Turkey’s resources on war rather than development and welfare.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has led to the death of more than 50,000 of its own citizens since 1984.

What kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it has not taken the necessary lessons from all the bloodshed and mistakes since 1923.

And finally, what kind of ‘state mentality’ is it that it thinks, despite all the blood and tears and tragedies, that a solution is at the end of a barrel,.

Turkey wants to be part of the EU and has asked for action to be stepped up in consideration of their application. The western media needs to make clear to Erdogan that being an EU member-state means western journalists will now be given the right to free and open access to events occurring within Turkey’s borders.

The world stops and looks at a terrorist attack in Paris, Belgium and London. If the actual human rights violations, crimes against humanity and Turkey’s cooperation with ISIS would be reported, demands for intervention would have been heard before Cizre’s massacre occurred.

Recently Erdogan has proclaimed, “Now we are going to finish the job, we are going to deal with the issue and god-willing create a peaceful and prosperous southeast [Turkey].”

Ironically, the first-ever United Nations-sponsored World Humanitarian Summit is scheduled to take place May 23-24, 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon praised Turkey’s “compassionate leadership” in hosting the summit and its “admirable commitment to humanitarian action.”

Where is journalistic responsibility in a globalized society when the focus remains on an election that will not occur until November 2016? In 1933, people and media turned a blind eye, then later asked why neither said anything. Why is this happening again in 2016?

Western media has chosen not to report on a current massacre and genocide. Since this has been occurring on an escalating scale since June of 2015, it is only reasonable to conclude that there is either collusion among media to not report these atrocities, or the governments of all western media outlets are censoring the “free and open” press worldwide. Whichever of these two is correct, the answer is very concerning.

If the refusal to report Turkey’s internal atrocities is not collusion or complicity, it is neglect.

Regardless of the answer to why, the longer it remains unanswered, the more innocent lives will be lost and history will again ask civilization “How could you let this happen?”

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an indépendant researcher and human rights activist. She has been studying Kurdish history, culture and politics for the last three years.


Turkey: Will the US choose the wrong side of history again?

Turning Turkey into the next Syria has already begun – and the US could play a pivotal role in stopping it

Written by Carol Benedict, Independent Journalist

Historic Armenian church in the Sur district of Diyarbakir destroyed by Turkish army February 21, 2016. Image via Twitter.

Historic Armenian church in the Sur district of Diyarbakir destroyed by Turkish army February 21, 2016. Image via Twitter.

Continued reports coming out of Turkey indicate a dire situation, worsening daily for the civilian population in the southeast region that is predominantly Kurdish. American media still refuse to cover this crisis, leaving most Americans clueless of not only what is wrong in Turkey, but why their own government is now in a precarious situation which has distasteful outcomes regardless the decisions made.

Because the US has a track record of basing policy decisions on oil and strategic military interests, it remains to be seen if they can take the moral high ground in the war against terror, or if they will buckle to the whims of a megalomanic bent on the destruction of the civilian Kurdish population within his own country.

President Erdogan and the Turkish government have taken revenge on the Kurds for their recent gains in the country’s elections in 2015. After winning a representative portion in parliament during the June elections, Erdogan called a snap election in November to take back any gains the Kurds had achieved. Since that time, efforts to decrease the support of his political opponents has resulted in his AKP government waging a literal ground war and extermination campaign against the HDP.

In the middle of last August, the government enacted curfews and sieges in the Kurdish cities, using the discarded peace talks and escalating violence with the PKK as an excuse. They set about destroying Kurdish homes, cemeteries, schools, villages, historical landmarks and art from ancient cultures to dehumanize the Kurds. President Erdogan has stated that this campaign will not end until south east Turkey has been “cleansed” of all “terrorists.”

Official reports from the Turkish press claim all those killed in the SE region of Turkey since August are terrorists. They make this claim by declaring the political party of the Kurds, the HDP, to be a terrorist group because of the simple fact that there are Kurds in the HDP and the PKK is also comprised of Kurds. In their minds, that makes anything Kurdish associated with terror, a just enough reason to massacre all Kurds, effectively beginning a genocide in the SE of Turkey.

The following press release was written by Hişyar Özsoy,  Vice co-Chair for Foreign Affairs, Peoples’ Democratic Party in Ankara.

Don’t let tomorrow be too late for Sur!

The indefinite, round-the-clock curfews that the AKP government has declared in Turkey’s Kurdish provinces since August 16, 2015 continue to deepen the emergency situation that undermines basic human rights and freedoms in the region, including the right to live and personal safety. As of today, curfews have been effective in seven provinces and twenty counties for a total of 395 days. This curfew policy directly and clearly violates imperative provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey as well as basic principles of international humanitarian law, first and foremost the provisions of Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians in war and conflict zones. The last and most destructive example of systematic violence and massacre threats under the curfew rule occurred in the town of Cizre, Şırnak province, before the eyes of indifferent Turkish and international publics: at least 165 civilians who had taken refuge in the basements of residential buildings amidst military operations were bombarded to death by Turkish security forces.

Whereas the AKP government continues to absolve itself of the responsibility to account for the basics of the civilian massacre in Cizre beyond the cliché of “fighting terror,” we are, once again, terrified by the news that most recently came from Sur district of Diyarbakır, which has been under curfew for the last 78 days, since December 11, 2015. According to local sources and the press, as of February 18th, around 200 people, including children and injured individuals, remain trapped in the basements of residential buildings in Sur district, where armed clashes have been taking place. For the last two days our party officials and members of the parliament have been trying to communicate with the government representatives, demanding official investigation of these claims and the opening of a safe corridor for the transfer of trapped civilians. Yet, all our efforts and demands remain unanswered. We are extremely concerned about the possibility that the massacre in Cizre may be repeated in Sur.

Under these circumstances, we are further concerned about the ongoing silence of the international public against the violence and massacres in Kurdish cities. As the military attacks against the trapped civilians were going on in Cizre, we had told the international public that their silence and indifference was bolstering the AKP government and its security forces in their unlawful and inhumane practices in Kurdish cities. Had the international public raised a powerful voice for the protection of the lives and safety of the trapped civilians in Cizre, perhaps we would not have had hundreds of dead bodies retrieved from beneath the ruins of Cizre today.

Now at the wake of a similar possible tragedy to take place in the Sur district, we are appealing to the international community once again. We are calling on all international institutions, humanitarian organizations and activists to take urgent responsibility and approach the Turkish government without any delay for the termination of curfews and state violence in Kurdish cities, and particularly for the protection of the lives of the civilians that are trapped inside the basements in Sur. Don’t let tomorrow be too late for Sur!

Sur, Turkey: Indefinite 24-hour curfew, over 200,000 in danger. Image via Twitter.

Sur, Turkey: Indefinite 24-hour curfew, over 200,000 in danger. Image via Twitter.

Meanwhile, in the REAL war on terror…

The Kurds in Iraq have an established military force, called the peshmerga, which in Kurdish loosely translates to mean “He who confronts death.” In Iraq, it was the peshmerga forces, working with the US coalition, that were able to repel ISIS in the northern territory of Iraq. It was the peshmerga, together with other Kurdish forces including the PKK, that were able to rescue the Yazidi population held captive on Mount Sinjar in 2014.

In northern Syria, the most successful and fierce ally in the Syrian war against Daesh (ISIS) has been the YPG/YPJ forces. The YPG (men) and YPJ (women) are Kurdish forces in Rojava, the Kurdish name for northern Syria. Their ongoing campaign against Daesh has taken back cities and territory the terrorist group had occupied. It was a direct result of their actions that the city of Kobane did not fall to Daesh a little more than a year ago. They are also helping refugees fleeing the area around Aleppo, where the war in Syria has worsened since Russia has joined the air campaign of bombing and shelling.

As these Kurdish forces continue to win against ISIS and work with the US coalition forces, Turkey has begun shelling and bombarding them. The AKP recently labeled the YPG/YPJ forces as terrorist organizations to justify their actions and President Erdogan has challenged the US to pick a side in this particular battle.

A History NOT worth repeating

The US government has befriended – and then de-friended – the Kurds in 3 past  interactions.

Writer Rick Noack in an August, 2014 article in The Washington Post, points out the US history of betrayal regarding the Kurds;

1972/1973 –  Iraq’s Ba’ath party has become a threat in the eyes of the U.S. government. President Nixon and Iran’s shah begin to fund the Kurdish pesh merga guerrillas and support their claims for autonomy. In 1972, Saddam Hussein had signed a “Friendship and Cooperation” treaty with the USSR.

1975 – After the surprising Algiers Agreement between Iran and Iraq is reached, the U.S. stops its support for the Kurdish rebels which causes the fragmentation of the opposition and an increased vulnerability to Saddam Hussein’s renewed attacks. While he exacts brutal revenge on the Kurds (including a catastrophic chemical weapons attack in 1988 that kills thousands) the U.S. breaks off all official relations to the opposition it previously backed.

1990 – Iraq occupies Kuwait, prompting the First Gulf War, which ends the alienation between the U.S. and the Kurds that had lasted for more than a decade. Iraq is defeated in Kuwait, but a subsequent uprising of Shiite Iraqis and Kurds (Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party is primarily seen as Sunni-supported) fails to gain U.S. support. The uprising is unsuccessful but Kurdish areas receive greater autonomy in 1991 when a ‘safe haven’ is set up by the UN. A U.S.-backed opposition group called Iraqi National Congress will be based in Kurdistan in the following years. However, inner-Kurdish cleavages emerge.

1996 – As a result of these rivalries, the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP)  attacks the Iraqi National Congress in Erbil with the help of Saddam’s army. Many rebel fighters are captured and executed by the attackers after the U.S. refuses to provide air support.

2003 – The U.S. invasion of Iraq results in cooperation between the two main Kurdish adversaries, the KDP and the PUK.  Kurdish forces fight alongside U.S. troops against Saddam’s government.

2005 – A regional Kurdish parliament is formed. Soon afterwards, oil discoveries lead to a fear within Iraq’s central government in Baghdad that the Kurdish autonomous region could try to secede. Furthermore, tensions between Turkey and Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq arise and provoke clashes. Turkey’s tough measures against its own Kurdish population extend over the border into Iraq.

In a recent telephone conversation between President Obama and President Erdogan, Obama “emphasized the unwavering commitment of the United States to Turkey’s national security as a NATO Ally.  The two leaders expressed their support for the understanding reached in Munich last week on the cessation of hostilities in Syria and called on Russia and the Assad regime to halt airstrikes against moderate opposition forces.  The leaders pledged to deepen cooperation in the fight against all forms of terrorism, including the PKK, and reiterated their shared goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.” (emphasis added by OWW)

Words between world powers matter. America’s presence in the Middle East is fraught with resentment, hatred and bitterness based on the double standards, back room deals and treachery we have a demonstrated track history of waging. In our rush to defeat Daesh, we are willing to sacrifice innocent civilians and trample on human rights, so long as another world leader does it too.

After being on the wrong side of history on more than one occasion in the ME, it is time for Americans to force our policy makers to base decisions on the right reasons: humanity deserves no less.

Enough greed, power and capitalism has guided our decisions far too long, and we will no longer allow our military and foreign aid money to be used for the purposes of a genocide against the civilian Kurdish population within and around Turkey. Erdogan’s hatred is not our hatred, and we refuse to acquiesce to the notion that Kurds are terrorists because Erdogan says they are.

We encourage each of you as individuals to call, write or occupy the offices of your elected officials until they listen to these concerns.

  • We must demand that weaponry and ammunition sales to Turkey be halted until the war inside Turkey has ended and all sieges and curfews in all Kurdish cities have been lifted.
  • We must demand that the US continue viewing the YPG/YPJ as an important ally in the war against terror, and pledge to not turn our backs on them as Turkey demands we do.
  • We must demand humanitarian and human rights observers be allowed into SE Turkey’s Diyarbikir region until a reasonable stability has been restored to the civilian population of the area.

In addition, we strongly encourage you to support a Vigil for King’s Dream in Kurdistan, a peace vigil taking place in Washington, DC, across the street from the Turkish Embassy. After 35 days of presence in Washington, the Turkish Embassy has responded with misrepresentative signs and personal insults, but no invitation to talk with anyone from the group of Kurds and Americans calling for hostilities in Turkey to cease. You can learn more about the vigil or make contributions to it by visiting this website.

Occupy World Writes will be sending one of our co-founders to visit the vigil in Washington DC during March. Those of you who live in and around the DC area are encouraged to visit in person, as well as spread the word via social network and other means.

About the Author:
Carol Benedict is an independent researcher studying Kurdish history, culture and politics. She is also a human rights activist and advocate. She earned her BA in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota, Winona and graduated with honors.


Russia and Turkey Exchange Threats as War Tensions Reverberate Along Syrian Border

‘What happens next is anything but clear.’

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-17-2016

PresidentRecep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pictured in January 2016. (Photo: EPA)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey pictured in January 2016. (Photo: EPA)

A bomb blast in the Turkish capital of Ankara on Wednesday—which killed dozens of people and injured scores of others—arrived alongside increasing global worries about how Turkey is responding to shifting developments on the other side of its border with Syria where a brutal civil war and international fight against the Islamic State continues.

Over the recent days and weeks, the Syrian armed forces of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Russian airstrikes and the Syrian Kurdish milita known as the YPG, have closed off vital supply routes of ISIS and opposition fighters while capturing long-held territory near the strategically-situated town of Azaz and the rebel stronghold of Aleppo in northwestern Syria. Continue reading


Observing World Kobane Day while the Kurdish struggle continues

save-kobaneToday, November 1, 2015 is World Kobane Day. Most everyone remembers the battle for the Kurdish town last fall. Most everyone remembers the victory the Kurds gained after months of war against ISIS (Daesh) terrorists attempted to overtake the town. One year later, we pause to not only pay tribute to those who sacrificed everything in the struggle; we also are cautious that much is being overlooked or suppressed in the media regarding Turkey’s ongoing Kurdish question.

Kobane grabbed the world’s attention after being attacked in mid-October of 2014. Early on, Turkey predicted the city would fall to Daesh “within days.” Despite Turkey’s porous border regarding extremists wanting to join the Islamic State, they refused to allow Kurds across the border to help defend the Syrian town directly across from them.

After months of fighting and with the assistance of coalition forces airstrikes, the Kurds won back Kobane. The news crews left, and what remained of the city was mostly a pile of rubble where once stately buildings and beautiful homes had stood. Resourceful people, the Kurds set about rebuilding their town. It will take years and untold amounts of work and money, but these people will succeed.

But that is not the end of the story. Kobane is just one small glimpse regarding the Kurdish struggle in what was once glorious Kurdistan. Seen as a threat to Turkey’s sense of “one nation, one people,” since 1923 the government has engaged in an intentional direct assault against an entire ethnic group within its own borders.

Since Turkey’s elections on June 7, the pro-Kurdish party came in third, evidently thwarting the plans of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in reaching the supermajority of 367 seats to be able to change the Constitution, granting him unlimited power and a position for life. In an apparent attempt to rectify this supposed miscarriage of the democratic process, Erdogan called for another snap election for November 1, seemingly to try once again to get his permanent dictatorship.

As the elections in Turkey approached, violence against the Kurds has only escalated. An actor, Haci Lokman Birlik, was murdered by Turkish security forces. Turkish officials released a jarring video showing Birlik’s body being dragged through the streets behind a police vehicle. The pro-government newspaper “claimed that dragging dead bodies in the streets was ‘routine practice’ around the world, a security measure to check if the body was booby-trapped.”

Cemeteries are being blown up across Kurdistan, destroying the history of families, communities and lives around them.

When the bodies of 13 Kurdish fighters killed in Syria in a battle against Daesh were brought to Turkey’s border gate in the Kurdish province of Sirnak for burial, the Turkish authorities refused to give the dead bodies to their families. Protests were held and for 10 days families had to agonizingly wait while the bodies were held in a refrigerator truck at the border.

Those journalists who dare to attempt to cover these stories end up with their own extrajudicial killings, offices raided or bombed, families tortured, and long stays in Turkish prisons.

On August 9, Abdullah Demirbas, the former mayor of the Sur municipality in Diyarbakir, was arrested by Turkish authorities … [and] a list of charges were filed against him.” The report goes on to list Demirbas’ “crimes” as doing his job as mayor. “Most unforgivable in the eyes of the Turkish authorities, however, was: “For printing a children’s book and tourist brochures in Kurdish,” according to the same profile, “Demirbas was accused of misusing municipal resources. For giving a blessing in Kurdish while officiating at a wedding ceremony, he was accused of misusing his position … and for proposing that his district should employ Kurdish-speaking phone operators and print public-health pamphlets in Kurdish, he was accused … of aiding a terrorist organisation.”

On October 10, two bombs exploded at a peace rally in Ankara. 102 people were killed and over 400 were injured. The Turkish government is placing blame on the Kurdish community for these bombings. In actuality, security at the rally was so heightened that the only perpetrators of such an act would have been the security officials themselves or parties related to them.

And most recently, just as President Barack Obama announced sending troops to assist the Kurds in Syria, “Turkey’s military fired on U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters in northern Syria in a bid to keep them from advancing toward the border, the Turkish prime minister said Tuesday. The comments by Ahmet Davutoglu were the first time that Turkey has confirmed the use of force against ethnic Kurdish militias in neighboring Syria.” How long before a Turkish soldier kills an American while shooting at a Kurd? What happens when a NATO country starts killing the troops of another NATO country? And how will Russia, also a player in the Syrian theater of war, react?

From a recent article, “What Turkey is engaging in appears an attempt at historicide, just as al-Qaeda and ISIS have done in Bamiyan and Palmyra and throughout Iraq — and as the Palestinian Authority did last week with the help of a duplicitous UNESCO by labeling the Jewish holy sites of Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs as Muslim sites. They have been trying permanently to delete the memories of entire nations.”

Will the Turkish election on the same day as World Kobane Day matter? For the Kurds, most likely not. Regardless of the outcome, the Turkish officials will exact on the Kurdish people within their own population what has always been given them: no rights, no peace, no language, no protection, no freedom and no future. They will seek revenge for the Kurds having attempted to gain rights to exist in their original homelands through the democratic process.

As Turkey continues to slide away from any resemblance of a peace process and returns more toward the mistreatment reminiscent to that of the years leading to the coup, more towns in southeast Turkey will suffer the fate of Kobane. But this time it won’t be Daesh doing the damage; it will be the Turkish government continuing its attempt to rid itself of anyone that is not a Turk.


US and Russia vying for Kurdish attention in Syria

The Syrian Kurds are seen as IS’ most formidable enemy. Now that Russia has joined the Syrian war, its competing with the US for the Kurds’ attention.

By Joris Leverink. Published 10-23-2015 by ROAR Magazine

Photo showing female Kurdish YPJ fighter, by Kurdishstruggle via Flickr.

Photo showing female Kurdish YPJ fighter, by Kurdishstruggle via Flickr.

Last week, the US announced it had dropped 50 tons of ammunition to rebel groups in northern Syria. Despite its public announcements proclaiming the contrary, most, if not all, of the ammunition ended up in the hands of the Syrian Kurds fighting under the banner of the Peoples’ Protection Forces, or YPG.

Sensitive about the negative disposition of the Free Syrian Army and their Turkish allies towards the Syrian Kurds, the US declared loud and clear that the support was intended for a number of Arab rebel groups in the Raqqa province who had organized themselves under the umbrella of the newly established Syrian Democratic Forces.

Regardless of the public discourse, there is little doubt that the US intended for the ammunition to end up in Kurdish hands from the start. Continue reading