Category: The Case for an Independent Kurdistan

The Fifth Column launches an in-depth series of reports on the case for Kurdish independence.

UN: Torture Widespread in Post-Coup Turkey

A United Nations (UN) special rapporteur has announced the preliminary results of a study on torture in Turkish jails, prisons and extrajudicial sites stating he has found multiple abuses and cases of torture following July’s coup.

UN human rights expert, Nils Melzer conducted interviews with inmates, lawyers and advocacy groups over the course of six days last week. Melzer says the reports of torture are widespread through facilities at all levels and were most likely to occur upon initial arrest and detention of suspects. A recent investigation from BBC discovered that the recent purges and arrests aren’t limited to potential coup-plotters but also include many Kurds and leftists.

A turning point for Kurds across the Middle East

Kurds find themselves in the eye of a fast paced and changing storm in the Middle East. We travel to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party mountain stronghold in northern Iraq to get a first-hand take on a critical moment for the whole region. Karlos Zurutuza interviews Riza Altun, Kurdistan Communities Union executive member and co-founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party.

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast is witnessing, what is possibly, an unprecedented peak of violence. Fierce clashes between Turkish security forces and urban militants have levelled districts to the ground. The ongoing post-coup crackdown in Turkey targets Kurdish political representatives as new fronts also open for Kurds across the Middle East. ‘It’s a turning point for our people,’ says Riza Altun from the headquarters of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Qandil mountain range.

Turkey’s Syrian and Iraqi adventures: the underlying message

Turkey is sending a message that its armed forces are still a strong and capable fighting force, despite large-scale purges of officers of the highest ranks.

Turkey, it appears, is itching for a fight in Iraq and Syria. Its August incursion into Syria, through the ongoing Operation Euphrates Shield, was no doubt an important turning point. No longer an active bystander to the conflict in Syria, Turkey became an actual participant in the civil war that has been waging for over five years.

There was a time when opinion polls showed that the military was the most trusted organization in the country, with 89 per cent of the population holding such views. However, this declined to 66 per cent by 2011 after the military was hit by the Ergenekon and Balyoz arrests, trials and convictions which alleged coup plotting within the military’s top brass. According to a recent survey, over the past six months trust in the army has continued to fall. This lack of faith and disappointment for the military has no doubt taken another plunge after the failed coup attempt of 15 July.

I am like Diyarbakır: grieving, furious, resentful but still I stand

While our elected representatives are in jail, we have learned that the government has selected a group of people from influential families to launch a new “peace process”.

Last Friday 370 civil society organizations were closed by the government under the allegation of supporting terrorist groups. 50 of these organizations are based in Diyarbakir, in my city. There are associations that support the families who lost their houses during the curfews or families who live under the poverty line in the region. Associations that represent women and children’s rights, Kurdish linguistic rights, “lost” people, reconciliation, Kurdish culture, lawyers rights have all been closed by the government.

Sarmaşık is one of the associations that was working on poverty. Sarmaşık has regularly given food support to 32,000 people every month for the past 11 years.

Three CIA Operatives Training Syrian Rebels Killed In Jordan

Questions and suspicion now embody three deaths of US military operatives in Jordan. Now, decide for yourself which is sketchier. That the men were working for the CIA, or their alleged killer was a man in Jordanian uniform? Despite an ongoing government terrorism investigation, news is as discreet as their Jordanian mission.

According to the Washington Post, this represents the deadliest CIA-involved incident since 2009. Sources claim the men were ambushed while en route to a Jordanian military training facility.

Jordan’s status as an important regional ally deeply sensitizes the incident. It’s now confirmed that the Americans received fire from a Jordanian soldier, shortly after their convoy was allowed through a security gate. As of yet, FBI can’t rule out the possibility of a “mistake” having occurred. The Jordanian government is launching a parallel, independent inquiry.

WATCH Kurdish Women Battle Daesh Terrorists in Al-Hasakah (VIDEO)

The war in Syria has affected millions of civilians; there are virtually no women in the country which have not been affected by it. Some women have taken up arms and are fighting the terrorists shoulder to shoulder with men, defending their homeland and their lives.

The Bein Nakhrein female military unit serves in the Democratic Syrian Forces in Al-Hasakah in the north-eastern Syria.

Along with Bein Nakhrein there is the Women’s Self-Defense group. Women are also fighting in the ranks of the Kurdish security forces, As-Saish, and in the Assyrian group an-Natora.

Special Forces Operatives Photographed In Syria, Black War Darkens

More photos of clandestine American operators have surfaced from Syria’s war torn heart. The unidentified unit, sources report, were sighted outside ISIS-controlled Raqqa. These latest photographs come as offensives in both Iraq and Syria launch to reclaim militant towns.

Unlike photographs taken months ago, the journalists responsible have been identified. RT Arabic correspondent Muhammad Hassan’s team reported seeing “dozens” of Americans during their trip to Syria. “They have the latest weapons and vehicles.” he says, according to RT. Hassan also described how “they, as well as soldiers from European countries” are involved in “battles” for Raqqa. Other photos circulated by RT were taken by Reuters journalists.

Turkey Blocks EU MPs Prison Visit to Kurdish Leader

Turkish authorities blocked a delegation of national and European Parliament lawmakers from visiting the leader of Turkey’s main pro-Kurdish party who has been held in jail for almost three weeks.

The delegation of a dozen members of the Party of European Socialists (PES) sought to make a visit to the head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Selahattin Demirtas at the prison in Edirne in northwest Turkey.

But they were blocked by Turkish gendarmes on the approach road to the prison and instead held an impromptu press conference in the street, an AFP correspondent said.

In Iran, the Kurdish Struggle Remains in the Shadows

In May 2015, Mahabad, the capital of Iran’s Kurdish region, burned as riots and protests spread following the mysterious death of a young Kurdish woman in the city. Activists claimed that she had fallen to her death from the window of a hotel while escaping an attempted rape by an Iranian security official. The incident garnered international attention and was the focal point for geo-political propaganda battles.

The riots in Mahabad were not only indicative of the latent rage among the Kurdish population, but were also a symbolic reminder of the flame that has long burned within the city of Mahabad.

Turkey Continues to Arrest Kurdish Politicians, Restrict Internet Use

Turkey’s post-coup crackdown continues to make international headlines in its fourth month, with November bringing an attack on independent media outlets and the arrests of multiple politicians from the pro-Kurdish opposition People’s Democatic Party (HDP), including the party’s co-leaders Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag.

The party, which also advocates for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights alongside those of other minority groups as well as the Kurds, first entered parliament last year. There are a total of 59 HDP parliamentarians.

On November 4, Demirtas and Yuksekdag were arrested alongside eight other HDP parliamentarians in connection with an anti-terror investigation. Reports initially claimed arrest warrants had been issued for all 59 HDP MPs, though this has since been proven false. A total of 14 arrests warrants have been issued.

Iraqi Forces Recover Saudi And US Supplies From ISIS Mosul Positions, Corroborates Older claims

Since the beginning of Operation: Inherent Resolve, the Islamic State has shown itself to be a very shadowy force. Many people assume they know where the group originates, with some admitting to it’s connection to US foreign policy decisions and regional allies. Others ignore this, and even the curious will only go so far. Now, as the group’s stronghold in Mosul is surrounded, Iraqi forces find yet more IS stockpiles of Saudi and American weapons and supply.

Mosul has been under assault by Iraqi forces for around a month now, as they clash with IS. The offensive followed a surge in US troops to Iraq, the majority being special forces and accompanying marines. Exactly what those forces will be doing is unclear. Shortly after the battle’s activation, a US Navy SEAL was reported KIA (Killed In Action) by an IED blast. Officials were careful not to directly connect the operatives death with the Mosul battle.

Five other Americans–three marines, a Delta Force operative and another Navy SEAL–and a Canadian special forces soldier have died since 2014. This is only that we know of, since the statuses of thousands of military contractors and other forces are unknown.

Turkey Arrests Co-Leaders of Main Kurdish Opposition Party

Two leaders of Turkey’s pro-Kurdish opposition party have reportedly been detained, along with six party deputies.

“At night in Ankara police detained the party’s chairwoman Figen Yuksekdag, the door was broken during the storming of the house,” said a representative of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

“Half an hour later, [chairman] Selahattin Demirtas was detained.”

At least six other HDP deputies were also apprehended as part of a “counter-terrorism” investigation, the representative added. Some reports suggest as many as 15 HDP members have been detained

Navy SEAL Killed By IED In Iraq As Troops Pour Into Mosul

Another US soldier has died as the result of Iraq’s third American-involved war. The operative’s death both shadows the new Mosul offensive, and a massive US troop surge launched shortly before. Those forces, like this most recent casualty, are almost entirely dark shades of special forces.

Chief Petty Officer Jason C. “JJ” Finan died as a result of wounds sustained by an improvised explosive device. Few details are currently available, and officials are cautious to admit Finan was directly involved in the battle. Islamic State militants have held Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest, since the beginning of the war. Militants seized the town with American arms and vehicles, with many Iraqi forces retreating without a fight. Many Iraqi soldiers stripped their fatigues, vests, and put down their guns fleeing the Islamic State’s hard-charge from Syria.

Massive Spec Ops Troop Surge To Iraq, Black War Against ISIS Ramping Up

A massive surge in British and American forces is foreshadowing alleged preparations for an equally massive offensive. What exactly they’ll be doing is unclear, as most are special forces. The move invokes ongoing frustrations related to the blackening out of Iraq’s third war. Now, citizens worldwide unanimously question the role of special forces in Iraq and Syria.

Washington announced the recent deployment of over 600 American forces to “assist” indigenous fighters.They’ll arrive in time for a rugged offensive aiming to retake Mosul from the Islamic State.

History Repeats Itself for the Kurds: the West Is Once Again Forsaking ‘Its Own’

The bizarrely intertwined events of the Syrian conflict are suddenly playing out in a less than logical manner, but in fact this big reversal for the Kurds – who make up about 10% of Syria’s population – is no surprise. Although they’ve not lost a single battle and have made real gains in their fight against the Islamic State (IS), they have suddenly found themselves forced to abandon the vast swaths of the territory they had liberated east of the Euphrates.

Now that the Turks have invaded Syria, there is no more talk of granting the Kurds the status of a separate federal region within a new Syrian state – something the Kurds very much want – much less the independence for which many of them have secretly dreamed.