Category: The Case for an Independent Kurdistan

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

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.

Death of beautiful teenage Kurdish fighter sparks multiple debates

Viyan Antar, 19, was killed fighting Islamic State forces in Northern Syria last month. Undoubtedly, Viyan, like many Kurdish fighters, was gorgeous. Western media outlets sought to capitalize on the death of the “Kurdish Angelina Jolie”. Her photo was plastered all over the media. Her death was used to further the march for war in Syria. Had this been a US soldier, the incident would have been forgotten before her body was cold. In this case, the media’s treatment of the young Kurdish fighter unleashed a firestorm of criticism and sparked multiple debates.

The first and most obvious is the sexualization of a fighter who gave her life fighting in support of a philosophy that seeks to end the sexualization of women. In something glossed over in the rush to create propaganda, the media failed to mention that Viyan was fighting with the YPG, a Kurdish group dedicated to a certain set of ideas. One of the major beliefs is that people are judged by their service to cause of liberation, not their appearance. Casting Viyan as the teenage beauty queen martyred on the alter of fighting the Islamic State betrayed everything she actually fought and died for. It was a travesty of journalism.

Federalism No Suitable Gov’t Model for Syria: Minister

Syrian Minister of State for National Reconciliation Affairs Ali Haidar said those who think that a federal state could be a suitable government model to preserve Syria’s unity and sovereignty are “in error”.

“Everyone who is now talking about federalism as a political plan and identity for (Syria) is wrong,” Haidar told the Tasnim news agency on Wednesday.

He added that the government and the Arab country’s different ministries have a clear and positive view of “administrative decentralization in light of political unity” plan, which could settle differences in Syria.

Four Dead in Bomb Attack on Army Convoy in Southeast Turkey

Three soldiers and a local guard were killed on Thursday in an attack on a Turkish military convoy in the town of Bitlis in the country’s troubled southeast, state-run media reported.

Another six soldiers were injured in the bombing blamed on the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), news agency Anadolu said, AFP reported.

The attack was carried out using a handmade bomb that detonated as the armored vehicle drove by, the agency added.

Kurdish women’s battle continues against state and patriarchy, says first female co-mayor of Diyarbakir. Interview

After this military coup, the government may use this as an excuse to strengthen their sexist, militarist and anti-democratic policies further. We face this danger now.

The authors write:

The prominence of Kurdish women in Rojava (western Kurdistan/northern Syria) inspired us initially to understand the historical role of women in the Kurdish political movement. We were also interested in the role of Kurdish women in challenging traditional patriarchal society and rules. As part of this wider project, we wanted to hear the thoughts of Gültan Kışanak, the female co-mayor of Diyarbakır, the largest Kurdish city in southeastern Turkey.

She has been a long-term activist in the Kurdish women’s movement in addition to being a former MP for the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Ms Kişanak was imprisoned as a student after the military coup in 1980, and as a woman’s rights activist and Kurdish politician has witnessed the violent aftermath of previous coups as well as the radically changing political landscape over the past decades.

‘You can’t deny the people forever’. Kurdish voices in exile.

Over baklava and sweet tea, openDemocracy hears about Turkey’s post-coup crackdown and the dreams of an independent Kurdistan.

The Kurdish Community Centre in Harringay. (Image courtesy of the KCC)Harringay Green Lanes is home to London’s largest Kurdish community. The Victorian Grand Parade advertises this identity, with shops named after Gaziantep and Diyarbakir, the two largest cities in Turkish Kurdistan. The pavements were recently widened to accommodate the crowds that flock for food at one of the many enticing restaurants, or buy the legendary pastry gözleme, rolled by women sitting at a kiln in the front windows of the cafes, one of which is named after Taksim Square.

The Kurdish part of Green Lanes is a hive of political activity. Last June, after the moderate Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) gained over 50 seats in Turkey’s election, weakening the power of President Erdoğan with a hung parliament, the area was filled with celebratory chanting and car honking. (A re-run of the election in November resulted in gains for Erdoğan’s AKP and losses for the HDP). The party spoke strongly in favour of the Gezi Park protests of 2013, when Kurds in the area congregated around Finsbury Park and marched down Harringay with banners. Less mainstream organizations are also represented: in 2012, graffiti appeared on phone boxes and under the railway bridge in support of the youth wing of the MLKP (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party), a small underground Hoxhaist group, some of whose members have travelled to Rojava in Syrian Kurdistan to fight against the Islamic State.

Aleppo’s Liberation is Close, But It’ll Be a Tough Slog

The Syrian Army has surrounded the jihadist-held portions of the city of Aleppo. Offering fighters a chance to lay down their weapons and leave the city, the government is hoping to liberate the area and help put an end to Syria’s long war. However, analysts are warning against too much optimism. Encirclement, they note, does not mean victory.

On Friday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Moscow and Damascus has launched a massive humanitarian operation in Aleppo, establishing exit routes for civilians and any militants wishing to leave the jihadist-held portions of the city. Three routes were designated for civilians, along with a fourth for militants with weapons and equipment.

Very Turkish abduction from the seraglio and crocodile tears of the ‘West’

The whole experience was psychedelic, even for seasoned observers of Turkish politics, most of whom were first-hand witnesses or indeed victims of the periodic interventions of the “guardians of the republic” – in 1960, 1971, 1980, 1997 and, for that matter, 2007.

Fighter jets and helicopters flying over Istanbul and Ankara, dropping bombs on police headquarters and the parliament, sporadically opening fire on civilians; tanks and platoons occupying central locations, among them the two bridges on the Bosphorus, the Ataturk airport, TV stations and General Staff headquarters; a president defying the mutiny on Facetime and calling the “nation” to take to the streets; a quick denouement which left 265 dead, 1440 wounded and an even stronger “strongman” behind.