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Ed Webb

Washington on the spot as its Syrian Kurd allies are drawn into PKK-KDP fight - Al-Moni... - 0 views

  • Tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have sharply escalated amid claims that a PKK-linked Syrian militia that is backed by the United States attacked Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces
  • The PKK-affiliated Kurdistan Communities Union countered by issuing a statement accusing the KDP of spreading “dirty propaganda.”   “Such a misleading propaganda legitimizes policies adopted by the Turkish State, that aims at extermination of the Kurdish people, and poses grave dangers to the future of our people,''
  • two days after a peshmerga fighter was killed in a separate clash between PKK and KDP fighters in the mountainous Amedi region of Dahuk province, which borders Turkey and Syria
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  • Tensions between the KDP and the PKK have been rising since the summer, when KDP forces deployed in Zine Warte, a strategic mountain pass linking the PKK’s main bases in the Qandil mountains along the Iran-Iraq border to valleys accessing the north and south. The move came as Turkey, which has thousands of forces deployed across Iraqi Kurdistan, launched a large-scale land and air offensive against the PKK. The operations, now slowed down by unfavorable winter weather, are part of a broader campaign to encircle and cut off the PKK’s strongholds in Amedi, Qandil and Yazidi-dominated Sinjar near the Syria border from one another.
  • The KDP has repeatedly called on both Turkey and the PKK to carry their fight elsewhere as Kurdish civilians continue to get killed in Turkish drone strikes, but to no effect.
  • An SDF source who declined to be identified by name denied KRG allegations that the Syrian Kurdish force was facilitating the passage of YPG and PKK fighters into Sinjar. “These claims aren’t true and the Iraqis know that,”
  • Iraqi Kurdistan’s Fish Khabur border crossing to northeast Syria is the main supply line for incoming humanitarian aid and for military and logistical supplies for coalition forces based in an area run by Syrian Kurds. The KDP is the dominant force on the Iraqi side of the frontier. Should relations between the KDP and the SDF deteriorate, that access might be compromised for the 700 to 1,000 mainly American forces deployed across the border in Syria.
  • An Iraqi analyst who closely monitors the Kurdish region said in emailed comments to Al-Monitor that the KDP sees Kobane “as an extension of the PKK in some way. At the same time [Kobane] has with the support of the Americans been able to establish control over the Syrian side [of the common border] and reduce the influence of the KDP in that area, which is something [the KDP] doesn’t like.”
  • PKK source in the Iraqi Kurdistan region argued, however, that the root of the current tensions was Turkey, whose continued repression of its own large Kurdish minority is bloodily spilling over its borders into Syria and Iraq. “The KDP is not exercising its own will, but that of Turkey, because of its [economic] dependency on Turkey,” he said. Kurdistan’s oil, a main source of income, flows through a pipeline to Turkish export terminals on the Mediterranean Sea.
Ed Webb

Turkish Arrests Reveal Washington's False Assumptions in Syria | Wilson Center - 0 views

  • On May 14, 2020, the Turkish government carried out another wave of arrests against Kurdish mayors in the country’s southeast; using politically motivated terrorism charges to replace them with government chosen appointees. Of the 65 cities in the country that elected mayors from the predominantly Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (the HDP) last year, only 14 are still led by the candidate their people chose. The other cities have all seen their elected mayors either jailed, replaced, or simply never allowed to take office at all.[i]
  • as the Turkish government continues to arrest mayors based on their political party’s relationship with the PKK, it should be clear that Ankara does not see the threat it is facing in narrow security terms. Rather it sees itself as locked in a multi-front confrontation with the PKK-aligned Kurdish nationalist movement in the region. From Ankara’s point of view, the YPG’s success in winning international support and building a semi-autonomous administration in Syria was part of the same strategic challenge as the HDP’s success in winning mayoral races and managing cities across southeastern Anatolia
  • Turkey’s deepening authoritarianism went hand in hand with the breakdown of U.S.-Turkish relations, and, ultimately, the end of America’s anti-ISIS policy
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  • as long as Erdogan and his nationalist partners saw the PKK, YPG and HDP as a single, unified threat to their country’s security and their own hold on power, pursuing such a policy would have proven difficult. Moreover, Washington did not try. Instead, both the Obama and Trump administrations sought to offer Turkey military and intelligence support in its fight against the PKK while turning a blind eye to Turkey’s domestic repression of the HDP in order to assuage Turkish anger over U.S. cooperation with the YPG
  • Ankara’s goal was never border security. Rather it was to undermine the YPG’s political project in its entirety
  • Currently, the State Department’s Syria team is pushing for reconciliation between the YPG and rival Kurdish factions that Ankara views as more politically palatable. The logic, as reported by Al Monitor’s Amberin Zaman, is that such a deal would “weaken Turkey’s argument that the autonomous administration is a ‘PKK terror state” and “end Turkey’s objections to the U.S.-SDF partnership, shielding the northeast from further Turkish attacks…”[iv]  But from Ankara’s point of view, a YPG led government given time to consolidate itself by co-opting rival Kurdish factions, might well prove even more threatening – still a “PKK terror state” in Ankara’s eyes, only now a more powerful one.
  • Where U.S. officials sought to show Ankara that the YPG had become a multi-ethnic rather than purely Kurdish force, Ankara saw a force that was still Kurdish-led but now had a newfound capacity to expand into predominantly Arab regions.
  • Washington should use its remaining influence in Syria to help the YPG preserve as much autonomy as possible in its dealings with the Damascus government
Ed Webb

Turkey Bans All Syrian Aircraft as Tension Over War Escalates - - 0 views

  • Turkey’s foreign minister announced on Sunday a ban on all Syrian aircraft entering his country’s airspace, days after the authorities discovered what they said were Russian military munitions on board a passenger plane bound for Damascus.
  • followed Syria’s ban on Turkish aircraft a day earlier and became the latest volley in an increasingly aggressive dispute between the two neighbors over Syria’s devastating civil war.
  • Mr. Davutoglu said Turkey would not be open for talks with Mr. Assad’s government unless violence against civilians ceased.
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  • A suicide bomber rammed a car bomb into a coffee shop in the upper-class neighborhood of Mezzeh in Damascus, Syria’s state news agency reported
    Russian deliveries will have to come via Iraqi airspace now, it seems. There is no clear trend here. Every de-escalatory move seems to be followed by something as strong or stronger in the opposite direction. Turkey cannot have any more interest in inter-state war than Syria does. On the other hand, if Ocalan doesn't get the PKK to ratchet back their attacks, Turkish domestic opinion may push Erdogan to attempt to set up a buffer zone in the Kurdish region of Syria, or maybe along the whole border. Iraq's recent decision to no longer permit Turkish basing in northern Iraq makes that more likely: containing the PKK has become harder.
Ed Webb

Turkey: PKK threatens dam projects in southeast - 2 views

    Aim off due to this being Turkey's semi-official news agency/propaganda organ
Ed Webb

Did Erdogan approve Azerbaijan escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh? - 0 views

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan views the world with both grievance and a sense of opportunity. In a major speech Oct. 1, he assailed the failures of the post-World War II international system, declaring, “There is no chance left for this distorted order, in which the entire globe is encumbered by a handful of greedy people, to continue to exist the way it currently does.”
  • He described Turkey as a country that “cannot use the same methods as the states that have no roots no traditions, and no morals, and which derive their power from colonialism and greed."
  • Erdogan’s approach speaks to Turkey’s Islamic and Ottoman past, including in his newly assertive role on the Palestinian issue, as Fehim Tastekin and Adnan Abu Amer report. “We had to leave [Jerusalem] in tears during the First World War,” Erdogan said this week. “It is still possible to come across traces of the Ottoman resistance. So Jerusalem is our city, a city from us.” 
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  • In Syria, Erdogan faces a quagmire mostly of his own making, and he shows no inclination to pull back. He got Turkey involved early, backing elements committed to deposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during protests nearly a decade ago.
  • Turkey’s troops and proxies still occupy parts of northeastern Syria, near the Turkish border, and will stay there, according to Erdogan, “until the last terrorist is destroyed.” Terrorist, by his lights, means not only the Islamic State, or Daesh, as he refers to it, but Syrian Kurdish forces that have been aligned with the United States, and which Turkey views as linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated a terrorist group by Ankara and Washington.
  • campaign against the PKK includes attacks on the group inside Iraq as well
  • Libya, where Turkey has shifted jihadis it backed during the fight in Syria to Libya to fight on behalf of the Government of National Accord
  • Amberin Zaman writes that Azerbaijan’s military action, which set off the recent escalation, “was not sparked by accident but was preplanned by Azerbaijan and its regional ally Turkey.”
  • Turkey's all-in support for Azerbaijan, including providing arms and training, can allow Erdogan “to claim credit for winning back Azerbaijani territory, however little, [which] would be an enormous boost to his droopy poll numbers in the midst of a looming economic crisis."
  • Despite denials by Ankara and Baku, there are reports of Syrian jihadis joining the fray, sent there by Turkey
  • if Moscow comes to believe that Ankara has ulterior motives such as expanding its Turko-Islamist influence to the south Caucasus as part of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman ambitions, it won't stand idle
  • as Turkish-Israeli relations go from bad to worse, both Ankara and Jerusalem are backing Azerbaijan in the conflict. Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel because of Israel’s selling arms to Azerbaijan, as we report here.
Ed Webb

Tehran strikes Kurdish opponents in Iraq as protests over Mahsa Amini's death convulse ... - 0 views

  • Iran unleashed a wave of missiles and drones on the headquarters of three separate Iranian Kurdish opposition groups based in Iraqi Kurdistan today, killing at least nine people and wounding 32 others, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq’s Ministry of Health said, adding that it expected the death toll to rise.
  • An estimated 10 million Kurds, mainly Sunnis, who make up around a tenth of Iran’s population have long been denied political and cultural rights. At least 1,500 Kurdish activists were arrested in the last days’ tumult. The Kurdish majority areas in the country’s northwest, alongside Balochistan in the southwest, are among the least developed. The demonstrations over Amini’s murder first erupted in Tehran but rapidly spread to Iranian Kurdistan.
  • Iraq’s Foreign Ministry and the KRG condemned Iran over its actions, as did the United States, Germany, the UK and the United Nations. “Attacks on opposition group’s through the Islamic Republic of Iran’s missiles, under any pretext, is an incorrect stance that promotes a misleading interpretation of the course of events,” the KRG stated in an oblique reference to Iran’s efforts to scapegoat the Iranian Kurds for the mass protests inside its own borders.
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  • Persian demonstrators are chanting “Kurdistan is the eyes and the light of Iran,” Mohtadi noted. “The Kurds, instead of being perceived as the usual suspects, are now hailed as being at the vanguard of popular protests. It’s unprecedented,”
  • Lawk Ghafuri, a KRG spokesman, told Al-Monitor that media reports suggesting that Iran had also targeted the PKK’s Iranian branch known as The Party for Free Life in Kurdistan, or PJAK, had come under any Iranian fire were inaccurate. The party is mostly shunned by other Iranian Kurdish groups because of its links to the PKK, which is designated as a terrorist group by the United States and the European Union but has broader global reach than any other Kurdish group in the world. At least 12 Kurdish prisoners were executed in Iran in June alone, according to the Paris-based Kurdish Human Rights Network — one of them over alleged connections to the PKK.
  • The regime is under mounting pressure. They fear for many reasons that Kurdistan could be a point of departure for the liberation for the rest of Iran,” said Asso Hassan Zadeh, an Iranian Kurdish analyst and former deputy leader of the KDPI. “We have more connections with the rest of the world than other parts of Iran, and the role played by the Kurds in the current protests helps explain the reaction,”
Ed Webb

Al Jazeera speaks with PKK rebel leader - Middle East - Al Jazeera English - 0 views

    Note that he speaks Turkish here, not Kurdish - maybe due to who AJ has available to interpret.
Ed Webb

Turkey's New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire | Foreign Policy - 1 views

  • an alarming burst of Turkish irredentism
  • Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul, near which Turkey has a small military base. And, alongside news of Turkish jets bombing Kurdish forces in Syria and engaging in mock dogfights with Greek planes over the Aegean Sea, Turkey’s pro-government media have shown a newfound interest in a series of imprecise, even crudely drawn, maps of Turkey with new and improved borders
  • this combination of irredentist cartography and rhetoric nonetheless offers some insight into Turkey’s current foreign and domestic policies and Ankara’s self-image. The maps, in particular, reveal the continued relevance of Turkish nationalism, a long-standing element of the country’s statecraft, now reinvigorated with some revised history and an added dose of religion
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  • they aren’t maps of the Ottoman Empire, which was substantially larger, or the entire Muslim world or the Turkic world. They are maps of Turkey, just a little bigger
  • while countries like Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary brought disaster on themselves by trying to forcibly rewrite their postwar borders, Turkey — under Ataturk and his successor — wisely resisted this urge
  • Erdogan, by contrast, has given voice to an alternative narrative in which Ataturk’s willingness in the Treaty of Lausanne to abandon territories such as Mosul and the now-Greek islands in the Aegean was not an act of eminent pragmatism but rather a betrayal. The suggestion, against all evidence, is that better statesmen, or perhaps a more patriotic one, could have gotten more.
  • Erdogan’s new sectarianism is evident in Mosul, where Turkey has warned of the risks to Sunnis should Shiite militias take control of the city. But the policy’s influence is clearest in Syria, where Turkey has been supporting Sunni rebels aiming to topple the Assad regime (including those now struggling to hold the city of Aleppo). In both Iraq and Syria, however, Turkey’s sectarianism has not been allowed to trump pragmatism. Ankara has been keen to maintain a mutually beneficial economic relationship with Iran despite backing opposite sides in Syria and in the past year has also expressed its willingness to make peace with Assad if circumstances require it.
  • Criticism of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman foreign policy is now as likely to come from the Arab world as anywhere else
  • The Sultan Murad Brigade, comprising predominantly ethnic Turkmens, has been one of Ankara’s military assets inside Syria against both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the PKK. Meanwhile, the Turkmen population living around Mosul and its surrounding area has been a concern and an asset for Ankara in Iraq. Turkish special forces have worked with the Iraqi Turkmen Front since at least 2003 in order to expand Turkish influence and counter the PKK in northern Iraq.
  • Turkish minorities in northern Greece and Cyprus have played a similar role. That is, their well-being has been a subject of genuine concern for Turkish nationalists but also a potential point of leverage with Athens to be used as needed
  • Erdogan has also emphasized a new element to Turkey’s communitarian foreign-policy agenda: Sunni sectarianism
  • Government rhetoric has been quick to invoke the heroism of Turkey’s war of independence in describing the popular resistance to the country’s July 15 coup attempt. And alongside the Ottomans, Erdogan routinely references the Seljuks, a Turkic group that preceded the Ottomans in the Middle East by several centuries, and even found a place for more obscure pre-Islamic Turkic peoples like the Gokturks, Avars, and Karakhanids that first gained fame in Ataturk’s 1930s propaganda
  • the points at which Turkey has proved susceptible to irredentism in the past have all come at moments of change and uncertainty similar to what the Middle East is experiencing today. In 1939, Ankara annexed the province of Hatay, then under French control, by taking advantage of the crisis in Europe on the eve of World War II
  • Ankara is all too aware of the fact that the power to do so remains the only rationale for foreign intervention that matters
Ed Webb

Is Turkey Renaming Istanbul Constantinople? | Foreign Policy - 1 views

  • The Turkish government wants to end the PKK's terrorist campaign without splitting off a Kurdish state -- and sees extending cultural rights and linguistic freedoms as the way to do it. But what will it take to reconcile the Turks and the Kurds?
  • Turkish journalists expect the government to allow public servants and politicians to speak Kurdish, end restrictions on Kurdish media, give some form of amnesty to all but the highest ranking PKK members, and possibly even revise the Constitution to allow Kurds to be full Turkish citizens without giving up their Kurdish identity. (Those Kurds who are proud to call themselves Turks have always been accepted and often risen high in the ranks of politics and pop culture) 
  • Realizing at last that the fight will never be won through purely military means, Turkey's leading general now supports greater cultural freedom for Kurds and wants to make it easier for PKK members to surrender. The National Security Council, traditionally a vehicle for the military to "advise" the government on political issues, also gave its blessing to the initiative.
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  • As the chief of staff of the president of Iraqi Kurdistan told the International Crisis Group, "If the Shiites choose Iran, and the Sunnis choose the Arab world, then the Kurds will have to ally themselves with Turkey."
    This would make Harold Pinter happy...
Ed Webb

What's Turkey Trying to Achieve in Syria? | The National Interest - 2 views

  • With the Islamic State’s surviving fighters relegated to small pockets of the most austere bastions of the Syrian desert, the Turkish army likely sees an opportunity to capture Syria’s northern border, in order to project power, consolidate territory and expand its own sphere of influence throughout the near abroad.
  • While the Turkish military and the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army have advanced considerably to surround Afrin, and entered the city center on March 18,  the fifty-eighth day of the operation, many lives have been lost, including several dozen Turkish soldiers, over a hundred Free Syrian Army members and some three thousand YPG fighters, according to official Turkish statements.
  • Erdoğan, aims to mobilize his base at home with a “glorious little war” and to boost his cachet among surviving jihadist groups
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  • Turkey seeks to dominate northern Syria by using its local Syrian Sunni populations, even radical ones, as proxies
  • Although the YPG administration insists it has evolved beyond the Marxist ideology of its founder, Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan, many in the region note the markers of Marxist-Leninist teachings in the YPG’s current ideology. Neither can the Syrian Arab asylees return to homes and land controlled today by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), currently the chief ally of the U.S. military. Further complicating the relationship is the longtime problem of forced military conscription of Arab teens into the ranks of the SDF, and lingering mistrust between the YPG Kurds and the Arabs.
    Note there are more pages to this report
Ed Webb

Syria war: Pro-government forces enter Kurdish-held Afrin - BBC News - 0 views

  • Syrian pro-government forces have entered the Kurdish-held border enclave of Afrin, reports say, raising the risk of clashes with Turkey.It comes a day after Syria's state news agency said "Popular Forces" would be sent there to counter "the Turkish regime's attack".
  • Turkey has vowed to clear Afrin of the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which it considers a terrorist group.Turkey sees the militia as being an extension of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), which is banned in Turkey and has fought for Kurdish autonomy there since 1984. The YPG denies any direct military or political links with the PKK.
Ed Webb

'Iran strikes deal with terrorist PJAK against Turkey' - 0 views

    Treat with caution. Smells like propaganda.
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