Saturday, November 10, 2012

Kurd Truce in Syria?, Plus: Turkmen and Kaka’i in Conflict with Iraqi Kurds: Kurdistan, Syria, and Iraq Update, 4-10 November 2012


Turkish Riot Police Attack Peaceful Kurdish Protesters as Hunger Strike Drags On.  Turkish police aimed water cannons and tear gas at about 400 peaceful Kurdish protesters who were demonstrating in Istanbul, Turkey, in solidarity with about 700 Kurdish hunger strikers.  The hunger strikers had at that point been fasting for 54 days, mainly as a way of demanding improved conditions for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s imprisoned founder, Abdullah Öcalan.

50 Killed, at Least 24 Wounded in P.K.K.-Related Violence in Southeastern Turkey.  Two people were killed and 24 injured in violence linked to the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) in southeastern Turkey this week.  One Turkish soldier was killed and six others wounded on November 2nd in Diyarbakır province, in an incident began with an attack on a military checkpoint by militants.  On November 4th, near Şemdinli, in Hakkari province, a car-bomb aimed at a military vehicle killed an 11-year-old and injured 18 people.  Most of the injured were civilian passers-by.  On November 5th, media reported that a military operation in Şırnak province had killed 18 P.K.K. militants.  Airstrikes in Hakkari province on November 8th were reported to have killed 13, according to Turkish sources.  A battle on the Habesti plateau on the same day killed one P.K.K. fighter, and a Turkish soldier was also killed later on in the day.  In Siirt province on November 10th, a Turkish military helicopter in an anti-P.K.K. operation crashed in bad weather, killing all 17 military personnel aboard.


Syrian Opposition Fighters Abduct, Kill Female Kurdish Militia Leader amid Truce Rumors.  In Aleppo, the ethnically mixed city in northern Syria which for weeks has been the focus of the fiercest fighting in the civil war, Syrian rebel fighters on November 2nd killed a captured a female Kurdish militia leader, according to a report from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.  The woman, Shaha Ali Abdu (a.k.a. Nujeen Dirik), led a popular-defense battalion under the banner of the Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.), a Kurdish militia linked to Turkey’s banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  She had been captured a week earlier when parleying with the Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.) to return to them the bodies of F.S.A. members killed in clashes with Kurds (reported on last week in this blog).  She was 42 years old.  Later, a spokesman for the F.S.A.’s Salahddin Batallion told media that the F.S.A. had reached a provisional cooperation agreement with the P.Y.D.’s “People’s Defense Units” (Y.P.G.), but this has not been confirmed.

A P.Y.D. checkpoint in Syria

At Least 2 Dead as Turkish Military Forays into Iraq by Air, Land.  At least two people have been killed in a series of bolder and more frequent air and ground military forays into northern Iraq by the Turkish army and air force.  In the mountainous border area of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region, fighter jets from Turkey struck what were apparently bases of Turkey’s banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) on November 2nd.  The reports were confirmed by northern Iraq’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (K.Y.B.).  There were no reports of casualties.  On November 5th and 6th, Turkish special forces called “Maroon Berets” launched a surgical ground offensive into Iraqi territory, ostensibly to root out P.K.K. rebels.  On November 6th, according to Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) officials in Iraq, further airstrikes by Turkey near the village of Rania had killed two Iraqi civilians and injured three others.

Turkmen Front Disavows Role in Iraqi-Appointed Paramilitary in Kurdish Regions.  The Iraqi Turkmen Front (I.T.F.) this week denied rumors that a senior I.T.F. official had been appointed deputy commander of the Djila Operations Command.  Iraq’s increasingly authoritarian Shiite Arab prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, created the Djila Operations Command last year to beef up the central government’s presence in Kirkuk and Diyala, two provinces which technically lie outside northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region but which the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) has under its partial control.  The Turkmen Front’s representative in Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan’s capital, stated, “From the very beginning, the Turkmen Front has been against the Djila forces, and we still are. We want a force that is approved by Arabs, Turkmen, and Kurds.”  Brigadier Muayad Nuraddin, who has assumed the post, is a Turkmen, but is not a Turkmen Front member, according to the spokesman.  Nuraddin told a reporter, “I am a Kurd, a Turkmen, an Arab.  I am an Iraqi.”  Meanwhile, Kirkuk’s governor, Najmaldin Karim, who wants the K.R.G. to annex the province, said he would make sure that the Djila militants are not allowed into his province.

Iraqi Kurdistan Region Rejects Demand to Place Peshmerga under Baghdad’s Control.  In northern Iraq, the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s Department of Peshmerga this week rejected a demand by Iraq’s increasingly authoritarian Arab Shiite prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, to put the Peshmerga—the Kurdish military—under Baghdad’s control.  A senior official at the ministry called Maliki’s comments on the matter an “illusion.”

Kaka’i Kurds Threaten Iraqi Kurdistan Culture Minister’s Life for “Offensive” Textbook.  A former minister of culture for the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) in northern Iraq was among several who received death threats last week after a K.R.G.-produced school textbook discussed the minority Kaka’i religion in ways that some Kaka’i believers seem to have found offensive.  The death threat to the culture minister, Falakadin Kakai (he is himself a Kaka’i follower), was an envelope containing a bullet and a warning from an organization called the Guardians of Kaka’i Belief that read, in part, “We pledge to destroy and humiliate you and your families, regardless of who you are.  We swear on the Kaka’i religion that if you do not recall the material that you have published in the book, next time the bullet will end up in you and your family’s brains.”  Kakai said he stands by the rather neutral discussion in the textbook, complained that the threats did not mention any particular offending passages, and added, “They cannot frighten me.  They are just a bunch of immature people.”  The Kaka’i, also called Ahl-e Haqq (“People of Truth”) or Yâresân, are followers of a non-Muslim belief system that includes, for example, reincarnation beliefs, though the movement also has affinities with Sufism and with the Alevi religion found in Turkey and Kurdistan.  There are about a million Kaka’i followers in Iraq, mostly ethnically Kurdish, and many more than that in Iran, where the group is marginalized and classified erroneously by the authorities as Shiite.

Falakadin Kakai
[Also, for those who are wondering, yes, this blog is tied in with a forthcoming book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas to be published by Auslander and Fox under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements, Independence Struggles, Breakaway Republics, Rebel Provinces, Pseudostates, Puppet States, Tribal Fiefdoms, Micronations, and Do-It-Yourself Countries, from Chiapas to Chechnya and Tibet to Texas.  Look for it in spring 2013.  I will be keeping readers posted of further publication news.]

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