Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kurdistan Update, 18-24 November 2012


Turkish Military Reports 24 Kurdish Rebels Captured in 2-Day Operation.  The Turkish military announced on November 16th that operations in southeastern Turkey’s Kurdistan region over the previous two days had captured 24 fighters from the banned separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.).  Most of the operations took place in Tunceli province.  Then, on November 18th, Turkey’s military announced that five Turkish soldiers had been killed in a battle with the P.K.K. in Hakkari province.  It said one Turk was wounded.  Four P.K.K. rebels were killed, and four were taken prisoner.

Öcalan Calls End to Kurdish Prisoners’ Hunger Strike in Turkey.  A hunger strike by over 700 Kurds in Turkey’s prisons—joined by several prominent Kurdish politicians—ended on November 18th after Abdullah Öcalan, the long-imprisoned founder of the banned, separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), held talks with Turkish intelligence officials and called an end to the action.  Öcalan’s announcement was released by his brother on November 17th.


Soldiers, Kurds Skirmish in Turkmen Town in Northern Iraq.  In a Turkmen-dominated town in a disputed, Kurdish-dominated region of northern Iraq which lies just outside the Kurdistan Autonomous Regiona battle broke out between Iraqi soldiers and armed Kurds on November 16th, leaving two people dead and 10 injured.  The incident, in Tuz Khormato, near Kirkuk, began when troops attempted to search the home of a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (P.U.K.), the political party headed by Iraq’s president, Jalal Talabani.  One of the member’s bodyguards threw a grenade, leading to a short skirmish.  Within days, both the Iraqi military sent tanks and armored personnel carriers to reinforce their control over the area, and the Kurdish peshmerga were also mustering more forces for a possible showdown.

Turkmens in Tuz Khormato.  But Kurds and Shiites want to rule the town too.

Syrian Kurds Reject U.S. Urging to Join Rebel Umbrella Group as Killing Continues.  The spokeswoman for the United States’ Department of State, Victoria Nuland, said this week that Barack Obama’s administration is urging that Kurds be included in the newly coalesced armed opposition in Syria, called the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces.  “There are a number of reports from inside Syria of some of the liberated areas where Kurdish populations and Sunni populations are working well together,” she said (obviously meaning to say Sunni Arab populations, since most Kurds are Sunnis), adding, “That’s certainly the direction that we encourage.”  Meanwhile, though, violence between predominantly Sunni Arab rebels and the Kurdish-run People’s Defense Units (Y.P.G.) (reported on last week in this blogcontinued in the town of Ra’s al-’Ayn (called Serêkanî in Kurdish), in Syria’s now-mostly-Kurdish-controlled Hasakah province in the far northwest, where rebels from the militias Jabhat al-Nusra and Ghurba’ al-Sham attacked a Y.P.G. checkpoint, leaving at least 18 dead, possibly many more.  Some blame the violence on jihadist elements that have infiltrated the Syrian opposition.  There were also reports that the president of the Kurdish council in Ra’s al-’Ayn, Abed Khalil, had been assassinated by rebel snipers.  And on November 20th, Saleh Muslim, the head of the Syria’s Kurdish-run Democratic Union Party (P.Y.D.), which is suspected of links to Turkey’s banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.), said that his group had not been invited to join the new group and would not join it.  He called the new Coalition a proxy group for the governments of Turkey and Qatar.  The Coalition has already been recognized by the French Republic, the United Kingdom, and others as the legitimate government of Syria.  Abdulbaset Sieda , the head of the Syrian National Council (S.N.C.), speaking to media in Erbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Region, said that Jabhat al-Nusra, despite its claims, was not part of the Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.), and he disavowed S.N.C. responsibility for anti-Kurdish violence, but he said Kurds must choose sides in the Syrian civil war.

A P.Y.D. patrol in Syria

Rights Activists Call for General Strike over Plight of Kurds on Iran’s Death Row.  Human-rights activists in East Kurdistan, i.e. the portion of the Kurdish homeland which lies within Iranare calling for a public protest over death sentences passed on 27 Kurds being held in Iranian prisons.  A general strike and boycott of schools and other institutions is to start November 17th.  Most of the condemned prisoners are in the city of Saghez, in Iranian Kurdistan.  Meanwhile, exile rights groups announced this week that Zainab Bayazidi, a Kurdish political prisoner and women’s-rights activist, had been released on November 20th from a prison in Iran’s West Azerbaijan province.  Bayazidi was first arrested in 2008.

[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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