Saturday, August 25, 2012

Carnage Continues in Turkish Kurdistan: Syria and Kurdistan Update

Aftermath of the latest P.K.K. car bombing
[Note: See these earlier articles from this blog on related topics, especially with respect to the Kurds and the Arab Spring: “And Now Civil War ... Could Syria Break Up?” (Nov. 2011), “The Iraq War Is Over, but Is Iraq’s Partition Just Beginning?” (Dec. 2011), “Ten Separatist Movements to Watch in 2012” (Dec. 2011); “Get Ready for a Kurdish Spring” (March 28, 2012); “Shifting Alliances in the Kurdish Struggles” (April 1, 2012); “Turkish Delights Hide Ugly History” (April 4, 2012);  “Syria’s Kurds Are Setting Up a Quasi-State—How Long Can It Last?” (July 2012), “Liberation of Syrian Kurdistan Infuriates Turkey, Iraq, and the Free Syrian Army—in Fact, Everyone but Assad” (Aug. 2012), “Turkish Kurdistan Ground War in Progress, Iraq Border Crisis Eases: Kurdistan and Syria Update” (Aug. 2012), “Kurdistan Update: Both Turks & PKK Claim to Control Şemdinli, Zaza MP Abducted, Donna D’Errico and Noah’s Ark” (Aug. 2012).]

Car Bomb in Turkish Kurdistan Kills 9, Including 4 Children; 66 Dead in Week’s Strife.  66 people were killed in Kurdish insurgent violence in southeastern Turkey this week.  A military convoy traveling between Hakkari and Van provinces in Turkey’s southeast was damaged by a P.K.K. landmine on August 20th, and two soldiers were killed.  Next day, nine people were killed and 69 wounded when a remote-controlled car-bomb exploded near a police station in Gaziantep, near the border with Syria in Turkey’s southeastern Kurdistan region.  Four children were among the dead.  No one has claimed responsibility, and in fact the P.K.K. has denied responsibility—as it tends to when civilians are among the casualties.  Normally, the P.K.K. concentrates on police and military targets, steering just shy of many definitions of “terrorism.”  By the 22nd, authorities said they were questioning four suspects in that attack.  On August 21st, six P.K.K. fighters were killed by the military in Şırnak province, apparently in retaliation for Kurdish shelling of a Şırnak police station which killed one officer and wounded a second on August 19th.  There were further blasts in Şemdinli, in Hakkari province, on August 22nd, near the site of a recent, now-apparently-concluded battle (see last week’s Kurdistan Update), killing five soldiers and injuring seven.  In response, the military sent helicopter gunships after suspects, killing 16.  In retaliation, the P.K.K. killed at least one soldier in attacks on two army posts on August 23rd.  Later in the day, the Turkish military killed five Kurdish rebels during P.K.K. attacks on police stations and government offices in Hakkari.  The total number of Kurdish fighters killed on the 23rd was put at 26.

Armenian Terrorist Group Threatens Turkey Not to Invade Syria.  An Armenian nationalist terrorist group has issued a public threat to the Republic of Turkey over the safety of the Armenian diaspora community in Syria, in whose ongoing civil war Turkey has threatened repeatedly to intervene.  The group, the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA), was active mostly in the 1970s and ’80s, but with the fall of Communism and the secession of the Republic of Armenia from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) in 1991, it has been largely inactive.  The warning, issued August 20th, said, “Any military adventurism or any direct or indirect violation of the security and the social cohesion of the Armenian community of Syria on the part of Turkey will be met by similar counter-measures.”  Ankara has so far only contemplated invading Syria’s northern, Kurdish areas in order to create a buffer zone and control the spillover of Kurdish violence into Turkey, but historically Turks have been Armenians’ primary enemy: much of eastern Turkey was originally Armenia, and in the 1890s through 1910s, the Ottoman Empire and then the Republic of Turkey massacred millions of Armenians, in one of the world’s worst genocides.  The Turkish government still denies any genocide occurred.  Syria is home to nearly 200,000 Armenians, mostly refugees from the Turkish genocide—the seventh-largest Armenian diaspora population in the world.  Most Armenians in Syria are in Aleppo, currently the site of the fiercest fighting.  Others live in the capital, Damascus, and in the Alawite region of Latakia.
The ASALA logo
Free Syrian Army Blows Up Regime’s Spy Headquarters in Kurdish City.  In Qamishli, the semi-liberated notional capital of northern Syria’s self-declared Western Kurdistan Autonomous Region, an explosion ripped through an intelligence center belonging to the embattled central government.  The Sunni-Arab-dominated Free Syrian Army (F.S.A.) took credit for the attack, causing friction with the local Kurdish ad hoc government, called the Kurdish Supreme Council, which claims the F.S.A. has promised not to operate in the Kurdish areas.

Rival Versions as Son of Chechen “Emir” Killed in Syrian Civil War.  A website associated with the Islamist separatist Caucasus Emirate movement in southwestern RussiaKavkaz Center, reported August 21st that the 24-year-old son of a Chechen “emir” in the movement was killed in fighting in Syria’s civil war.  Rustam Gelayev, eldest son of Ruslan Gelayev, died in fighting against forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad’s regime some time on August 11th, 12th, or 13th.  Further details in Russian media said that the younger Gelayev was killed when a mosque came under aerial bombardment.  His body was returned to Chechnya and buried on August 17th, according to Kavkaz Center, though Russian media say his body was brought first to Turkey, then buried in the Republic of Georgia.  Meanwhile, the press secretary for the Republic of Chechnya—which ruled as an Islamist fiefdom by a Moscow-appointed authoritarian president, Ramzan Kadyrovclaimed categorically that no Chechens were fighting in the Syrian civil war—as though he would somehow know if there were.  The elder Gelayev was killed in 2004 in the Republic of Dagestan in a battle with Russian border police.

The Caucasus Emirate “martyr” Rustam Gelayev
Iran Rejects U.S. Accusation of Aid to P.K.K. to Destabilize Turkey.  The Islamic Republic of Iran on August 16th angrily rejected claims made last week (as reported at the time in this blog) by the United States’ ambassador to Turkey that Iran was funneling arms to allies in Syria of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) rebels for the purpose of destabilizing Turkey.  The Iranian embassy in Ankara stated that Ambassador Francis Ricciardone’s remarks “once again revealed the American government’s intentions to sow discord between the two friendly and brotherly countries of Iran and Turkey”—even though relations between Turkey and Iran at this point are already pretty crappy.  In fact, Iran quite rightly accused the U.S. of at least turning a blind eye to the pro-P.K.K. policies of the closely-U.S.-allied Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) in northern Iraq.  Are you beginning to see how complicated it would get if Kurdistan became independent?

Cease-Fire Line between Baghdad and Syrian and Iraqi Kurds Holding in Nineveh.  A commander with the Kurdish Regional Government’s armed forces in Zumar, in Iraq’s Nineveh province, says that the situation at the Syrian border is calm, with a new cease-fire line in the area where last month a three-way standoff went on for more than a week between the Iraqi central government’s military, the K.R.G.’s armed forces (known as the Peshmerga), and fighters over the border in Syria loyal to the Kurdish Supreme Council.  Zumar is an area claimed by both the K.R.G. and by Baghdad.

Iraqi Shiite Mullah Foretells Anti-Kurd Holy War after Arrival of Messiah.  Many Kurds in Iraq are rising up in anger over comments by an Arab Shiite cleric, Jalal al-Din Ali al-Saghir, who referred to Kurds as among the “rogues mentioned in the books of epics and tribulations” whose crimes will be “avenged by the Mahdi when he appears.”  Saghir is a member of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq (I.S.C.I.).  Many Shiites, especially those in Iraq, believe in the imminent arrival of a messiah-type figure, the Mahdi.  Saghir elaborated: “The first war of Mahdi will be against the Kurds.  He will not fight the Kurds of SyriaIran, or Turkey, but the Kurds of Iraq alone.”  Kurdish activists are collecting signatures to press for Saghir’s prosecution.

Jalaludin al-Saghir
2 Kurdish Parties in Iran Join Forces.  In Iran, a cooperation agreement was signed on August 21st between two Kurdish opposition parties, the Revolutionary Organization of the Toilers of Kurdistan (Komala) and the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (D.P.K.).  The leaders said they hoped the rapprochement would increase support in other parts of Kurdistan for Iranian Kurds’ struggle.

The emblem of Komala
[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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