Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kurdistan Update: Both Turks & PKK Claim to Control Şemdinli, Zaza MP Abducted, Donna D’Errico and Noah’s Ark

With Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship in Syria still circling the drain and Syria’s Kurds still hanging on to their string of liberated towns in the far north of the country, news on what exactly is going on in Turkey is paradoxically harder to come by.  The part of Hakkari province, in the far southeast, where the battle raged for at least two weeks between Kurdish rebels and the military for the town of Şemdinli is still more or less sealed off to the press and outsiders by the government.  Both the Turkish government and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (P.K.K.) claim to control the town.  Since there is no more heavy bombardment or movement of matériel being reported, it seems more likely that the Turks control it for now, but the P.K.K. are not down for the count.  They are launching attacks in and around Şemdinli on an almost daily basis, and in Tunceli province, in Anatolia, they abducted a member of Turkey’s parliament under the authorities’ noses, just to show they could.  (The M.P. is a Kurd and an ally and was released within 48 hours.)  Here is all the news this week from Kurdistan ...

Turkey, Kurdish Rebels Both Claim Control of Şemdinli after 3-Week Battle.  Both sides in the battle between Turkey’s military and the P.K.K. are claiming victory, for the moment, in the three-week-old battle for the town of Şemdinli, near the borders with Iran and Iraq.  The governor of Hakkari province, which includes Şemdinli, said August 11th that the battle was over.  “As a result of the operations, conducted with determination and rigor,” his statement read, “the terrorist organization P.K.K. was unable to reach its cruel goals and a large number of its members have been rendered ineffective.”  However, the spokesman for the P.K.K.’s People’s Defence Forces (H.P.G.) said that, as of August 11th, Şemdinli, which in Kurdish is called Şemzînan, was in Kurdish control, adding, “Most of the Turkish army bases in the area are under siege and no longer under the control of the Turkish army.  Turkish helicopter and fighter jets have been trying to fly over, but due to H.P.G.’s attacks they have withdrawn from the area.  The Turkish army has failed to end the besiegement.”  It is not clear how much of the town, if any, they do control, but there was plenty of apparent P.K.K. activity reported in the area in the day or so after the governor’s announcement, including gunfire in the direction of village guards but believed to be aimed at the mayor of Derecik, a town near Şemdinli.  The mayor’s house was also attacked that day.  And on August 12th in Yüksekova, also in Hakkari, P.K.K. set up a roadblock on a highway and distributed propaganda, while a nearby fuel tanker vehicle was set afire.  The next day, the P.K.K. attacked an airport construction site in Hakkari, setting fire to trucks and abducting 11 drivers.  On August 17th an explosion at a government office in Şemdinli district injured one policeman.  The same day, landmines in Şemdinli damaged an army convoy, leading to a gunfight but no reported casualties, while  elsewhere in Hakkari province that day a police checkpoint was attacked by unknown assailants with assault rifles.  The fighting in Şemdinli began June 23rd after P.K.K. fighters—including some arriving, according to the Turkish government, from the self-declared allegedly-P.K.K.-allied Western Kurdistan Autonomous Region in northern Syria—tried to take control of the town.  The government said earlier that over 115 P.K.K. fighters had been killed (as reported earlier in this blog).

P.K.K. Abducts, Releases Kurdish Lawmaker and Alevi-Rights Activist in Anatolia.  Kurdish rebels on August 12th kidnapped a Kurdish opposition legislator at a roadblock in Tunceli province, in the Anatolian region in east-central Turkey.  Two others kidnapped with him were freed shortly afterward, but the lawmaker, Hüseyin Aygün, from the Republican People’s Party (C.H.P.), remained unaccounted for until he was released late the following day.  Tunceli’s governor, Mustafa Taskeşen, said that Aygün was kidnapped by the armed separatist P.K.K. under orders from their central command in Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdistan region.  Ironically, Aygün is a human-rights lawyer from the Zaza ethnic group, considered part of the Kurdish nation, and he has championed Kurds in torture and forced-evacuation cases and even defied his own opposition party on behalf of the Alevi population, a religious community following an unorthodox strain of Shia Islam.  Alevis, who have their highest concentration in Tunceli province, make up approximately 25% of both the Turkish and Kurdish populations in Turkey—the Kurds themselves being about 20% of Turkey.  Aygün’s advisor, Deniz Tunç, who, along with a journalist, was also kidnapped in the incident but freed mere hours later, told a television interviewer later that Aygün had argued with this abductors in Kurdish for half an hour in order to convince them to free Tunç and the journalist.  The P.K.K. said August 13th that the military operations launched immediately after the abduction in a search for Aygün and his captors were putting Aygün’s life at risk.  Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, lost no time in linking the kidnapping to the emboldenment of Kurds by the establishment of a rebel Kurdish quasi-state in northern Syria last month.

Hüseyin Aygün, back safely
Violence Ongoing Elsewhere in Turkish Kurdistan.  On August 14th, it was reported that P.K.K. rebels attacked two police stations in Antioch, in Hatay province, near the Syrian border, injuring two police officers.  The following day, in Bitlis province, P.K.K. members attacked government offices in Güroymak with rocket-launchers, injuring a police officer.  One of the attackers was reportedly “rendered ineffective,” which is how the Turkish government phrases it when they kill people.  There were also demonstrations in Diyarbakir, the notional capital of Turkish Kurdistan, and other areas for the August 15th anniversary of the P.K.K.’s declaration of war against the Turkish state in 1984.  Police responded with tear gas.  P.K.K. supporters in Gaziantep, very near the border with Syria, threw gasoline bombs at a public market, while elsewhere in Gaziantep province two engineering vehicles were burned.

U.S. Accuses Iran of Being behind Flow of Arms from Syrian Kurds into Turkey.  The United States’ ambassador to the Republic of TurkeyFrancis Ricciardone, said this week that the Islamic Republic of Iran was funneling weapons to allies in Syria of the P.K.K. and that these weapons are being used against targets within Turkey.  These claims unite two concerns shared by the closely allied U.S. and Turkey: the fear of Syrian Kurds using their recently declared Western Kurdistan Autonomous Region as a staging ground for the P.K.K. war against the Turkish government, and Iran’s increasingly strident support for the embattled Arab Shiite regime of Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

Turkish Bombers Strike Alleged P.K.K. Bases in Northern Iraq.  Turkish aircraft bombed four positions in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountain region, in the autonomous Kurdistan region, on August 15th, targeting alleged camps of Turkey’s P.K.K.  Parts of the villages of Bermka, Sekanya, Sorgul, and Bukriska were hit in the nighttime strikes.  There were no reports of casualties, but P.K.K. sources say Kurdish farms and orchards were damaged.

6 Car Bombs Kill 7 in Kirkuk; Kurdish Party Office Targeted.  In Kirkuk, in the disputed Kurdish-controlled area of northern Iraq which lies outside of the autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government’s official bailiwick, six car bombs exploded on August 16th, two of them targeting a Kurdish political party’s offices during a celebration.  A total of seven people were killed in the Kirkuk bombings that day.

16 Iranians, Including 7 Kurds, “Confess” to Spying for Israel.  Official state television in the Islamic Republic of Iran last week broadcast “confessions” by 16 people, including seven Iranian Kurds, to working for Israel to assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists.  One of those seven is Maziyar Ibrahimi, a resident of Iraq’s northern autonomous Kurdistan region.  The foreign-relations head at the Kurdistan Regional Government (K.R.G.) in Arbil, Iraq, said, “We dismiss all the accusations that suggest we have relations with Israel.  When we asked Iran for evidence, they did not have any and the consul of Iran in Arbil apologized for these accusations.”

Donna D’Errico, injured in her quest for Noah’s Ark
Baywatch Babe’s Ill-Fated Quest for Noah’s Ark Almost Derailed by P.K.K. Fighting.  Last week misfortune plagued an American sex star’s quest for Noah’s Ark atop Turkey’s Mt. Ararat, the legendary mountain said to still harbor remnants of the Old Testament vessel.  Donna D’Errico, formerly of the television series Baywatch and once in 1995 a Playboy Playmate of the Month, fell some distance and injured herself with scratches and bruises while climbing with Kurdish guides last week.  She also communicated electronically to her fans about a brief scare over trouble with the P.K.K. insurgency, writing, on August 10th, “Early this morning I was awakened by one of our Kurdish guides saying that we had to leave the mountain immediately because there was trouble with the PKK and the Turkish Military on the mountain and that we were in serious danger.  I think we should be ok.  But please pray for us.” Mt. Ararat (see map above) is in Turkey’s eastern Kurdistan region (in an area formerly populated also by Armenians, before the Turkish genocide), but part of its slopes are in Iran, and the peak is near the point where those two countries meet Azerbaijan’s separatist Nakhchivan enclave and the Republic of Armenia.  D’Errico, who is 44, arrived safely home August 14th, defending her quest for the Ark by saying, “I know everybody thinks it’s funny and it’s a big joke and people don't believe in it, but I do.”  So far the Ark has not been found, but D’Errico’s Facebook page does include photos of Turkish squat toilets.

Donna D’Errico, modern-day Indiana Jones, with her now-estranged husband,
the former Mötley Crüe bassist Nikki Six.
Reportedly, if D’Errico finds Noah’s Ark, she plans to board it two by two ... all by herself.
[You can read more about these and many other separatist and new-nation movements, both famous and obscure, in my new book, a sort of encyclopedic atlas just published by Litwin Books under the title Let’s Split! A Complete Guide to Separatist Movements and Aspirant Nations, from Abkhazia to Zanzibar.  The book, which contains 46 maps and 554 flags (or, more accurately, 554 flag images), is available for order now on Amazon.  Meanwhile, please “like” the book (even if you haven’t read it yet) on Facebook and see this interview for more information on the book.]

1 comment:

  1. PKK lost hundreds of thugs in Semdinli, they messed things up totally. After Assad falls, PKK will be alone and Turkey will ultimately crush them. On the other hand, Maliki will smash zio-puppet Barzani's head


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