Tag Archives: Kurds

Erdogan’s Turkey: Only so much Cultural Expression for Kurds

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “The conflict at the heart of the art show has stretched for more than three decades, pitting the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party against the Turkish state. Credit: Ivor Prickett for The New York Times”.)

On the other hand the show was allowed to go on for two month–from a piece at the NY Times, quite a few more photos at link:

An aerial view of the damage to a historic district in Diyarbakir, where the Turkish military fought Kurdish rebels in 2015.

An aerial view of the damage to a historic district in Diyarbakir, where the Turkish military fought Kurdish rebels in 2015. Credit: Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Diyarbakir is also noted at this 2016 post:

Sublime Erdogan the Magnificent vs the Kurds (plus ISIS/Syria)

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Mark Collins – Sublime Erdogan the Magnificent vs the Kurds (plus ISIS/Syria)

This murderous terrorism,

Istanbul bombing: Terror attack death toll rises to 38 including 30 police as officials accuse PKK
PKK blamed for attack which is the latest in an escalating scale of violence in the country

will only make this worse–at the NY Times:

As Turkey Cracks Down, Kurdish Mayors Pack Bags for Jail

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — When Kurdish officials here in Diyarbakir, the biggest Kurdish city in the world, say they’ve been “unavoidably detained,” it is not just an excuse for lateness.

Even before I arrived, the co-mayors, Gultan Kisanak and Firat Anli, were jailed on terrorism charges that rights groups say are trumped up. Interviews in prison are not possible because, officially, foreign journalists are barred from the city.

Ahmet Turk, 74, a Kurd despite his name and the venerable mayor of another Kurdish city, Mardin, was out of jail at the moment. But his press officer, Enver Ete, said that it would be hard to arrange an interview: “We can’t give a time since so many people are getting arrested we can’t foresee what will happen.”

Kamuran Yuksek, a Kurdish politician, was on the phone with a reporter when he was detained briefly — just after being released from five months in prison.

I could not see Selahattin Demirtas, the leader of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, or H.D.P., the country’s third-largest, although he lives in Diyarbakir. He, too, was jailed, along with nine other H.D.P. members of Parliament, so I arranged to see his wife, Basak, instead.

She canceled, not because she was jailed, but perhaps because she worried she would be, and she had two small children at home.

Turkey’s crackdown on Kurdish politicians, officials, news outlets, schools, municipalities, think tanks and even charities has been so thoroughgoing that it has left those who remain free expecting arrest at any moment. “My bag is packed for prison,” said Feleknas Uca, an H.D.P. member of Parliament. “Everybody has a bag in their house for prison. Now, everyone can be arrested at any moment.”

The crackdown on Kurds is part of a broader assault by the government on Turkey’s democratic freedoms after a failed coup in July, even though hard-line Islamists, followers of the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who are rabidly anti-Kurdish and hardly democratic paragons themselves, are accused of the overthrow attempt…

The crackdown on democracy has been nationwide, but on the political front it has been concentrated in the mostly Kurdish southeast, though there is no evidence, or even a government accusation, that Kurdish parties, legal or illegal, had any role in the attempted coup.

But a peace process with the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., broke down last year, and since then fighting has claimed 2,393 lives on all sides, including civilians, according to a tally by the International Crisis Group.

Mr. Erdogan’s government had been stunned in 2015 elections when the H.D.P. decimated the ruling Justice and Development Party, or A.K.P., in the east especially, winning six million votes, sending 80 candidates to Parliament, and becoming overnight a nationwide political force and the third-largest party. Critics accused Mr. Erdogan of deliberately rekindling violence in Kurdish areas to stir nationalist passions and reverse his flagging fortunes.

Since the coup attempt, the government has focused on jailing officials of the H.D.P. and its local sister parties, arresting at least 45 mayors of Kurdish towns beginning in late October. New arrests are coming practically every day. This year, 2,700 local Kurdish politicians affiliated with the H.D.P. have been jailed…

Kurds have borne the brunt of the crackdown, not just in politics but also in the news media and other areas. The publications and media organizations ordered closed by the government included nearly every Kurdish outlet, except for the government’s Kurdish television channel. Some Kurdish publications have begun publishing under other names…

Meanwhile the Kurdish complication vs ISIS in Syria:

U.S. to Send 200 More Troops to Syria in ISIS Fight

The military advance is complicated by the predominant role played by Kurdish militia members, who make up a majority of the 45,000 fighters and are the most effective American partner against the Islamic State in Syria. But the Kurdish militia fighters are viewed by Turkey — a pivotal American ally — as a terrorist threat.

Turkey regards the Syrian Kurdish fighters, known collectively as the Y.P.G., as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the Kurdish rebel group that has sought autonomy from Turkey since the 1980s. Ankara has demanded that the Y.P.G. not take part in the fight to retake Raqqa.

Turkish forces in recent months have swept across the border into Syria to attack Islamic State strongholds, an offensive the Pentagon has applauded [e.g. recently: “Turkish Troops, Syrian Rebels Attack Key Town Held by Islamic State”]. But the Turkish advance has also served to blunt the Kurdish fighters’ efforts to carve out a contiguous swath of territory inside Syria stretching to the Iraqi border.

As Turkish and Kurdish forces repeatedly clashed, American officials and commanders intervened to curtail the fighting. Washington desperately needs the two sides to focus on fighting the Islamic State in Raqqa, not each other.

To that end, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met twice in the last month with his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, to consult on battle plans for Raqqa. American Special Operations troops were assigned to accompany Turkish troops in Syria, giving the Pentagon on-the-ground liaisons.

In another unusual move, Brig. Gen. Jon K. Mott of the Air Force, a senior operations officer from the Pentagon’s Central Command, was recently dispatched to the Turkish Army’s operations center in Ankara to help coordinate the war effort and defuse any conflicts with the Kurds.

Pentagon officials are also toning down their vocal support for Kurdish fighters to avoid further inflaming Turkish domestic political sensitivities about any collaboration between Turkish troops and Kurdish fighters…

Where it will all end knows only…Earlier (Operation Euphrates Shield— this from August):

Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Syria/Iraq Update: ISIS, Raqqa, Kurds…and Turkey, Plus Mosul

Further to this post,

Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

the latest on the explosive ex-Ottoman mixture at the invaluable MILNEWS.ca:

“US Expects Anti-Daesh Operations in Raqqa, Mosul to Drag On”“Battlefield developments threaten to trigger Turkish intervention in Iraq and Syria against Kurdish and Iraqi Shia militias”…

Raqqa Latest “Raqqa: US, Turkey agree to develop plan for ISIS-held city”“U.S. Tries Convincing Turkey to Work with Kurds Against Islamic State in Raqqa”“US, Iraq Back Syrian Kurdish-led March on Raqqa, Turkey Objects”“Syria’s SDF: a risky US ally to take Raqqa”“Isolation, Liberation of Raqqa Key in Defeating ISIL, (Pentagon) Spokesman Says”“Turkey paranoid that Syrian Kurds will take Raqqa as their capital after dislodging Daesh”…

Mo’ on Mosul “The Campaign for Mosul: November 4-7, 2016” (ISW blog) “Mosul battle rages as IS strikes around Iraq”“Food Pre-Positioned for 1.25 Million People in Mosul”“Kurdish Peshmarga Storm Daesh-Held Town in Iraq as Army Battles in Mosul”“Peshmerga storm Daesh town in Iraq as army battles in Mosul”

Very interesting but dangerously messy.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Sublime Erdogan the Magnficent Pushing his Syria/Iraq Turkish Delight

The ever more maximum president is certainly making things difficult for POTUS and many others:

Erdogan reasserts Turkey’s role in wars in Syria and Iraq

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday [Oct. 27] that he had informed President Obama of Turkey’s intent to participate in an offensive in northern Syria. His remarks are a reminder of the strategic conundrum facing the United States, which is working to defeat the extremist Islamic State in Syria and Iraq with both cooperation from Turkey as well as from Syrian Kurdish militias being targeted by the Turks.

In a televised speech from the Turkish capital, Ankara, Erdogan said he told Obama that Syrian rebels backed by Turkey in an ongoing operation called “Euphrates Shield” would advance on the Syrian border town of al-Bab, which is held by the Islamic State. They would then march on to Manbij, a northern Syrian city that earlier this year was liberated from the Islamic State by a coalition of Syrian militias led by a Kurdish faction known as the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The Turkish government considers the YPG an affiliate of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, a Kurdish separatist faction that has waged a decades-long insurgency within Turkey and is deemed a terrorist group by both Ankara and Washington.

Then, Erdogan said, “we will go toward Raqqa” — the de facto capital of the Islamic State in Syria.


…[In Iraq] too , Turkey hopes for “a place at the table.” As WorldViews noted earlier, Erdogan has demanded a role for Turkish troops in the Mosul campaign that nobody — neither the Americans, nor the Iraqis — has planned for and has invoked grievances from World War I and sectarian rhetoric while doing so.

“We did not voluntarily accept the borders of our country,” Erdogan said, referring to the defeated Ottoman parliament’s disregarded 1920 territorial claim to Mosul and its oil-rich environs…

Oh dear. More here on President Erdogan.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Turkey into Syria vs ISIS and Kurds; Chinese Military Help to Assad

Further to this post,

Turkey Update: EU, US, ISIS, Syria (Kurds), Israel

President Erdogan certainly is asserting himself–at MILNEWS.ca(China at end, Putin must be pleased about their help but not happy about Turks):

– TUR into SYR “More Turkish tanks enter northern Syria, Kurds say”“Turkey sends more tanks to Syria , demands Kurdish fighters retreat”“Some 350 Turkish Troops Deployed in Euphrates Shield Operation in Syria”“Syria operation ‘to protect Turkish, European security’” – “Turkey says has ‘every right to intervene’ if no Syrian Kurd withdrawal”
– “Russia says ‘deeply concerned’ at Turkish operation against Kurds in Syria”“Russia: Syrian crisis must be resolved through talks with all sides, including Kurds”
– “KCK says Turkey aims to attack Kurds in Syria, not ISIS”
“HDP: Turkish incursion into Syria ‘a grave mistake’ that will deepen the crisis”
– “Did the Syrian regime approve the Turkish invasion?”
“Why Turkey has gone after ISIS in Syria”
“Turkey invades Syria. To destroy whom?”
“Terry Glavin: How Barack Obama sold out Syrians to appease Iran”
“Following US Orders, Kurdish Forces Withdraw from Manbij, Other Areas East of Euphrates River”“Turkish-led Forces Gain More Areas near Jarablus amid YPG Withdrawal from Area”“Turkey & USA: Syrian Jarablus Region Must Be Cleared of Kurds”
“Syrian rebels seize town of Jarablus from Islamic State”
CHN into SYR “Chinese military will train Syrian troops”“Chinese military will train Syrian troops: govt”“China military says it is providing medical training for Syria”…

What a maelstrom.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Turkey Update: EU, US, ISIS, Syria (Kurds), Israel

Turkey certainly has an awful lot to cope with these days–both internally and externally–and many feel beleaguered indeed:

1) EU is humiliating Turkey rather than helping: Turkish FM: ‘Despite Turkey’s years of efforts spent for becoming an EU member, Europe only threatens’ says Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the European Union was humiliating Ankara instead of supporting Turkey following the July 15 bloody coup attempt.

In an interview with the German daily, Bild, Çavuşoğlu said the EU only threatens Ankara despite all efforts to become a member of the 28-state bloc and obtain visa free travel. He stated the Turkish nation was “traumatized” by the failed putsch on July 15, but Europe did not stand beside them…

2) Turkey [not government] blames U.S. for coup attempt

ISTANBUL — In the wake of the weekend coup attempt against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turks increasingly point to a culprit outside their country’s borders: the United States.

“It’s all America’s fault,” said Erkan Gul, 22, a sandwich shop worker. His evidence is the U.S. haven granted to Turkish Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan blames for orchestrating the failed military coup…

3) Erdoğan blames Isis for suspected suicide attack at wedding in Gaziantep: Turkish president says bombing that killed more than 50 people and wounded nearly 100 was carried out by child aged 12-14

4) Turkey announces more active role in Syria conflict: Prime minister Binali Yildirim says he wants to prevent the war-torn country being divided along ethnic lines

Turkey will take a more active role in addressing the conflict in Syria in the next six months to prevent the war-torn country being divided along ethnic lines, the prime minister, Binali Yildirim, has said.

Yildirim also said that while the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, could have a role in the interim leadership, he must play no part in its future.

Syria’s five-year conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, with Kurdish groups carving out their own regions and periodically battling groups from Syria’s Arab majority, whose priority is to overthrow Assad.

Turkey fears the strengthening of Kurdish militant groups in Syria will further embolden its own Kurdish insurgency, which flared anew following the collapse of a ceasefire between militants and the state last year.

“Turkey will be more active in the Syria issue in the coming six months as a regional player. This means to not allow Syria to be divided on any ethnic base; for Turkey this is crucial,” Yildirim said…

5) Turkish parliament approves deal ending rift with Israel [one opportunity knocking for those who feel the need of friends]

Turkey’s parliament approved a reconciliation agreement signed with Israel in June which has brought to an end a six-year rift between the two regional powers, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said on Saturday [Aug 20]…

Both countries are to appoint ambassadors under an agreement which is partly driven by the prospect of lucrative Mediterranean gas deals.

The accord, signed on June 28, was a rare rapprochement in the divided Middle East, also driven by mutual fears over growing security risks. Two weeks afterwards more than 240 people were killed in an attempted coup in Turkey…


Turkey Through the Magnificent Mirror of the Sublime Erdogan

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Syria Update: Bomb, Bomb, Bomb by Russia (help from Iran) and Assad

The Moscow-Damascus-Tehran axis continues to flex muscles (with help from Baghdad which is permitting Russian bombing overflights to Syra). Two at Defense One’s “D-Brief”:

August 16:

Russia is now bombing Syria from Iran, giving it two strategic air bases in the Middle East. “In a move underscoring Moscow’s increasingly close ties with Tehran, long-range Russian Tupolev-22M3 bombers [really big mothers] and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used Iran’s Hamadan air base [in northwest Iran] to strike a range of targets in Syria,” Reuters reports. The move is also “thought to be the first time that Iran has allowed a foreign power to use its territory for military operations since the 1979 Islamic revolution.”

The decision also embroils Iraq a bit more in the conflict since planes will most likely have to use some of its airspace — meaning they’re flying over ISIS to bomb anti-Assad forces.

Coming soon: More Russian cruise missiles in Syria. That news follows a report from Russia’s Interfax news agency Monday announcing Moscow’s defense ministry “last week sent requests to Iraq and Iran to use the airspace of these countries for the passage of cruise missiles.”..

August 18:

In another alleged first for Syria’s war, Assad jets bombed YPG facilities in northeastern Syria, Kurdish news and Reuters report this morning from an attack that so far has reportedly killed one civilian and injured two-dozen others. “The bombardment came after clashes broke out in the city on Tuesday between the Syrian Kurdish Security forces (Asayish) and the militias affiliated with the Syrian government,” Kurdistan24 News reports.

A bit of context via Reuters: “The YPG controls wide areas of northeastern Syria, where Kurdish groups have established an autonomous government, exploiting the unraveling of central state authority over the country since the start of the conflict. The Syrian government still has footholds in the cities of Qamishli and Hasaka, both in Hasaka governorate, co-existing largely peacefully with YPG-held swathes of territory.”

A hospital was among the targets hit, Kurdish security forces said.  Here’s some video of the aftermath, via Kurdish Rudaw News. More from Syria below the fold…

Lovely. POTUS sure is being outplayed badly by Bad Vlad.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Iraq and ISIS, Mosul and After: Who'll be Killing Whom?

Even with ISIS losing ground–the Caliphate has just been ousted from strategically important Manbij in Syria by, mainly, the local Kurds–the prospects for a serious peace in Iraq (and Syria) may be  pretty dim:

With ISIS on the run, new wars could erupt in Iraq

TUZ KHURMATU, Iraq — The front line south of this bleak and dusty town looks much as it did two years ago, when the Islamic State was the enemy and controlled a village less than a mile away.

Now, however, the Kurdish peshmerga fighters holed up behind sandbags and barbed wire are peering across the line at Shiite militias, ostensibly their allies in the fight against the Islamic State.

Whether their alliance will outlast the Islamic State is in question. The militants’ defenses have been crumbling fast across Iraq. An offensive for the city of Mosul, the Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq, is likely by the end of the year, U.S. commanders and Iraqi officials say.

If the battle goes well, the defeat of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliphate in Iraq, at least in terms of the territory it controls, is on the horizon.

And so, too, are new problems — and potentially new conflicts. For the past two years, Kurdish peshmerga, Iraqi army forces, Shiite militias and some Sunni ones have largely overlooked long-standing differences to confront the menace facing them. But their feuds and grievances — over vital issues such as the distribution of power, land, money and oil — have not been resolved.

The manner in which the war has been fought — by an assortment of locally armed groups with often competing agendas — has compounded the existing problems with new and potentially more intractable disputes. Among them are the questions of who will govern the areas vacated by the Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS, and how.

“The moment there is what you might call victory against ISIS, then you are up against all the problems that caused this crisis in the first place,” said Yezid Sayigh of the Carnegie Middle East Center

More on the players and their agendas follows. Recall that the Canadian military is deeply involved in the campaign, even if no longer actually fighting and that our forces on the ground act largely on behalf of the Kurds. How will that fit in if things start going blooey between the Kurdistan Regional Government–with its eye on independence–and Baghdad? Some clear and hard forward thinking is warranted. And by quite a few governments besides our own (oddly enough this story does not mention Canadian troops).

By the way the famous “who whom” (кто кого) is rather different from what most of us thought.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – Canadian Special Forces vs ISIS (but not combat)/Rest of the Fight

Some openness and transparency via MILNEWS.ca:

DND’s latest on Operation IMPACT
“W5: an exclusive look at Canada’s commandos and the war against ISIS“What it’s really like to be a Canadian special forces soldier”“Are you a ‘cognitive warrior?’ Canada’s special forces want you”…

As for the fight more broadly, note Kurds at end:

“Moving 600K pieces of paper out of Syria: the Canadian effort to prosecute Syrian war crimes — Horrific stories of torture from Syrians account for only the smallest part of the body of evidence against the Syrian regime, says a Canadian man who founded the Commission for International Justice and Accountability. The commission has spent three years collecting war crimes evidence in Syria …”
“Syria Situation Report: June 18 – 24, 2016”
“US-backed Syria alliance pushes into Daesh border hub”
“UN concerned by reports of firebombs in Syria”
“Russia breaching international conventions, dropping lethal aerial arsenal on Aleppo, Syria”
“At least 8 Daesh terrorists killed in N. Syria during military operations”
“Hezbollah vows to send more fighters to Syria’s Aleppo”
“ISIS takes ‘hundreds of Kurds’ hostage in Manbij, rights group says”
IS Kills 20, Abducts 800 Kurdish Civilians in Northeast Aleppo

“IS Executes Its Governor of Fallujah”

“Car Bomb Kills 5 in Eastern Libya”
“14 Dead in Libyan Forces Clash With ISIS in Sirte”
“UN condemns attacks on medical facilities in Benghazi”
“Libyan government forces repel IS counterattack in Sirte”

The Kurds
“Iraq needs to be broken up, say Kurdish leaders supported by Canada”“Barzani calls for parties to meet on referendum”
“KRG officials look to export crude oil to Iran”
Attack on Kurdish media outlet “A terrorist attack on Rudaw: statement from Rudaw”“Attack on Rudaw head office in Erbil”“Update: Four injured in attack on Rudaw in stable condition”
“U.S. payments for Peshmerga expected to start in July — The United States will begin paying a stipend for Peshmerga forces fighting in the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS) in northern Iraq as early as July …”
“KRG Devoting Hard Effort to Refer Genocide of Yazidis to ICC”
“KDPI Peshmerga and Iranian Forces Clash in Northwest Iran”
“Kurdish ISIS leader killed in airstrike”

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

Mark Collins – What’s Happening in Fight vs ISIS and Related Matters

At MILNEWS.ca Blog, definitely worth the daily look:

MILNEWS.ca Highlights – June 13, 2016


– DND’s latest on Operation IMPACT

Everyone Else Against ISIL

– “Military Strikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq” (Pentagon Info-machine)

– “Iran appoints Shamkhani as military coordinator with Syria and Russia”

– “ISIS is Losing Battles, But Has Yet to Lose the War”


– “Arab-Kurd forces cut main IS Syria -Turkey supply route”
“In Syria’s Aleppo, divided locals share fear of total siege”
“Two Humanitarian Aid Convoys Reached Daraya Town” (Syrian Arab Red Crescent)
– “Destructive air strikes shake Idlib amid fragile ceasefire” – – “Turkey condemns air strikes in Syria’s Idlib”
– “Technical failure halts transit at Lebanon- Syria border crossing”
– “Intra- Syrian Talks Should Not Suffer From Artificial Delays – Moscow’


– “The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Canadian non-profit Institute on Governance (IoG) signed a partnership agreement in Baghdad that aims at advancing Iraq’s crises management ability …”
– “US seeking a protracted war on Daesh in Iraq : Analyst”
– “IS suicide attack kills five in Iraq’s Ramadi: officers”
– “Iraqi forces gain ground against Daesh south of Mosul”
– “Aid group: 4000 more flee ISIS-held city of Fallujah in Iraq”“Safe corridor allows 4000 to flee Iraq’s Fallujah”
– “The Iraqi Red Crescent: increasing the number of displaced to reach more than 20 thousand people and the Red Crescent teams are making extraordinary efforts to relief them” (Iraqi Red Crescent Society)


– “‘We Have Seen This’: Moscow Will Not ‘Bless’ Another NATO Campaign in Libya”
– “(Suicide) Bomber hits field hospital as Libyan forces battle Islamic State in Sirte”
– “Daesh strikes back at Libyan forces in Sirte”
– “ISIS bombs target forces in contested Libyan city”
– “Islamic State prepares for street fighting in Libya stronghold”
– “Libya: Humanitarian funding update (as of 26 May 2016)” (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)…

No pretty pictures.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds