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★ Kurds & Kurdistan

Kurds & Kurdistan: see Turkey & Iraq & Syria & US Foreign Relations & United Nations & Oil & Dam & Isis & Yazidis

Noam Chomsky - Mark Thomas TV - Luke Harding - John Pilger - Christopher Hitchens - Mark Steel - Ross Kemp TV - Adnan Sarwar: Journey in the Danger Zone: Iraq TV - Anna: The Women Who Went to Fight Isis TV - Stacey Dooley TV - Our World TV - This World: Turkey: Erdogan's Empire TV -




By very conservative estimates, Turkish repression of Kurds in the 1990s falls in the category of Kosovo.  It peaked in the early 1990s; one index is the flight of more than a million Kurds from the countryside to the unofficial Kurdish capital, Diyarbakir, from 1990 to 1994, as the Turkish army was devastating the countryside.  Noam Chomsky



Turkey must find its place if, of course, it can heal its internal sores, and none is more malignant than the perennial Kurdish issue.  Noam Chomsky



In mid-August, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani flew to Washington to seek support for guerrilla operations against Saddam’s regime.  Neither Pentagon nor State Department officials would speak to him; he was rebuffed again in March 1991.  Noam Chomsky, Deterring Democracy


Turkish president Turgut Ozal ... made use of the opportunity offered by the Gulf crisis to step up attacks on his own Kurdish population, confident that the US media would judiciously refrain from reporting the bombings of Kurdish villages and the plight of hundreds of thousands of refugees trying to survive the cold winter in the mountains without aid or provisions.  ibid.



Yusufeli Dam: Ilisu dam was a dam that was going to be built in Turkey by Balfour Beaty amongst others, and they were going to get £200 million of taxpayers’ money, via the Export Credit Guarantee Department … It would displace up to 78,000 Kurds …  Mark Thomas Comedy Product s6e4, Channel 4 2002


We find out about another dam that is to built by a British company using our money … Amec, the construction company, are after £68 million to help build the Yusufeli Dam in Turkey in the north-east.  And that dam will destroy the natural environment there … They will be made homeless …  ibid.  



Under the Assads, Kurds were forbidden from learning their own language at school, or even from speaking it in the military.  The result is a generation of Syrian Kurds, many now in late middle age, who cant write their own language.  Luke Harding



Most of the Iraqi soldiers and civilians who died in the Gulf War belonged to the Kurdish and Shia peoples.  The very people President Bush called upon to rise up against Saddam Hussein, and when they did rise up in February 1991 they were brutally betrayed.  John Pilger, Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq, ITV 2000



If the Bahreini royal family can have an embassy, a state, and a seat at the UN, why should the twenty-five million Kurds not have a claim to autonomy?  The alleviation of their suffering and the assertion of their self-government is one of the few unarguable benefits of regime change in Iraq.  It is not a position from which any moral retreat would be allowable.  Christopher Hitchens, A Matter of Principle: Humanitarian Arguments for War in Iraq



Having supported the covert policy of supporting a Kurdish revolt in northern Iraq between 1974 and 1975, with ‘deniable’ assistance also provided by Israel and the Shah of Iran, Kissinger made it plain to his subordinates that the Kurds were not to be allowed to win, but were to be employed for their nuisance value alone.  They were not to be told that this was the case, but soon found out when the Shah and Saddam Hussein composed their differences, and American aid to Kurdistan was cut off.  Hardened CIA hands went to Kissinger ... for an aid programme for the many thousands of Kurdish refugees who were thus abruptly created ... The apercu of the day was: Foreign policy should not be confused with missionary work.  Saddam Hussein heartily concurred.  Christopher Hitchens 



In the north of Iraq thousands of Kurds were driven into the mountains by Saddam’s army as he reasserted his control in that area.  But whereas the bombing raids had taken place at the rate of one a minute, the fight to help the Kurds came at ten a week.  Mark Steel, Reasons to be Cheerful



It’s drawn in armies and countries from all over the world including Britain.  But on the ground, one force is having the greatest effect … the Kurds confronting and beating Isis on the battlefield.  Ross Kemp, Fight Against Isis, Sky 2016


The only people that stood up to them and took the fight to them were the Kurds.  ibid.


Sinjar: that is genocide.  Seven thousand women were taken captive by Isis.  ibid.



Kurdistan recently held a referendum for independence from Iraq.  But the Iraqi government refused to recognise the vote.  Adnan Sarwar, Journey in the Danger Zone: Iraq, BBC 2018



‘I don’t regret it for a second.’  This World: Anna: The Woman Who Went to Fight ISIS, Anna Campbell, BBC 2019   


In 2017 a young British woman went to Syria: she was going to fight the Islamic State group.  She joined the YPJ, an all-female Kurdish militia, an important ally for the West in the war against terror.  A year later she was killed.  ibid.    


In 2012 a civil war swept through Syria.  The Kurds in Rojava in the north-east of the country took control of their territories for the first time in a hundred years.  After generations of oppression, they seized the opportunity to establish an autonomous region.  ibid.



1I’ve come to Syria to meet women who left the West to join the so-called Islamic State.  Now IS has been defeated, their home countries don’t want them back: they see them as a threat.  Most now claim the didn’t know anything about the brutality of IS.  They say they stayed at home and cooked.  Stacey Dooley for Panorama, Stacey Meets the IS Brides, BBC 2019


Since then the Kurds who fought IS to gain control of this part of Syria have been left with radicalised foreigners nobody wants.  ibid.  


One of the female guards was stabbed to death.  Shamima Begum, who left the UK when she was fifteen … is no longer here, but I would like to talk to other British women in the camp.  ibid.   


Support for IS is still very strong.  ibid.   


… Inside their tents, but with the atmosphere so tense [sic] …  ibid.   


They [Yadizi women] were saying some of the Isis women were far worse than the men … No-one saw anything apart from an oven.  ibid. 


I finally hear British accents.  ibid. 


I didn’t turn my back on democracy.  You did.  You knew what Isis stood for.  ibid.  Stacey to Isis women 


It’s hard to know where the truth lies.  ibid. 



In north-east Syria, an apparent oasis of stability and hope, recovering after eight years of civil war and trauma that have cost thousands of lives.  Hevrin was part of a movement to rebuild Syria as a democracy.  Aged 34, Hevrin had become the leader of the newly launched Future Syria Party, created to play a key role in spreading democracy, bringing together communities ravaged by terror and war. Our World: Who Betrayed Hevrin Khalaf? BBC 2020


On October 9th the Turkish military started their assault.  Civilians fled border towns and the wounded started to fill the hospitals.  And it wasn’t just Turkish regular forces.  Groups of mostly Jihadi fighters, bitter enemies of the Kurds, and calling themselves the Syrian National Army, were being backed by the Turkish military to do the fighting on the ground.  They were advancing deep into northern Syria.  ibid.     


[Jihadis] shot up their car when they were trying to ‘drive through a road block’ … Hevrin Khalaf’s body metres away … In the [bodycam] video you can make out a woman’s voice.  ibid.   


Al Nusra is the main Al Qaeda group in Syria: it’s been accused of torture, child abduction and summary execution … a reign of terror for three long years.  ibid.   



For two decades Turkey has been ruled by one man: Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  He has transformed Turkey and won widespread local support.  This World: Turkey: Empire of Erdogan I, BBC 2023


But in recent years he is seen more and more as a dictator ordering brutal crackdowns on dissent.  ibid.    


The story of Erdogan’s rise to power is even more extraordinary when you understand where he came from, one of Istanbul’s poorest neighbourhoods.  ibid.  


He has a problem: his conviction disqualifies him from becoming an MP.  So Erdogan comes up with an audacious plan: he will form a new party.  ibid.  


Under Erdogan, Turkey boomed.  ibid.    


Erdogan decides to confront the military.  ibid.


By 2013 the economy had started to falter, and Turkey’s role in the conflict in neighbouring Syria was straining international relations.  ibid.


‘It was a protest against Erdogan and the mentality that he represents, the totalitarianism, authoritarianism.’  ibid.


‘Erdogan’s handling of Gezi [protest] revealed that he had no limits.’  ibid.  



He’s cast himself as a peacemaker in the war between Russia and Ukraine.  This World: Turkey: Empire of Erdogan II


Since the mid-90s Erdogan has built a base of fiercely loyal supporters.  ibid.  


He is the first leader of modern Turkey to stand up to the military.  ibid.  


After ten years of Erdogan’s rule protests in Istanbul’s Gezi park result in a huge outpouring of anger against his government.  ibid.


Against some poor competition and with the help of favourable media coverage Erdogan becomes the president.  Until now it’s largely been a ceremonial role.  But Erdogan has plans to change the office of the presidency.  ibid. 


‘The Kurdish problem is not a problem for only a part of the nation, but for all of it.  It is also my problem.  We won’t let the democratic process run backwards.’  ibid.  Erdogan  


Erdogan calls a snap election.  This time Erdogan’s party wins an outright majority.  ibid.