Who Are the Kurds?

syria

 

Based on BBC News, 10/9/19 “Who Are the Kurds.”

  • After WWI the Western allies made a provision for a Kurdish state.
  • Treaty of Lausanne set the boundaries of modern Turkey and made no provision for a Kurdish state.  This left Kurds in a minority status in their respective countries.
  • Any time the Kurds tried in the subsequent 80 years to establish their own state, the movement was quashed.
  • The jihadist group Islamic State (IS) targeted three Kursish enclaves that bordered territory under its control in northern Syria.  It launched attacks that until 2014 were repelled by the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – the armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).
  • June 2014. IS advanced into northern Iraq and drew that country’s Kurds into the conflict.  The government of Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan Region sent its Peshmerga forces into areas abandoned by the Iraq army.
  • August 2014. Jihadists launched a surprise offensive.  The Peshmerga withdrew from several areas.  In Sinjar, where the IS took over, militants killed or captured thousands of Yazidis.
  • A US-led multinational coalition launched air strikes in northers Iraq and sent military advisers to help the Peshmerga. The YPG and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) which had fought for Kurdish autonomy in turkey for three decades, came to their aid.
  • September 2014. IS launched an assault on northern Syrian Kursish town of Kobane.  Tens of thousands of people had to flee across the nearby Turkish border.  Turkey refused to respond by attacking IS positions or allow Turkish Kurds to cross to defend the city.
  • January 2015. After a battle that left at least 1,600 dead, Kurdish forces regained Kobane.
  • The Kurds along with local Arab militias under the banner of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and helped by US-led coalition air trikes, weapons and advisers, drove IS out of territory innorth-eastern Syria and established control over large tretch of the border with Turkey.
  • October 2017. SDF fighters captured IS capital of Raqqa and destroyed the IS last major foothold in Syria.
  • March 2019. The last pocket of territory held by IS, around the village of Baghouz – fell.
  • There were thousands of suspected IS militants captured and tens of thousands of displaced women and children associated with these IS fighters.
  • Most of the home countries of these fighters refused to accept them back.
  • Turkey claims to want to set up a “safe zone.” This would be a stretch of land 20-miles deep inside north-eastern Syria.
  • They plan to settle 2 million Syrian refugees there.
  • The Kurds in Turkey constitute 20% of the population.
  • After uprisings in the 1920s and 1930s many Kurds were resettled, “Kurdish names and costumes were banned, the use of the Kurdish language was restricted, and even the existence of a Kurdish ethnic identity was denied, with people designated “Mountain Turks”.
  • “In 1978, Abdullah Ocalan established the PKK, which called for an independent state within Turkey. Six years later, the group began an armed struggle. Since then, more than 40,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.”
  • “In the 1990s the PKK rolled back on its demand for independence, calling instead for greater cultural and political autonomy, but continued to fight. In 2013, a ceasefire was agreed after secret talks were held.
  • The ceasefire collapsed in July 2015, after a suicide bombing blamed on IS killed 33 young activists in the mainly Kurdish town of Suruc, near the Syrian border. The PKK accused the authorities of complicity and attacked Turkish soldiers and police. The Turkish government subsequently launched what it called a “synchronised war on terror” against the PKK and IS.
  • Since then, several thousand people – including hundreds of civilians – have been killed in clashes in south-eastern Turkey.”
  • “Turkey has maintained a military presence in northern Syria since August 2016, when it sent troops and tanks over the border to support a Syrian rebel offensive against IS. Those forces captured the key border town of Jarablus, preventing the YPG-led SDF from seizing the territory itself and linking up with the Kurdish enclave of Afrin to the west.
  • In 2018, Turkish troops and allied Syrian rebels launched an operation to expel YPG fighters from Afrin. Dozens of civilians were killed and tens of thousands displaced.
  • Turkey’s government says the YPG and the PYD are extensions of the PKK, share its goal of secession through armed struggle, and are terrorist organisations that must be eliminated.
  • Kurds make up between 7% and 10% of Syria’s population. Before the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in 2011 most lived in the cities of Damascus and Aleppo, and in three, non-contiguous areas around Kobane, Afrin, and the north-eastern city of Qamishli
  • Syria’s Kurds have long been suppressed and denied basic rights. Some 300,000 have been denied citizenship since the 1960s, and Kurdish land has been confiscated and redistributed to Arabs in an attempt to “Arabize” Kurdish regions.
  • “In January 2014, Kurdish parties – including the dominant Democratic Union Party (PYD) – declared the creation of “autonomous administrations” in the three “cantons” of Afrin, Kobane and Jazira
  • In March 2016, they announced the establishment of a “federal system” that included mainly Arab and Turkmen areas captured from IS.
  • The declaration was rejected by the Syrian government, the Syrian opposition, Turkey and the US.”

Afternoon Notes: George W. Bush whipped for Kavanaugh, Turkey, Erdogan,Unnecessary Wars

TUESDAY 8 OCTOBER 2019

  • The Acting DHS Secretary walked out of a public appearance yesterday in D.C. He evidently didn’t like being asked difficult questions.  There are other questions about why he has not become the permanent Secretary.
  • Trump has invited Erdogan to the White House. The last time he was in Washington (2017), Erdogan’s thugs physically attacked protesters while Erdogan watched from his car. Trump did nothing about it.
  • Lest we forget this tweet from the President of the country: “…if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey…” (Random capitalization is the President’s).
  • Those demanding that Trump be allowed to “confront his accuser” (now accusers) are demanding the protections that the Constitution affords defendants in a criminal trial. This is not a criminal trial.  Trump has no such protections.  People who are busily trying to tear the Constitution to shreds are also claiming its protections for their guys not anybody else’s guys.
  • A little over a year ago, George W. Bush was whipping votes for Bret Kavanaugh (http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/09/george-w-bush-is-whipping-votes-for-brett-kavanaugh.html?utm_source=nym&utm_medium=f1&utm_campaign=feed-part
  • People who want regard Bush as some kind of genial nice guy should remember this along with the fact that he started an unnecessary war that cost an unknowable number of lives.

Graft, Greed and Corruption: Trump, Perry and Kelly

  • trump 4
  • According to Axois, Trump is now laying the 25 July phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky, at the feet of Rick Perry. Trump told House Republicans that he made the phone call at the urging of Perry and claimed that he didn’t even want to make the call.
  • Perry has recently announced that he is leaving his position as Energy Secretary amid reports that while making steep cuts to the budget of the Energy Department he closed needed programs. He then created a program specifically to oversee Artificial Intelligence.  He allocated $119 million in funding for AI in 2020.  Perry’s wife owns stock in Verizon, AT&T and Splunk, companies that are prioritizing AI technology and likely to benefit from such an office.
  • Such an effort is much like (if on a smaller scale) Elaine Chao’s special pipelines for Kentucky grants that would be politically helpful for her husband, Mitch McConnell.
  • Politico has reported (10/1/19) that House Democratic members have been pressing Perry for information about his May trip to the inauguration of Ukraine’s President, Zelensky. The House sent a letter posing questions to Perry about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden.  A similar letter was sent to Pence.
  • Perry has also been a regular visitor to Saudi Arabia where he traveled in 2017 to convince the Saudis to partner with the U.S. in developing nuclear reactors.
  • In July, Ambassador to the European Union, Gordon Sondland, described himself, Perry and Volker as the “three amigos” on Ukrainian issues.
  • On another front of graft and corruption: One of the supposed adults in the room with Trump was former Chief of Staff John Kelly. I cannot count the number of times I sat on front of the television and listened to commentator after commentator stress how Kelly was a man of integrity, blah, blah, blah.  Well, AP is pointing out in an article (10/3/19) that the Trump administration is directing more and more of the business of housing and detaining migrant children to private industry, specifically to a company, Caliburn, where Kelly sits on the board.
  • While Kelly was in the Trump administration, he backed the idea of taking children from their parents at the border, arguing that it would serve as a deterrent. He is now personally profiting off policies he helped craft.
  • When Kelly left the military, he served on an advisory council for the Obama Administration that studied ICE’s continued use of privately operated immigration detention facilities for adults. Later that year, the federal government announced plans to phase out privately run prisons. That would all change when Trump took office.
  • While Kelly was serving on this committee, he joined the board of DC Capital partners, a financial firm that would go on to found Caliburn.
  • CHS is owned by belt-way contractor Caliburn International Corp. CHS staffs a large Florida facility with 2,000 workers even though the last children left the facility in August.   The Trump administration maintains that CHS is keeping the facility in readiness in case it is needed.
  • In 2015, CHS was paid $1.3 million to shelter migrant children. So far this year, they have been paid almost $300 million.  The AP estimates that it costs the taxpayers $775 a day to house these migrant children.

“What America was selling to the world used to be the rule of law.” Zelensky, Ukraine, Kolomoisky, Corruption.

  • Ihor Kolomoisky and Zelensky
  • Sylvie Kauffmann, the editorial director of Le Monde, writes (NYT) that for Europeans the most embarrassing revelation in the July 25 conversation was Ukrainian President Zelensky’s “servility.” The attempt to ingratiate himself to Trump, revealed in the “transcript” released by the White House, was truly disappointing.
  • In addition, Zelensky told Trump that the new prosecutor general would be “100 percent my person.”  We are left to wonder what in the hell that means.  Zelensky also happily joined Trump in the Euro-bashing.  So, the promising reformer, at least if you can believe the Trump version of the conversation, turned servile politician.  It’s not a pretty sight.
  • To add to the questions about Zelensky, prominent in the circle of people surrounding him is one Ihor Kolomoisky, whose PrivatBank was nationalized three years ago after financial regulators found that $5.5 billion was missing from its accounts.
  • Kolomoisky returned from self-imposed exile just after Zelensky took office. He is now appealing to the government for $2 billion in “compensation” for the loss of PrivatBank.  For foreign experts, whether the government gives in will be a test of President Zelensky’s political strength.
  • Anti-corruption activist, Daria Kaleniuk: “The U.S. push for good governance in Ukraine is seriously undermined. What America was selling to the world used to be the rule of law.”

 

Morning: Impeachment Watch

trump

Tuesday 2 October 2019

  • The State Department IG, Steve Linick, requested an urgent meeting with senior Congressional staff related to documents about Ukraine. The request came soon after Pompeo claimed that the schedule for State Department officials to give depositions to Congress was “not feasible.”  Speculation this morning is that there is a State Department whistleblower.  CNN is reporting that the IG plans to “provide staff with documents related to the State Department and Ukraine.”
  • A Congressional aide describe the IG’s request as “highly unusual and cryptically worded.”
  • Volker is scheduled to testify before Congress on Thursday, October 3. The former Ambassador to Ukraine is scheduled to testify on October 11.
  • Chris Hayes had Mimi Rocah on last night. Rocah used her position as a commentator on MSNBC to make a personal, unprofessional, mean-spirited attack on Bernie Sanders.  Had she said that women shouldn’t vote for any other candidate because that candidate made her “skin crawl,” she would never be back on television. Just imagine if she had said this about Corey Booker or Kamala Harris.   But, for some reason, probably because Bernie has become the designated fall guy, it’s permissible to say such things about Sanders.
  • Elizabeth Warren’s plan for medical care does not include mental health or dental coverage.
  • There are reports that the Ukrainian government signed an agreement Tuesday with pro-Russia separatists, Russia and European monitors that will allow a local election in the separatist-controlled regions in eastern Ukraine.