BEIRUT – Turkish warplanes struck pro-Syrian government forces in the northwestern Afrin region of Syria on Saturday, killing at least 36 of them, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
It said this was the third time in 48 hours that Turkish warplanes had struck pro-government forces that entered Afrin last week in support of the Kurdish YPG militia as it fights to stave off an offensive by Turkey and allied Syrian militias.
Afrin offensive: 36 pro-Syrian government soldiers ‘killed in Turkish air strike’
At least 36 pro-Syrian government troops have been killed by a Turkish air strike in the region of Afrin, a monitoring group says.
The strike targeted a camp at Kafr Jina in the northern Syrian region, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
The pro-government troops entered Afrin two weeks ago to back Kurdish forces.
They are fighting a Turkish military offensive that was launched to clear Kurdish groups from Afrin.
Turkey considers the Kurdish militiamen there terrorists.
The Syrian government has denounced the offensive as a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty and, according to state media, forces were sent in to support the Kurds.
The air strike followed one of the bloodiest days for Turkish troops since they began the offensive in January.
Eight Turkish soldiers were killed and another 13 were injured on Thursday in fighting in Afrin.
Five “heroic comrades fell as martyrs and seven were wounded”, an initial statement from Turkey’s military said. A second statement announced three more soldiers had been killed and six more wounded.
No official details of the clashes were given but the private Dogan news agency said Kurdish fighters used tunnels to ambush Turkish special forces in the Keltepe district.
A Turkish helicopter sent in to rescue the wounded was hit and had to turn back, the report added.
Thousands of civilians in Afrin have fled their homes since Turkey’s offensive began.
The Turkish government says the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia is an extension of the banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for Kurdish autonomy in south-eastern Turkey for three decades.
The YPG denies any direct organisational links to the PKK.
Neither side has released much information about fatalities, making the death toll in Afrin difficult to gauge.
The UK-based SOHR says more than 141 civilians have died but Turkey denies this, saying only combatants are targeted.
Yet another new flashpoint?
Analysis by Sebastian Usher, BBC Arab Affairs Editor
When pro-government militia forces edged into Afrin last month, it wasn’t clear what their strategic purpose would be.
Videos showed a small group of militiamen being welcomed to Afrin city by Kurds there as their saviours. But it didn’t seem likely that they would play much more than a symbolic role, allowing the Syrian government to vaunt a new territorial initiative but at no major risk.
In fact, it seemed that it might be a way of de-escalating the latest conflict in Syria after Turkey launched its operation against Kurdish fighters there.
A deal to allow the Syrian government to take over much of the control of the area might suit many of the parties involved. It might even be a less bad option for Turkey, allowing it to turn down the intensity of its offensive.
But if the reports are true that pro-government forces have been badly hit by Turkish airstrikes, that would appear to undercut this interpretation, raising the prospect of yet another new flashpoint in Syria.
The arrest in a Prague hotel of former Syrian Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) leader Saleh Muslim Muhammad is a test case. Its outcome will establish the extent to which the central role against Islamic State played by Syrian Kurds has accrued some broader political legitimacy for their leadership and organizations.
he Syrian Kurds declared the establishment of the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria” over their area of control in March, 2016.
No Western country has recognized or acknowledged this declaration. The Federation, which is today the governing structure in an area where US forces are located, remains entirely isolated diplomatically, even as its armed forces call in US air strikes and work on a daily basis with American Special Forces.
The ties between the PYD and the PKK are at the root of this. The latter has for the last 34 years been engaged in an insurgency against Turkey, demanding autonomy for the country’s Kurds. It is listed as a terrorist organization by both the US and the European Union. Turkey’s warrant against Saleh Muslim, a non-citizen of Turkey, depicts him as a militant member of the PKK.
The question now is whether the involvement of the PYD with the war against IS has acquired a degree of de facto legitimacy for it in the eyes of the West, even in the absence of formal political recognition.
If so, Western pressure on the Czech Republic will lead almost certainly to Muslim’s release, indicating an embryonic, unspoken political alliance now existing between the Syrian Kurdish leadership and the West. This will produce further fury on the part of NATO-member Turkey’s Islamist and increasingly authoritarian leadership.
The United States must pressure Czech to release Saleh without turning him over to the Turkish Dog Erdogan.
Civilians have been killed, their neighborhoods destroyed and at least one water treatment plant heavily damaged in the Turkish military offensive against the Kurdish-held Syrian enclave of Afrin, according to video, photos and on-the-ground accounts reviewed by Fox News.
Some of the reporting, which included the apparent deaths of children, is too graphic to publish. Some of the accounts of what is happening in Afrin also cannot be independently verified.
The Turkish intervention, called “Operation Olive Branch,” began in late January and, according to national security specialists, further complicates the conflict in Northern Syria involving Kurdish forces that worked with the United States to rout the Islamic State (ISIS).
“The Turkish attempt to drive the Kurds from Afrin places the U.S. in a very difficult position,” said Tara Maller, a former military analyst for the CIA who is now a senior policy adviser with the Counter Extremism Project. “If the U.S. is seen as abandoning the Kurds, its allies and the most effective fighting force against ISIS, it could result in the loss of credibility and an unwillingness for others to cooperate with the U.S. in the future against ISIS and other terrorist groups.”
While some 2,000 U.S. forces are in the region, Turkey has threatened to clear the Kurds from its border with Syria. The strategy could impact the town of Manbij, widely reported to be a base for U.S. troops.
Maller, who reviewed photos and video for Fox News, said that “there are U.S. troops in this area, in physical proximity to the fighting. The U.S. has said it is not moving its forces from this area and would hit back hard if attacked. At the same time, the U.S. wants to avoid alienating Turkey and pushing it further into Russia’s sphere of influence. The U.S. must work through diplomatic channels to lessen the tension in the area and prevent this confrontation from drawing in other players and becoming a separate war, which will only embolden ISIS and other radical groups.”
Afrin is home to the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, a Kurdish militia. The Turkish government maintains the YPG is a terrorist group and offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a military struggle against Turkey since the 1980s. At the same time, however, YPG is a central element of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces that now control great swaths of Syria.
Returning from overseas last week, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis gave a wide-ranging brief to reporters, one that touched on the Afrin conflict. Mattis said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had recently visited the Turkish capital, Ankara, where he dealt with issues “causing friction” and a “loss of rapport between us and our NATO ally Turkey.”
Mattis continued. “And while we understand their (Turkey’s) legitimate security concerns, as I’ve mentioned several times, that does not align with us concurring with attacks into areas that were not sources of violence before the attack into Afrin, for example.”
Asked how “mechanisms” would work with Turkey in Afrin and Manbij, he said: “That’s exactly what we have to work out. That’s — as you said, we’re going to put them in place. So there’s a commitment now to work them out. We have to put them — we have to draw them up together, and then we have to employ them.“
The aim of the Turkish operation is to “stop attacks and border harassments, indiscriminate shelling of urban areas, harboring, equipping and training of terrorists, suicide bombers and assassins,” according to a fact sheet sent to Fox News from the Turkish Embassy in Washington. Turkey also maintains that “all precautions are taken to avoid collateral damage to the civilian population” in the operation, a claim sharply disputed by Kurdish groups.
At the Munich Security Conference this month, Turkey’s minister of foreign affairs called Operation Olive Branch a “legitimate right (for) self-defense,” adding that “supporting a terrorist organization against another terrorist organization (ISIS) is a big mistake and risking the future of the country,” a reference to the YPG.
Maller, of the Counter Extremism Project, said ISIS has been beaten back, but emphasized that the terror group would likely stage a comeback, and the U.S. will need its Kurdish allies again. “ISIS continues to have a formidable presence” along the Syria-Iraq border and “is capable of striking quickly and often. Also, ISIS continues to successfully radicalize and recruit individuals globally, while inspiring followers to carry out attacks. Over time, it is quite possible that ISIS could again gain strength, as it has done before, should the war in Syria drag on and Iraq’s government remain weak and under the sway of Iran.
“While the absolute number of ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq may have fallen, the group remains dangerous and continues to spread to Africa, Asia and other parts of the world.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu warned the Syrian regime against entering Afrin province in northern Syria. Syrian State Media reported that Syrian “popular forces” would enter Afrin to support the “Steadfastness of their people in the face of aggression carried out by the forces of the Turkish regime.” The potential conflict between Turkey and Syria comes a month after Turkey launched a major offensive into northern Syria aimed at removing what it called “terrorists” of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from its border. The US has continually urged restraint and said Ankara’s operation is a distraction from the war on Islamic State.
On the face of the new revelations this is imperceivable that a NATO member (Turkey) is warning the United States supported troops that they Turkey will use all of the means necessary to bomb, kill and remove our troops from Afrin. Afriin is located in a mountainous region of northwest Syria next to the border with Turkey. Since 2012 it has mostly been cut-off from the vicious civil war in Syria, a Kurdish canton controlled by the YPG. Since 2015 the YPG has partnered with the US-led coalition in eastern Syria, where it makes up part of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The SDF liberated Raqqa from ISIS and are key to helping stabilize eastern Syria, the US says.
In January 2018 Ankara accused the US of training a “terror army” in eastern Syria and launched its operation against Afrin using Tanks, airplanes and more than 10,000 Syrian rebel allies. The bottom line here is one that Turkey will regret; bombing our troops who are working with the YPG Kurds will result in the Mother of all confrontations. Turkey will regret the power of the United States. The Muslim Brotherhood Erdogan will soon have to make a choice, back down or eat lead. We venture the latter – a suicide wish will come true.
The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said Turkey would face the “appropriate response” if it follows through on a threat to widen its assault against a Syrian Kurdish militia all the way to the border with Iraq.
Senior SDF official Redur Xelil was responding to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s threat to sweep militants from the length of Turkey’s Syrian frontier. “When he tries to widen his battle, he will be met by the appropriate response,” Xelil told Reuters in an interview in the town of Amuda in northern Syria.
Previously we reported on the confrontation that will occur in Afrin:
The Turkish offensive in northwest Syria’s Afrin region against the Kurdish YPG militia has opened a new front in the multi-sided Syrian civil war and strained ties with NATO ally Washington.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, January 26, Turkish forces would sweep Kurdish fighters from the Syrian border and could push all the way east to the frontier with Iraq — a move which risks a possible confrontation with US forces allied to the Kurds.
Since the start of the incursion, dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” by Ankara, Erdogan has said Turkish forces would push east towards the town of Manbij, potentially putting them in confrontation with US troops deployed there.
“Operation Olive Branch will continue until it reaches its goals. We will rid Manbij of terrorists, as it was promised to us, and our battles will continue until no terrorist is left until our border with Iraq,” Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.
A senior official in the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance of Kurdish and Arab militias of which the YPG is the strongest, said any wider Turkish assault would face “the appropriate response.”
The Kurdish-led autonomous administration that runs Afrin urged the Syrian government on Thursday to defend its border with Turkey despite Damascus’ stance against Kurdish autonomy.
The Syrian government has said it is ready to target Turkish warplanes in its airspace, but has not intervened so far. It suspects the Kurds of wanting independence in the long-run.
Erdogan demands we hand over Fetthulah Gulen
Previously, we reported that Turkey has closed the airspace above, and suspended all US-led air missions out of the giant Incirlik airbase (which houses some 50 US nuclear bombs), we said that there is speculation the “airbase may be held “hostage” by Ankara as a bargaining chip ahead of demands for the extradition of Erdogan’s arch enemy, Fethullah Gulen, currently a resident of the state of Pennsylvania.” A few hours later this was partially validated when during a televised speech, Turkish President Erdogan called on the United States to extradite Fethullah Gulen, a US-based Muslim cleric he accuses of being behind Turkey’s failed coup attempt. Source: ZeroHedge
The diminutive saber rattler head of Turkey talks big, but the U.S will soon make him back them up and walk big. What brings us to this conclusion? Two fold, first of all this Muslim Brotherhood anti U.S., Jew hater, Israel basher demands the United States stay out of the Syrian north (Afrin). A demand that will fall on death ears.
Imagine a neutered steer up against a bull; no contest. As we have posted in the past concerning this Napoleon wannabee, we soon will see the bull converted to a steer (a steer is a bull without the cajones) by the KURDS coalition forces. We look forward to it. Threatening the United States on more than one occasion has tested our patience. Now he threatens us large.
Syria war: Turkey denounces US ‘terror army’ plan for border
Key powers involved in Syria’s civil war have criticised US plans to help an allied Kurdish-led militia set up a 30,000-strong “border security force”.
Turkey’s president vowed to “suffocate” efforts to begin training members of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and create what he called a “terror army”.
Syria’s government decried the “blatant attack” on its sovereignty, and Russia warned it could lead to partition.
With the help of air strikes from a US-led coalition, the SDF has captured tens of thousands of square kilometres of territory from Islamic State (IS) militants.
In October, the alliance took full control of the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of the “caliphate” declared by the jihadist group in 2014. Since then, SDF fighters have been advancing south-eastwards along the Euphrates river valley.
The coalition said on Monday that its goal was to create a force with about 30,000 personnel “over the next several years”. About half will be Kurdish and Arab SDF fighters and the other half new recruits.
We have previously addressed the suicide bomber who rules Turkey; a wild man with an iron fist rule. A trouble maker consistently fanning the flames of all those who hate Islam. A Muslim miscreant, he has now drawn the wrath of Germany and the Netherlands. How? by calling Netherlands policy of stopping Turkish rallies a Nazi tactic. Germany is aghast, Merkel was shocked that the term Nazis was used. In fact the Nazi is Erdogan, he is guilty of stifling free speech, jailed thousands, firing hundreds of thousands of judges, police, military, imams, foreigners, intellectuals, elitists and the usual suspects; he shut down the free press and demand the United States hand over Fetullah Gulen.
Turkey is now run by the same thugs that toppled Egypt’s Morsi. One thing stands out here, Turkey is a member of Nato. Obama never weighted in on the Turkish situation because, like Erdogan, Obama is a secret member of the Brotherhood.
Remember his reaction when the General al-Sisi interrupted Morsi’s reign of suppressing the freedoms of its citizens. Obama went berserk, stopped military aid, halted imports and pulled our Diplomatic core. This did not happen in Turkey and we know why. Obama is one of them. But now Trump rules – he is not about to bow to Allah.
NATO and the United States looks the other way when it is to their advantage, Turkey is strategically located enabling NATO and the U.S. coalition to use Turkish airspace; Turkey needs to be fore warned that their place in history will be dictated by their actions against the NATO countries and their diplomatic transgressions. For instance their sending weapons to the Palestinians aboard the MV Mavi Marmara. Israel intercepted the MV in international waters during its voyage to Gaza. Fighting erupted and 9 members on the MV were killed.
The Kurds and Kurdish-speaking Yezidis are once again caught in the grip of the Sunni-Shia vice · Against this background and often isolated, their special relationship with Israel stands out for the good: military advice, equipment and training are only some of the ways Israel has helped the Kurdish struggle for independence · “They only have trust in Israel,” says Brigadier General (res.) Tzuri Sagi, the man who led the Kurds to their stunning victories against Iraq in the sixties and seventies.
Erdogan has unleashed a tirade on the Kurds who make up a substantial number of citizens living in Turkey – approximately 20,000,000. Turkey is afraid of them breaking away. Kurds in Turkey and Iraq have defended themselves against outside forces, particularly the Iraqi shias and the pro-Assad forces.
In the latest act of incitement Erdogan spews vile from his rabid mouth that Israel is “playing with fire” concerning their actions on the Temple Mount. However, Erdogan fails to mention the real crime against humanity is the actions regarding the Hagia Sophia. Once the center of Eastern Christendom, Constantinople competed with Rome.
From the date of its construction in 537 until 1453, it served as a Greek Orthodox cathedral and seat of the Patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire. The building was a mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935.
In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks under Sultan Mehmed II, who ordered this main church of Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque. By that point, the church had fallen into a state of disrepair. Nevertheless, the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers and they decided to convert it into a mosque. The bells, altar, iconostasis, and sacrificial vessels and other relics were removed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints and angels were also removed or plastered over. Islamic features—such as the mihrab, minbar, and four minarets—were added. It remained a mosque until 1931, when it was closed to the public for four years. It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia is currently (2014) the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually.
Before the world pays attention to this Turkish imbecile they must demand that the Hagia Sophia be restored to its rightful place in history. It is noteworthy to remind those Christians that Turkey once 100% Christian is now outnumbered by Muslims, 80,000,000 to less than 200,000. this is a manifestation of the treatment Christians receive in the Muslim world.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON TURKEY AND THE KURDS
NOT GOOD: Erdogan is making OMINOUS THREATS to the US and Israel over Jerusalem
The Middle East has been blowing up since President Trump last week changed US policy to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.
There has been much strife in Jerusalem and the West Bank with Palestinians violently protesting against the move. And, of course, Israel has had to use violence at times to keep order.
Erdogan himself has been using dangerous rhetoric to keep the situation as hot as possible, calling Israel a terrorist state that kills Palestinian children:
“Israel is a perfect invader state,” Erdoğan said. He also called Israel “a terrorist state.” “We won’t leave Jerusalem to the mercy of a child-murdering country.”
Netanyahu hit right back, saying:
“I‘m not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villages in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, helps Iran go around international sanctions and who helps terrorists, including in Gaza, kill innocent people…”
As usual, Netanyahu nailed it.
This morning Erdogan was at it again, this time attacking the US and making ominous threats against the ‘owners of Jerusalem’:
DAILY SABAH – President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Monday that the U.S. is responsible for the bloodshed in Jerusalem after clashes erupted in the city following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize it as the capital of Israel.
“Those who turn Jerusalem into a prison for Muslims and members of other religions will never be able to clear the blood off their hands,” Erdoğan said at an event held in the capital Ankara.
Stressing that Washington is also responsible for the bloodshed in the area, the president said of Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem: “The U.S. has become a partner in bloodshed by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. We definitely do not recognize this decision, we will not recognize it. President Trump’s statement does not bind us, nor the world of Islam.”
Erdogan then said something that I would characterize as ominous:
Erdoğan underlined that the continuation of vandalism and oppression in Jerusalem is not possible. The president warned that those who deem themselves as the owners of the city will not even be able to find a tree to hide themselves behind.
Does that sound familiar? Maybe you’ll recall a similar passage from the words of Muhammed in the Hadith:
The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him…
Now it sounds like Erdogan himself is using his very own apocalyptic texts in his threats. That is not good.
The president vowed that the struggle will not be finalized until a Palestinian state with the borders of 1967 is established. “This struggle will not end until the establishment of a sovereign and independent Palestinian state, whose capital is the city of east Jerusalem, within the borders of 1967. There is a role of the U.S. and European politics that supports Israel’s unjust occupation and settlements in what is happening today.”
So we have what I believe are three very important and ominous threats from Erdogan.
First he calls Israel and “invader state” and says he will not leave Jerusalem to the mercy of the Israelis.
Secondly, he uses apocalyptic language in telling the Israelis they will have nowhere to hide.
Lastly, he says this ‘struggle’ over Jerusalem won’t end until a Palestinian state is established with east Jerusalem as its capital.
Now you know as well as I do that there will likely never be a peaceful agreement that ends with a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital, especially after this move by Trump in standing with Israel.
But the reason this is so ominous is that we know from Ezekiel 38 that Turkey and Iran leads an invasion of Jerusalem. Jesus talks about in Matthew 24 and Luke 21 that the antichrist will invade and warn that when they see armies surrounding Jerusalem, they should run for the mountains.
In Joel 4 God judges those nations who scattered his people and divided up his land:
For see, in those days and at that time,
when I restore the fortunes
of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations
and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
There I will enter into judgment with them
on behalf of my people, my heritage, Israel;
Because they scattered them among the nations,
they divided up my land.
My point is that while we are not yet at the point where Turkey and Iran lead an invasion of Jerusalem, I believe we are seeing the very beginnings of these events.
Just in Istanbul over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of Muslims gathered in Yenikapi park in the name of Jerusalem being Muslim and chanted slogans like “we will liberate al-Aqsa, even if our blood flowed.” They are referring to the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Or as another account put it, they will sacrifice their blood for Jerusalem.
It’s clear that the ‘ground’ in Turkey and other areas of the Middle East is very fertile when it comes to anger over the so-called Israeli occupation of Jerusalem. And if there is one thing that can unify the Muslim world like no other, this is it.
I would definitely call this a sign of the times, and those ‘times’ may be on us quicker than we realize.
The bully diminutive Erdogan running Turkey has been flying to close to the sun of late. His accusations have developed an anti-American thrall across Anatolia. The hyperbolic diatribe spewing out of the mouth of this wannabee dictator is a cause of concern to NATO. Europe has long been aware of Turkey’s anti European Union policies which are tantamount to treason. So far the United States has not taken an intransigent view of Turkey’s blustering when a hard stance is in order.
Turkey, if you recall was the heart of Eastern Christendom a thousand plus years ago. Constantinople was the center of Eastern Orthodoxy. From the mid-5th century to the early 13th century, Constantinople was the largest and wealthiest city in Europe and it was instrumental in the advancement of Christianity during Roman and Byzantine times as the home of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and as the guardian of Christendom’s holiest relics such as the Crown of Thorns and the True Cross. After the final loss of its provinces in the early 15th century, the Byzantine Empire was reduced to just Constantinople and its environs and the city eventually fell to the Ottomans after a month-long siege in 1453.
Long running feuds aside, the time has come to take sides. Is Turkey in or out? The only answer here is OUT. Turkey has accused the United States of complicity in the most recent coup d etat which attempted to over through Erdogan. Turkey has blamed us for harboring Fethullah Gulen, once a friend of Erdogan, but now seen as a treacherous enemy; believed to be directing his followers from his Pennsylvania enclave. Erdogan has the chutzpah in ordering the United States to turn Gulen over. Once in Turkey Gulen will face the hang man’s noose or more precisely Erdogan’s sword for beheading.
Turkey has inflamed the European Union (EU) with its dictatorial posture, but most of all its lack of respect for Democracy. Since the coup the diminutive wannabee Napoleon puke has rounded up a half a million of what he believes, were members of the coup and anti government. Beside these roundups 200 news organizations have been shut down. Currently there are no opposing news organizations.
However, the mother of all eruptions is close at hand. Support for an independence Kurdistan is growing across all of the main venues. Even Israel is pressing for Kurdish independence. The Kurds are the majority population in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, and are a significant minority group in the neighboring countries of Turkey, Iran, and Syria, where Kurdish nationalist movements continue to pursue greater autonomy and cultural rights. In total the Kurds number approximately 30,000,000. The time has come for them to have a country of their own.
On September 25 a plebiscite will take place in the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
Councillors in the Iraqi province of Kirkuk have voted to take part in next month’s Kurdish independence referendum in a session, however, that was boycotted by Turkmen and Arab members. The central government in Baghdad is strongly opposed to Iraqi Kurdistan’s planned September 25 referendum, which is non-binding but could lead to independence. Kirkuk, an ethnically-mixed oil-rich province, is not part of the Kurdistan region but has a large Kurdish population.
Having an Independent Kurdish state is very worrisome for the diminutive Erdogan who will continue to fight against the Kurds at all costs. Erdogan sees the Kurds as an existential threat to his authoritative rule. In Turkey, there are 14 million Kurds, many of whom are well-integrated into the political and economic life of the country, but many others who remain alienated. Religious Kurds have been an important and reliable constituency for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). There is also the People’s Democratic Party, or HDP, whose leader Selahattin Demirtas has made a big splash among Western observers for his alleged liberalism. The AKP has sought to portray the HDP and Demirtas as no different from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) that has been waging a war on Turkey since the mid-1980s. Click here for a more detailed analysis of the ins and outs of the Kurdish relationships within Syria, Iraq and Turkey.
Peshmerga, which means, “those who face death,” is the military of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and Iraqi Kurdistan. Their existence dates back to the mid-20th Century when Mustafa Barzani picked up arms to fight for Kurdistan autonomy.
But the tradition of a guerrilla resistance force fighting for Kurdish autonomy goes back to the origins of the Kurdish people. Because the land area has always been subject to regional and major powers vying for dominance, a resistance force always emerged as they took refuge in the mountains.
Up against much greater forces in the Iraqi Army and Air Force, the Peshmerga was not successful until after the 1990-1991 Gulf War when the U.S. and U.K. enforced a no-fly zone in the North of Iraq.
After the Kurdistan Regional Government was established, the Peshmerga officially became the armed forces and responsible for the security of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Originally, the Peshmerga was led by Mustafa Barzani, the head of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), but in the aftermath of another failed revolt, which resulted in the defeat of the Peshmerga by Iraqi forces in the mid-1970’s, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) arose and formed their own Peshmerga.
The ideological split along both tribal (Barzani family) and political (PUK is more progressive and liberal) lines divided Kurds, and eventually led to the Kurdish Civil War of the 1990’s. During the Civil War, the Peshmerga took sides and opposing forces were responsible for Kurds killing and maiming other Kurds. It ended when KDP’s Head, Massoud Barzani, signed a peace treaty with the PUK Head, Jalal Talibani.
According to the 1992 Constitution of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the President of Kurdistan is the Commander-in-Chief of the Peshmerga Armed Forces. In an effort to unite against the Islamic State in August 2014, KRG President Massoud Barzani issued orders to the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs to reform the Peshmerga under a unified single command structure.
The bottom line here comes down to the diminutive Erdogan who may up the ante and pick a fight with the Peshmerga on the Syrian border. This will cause a rift with the United States, although the United States hasn’t jumped into the fray hook line and sinker. But the battle we hope will not come is on our door step and can’t be denied. For the United States the battle lines are clear; boot Turkey from NATO before we suffer more humiliation from the the diminutive Erdogan.
Turkey is against the United States, the Kurds are for the United States.
The Turkish dictator Erdogan, a diminutive pea brain with a big mouth, who has taunted NATO members for years, exasperating the E.U. with his belligerent invective, has reached the end of the line. Germany is one step beyond the last warning to Erdogan; there is no love lost between Merkel and the diminutive Jihadist.
Even Israel is on the verge of sending the last warning shot to the warmonger. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan joined with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week, echoing his incitement for Muslims worldwide to “defend al-Aksa.” Minding someone the business of someone else could get you into a spot not easily extricable. Just repeating this calumny was not enough for the Turkish dictator, who added fuel to the fire by calling Israel’s removal of metal detectors from the entrances to the Temple Mount “not enough” and saying that IDF soldiers were “dirtying” the site with their boots.
Israel’s foreign ministry’s apparently new approach to Turkish relations that we should all agree with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, that Israel should support the creation of a Kurdish state. We should also finally go public and recognize the Ottoman Armenian genocide.
Lapid pulled no punches, adding to his disparagement of the Turkish leader by declaring that Israel should also drop the idea of a gas pipeline to Turkey. It is time, he said, to show Erdogan that he cannot bully Israel.
“The time has come to stop ingratiating ourselves to the Turks, who every time come and kick us harder,” Lapid told journalists during a briefing in Tel Aviv. “We need to say, ‘Okay, we understand, now we have to run our own policy: From now on we support the establishment of an independent Kurdish state, we need to recognize the Armenian genocide, we need to do all the things that we didn’t do when we had good relations with Turkey, because we don’t, and we will not have in the future,” he said.
Turkey’s 15 million Kurds represent nearly 18% of the country’s population. Like most of their fellow Muslim citizens, they are Sunnis, but it is their cultural distinction, their ethnic identity, that they are fighting to preserve. Some of the actual fighting is conducted in their name by Kurdish rebels, the PKK, which has resulted in scores of thousands of deaths over recent decades.
Between July 2015 and December 2016, some 1,200 civilians and 800 members of Turkish security forces were killed, and more than 500,000 were displaced. Erdogan has arrested hundreds of members of the Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) on trumped-up charges of collaborating with the PKK, whose physical destruction he pursues, refusing to negotiate.
Erdogan has a violent accusatory mindset, blaming the Kurds, Israel, ISIS for his country’s ills. He sees a conspirator, coup or assassin behind every Mosque. Erdogan’s own words there is “absolutely no difference” between ISIS, Kurdish rebels and the movement behind the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, calling them terrorists. There is only one word to describe this anti American despot, “KILLER.”
The Europeans have it right so far, rejecting Turkey’s entrance into the European Union (EU). What sets Europe apart from Turkey is their Islamic identity while Europe on the whole is Christian. And don’t forget that Turkey, mainly consisting of an Asian people, was an invading country under the Ottomans; Greece, Bosnia and Spain fell in their wake. That brings us to Turkey today. A NATO member under the iron hand of Islamist Erdogan who has no trouble stirring the pot of racism, blaming others for his faults.
Case in point, the Kurds who have been clamoring for their own country without success. Turkey is adamant that the Kurds are Turks and not minorities, therefore by acquiescing to their demand it would open the floodgates for others. That is a self serving argument. And with ISIS one mile from the Turkish border on the ready to massacre the Kurds in Syria, Erdogan says let them die, we will not help with their defense.
“SO LET IT BE WRITTEN – SO LET IT BE DONE” Erdogan playing with fire.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has had enough of Turkey’s Erdogan. The diminutive Muslim Brotherhood dictator is a subversive. He spews Western vile from his trash mouth blaming the United States for the attempted coup; wants us to hand over Gulen. But that is not all, the member of NATO has taken opposite sides in our fight against ISIS; he has bombed our YPK partners. He has mouthed off of Israel’s right to Jerusalem by professing that Jews have no historical right to it. He continues to urge the pseudo Palestinians to intafada and fight for their own state while on the other hand he is fighting tooth and nail to prevent 25 million KURDS from have theirs. The blood of Americans are on his hands. In addition to this he has constantly battled the PKK or Turkish workers party (labeled as a terrorist organization by the United States) by limiting Turkey’s Kurds to their lawful rights. The KURDs make up 15-20% of the population. The group was founded in 1978 by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan.] The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent, Marxist–Leninist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan. The initial reason given by the PKK for this was the oppression of Kurds in Turkey.
The Iraqi Kurds or The Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq is the family business of the Barzani Clan, even though elections are generally considered free and fair. President is Massoud Barzani, Prime Minister is Nechervan Barzani while the security chief is Masrour Barzani. The Barzanis are Iranian Kurds. The Barzanis and the PKK profoundly hate each other.
Thus, PKK is labeled as a “narcoterrorist” organization.
“…As a result of the PKK’s increasing activity in the international narcotics trade, the (US) Treasury Department designated the group a significant foreign narcotics trafficker in May 2008. Even more recently, in February 2009, the Treasury Department also listed the Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), which is under the control of the Kongra-Gel, as a specially designated global terrorist entity..”
America’s relationship with Turkey has entered a period of deep crisis. At the heart of the matter is continued U.S. support for Syrian Kurds fighting the Islamic State. The partnership between the United States and a coalition of Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Syrian Arab militias, currently known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), began more than two years ago under President Barack Obama. President Donald Trump’s administration continues to back the 50,000-strong SDF as the most capable anti-Islamic State force in northern Syria. The SDF are now closing in on Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State’s self-described caliphate, and Trump has approved a plan to provide arms directly to the YPG for the final push. Yet Turkey sees the SDF as mortal enemies due to the YPG’s affiliation with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), a designated terrorist organization which has fought a bloody insurgency inside Turkey for three decades. These clashing interests have put Washington and Ankara on a collision course just as the U.S.-led campaign to crush the caliphate enters its culminating phase.
Turkey’s concerns about the YPG are understandable and widely appreciated. What is less well known is the fact that it was Turkey’s own actions, in particular a set of decisions made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, that stymied joint U.S.-Turkey efforts to identify an alternative anti-Islamic State force. This pushed the United States and the YPG closer together and eventually created the SDF. And, with Raqqa in their sights, the Trump administration is unlikely to abandon them now.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s former number two in Likud, former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar, called for Israel and the United States Sunday to play key roles in advancing Kurdish independence.
Iraq’s Kurds set a September 25 date for a referendum on independence over the weekend. They said the referendum would take place despite warnings internationally that a vote in favor of secession could trigger conflict with Baghdad at a time when the fight against Islamic State is not yet won.
The Kurds have played a major role in the eight-month-old US-backed campaign to defeat the hardline Sunni insurgents in the Nineveh province around their de-facto capital Mosul. Baghdad’s Shi’ite-led government has rejected any move by the mostly Sunni Muslim Kurds to press unilaterally for independence, insisting that any decision about the future of the country should involve all its other parts.
Sa’ar met two months ago in Israel with adviser to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani. A former member of the security cabinet, he wrote extensively about regional issues, including the Kurds, at the Institute for National Security Studies during his time-out from politics that ended in April.