Connect with us

kurdistan

Fearful neighbours look on as Iraq’s Kurds stake claim to nationhood



A woman shows her support for the 25 September independence poll for Kurdish northern Iraq in Erbil.  - 1506196572 697 3500 - Fearful neighbours look on as Iraq’s Kurds stake claim to nationhood

Below the Erbil citadel, where empire and insurrection have been fought out over the course of 5,000 years, Kurdish flags stake out the claim to a nascent era – that of a sovereign state.

Banners were gathering rapidly during the week in advance of a referendum on independence in the Kurdish north of Iraq due to take place on Monday. Hours ahead of the ballot, the citadel square and nearby markets were teeming with Kurds draped in nationalistic red, white and green, symbolising the struggle that they believe will deliver them a new nation from the rump of another.

Defying overwhelming opposition outside Kurdistan, large numbers of Kurds see the ballot as a historic step in a decades-long struggle for self determination. They, like their leader, the de facto president of the Kurdish north, Masoud Barzani, have stared down ally and enemy alike, all of whom have warned that the move could lead to the breakup of Iraq and possibly imperil – not advance – their cause.

Interactive

The fears of the neighbours and high stakes of regional geopolitics matter little to the referendum’s supporters, who, after a slow start, appear to number a sizable majority in Kurdistan, and the result now appears a foregone conclusion.

Many frame their support through a narrow, nationalistic lens of a necessary divorce from the Iraqi central government – and from Arabs themselves. Sectarianism has spiked in Baghdad and Erbil in recent days, with grievances that had been shielded in recent months now on naked display.

“It may take a while to stop this,” said Saleh Harami, a supporter of the referendum from Duhok. “People need to calm this talk down before it’s too late.”

The Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani at a pro-independence rally in Erbil this week.  - 3616 - Fearful neighbours look on as Iraq’s Kurds stake claim to nationhood

Pinterest
The Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani at a pro-independence rally in Erbil this week. Photograph: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

In a tea house dwarfed by one of the citadel’s walls, Seif Zarar, 30, an electricity technician said: “The 25th of September means for me the end of chemical attacks, fleeing from our homes, and only receiving 30% of our wages. Even Saddam never stopped paying our wages, despite what he did to us. I have many Arab friends, but what the politicians are doing to the Kurds is very unfair. Let’s untangle this and get on with our lives separately.”

Other Kurds are less conciliatory. “They killed 11 members of my family, including my father” said Zuhair, a senior employee of the Kurdish government, speaking of Saddam Hussein’s regime. “I was one month old at the time. How could I ever look at them as brothers? They hate us and we have nothing in common with them.”

Sitting nearby, Mohammed Hassan, 80, echoed a sentiment that has taken broad hold in the Kurdish north as the referendum draws nearer – that the strident opposition of the region’s friends has been tantamount to a betrayal.

“We were very surprised by this,” he said. “Everyone was. We never thought that the US and Britain would be so hostile.”

Both countries, along with France, the Arab League, and the United Nations have warned that the ballot could have a destabilising effect on an already volatile region. Washington and London remain invested in the unity of post-Saddam Iraq, which has largely been unable to assert itself in the face of regional patrons in the past 14 years. Both Baghdad and Erbil almost fell to the so-called Islamic State terror group in August 2014 – sharply exposing the dysfunction in both governments. The three painful years since have partially restored authority in both capitals and have led both to consolidate their respective power bases.

Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, is poised to take Iraq to an election next year. And being seen as a national leader who lost one third of the country is not something that he, or his backers, find palatable. “How could he campaign on such a thing?” asked a senior supporter of Abadi’s ruling party. “We will never let this happen.”

The fight against Isis, which has nearly been won across Iraq, gave Barzani the impetus to push for independence – his lifelong cause, and a raison d’etre of his father, Mustafa, a founding figure in the Kurdish north, which has won a partial autonomy in the post-Saddam years. It has also steeled Baghdad to push back hard against such a move, which would further complicate revenue and oil-sharing deals and jeopardise the future of the multi-ethnic, oil-rich city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by both Kurds and Arabs, and was contentiously included in the referendum.

Young Kurds show off their referendum T-shirts at a rally in Shanadar Park, Erbil, Iraq, on 16 September.  - 4000 - Fearful neighbours look on as Iraq’s Kurds stake claim to nationhood

Pinterest
Young Kurds show off their referendum T-shirts at a rally in Shanadar Park, Erbil, Iraq, on 16 September. Photograph: Cengiz Yar Jr

“Kirkuk is the city of Kurds and Turkmens and Mulla Mustafa Barzani had to go to war in 1974,” said Ayad Jibrael, 53, a baker, in reference to a dispute over Kurdish autonomy at the time between Baghdad and Erbil. “People in Erbil have lived together. People in Kurdistan don’t differentiate between Kurds, Turkmens and Arabs. We have lived in peace together since I remember. Now it is our natural right to ask for independent Kurdistan.”

Abdulrazaq Khudur, 60, a Turkmen kebab shop owner, whose family have owned the business since the 1930s, said: “People in Kurdistan struggled with the kingdom of Iraq, the Ba’ath regime and now with this government in Baghdad.

“It is the right time for the referendum now, because the international community and the west now know about Kurdistan, whereas before no one knew how to find it on a map.”

Addressing speculation that Barzani might accede to a last-minute delay, he said only international guarantees with a fixed timeline and agenda could justify such a move. “We can’t have another Sykes-Picot to promise us something and do a different thing next morning,” he says, referring to the secret 1916 deal between the great powers to carve up influence in the region.

Brawa Hajar, 28, said the international condemnation was not a surprise, and could be overcome.

“It is normal to have negative reactions from Turkey, Iran and Baghdad. [It’s the same for] every nation around the world when they first go for independence in the beginning,” he said. “We’ll never give up on Kirkuk at any cost, and I’m ready to pick up a gun to defend Kurdistan against any threat by anyone.”

Beyond the hopes of the Kurdish street, there is broad, and mounting, international concern that the day after the referendum is likely to look very different. “Not in visuals,” said one senior analyst. “But certainly in tangibles.”

London, Washington, and European states say Barzani’s strategy was to create unity, domestic legitimacy and a mandate that forced Baghdad to the negotiating table for two to five years of post-ballot negotiations. A best-case scenario would have been a form of confederalism, or even independence, international observers say.

But including Kirkuk and other areas to the south, which remain disputed between Kurds and Arabs was an “inflammatory” move that forced Baghdad to react with hostility, the observers say. “It was much more in their face. There has been no unity, no logic, no rollout of the plan. This strengthens the hand of the Shia militias. It definitely allows them to put all the blame on the Kurds.”

Additional reporting by Mohammed Rasool

theguardian

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

kurdistan

US-led coalition strikes kill 150 Islamic State militants in Syria



A pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles flying over northern Iraq  - 3607 - US-led coalition strikes kill 150 Islamic State militants in Syria

US-led coalition strikes kill 150 Islamic State militants in Syria

Strikes near As Shafah come as the US urged Turkey to focus on fighting Isis and show restraint in its campaign against Kurdish forces







A pair of US Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles flying over northern Iraq  - 3607 - US-led coalition strikes kill 150 Islamic State militants in Syria









The US has signalled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent Islamic State’s resurgence
Photograph: Senior Airman Matthew Bruch/AFP/Getty Images

The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State has said it has killed nearly 150 militants in strikesin the Syrian middle Euphrates valley.

The strikes on Saturday come as the US urged Turkey to show restraint in its campaign against Kurdish forces in northern Syria and to focus on fighting Isis. On Tuesday, Turkey claimed to have killed 260 Kurdish and Isis fighters in a four-day offensive the north of the country.

The US has signalled an open-ended military presence in Syria as part of a broader strategy to prevent a resurgence of Isis, pave the way diplomatically for the eventual departure of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and curtail Iran’s influence.

“The precision strikes were a culmination of extensive intelligence preparation to confirm an Isis headquarters and command and control center in an exclusively Isis-occupied location in the contested middle Euphrates river valley,” said a statement issued on Tuesday by the coalition.

The strikes took place near As Shafah, Syria and killed between 145 and 150 militants. The statement added that US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which includes Kurdish YPG fighters, helped in target observation.

Turkey seeks to avoid any clash with US, Russian or Syrian forces but will take any steps needed for its security, a Turkish minister said on Tuesday, the fourth day of its air and ground offensive against Kurdish forces.

The United States and Russia both have military forces in Syria and have urged Turkey to show restraint in its campaign, named Operation Olive Branch, to crush the US-backed Kurdish YPG in the Afrin region on Turkey’s southern border.

“Our SDF partners are still making daily progress and sacrifices, and together we are still finding, targeting and killing ISIS terrorists intent on keeping their extremist hold on the region,” maj gen James Jarrard, commander of special operations for the coalition, said in the statement.

The United States has led an international coalition conducting air strikes against Islamic State since 2014. US troops have served as advisers on the ground with Iraqi government forces and with Kurdish and Arab groups in Syria.

The coalition has said in the past that fewer than 1,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, but that the militant group still remains a threat. The figure excludes areas in western Syria under the control of Assadss government and his allies.



theguardian

Continue Reading

kurdistan

Kurds in Canada urge Turkey to ‘stop spilling Kurdish blood’ in Afrin

- KACOttawa - Kurds in Canada urge Turkey to ‘stop spilling Kurdish blood’ in Afrin


Rojen Rahmani, head of lobbying and advocacy for KAC, said the Canadian government needs to respond and condemn Turkey’s violent campaign in Rojava.

“I think Canada’s response to Turkey’s attack on Afrin needs to be louder,” she told Kurdistan 24. “[Canada] needs to play a larger role taking into account the YPG forces are an ally of America and Canada.”

Turkish warplanes began striking the Kurdish city of Afrin on Saturday as ground troops entered the region the following day.

The campaign dubbed “Operation Olive Branch” is meant to clear Syria’s Kurdish-held northwest district of People’s Protection Units (YPG) fighters who Turkey claims are an offshoot of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Ankara has labeled the US-backed Kurdish forces a “terrorist organization” and has been infuriated by Washington’s support for the YPG.

The US, which is backing the YPG in the ongoing battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Syria, said it was concerned regarding the situation.



Source link

Continue Reading

kurdistan

New Governor Steps Up Arabisation Campaign in Kirkuk

- 955d54c3357369ad15d1991b10e69675 L - New Governor Steps Up Arabisation Campaign in Kirkuk


KIRKUK — The new governor of Kirkuk who was appointed by the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi, Rakan Saeed, helps the Arabisation campaign against the indigenous Kurdish population of the province.

According to a written document, a copy of which was obtained by BasNews, signed by the governor himself, Saeed urges the security forces based in Nawroz district of Kirkuk to send him the list of names who have been given lands by the directorate of the area.

The documents also show that the people whom their names are in the wanted list have to leave the place in 7 days otherwise they bear the responsibility.

According to the information obtained by BasNews, the number of residents who have been warned to leave their properties is estimated to be 130 families who had built their houses 14 years ago in Kirkuk.

Political observers believe that Saeed’s documents are to intensify the Arabisation in Kirkuk province, therefore he should be stopped.

On October 16th, 2017, Hashed-al Shaabi in collaboration with a few other militias which were allied by some “traitors” in Kurdish military forces, invaded Kirkuk, Tuz Khurmatu, and Khanaqin. During the invasion, hundreds of citizens were killed or severely injured despite the fact that approximately 200,000 people fled their cities.





Source link

Continue Reading

Recent News

- 24turkey1 facebookJumbo 400x240 - Mixed Messages From U.S. as Turkey Attacks Syrian Kurds - 24turkey1 facebookJumbo 80x80 - Mixed Messages From U.S. as Turkey Attacks Syrian Kurds
Syria1 hour ago

Mixed Messages From U.S. as Turkey Attacks Syrian Kurds

Photo Turkish soldiers around the area of Mount Bersaya, north of the Syrian town of Azaz, on Tuesday. Credit Saleh...

- 5a67ae24fc7e9309638b4567 - US chemical blame-game: Well-timed PR stunt or trick to justify military presence in Syria? - 5a67ae24fc7e9309638b4567 - US chemical blame-game: Well-timed PR stunt or trick to justify military presence in Syria?
Syria2 hours ago

US chemical blame-game: Well-timed PR stunt or trick to justify military presence in Syria?

French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. © Philippe Wojazer / Reuters

- 20180124 sdf3d46d3 image 400x240 - 37 Turkish soldiers and gang members killed in Afrin  - 20180124 sdf3d46d3 image 80x80 - 37 Turkish soldiers and gang members killed in Afrin 
Rojava3 hours ago

37 Turkish soldiers and gang members killed in Afrin 

According to SDF sources, the invading Turkish army and allied gangs suffered heavy losses during ongoing clashes in Afrin. Bodies...

kurdistan3 hours ago

US-led coalition strikes kill 150 Islamic State militants in Syria

US news US-led coalition strikes kill 150 Islamic State militants in Syria Strikes near As Shafah come as the US...

- 20180124 sdfaedabe image 400x240 - 8 soldiers killed in an action by SDF fighters  - 20180124 sdfaedabe image 80x80 - 8 soldiers killed in an action by SDF fighters 
Rojava3 hours ago

8 soldiers killed in an action by SDF fighters 

Fighters of the Syrian Democratic Forces carried out an action against the Turkish army and affiliated gangs in Bazara village...

- 24Friedman web facebookJumbo 400x240 - The Tweet Trump Could Never Send Tehran - 24Friedman web facebookJumbo 80x80 - The Tweet Trump Could Never Send Tehran
Iran3 hours ago

The Tweet Trump Could Never Send Tehran

Photo The Hamoun wetlands in Iran’s Sistan-Baluchistan Province have dried up. Credit Behrouz Mehria/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images After violent...

- 20180124 raj084be1 image 400x240 - Turkish attack on Rajo kills one civilian, wounds two others  - 20180124 raj084be1 image 80x80 - Turkish attack on Rajo kills one civilian, wounds two others 
Rojava4 hours ago

Turkish attack on Rajo kills one civilian, wounds two others 

Turkish army is continuing its invasion attacks against Afrin Canton of Northern Syria, also hitting civilian areas besides military targets....

- 20180124 20180123 2018 01 23 hsk dauyyani ji bo efrin 2 620x3649b2bdb imageb2feed image 400x240 - Self-Defense Forces: We will not allow Turkey to invade Afrin  - 20180124 20180123 2018 01 23 hsk dauyyani ji bo efrin 2 620x3649b2bdb imageb2feed image 80x80 - Self-Defense Forces: We will not allow Turkey to invade Afrin 
Rojava4 hours ago

Self-Defense Forces: We will not allow Turkey to invade Afrin 

The Defense Councils of Northern Syria regions made a joint statement at Heseke Stadium in solidarity with the resistance of...

- KACOttawa 400x240 - Kurds in Canada urge Turkey to ‘stop spilling Kurdish blood’ in Afrin - KACOttawa 80x80 - Kurds in Canada urge Turkey to ‘stop spilling Kurdish blood’ in Afrin
kurdistan4 hours ago

Kurds in Canada urge Turkey to ‘stop spilling Kurdish blood’ in Afrin

Rojen Rahmani, head of lobbying and advocacy for KAC, said the Canadian government needs to respond and condemn Turkey’s violent...

- 20180123 20180123 555ef125f imaged8d415 image 400x240 - Number of civilians wounded in Turkish attacks rises to 10  - 20180123 20180123 555ef125f imaged8d415 image 80x80 - Number of civilians wounded in Turkish attacks rises to 10 
Rojava5 hours ago

Number of civilians wounded in Turkish attacks rises to 10 

Turkish army continued its airstrikes and artillery attacks on Cindires and Rajo districts of Afrin throughout Tuesday. 10 civilians suffered...

Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2017 KurdDaily.com