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UK failed to support Middle East ally: Iraqi Kurds

- KurdistanWoman - UK failed to support Middle East ally: Iraqi Kurds


WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – London has failed to support one of its important Middle East allies—Iraq’s Kurds—against Iran, The Guardian reported on Monday.

The issue is expected to arise in a parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, when Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt “will be asked to justify” the Government’s claim that Iraq has retaken disputed territory from the Kurds with “limited clashes and loss of life,” The Guardian wrote.

The Kurds had controlled that territory since 2014 when Iraq’s army collapsed in the face of an assault from the Islamic State (IS), and Baghdad asked Kurdish forces to step in to prevent IS from seizing even more land.

Three months ago, On Oct. 16, Iraqi forces, including Iranian-backed militias, attacked Kirkuk and other disputed areas, in a military operation engineered by Qassim Soleimani, head of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

Tom Hardie-Forsyth, a former British Cabinet Office and NATO official, and currently an informal adviser to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), provided a written statement to parliament that Britain had “detailed intelligence warning of the precise links” between Iran and the Shia militias that Tehran supports in Iraq, The Guardian said.

Parliament’s questioning of the British minister will include the claim of the Iraqi embassy that it is “entirely false” to say that IRGC-backed militias participated in the attack on Kirkuk and other disputed areas.

The same issue arose in the US, following Iraq’s Oct. 16 attack.

Defense Department officials, as well as those from the State Department, claimed to have no knowledge of the role of Iranian-backed forces, despite pictures circulating widely on social media, including photos of Soleimani with the militia commanders.

The matter was only clarified several days later, when CIA Director Mike Pompeo affirmed that Soleimani had, indeed, been in Kirkuk. However, other US officials continued to downplay the significance of Iran’s role in the attack.

Paul Davis, formerly a Pentagon analyst on Kurdish affairs and now retired from the US Army, commented that the British seem to be coordinating with the US, if not actually following the US lead.

“The coordination is probably occurring between the State Department and the Foreign Office,” Davis remarked, and “not between the White House and Whitehall.”

Hardie-Forsyth also made several other significant, related points, according to The Guardian.

Since at least 2016, British intelligence has been reporting that Tehran’s strategic objective is “to create through Iraq and Syria an unbroken land corridor to the Middle East North Africa Region to further threaten Israel and Lebanon,” Hardie-Forsyth advised.

Moreover, Iran has “successfully encouraged Baghdad to take a heavily punitive approach to the Kurds” after their Sep. 25 independence referendum, thus advancing its strategic objective of creating a land corridor to the Mediterranean.

Additionally, the Shia militias are now engaged in ethnic cleansing in key areas of Iraq, expelling Kurdish, Christian, and Yezidi populations, while bringing in Shias.

And, many Sunni Arabs, displaced by IS’ assault, remain in camps. “Notably, the majority are extremely reluctant to return to their home area, because they are now equally scared of the behavior” of the militias, he wrote.

Hardie-Forsyth complained that the British response had “frankly been muted at best,” while France and Germany had been far more outspoken in protesting Baghdad’s abusive, sectarian actions.

He warned that current circumstances could easily lead to the re-emergence of another iteration of IS.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany



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Turkish President vows to crush any Kurdish protest against Afrin invasion

- TurkisStrikeK24 - Turkish President vows to crush any Kurdish protest against Afrin invasion


HDP’s Co-leader Serpil Kemalbay did not call for an uprising but urged “the people of Turkey not to remain silent to this invasion” which she said Erdogan launched to consolidate his rule.

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), however, urged “support for the resistance of Afrin.”

Erdogan equated the opposition HDP which his administration has paralyzed with an ongoing crackdown launched in late 2016 with the PKK—outlawed for waging decades-long guerrilla warfare against the Turkish state over Kurdish self-rule.

With a nation-wide state of emergency in place since a failed military coup a year and a half ago and more powers granted to the judiciary and the national police force, authorities have already banned walks, demonstrations, and public meetings in all provinces.

Meanwhile, prosecutors in Ankara launched investigations against HDP lawmakers Ayhan Bilgen and Nadir Yildirim for tweets criticizing Turkey’s offensive in Afrin.

“An operation targeting Afrin, if successful, will drag the country into civil war, and if unsuccessful will create the ground for a coup,” Bilgen tweeted a week ago amid rising threats from Ankara.

“An attempt to invade Afrin means a total war on the Kurdish people. Staying silent to this is dishonorable. Our honorable people in all four parts of Kurdistan will give the necessary response. Today is the day to mobilize,” Yildirim said in a tweet after attacks on Afrin began.

“Mind you, anyone making the mistake of getting out on to public squares will pay the heaviest price. I have to tell you because this is a national struggle. We will pulverize anyone standing in front of us,” Erdogan said, promising a swift victory.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany 



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Barzani and Kosrat Rasoul Meet in Erbil


Barzani and Kosrat Rasoul Meet in Erbil  - 66d399e9ab8adc124c65ca4320e22b6f L - Barzani and Kosrat Rasoul Meet in Erbil

ERBIL — Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani on Sunday met with Kosrat Rasoul, deputy secretary-general for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

The meeting comes after Rasoul had spend weeks in Germany under medical treatment before he came back earlier this month.

The pair exchanged views on the current political situation in Iraq and the region.

No further details on their discussion were revealed to the media.



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Iran latest to condemn Turkish military campaign against Kurds in Afrin

- AfrinTurkey - Iran latest to condemn Turkish military campaign against Kurds in Afrin


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Iran on Sunday called on the Turkish government to halt its military campaign against Kurdish forces in the Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) city of Afrin, noting the operation could “help terrorist groups.”

“Iran hopes this process will end immediately to prevent the deepening of the crisis in the border area between Turkey and Syria,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bahram Qasimi was quoted by the state-run IRNA news agency.

On Saturday, the Turkish army stepped up its military incursion against Kurds in the northern Syrian region of Afrin, wounding at least five civilians following bombardments on the outskirts of the city.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said the campaign, called “Operation Olive Branch,” was aimed at the People’s Protection Units (YPG) who his country labels “terrorists” for their alleged links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The YPG, who make up a significant majority of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was an integral part of the war against the Islamic State (IS).

Turkey’s military plans seem to have been accelerated by an announcement from the US that it will help the SDF build a new “border security force” to prevent the return of IS.

The YPG and SDF deny any terrorist links, a claim backed by the US government. However, Turkey’s President Erdogan called the border force a “terror army.”

Meanwhile, the Kurdish forces vowed to defend any attacks on the areas under their control.

“If attacked, we will have no choice but to defend ourselves and our people, but we state in front of the world that we harbor no hostile intent toward Turkey and would only take measures in our own defense in the event of hostile operations against our people,” an SDF statement read.



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