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Abadi is just like Maliki!

- AbadiMalPJ - Abadi is just like Maliki!


WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan 24) – Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is little but “another sectarian Iran proxy, just like [Nouri] al-Maliki,” Iraq’s previous prime minister, a regular blogger to the prestigious Foreign Policy magazine wrote on Thursday.

The US helped Maliki become prime minister in 2006, but by 2014, when the Islamic State (IS) attacked Iraq, he was seen as a Shia partisan, whose sectarian policies had contributed to IS’ emergence and its conquest of one-third of the country.

As a condition of US support for the fight against IS, Washington demanded Maliki’s resignation, replacing him with his deputy—Abadi.

The State Department, charged now with executing US policy in Iraq, has embraced Abadi as the man who can contain Iran in Iraq. Foreign Policy echoed the State Department’s position last month when it named Abadi as one of the 100 most prominent global thinkers of 2017.

In explaining why it chose Abadi for the honor, Foreign Policy made a fundamental mistake. It asserted: Iraq’s “prime minister is already gearing up for his re-election campaign in the spring of 2018.”

Abadi was never elected Iraqi prime minister, so he cannot be re-elected! Abadi simply replaced Maliki, when the US insisted that he step down.

As a Kurdish member of Iraq’s parliament remarked to Kurdistan 24, in the last Iraqi elections—in April 2014—just before IS’ onslaught into Iraq began, Abadi received only 4,000 votes. That is a small number.

And, Rachel Avraham, a regular contributor to “Foreign Policy Blogs,” strongly criticized the magazine’s decision to honor the Iraqi Prime Minister as a significant global thinker.

“Under Abadi,” the Kurdistan Region “is gravely suffering” after 180,000 Kurds “were forced to run for their lives when the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, the Iraqi Army, and the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces invaded” the city of Kirkuk and other disputed areas.

“Following their invasion,” Avraham writes, “the Iraqi Army and its allies have been kidnaping, gang raping, and arresting people” whom they regard as Kurdish nationalists.

The Kurdistan Region hosts 1.8 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees from IS, including many Christians and Yezidis. Their numbers have swelled the population of Kurdistan by 30 percent, and their humanitarian needs have imposed a significant financial burden on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Baghdad has contributed “zero funds” to support the IDPs and refugees, even as its seizure of Kirkuk and its oil has cut the revenues of the KRG in half, Avraham noted.

Moreover, Abadi has imposed an embargo on international flights to the Kurdistan Region’s two major airports “making it difficult for other countries to send humanitarian aid to Kurdistan,” while imposing further economic hardship on the Region.

“If Abadi was a unifier of Iraq and not a sectarian dictator,” Avraham asked, “why has he refused to have any dialogue with the Kurds?”

“Why has he imposed such a brutal blockade on the Kurds, just for expressing their democratic rights” in their independence referendum?

“Why does he have his forces arrest, kidnap, and gang rape Kurdish citizens?”

Indeed, Avraham suggested that Abadi is no great thinker at all, but is most comparable to “Maliki, Bashar al-Assad, Ayatollah Khomeini, Ismail Haniyeh, or any other Iranian-backed sectarian dictator.” 

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany



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Turkey's preoccupation with Syrian Kurds could spell disaster for US | Patrick Wintour



Turkish tanks advance near the Syrian border  - 1300 - Turkey's preoccupation with Syrian Kurds could spell disaster for US | Patrick Wintour

Turkey’s preoccupation with Syrian Kurds could spell disaster for US

The west cannot afford to lose Ankara’s role as a countervailing force to a Russian-imposed peace







Turkish tanks advance near the Syrian border  - 1300 - Turkey's preoccupation with Syrian Kurds could spell disaster for US | Patrick Wintour









Turkey’s incursion into Syria could see it reach a peace deal with Damascus and Moscow.
Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The US, Britain and France have all strongly criticised the Turkish invasion of northern Syria, but the three countries have so far been unwilling to instruct their Nato partner to pull back.

The low-key stance urging Turkey to minimise casualties probably means Ankara can press ahead with its attempts to drive the Syrian Kurds out of Afrin province in north-west Syria.

The problem for the west is that, as an endgame possibly approaches in Syria, it cannot afford to lose Turkish diplomatic support since Ankara has been the vital countervailing force to a Russian-imposed peace.

The Turkish preoccupation with the Syrian Kurds on its borders could lead to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, reaching a deal with Damascus and Moscow.

That would represent a disaster for the US only a week after the US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, committed the Trump administration to a political solution in Syria that involved the ultimate removal of Bashar al-Assad and Iranian-led militias.

The speech – in which the UK Foreign Office had a big hand – was something of a watershed and was under-appreciated in Europe. Previously, Trump’s policy on Syria was simply the destruction of Isis and an aversion to talk of nation-building. But the Tillerson speech has been widely criticised because it was long on aspiration but short on detailing the credible levers the US and the west have to pressure Moscow to abandon Assad.

Western diplomats say they have some stakes in the ground: the threat to withhold EU and US reconstruction funds, the promise to keep 2,000 US troops inside Syria indefinitely and a slightly confused commitment to help the Kurds form a border force inside northern Syria. British ministers also repeatedly warn that a Russian-imposed peace that simply leaves Assad in charge would not only be morally reprehensible but unstable.

Kurds in Syria

But the value of all these levers is immeasurably diminished if they lack the support of Turkey, the long-term supporter of the Syrian opposition in the seven-year civil war.

If Turkey instead sides with Moscow, Russia will be able to press ahead with its political solution for Syria to be launched at the Syrian National Dialogue Congress, an event co-sponsored by Turkey and Iran and due to be held in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on 29-30 January.

The west fears Vladimir Putin regards Sochi as an alternative to the UN-led peace talks, and an assertion of Russian authority across the Middle East. It could also be a means of rubber-stamping an agreement that leaves Assad in charge with some minor changes to the Syrian constitution.

In an attempt to retain the primacy of the UN process and achieve a broadly acceptable long-term political outcome, the UN’s special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, is to hold two sessions of talks either side of Sochi, the first on 25-26 January.

The Sochi conference has repeatedly been postponed by Moscow, mainly because Turkey has objected to any invitation being extended to the Kurdish Democratic Union party (PYD) and its armed wing, the People’s Protection Units (YPG). Turkey regards the YPG as inextricably linked to the Kurdisstan Workers’ party inside Turkey.

But the events of the past few days suggest Turkey and Russia may be close to a deal. Turkish military officials travelled to Moscow ahead of the Turkish invasion to extract guarantees that the Russian air force inside Syria would not attack Turkish units. On Monday Moscow then announced that Kurdish representatives would be invited to Sochi, without detailing the precise identity of those delegates.

The outlines of a deal are discernible – in which Turkey backs a Russian peace process and Moscow tacitly accedes to a Turkish drive to weaken the Syrian Kurds on its borders.

The US can argue it tolerated Kurdish territorial expansions across northern Syria, and specifically west of the Euphrates river, only so long as the Kurdish militias inside theSyrian Democratic Forces were needed to defeat Isis, but now that battle has been won the US priority is to stop the freefall in its relations with Turkey. If that means a temporary Turkish foothold in the patchwork that is Syria, so be it.



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Social media crackdown on citizens, lawmakers follows Turkey’s attacks on Afrin

- AfrinReu - Social media crackdown on citizens, lawmakers follows Turkey’s attacks on Afrin


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkish authorities launched investigations on Monday against scores of people—among them journalists, writers, and lawmakers—and arrested dozens of others over their criticism on social media of Ankara’s invasion of the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwestern Syria.

The chief public prosecutor’s office in Istanbul announced probes targeting 57 individuals for the crimes of “propaganda in support of a terror group, inciting public hostility, insulting the President, and sharing content that contravenes realities.”

Over the weekend, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke harshly of those daring to protest his army’s aerial and ground attacks on the isolated Kurdish enclave where Turkish airstrikes have killed dozens, among them civilians and fighters of the US-backed People’s Protection Units (YPG).

He vowed to “pulverize” them, directing his words also at the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), an opposition bloc already bracing an ongoing crackdown since late 2016 that saw its Co-leader Selahattin Demirtas, nine lawmakers, 80 mayors, and thousands of members imprisoned.

In the Kurdish province of Mardin, Diyarbakir, and Mus, police arrested at least 30 people.

Journalist Nurcan Baysal and local co-head of HDP’s branch in Diyarbakir’s Bismil district Refai Baran were detained in midnight raids for their tweets and Facebook posts in support of the people of Afrin.

Three other journalists and authors, Ishak Karakas, Aziz Tunc, and Ismail Eskin, were also taken into custody by Istanbul police.

According to the Turkish Journalists’ Association, prisons across Turkey are home to over 160 reporters, photographers, writers, and other media workers.

Elsewhere, in Van, on the border with Iranian Kurdistan, the public prosecutor began probes against four HDP lawmakers representing the province at the Turkish Parliament.

In Dersim, MP Ali Oncel was the target of another Ankara-appointed prosecutor.

HDP Spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen and Hakkari MP Nadir Yildirim were already under investigations for their tweets regarding the Afrin offensive.

Editing by Karzan Sulaivany



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Members of European Parliament condemn Turkish attack on Afrin

- EUparl - Members of European Parliament condemn Turkish attack on Afrin


ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Members of the European Parliament on Monday condemned Turkey’s ongoing military operation against Kurds in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin.

Cypriot MEP Takis Hadjigeorgiou, who is also the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s delegation to Turkey, “strongly condemned the Turkish invasion” by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava).

“We stand with all the peacekeeping forces that call for an immediate end to the invasion and the withdrawal of Turkish troops,” Hadjigeorgiou continued.

“We express our solidarity with the Syrian people and the Kurds in both Syria and Turkey who are constantly threatened by the Turkish government,” he added.

German MEP Martina Michels also criticized the military operation in Afrin, stressing that “it is unacceptable that the Turkish army has been attacking Kurdish villages.”

“[The campaign in Afrin] goes to the heart of Erdogan’s long-held dream of destroying Kurdish self-determination—not just within Turkey, but in Iraq and Syria as well,” she said.

Meanwhile, French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat called on the international community to “act quickly by taking a stand against these operations and by bolstering our support to the inhabitants of Afrin.”

During a meeting with European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday, Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs, said she was “extremely worried” about the ongoing Turkish attacks against Syrian Kurds in Afrin.

Mogherini also noted that the violence might undermine the peace talks on Syria in Geneva, and severely affect the humanitarian situation on the ground.



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