Saturday, July 29, 2006


"Resistance does not start with big words

but with small deeds [...]
asking yourself a question
and then asking that question to others
that is how resistance starts."

~ Remco Campert.

Like I was saying, I see a lot of ridiculous stuff and today was no different. In an article about Iran's and Syria's potential moves against Israel in Lebanon, take a look at what one idiot in NYC has to say about Kurds:

In Damascus, the Assad regime has prepared itself for an epochal war that will transform the Syrian culture into a martial cult such as was achieved under the current president's father, the late Hafez al-Assad. [ . . . ] The Assads recall 1967 and 1973 not as strategic defeats but as spiritually liberating events that empowered the Assad regime in the ummah. Syria is resolved, well armed, fatalistic, and inspired by the wealth of Iran, the allegiance of the Iraqi Baathists, the strategic support of Kurdistan, Turkey, Lebanon.

What?? Syria has the strategic support of Kurdistan? Yeah, when pigs fly! But there's more:

The Kurds have made a deal with Tehran that looks to the future and the establishment of an independent, oil-rich Kurdistan.

The Kurds aim to drive out or massacre the minority Turkmen in their territory, and they know this will be a casus belli for Turkey. The Kurds will need Iran for an ally and also for a transportation route to get their oil to market.

The Russians must certainly know that Iran is using Turkey and Kurdistan in their war effort, and the Russians have presumably made a decision not to interfere in any fashion with their Caspian Sea neighbor and commercial partner Iran.

So who, exactly, is this jackass anyway? John Batchelor. Never heard of him? Neither had I, so I had to do some checking. Apparently he's got a radio talk show that airs in NYC in the wee hours. I guess his big claim to fame, and the thing that really makes him such an expert on all things Middle Eastern, especially Kurds, is the fact that he's a writer:

John is a veteran novelist, author of seven political romances as well as a short history of the Republican Party.

A veteran novelist of political romances? I didn't even know there was such a genre, but it looks like this is what passes for Middle East experts in America these days. No wonder everything is so screwed up. Fiction is his specialty, and that's exactly what his speculation on the Iran situation is: Fiction.

How else could some one come up with the fantasy that Kurdistan gives strategic support to the dirty Syrian Ba'athi? And what does he mean by "Kurdistan?" Like most Americans, I'm sure he figures Kurdistan is just that little piece of Kurdistan located in Northern Iraq. This veteran novelist has no clue that Kurdistan is divided by four tyrants and that this division is supported by the entire international community, especially the United States.

Kurds making a deal with Iran? Okay, maybe Mam Celal is up to his old tricks again, but ask an ordinary Kurd--the only kind that really matters as far as I'm concerned--and you'll find that Kurds hate Iran, and I suspect that in his heart of hearts, old Mam Celal hates Iran just as much as the next gundî. Why would Kurds need Iran to ship oil anyway? If we're talking all-out war here, get rid of Syria and Kurds can build a pipeline all the way across Kurdish land to get it to a seaport. If we're talking Kurds making peace with some of the neighbors, then we might be talking Kerkuk-Haifa pipeline once again. This guy also fails to consider that all the enemies of Kurdistan would never allow Kurds to profit from their own resources. Why else do they bother with the trouble of occupation?

Kurds aim to ethnically cleanse all the Turkmen in their territory? Sounds like our veteran novelist is barking at the moon like a Gray Wolf. Probably was a Gray Wolf who passed this juicy lie to him. After all, our fiction writer is an American, and America is Turkey's best ally. But where is demographics most crucial for Southern Kurds? Kerkuk, right? Where would be the best place to wipe out Turkmen then? Kerkuk, right? This is what Turkey and the Iraqi Turkmen Front would like fiction writers like John Batchelor to believe. I guess they all missed this news, from South Kurdistan:

“Those Turkmen who live in Kirkuk do not fall under KRG jurisdiction, so they cannot vote. Kurdistan includes three provinces and Kirkuk is not included, so they do not have the right to participate in elections in Kurdistan,” he says. “If Kirkuk were restored to Kurdistan, we might have 20 MPs in the Kurdistan parliament instead of four. And instead of two ministers, we would have five ministers, or maybe even a deputy prime minister.”

According to Noureddin, the Turkmen population in Erbil alone numbers 250,000 Turkmen. In greater Kurdistan, he guesstimates there to be about a million, with about 350,000 in Kirkuk. In Iraq, there are probably 2.5 million Turkmen, he claims. The Movement claims to have 4,500 members, and receives funding from the KRG.

That's from an interview on Soma Digest with the Turkmen Democratic Front head, Kalkhi Najmaddin Noureddin in Hewlêr. He was a founding member of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), but eventually left the movement. Here's why:

But after realizing that the party would not achieve their intended goals, “because foreign interference does not serve the interests of Turkmens in Kurdistan”, some members, including Noureddin, decided to splinter in 2004.

The foreign interference he's talking about is Turkey. The ITF is true to its name; It is very much a front for Turkish interests and has been involved with JITEM activity in South Kurdistan and Kerkuk. It seems to be losing credibility lately, "losing members everyday," as Noureddin remarks at the end of the Soma interview. Obviously there is no reason to slaughter Turkmen in KRG-administered areas and no reason to slaughter them in Kerkuk. With the exception of the ITF, there is no reason for Kurds to harm Turkmen at all, but Turkey stands everything to gain by pushing this lie. Just as Iran has been interfering with the Shi'a, so Turkey has been interfering with Kurds. ITF is a proper target because it's the proxy of Turkey, just as Hezbollah is the proxy of Iran.

The bottom line here is that I have never heard a single mention of slaughtering Turkmen from any Kurd--not in Diaspora and not in Kurdistan. Kurds aren't that way. If our veteran novelist had ever met Kurds or bothered to listen to Kurds, he'd know that.

Pretty interesting those demographic figures on Turkmen from Noureddi, eh?

Our veteran novelist tries to explain how Iran is going to move armaments through "tribal routes"--whatever those are--through Turkey and Kurdistan to Syria. The problem here is that it is impossible for Iran to move armaments through Turkey unless they go through Armenia and parts of Georgia. On the other hand, Iran could move armaments through Turkish-occupied Kurdistan with the connivance of Iran's good ally, Turkey. Wouldn't it be really great if those transport convoys became fat little targets for a few of PKK's remote-controlled bombs? Imagine the secondary explosions from that! Otherwise, I seriously doubt that the KRG is going to permit any such movements through South Kurdistan. After all, they don't even want to get involved with mere talks between the CIA and the PKK, as the article from yesterday's post shows.

Ask yourself where this guy gets his information. Where does it sound like it's coming from? Maybe from another of Turkey's allies . . . like Israel? John Batchelor has been to Israel 9 times in the last 3 years.

Israel has never said anything about Turkey's atrocities against Kurds. In that respect, Kurds are sort of like Armenians in Israel's eyes, because Israel has never acknowledged the Armenian genocide. You'd think that a people that had been decimated by the Europeans some 60 years ago would be more sensitive when similar things happen to others. Maybe not. The historic relationship that Israel had with the Southern Kurds (and with Barzanî Nemirî in particular) is something else to remember, and it was not a one-way street, either. In 1971, Barzanî Nemirî and his pêşmerge risked their lives to save 3,000 Iraqi Jews, leading them through the Zagros Mountains to the safety of Iran. From there they departed for Israel and other destinations further west.

But why would Israel spread around a dangerous scenario about Kurds such as that written up by our intrepid author of political romance novels? Why bother to antagonize the largest non-Arab ethnic group in the Middle East, a nation of potential allies? Could profits be the reason? From The Nation:

Indeed, there are some in military and intelligence circles who have taken to using "axis of evil" in reference to JINSA (Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs) and CSP (Center for Security Policy), along with venerable repositories of hawkish thinking like the American Enterprise Institute and the Hudson Institute, as well as defense contractors, conservative foundations and public relations entities underwritten by far-right American Zionists (all of which help to underwrite JINSA and CSP). It's a milieu where ideology and money seamlessly blend: "Whenever you see someone identified in print or on TV as being with the Center for Security Policy or JINSA championing a position on the grounds of ideology or principle--which they are unquestionably doing with conviction--you are, nonetheless, not informed that they're also providing a sort of cover for other ideologues who just happen to stand to profit from hewing to the Likudnik and Pax Americana lines," says a veteran intelligence officer. He notes that while the United States has begun a phaseout of civilian aid to Israel that will end by 2007, government policy is to increase military aid by half the amount of civilian aid that's cut each year--which is not only a boon to both the US and Israeli weapons industries but is also crucial to realizing the far right's vision for missile defense and the Middle East.

Who's been affiliated with JINSA past and present? Dick Cheney, John Bolton, Douglas Feith, Richard Perle, James Woolsey, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Eugene Rostow, and Michael Ledeen. Of the retired US military officers affiliated with JINSA, either as supporters or advisors, almost all have worked with military contractors who do business with the Pentagon and Israel. The contractors are heavy-hitters too, including Northrup Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and General Dynamics. Boeing has a presence in the CSP. Also deep into CSP are Lockheed Martin, TRW, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard.

All of these icons of the American military-industrial complex are well represented with the ATC (American Turkish Council), too, which makes for a lot of mutual special interests. When the Cold War ended, the threat was that blood money might become scarce. What to do with such a crisis looming? According to a paper penned by Perle, Feith, and a few others, in 1996, the answer was obvious: create a new cold war:

. . . [B]eyond economics, the paper essentially reads like a blueprint for a mini-cold war in the Middle East, advocating the use of proxy armies for regime changes, destabilization and containment.

Although The Nation article dates from August, 2002, given the expanding events in the Middle East, it looks prophetic in hindsight. Given the work of fiction by our veteran novelist of political romances, someone is trying to align Kurds with the very evildoers that Kurds, themselves, oppose.

Resistance continues to be life.


madtom said...

I'm glad you bring this up, the other day I read somewhere, and I don't remember where, that until recently the leader of the PKK lived in Syria. And I thought to myself Syria? don't the Kurds have it even worse in Syria, where their language is illegal and they don't get citizenship and all kinds of abuse. So I wanted to ask you if that was true, and if so why would the leader of the PKK find refuge in a place like Syria?

Vladimir said...

Yes, explain this Rasti...

philip said...

I'd think long and hard before making "The Nation" the interpreter of the new international constellation. Weren't they last seen blasting Gorbachev for being insufficently Marxist?

They really are an American version of a TURKISH-STYLE political rag, I don't see how they add to Rasti's credibility.

Anonymous said...

In regards to Madtom's statement, it was noted in a few different texts that the PKK actually had undermined the Kurdish issue in Syria in order to please Syrian text even went as far as to say that the PKK announced at that time that they did not consider Kurds in Syria as Kurds. As a result, PKK lost support from Kurds there...

...perhaps this is one way they were able to seek refuge there? Don't know why Syria didn't mind attacks on Turkey though... what do you think?

Urmiye said...

Madtom: "Recently" is something like 8 years ago. Even though PKK can be critisized for using the Beeka Walley (which was then controlled by Syria) as a training camp for its guerillas the PKK never used force against the Kurds from Syria (in comparison to how other states used Kurds from the other side of the borde against "their own Kurds). Syria let PKK be there because they hand a conflict regarding the water from the Eufrat with Turkey.

Since 1998 PKK is considered as terrorist by Syria and Syria are arresting member of PKK handing those from northern Kurdistan to Turkish authorities.

Urmiye said...

Anonymous: And some even goes as far as claiming that Kurds from Syria got better in some aspects when PKK were there. There are always texts who wents "as far as...."

There are far better examples of how some Kurdish groups undermine Kurds from other parts. And those examples were not set by the PKK.

As I mentioned earlier. Syria allowed PKK precence until 1998, but the relation between Syria and PKK is not comparible with the classical relationship between a Kurdish party in one country and their cooperation with the bordering country.

Anonymous said...

Kurds from Syria were the ones making those claims. They were quoted by journalists such as Christiane Bird as saying that PKK and Ocalan had made statements at that time that the Kurds of Syria are not real Kurds. This may have been to appease the Syrian gov who was allowing them refuge within Syrian borders.

Urmiye said...

I see, and many Syrian Kurds says things in support to PKK.

The post on this blog is about an article that was posted recently (like on day ago, and not "recently" as 8-9 years ago) which claims that Syria today has the "strategic support of Kurdistan".

What I consider a bit strange is that someone says:

"...until recently the leader of the PKK lived in Syria."

It was almost 9 years ago that Abdullah Öcalan left and anyone who following the Kurdish issue just a little bit are well aware of the that Syria today considers PKK as terrorist and arrests, tortures and extradites Kurds from northern Kurdistan to Turkey.

"Why is party X getting support from USA? Did not party X until "recently" cooperate with Saddam/Iran?"

Is this question relevant today? I can only see the question relevant if someone knows VERY little (as much as JOHN BATCHELOR) about the Kurdish issue. Because most people who are following the Kurdish issue know how the situation is today, and why it was another situation 10 years ago.

If someone is following the Kurdish issue and are claiming that Abdullah Öcalan until "recently" lived in Syria, that person problably wants to make a another point (like showing "dissatifaction" with PKK relations to Syria almost 9 years ago) , rather than asking a question Syria getting the stratigic support of the Kurds today.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Madtom is new and does not know much about the Kurdish issue. Urmiye - you should do as you did and inform him of the present situation and that the information he currently holds is incorrect.

However, my comment about PKK undermining the Kurdish situation in Syria is different. I know this happened nearly 9 years ago, but nevertheless, it is a question that I was hoping people such as yourself or Mizgin could clarify without just denying that it happened.

You are absolutely right in comparing such relations with those of parties who had relationships with Saddam and the IRI (although I am unsure why you keep bringing that up because I once defended PDK or PUK's acts - I only simply pointed out a fact of the PKK). However, let's be realistic and say that all these Kurdish parties have played the politics at one time or the other and have shaken hands with the enemy.

Anonymous said...

typo: I meant, "I NEVER once defended PDK or PUK's acts"

heftirik said...

hevala hêja disa destên te xweş bin

Mizgîn said...

Guys, Madtom is trying to learn about Kurds, so he is asking sincere questions.

Madtom, the short rundown is this: PKK opened its first training camps in the Beka'a Valley when it was still controlled by Syria. It eventually spread over Syrian-occupied Kurdistan and had offices in Damascus. PKK maintained camps in Syria from that time until 1998, when Turkey massed troops on the border and threatened to invade to attack PKK. That was also when Syria expelled Apo.

Why would PKK find refuge there? A very simple and ancient custom in the Middle East: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Syria has had "issues" with Turkey, primarily stemming from questions over Turkish claims to Hatay province, Turkey's attempts to dam up all the water, on rivers such as the Firat (Euphrates), as Urmiye mentions, and Turkey's alliance with Israel.

Since 2003, Syria has been very warm towards Turkey, as has Iran. Under the old order, the axis of evil was Syria-Iraq-Iran, but now it has shifted to Syria-Turkey-Iran because the enemy of my enemy is my friend. . . in other words, the American presence in Iraq and whatever possible outcome that will be. They are all re-maneuvering themselves for the changes in the regional status quo.

Why would PKK agree to mouth the official Syrian line as regards Kurds? Again, the enemy of my enemy is my friend. At the time, Syrian permission to maintain training and other camps was crucial to PKK's development. Many Kurds in Syria joined PKK, with David McDowall reporting that some 7,000 of them are still reported as unaccounted for from the mid-1980's. It's assumed they died in the struggle.

Since 1998, PKK's influence in Syria has been less but, and in spite of "official pronouncements," PKK still has Rojavayî Kurds in its ranks and HPG does operate within the area--at least occasionally to my knowledge.

Urmiye, you are definitely correct that someone like Batchelor should know better if they're going to make up stuff about Kurds. There are others (Michael Rubin comes to mind) who are experts and who do know what is what, but they also make up stuff or commit sins of omission (by not mentioning) what is really going on.

Anonymous and Vladimir, I hope that helps you.

Xelef! Ser çava û serkeftin!

madtom said...

Thanks for the exchange, I did not mean to throw a handgrenade into the room, just a question.

I understand all about dirty politics, I'm Cuban so I have been seeing it all my life. I just did not understand the context.

Mizgîn said...

By the way, Philip, let's wait and see what happens in the ME. We already have proxy armies, destabilization and efforts at containment.

Also you know that I am no fan of big corporations within the military-industrial complex who've been making money on Kurdish blood and bones.

I am all for live and let live. I don't even care if people like Kurds. If they don't harm Kurdish people, Kurdish people won't harm them. If they harm us, then they need a proper response.

These corporations and their pimps murder Kurdish people. I advocate a proper response against them.

Mizgîn said...

Sorry Madtom, I didn't see your latest reply.

No problem; no handgrenades here. At least, not yet :P

Vladimir said...

Michael Rubin is part of JINSA. He isn't really independent. Although in the past he seemed a little bit pro-Kurdish. I don't know why this changed though, it was probable the money.

Urmiye said...

Madtom: Yes, I understand and I am happy that you are trying to learn about the Kurds. I tried to explain that it was not recently and the context.

Anonymous: I did not want to mention any other party, that is why I wrote party X (what I wrote can actually be applied on other parties than KDP and PUK, the parties that you mentioned). The reason that I did not write the name of any party is because I think there are more urgent things to discuss than getting involved in a discussion where people start to defame other parties. I never said that you were defending the parties you mentioned.

The Kurdish organization that is under the KONGRA-GEL umbrella and that is operating in western (Syrian) Kurdistan had their first congress today. It took place in Europe and one of the guest was Haci Ahmed, leader of PJAK who said:

"It is on time that Kurds from western Kurdistan intensify the struggle in western Kurdistan. Until today they have mainly taken part in the struggle in other parts of Kurdistan. I congratulate them for this congress. The dictator Bashar el Asad has to be removed or change" (Not the everything he said, but parts of what he said)

Anonymous said...

Criticism is healthy, Urmiye, it is not just about defaming other parties. It is about pointing the current issues within the parties in hope that they will make changes to better themselves.

If there are more urgent things to discuss, then by all means, discuss them. But some of us like to remember that the worst enemy of the Kurd unfortunately has been the Kurd... and until we first fix that problem, we will hardly achieve much.

Vladimir said...

Syrian Kurdish political activism was also deflated by the Assad regime's support for Kurdish separatist groups in Iraq and Turkey. Barzani did little to help his brethren in Syria and actively worked to undermine those, such as Sabri, who refused to disavow the KDPS political platform. Syria's decision to sponsor the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) of Turkey in the early 1980s had an even more pernicious impact. After relocating to Damascus, PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan publicly condemned the fight for Kurdish national rights in Syria and frequently repeated the Assad regime's claim that most Syrian Kurds are not native to Syria. Syrian Kurdish activists often received a hostile reception at political conferences organized by the large Kurdish Diaspora in Europe because their activities were seen a threat to the PKK.

In the 1990s, the Baathist regime upgraded its sponsorship of the PKK and encouraged Syrian Kurds to join its ranks. After positive incentives, such as exemption from military service, failed to persuade sufficient numbers of Syrian Kurds join the PKK, the government began forcing Kurdish tribal leaders to fill a "quota" of recruits. By the mid-1990s, according to Turkish intelligence sources, Syrian Kurds comprised over 25% of the PKK's fighters.[3] The PKK became, in effect, an instrument of the Syrian government's repression of its own Kurdish minority.

He[Ocalan] was more opaque about his own ties to the Syrian regime, which was effectively his host and guarantor in Lebanon. (I have heard it plausibly said that Ocalan, like Hafez al-Assad, is a member of the Alawite Muslim minority and thus has a confessional as well as a political relationship with the Syrian Baath Party. In any case, he was willing to be used as a pawn in the Syrian-Turkish rivalry over the damming of the Euphrates. And some PKK propaganda has emphasized Islamic themes among the poorer Kurds.)

It was Syria's way of interlinking Turkish control of Euphrates waters and Syrian sponsorship of the PKK as a pressure point for getting their share of water.

Urmiye said...

Anonymous: Yes.

Vladimir. Short answer (will give longer answer later if I have time).

Ocalan is NOT alewite (he is from Amara, Ruha). Secondly, the alewites in Turkey, northern Kurdistan and those in Syria are not "same kind of" alewites. There are large differences between them.

"PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan publicly condemned the fight for Kurdish national rights in Syria"

Publicly? Then you should be able to give som links. I never heard or read that Ocalan condemned the fight for Kurdish national rights in Syria.

Anonymous said...

if i'm not mistaken... Vladimir did just give some links... don't you see them?

Vladimir said...

These are not my words. Apo is not Alawi. I heard that Apo also condemned the uprising of Kurds in Rojava in 2004. But Kurds spread a lot of rumours, so I am not sure about that and cannot confirm this. Professor Michiel Leezenberg isn’t also very positive about PKK’s position towards the Kurds in Rojava. He is in contact with Kurdish organisations in Rojava and have written articles about them in Dutch.

I do know that not all Kurds in West-Kurdistan hold PKK in high regard. And the reason is the cooperation between the PKK and Assad. I also meet pro-PKK Kurds from West-Kurdistan. But I think they were related to the PKK.

The fact is that former PKK members now end up in the Syrian prison.

Mizgîn said...

Speaking of Michael Rubin, did you bother to check the home page of MEIB to see who's on the editorial board, Vladimir? Michael Rubin is not just a member of JINSA (Clue: Read about the Deep State in the US) Looks like Pipes has given up on MEK for the time being (Check the publishers for MEIB. Pipes was a big fan of MEK, even tried to get them off The List®).

I think it's fairly obvious why Rubin turned anti-bashurî Kurd shortly after Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Hmmm. . . al-Jazeerah. . . don't they have a problem with the second Israel? Have you ever argued with Syrians? Even Syrian "human rights" people? They're Arab nationalists, just like the Ba'ath they oppose. Kurds are okay as long as they keep in their second-class place.

You "heard" that Apo condemned the Qamislo uprising? That's interesting. I never heard what you "heard," but then I hang out with PKKers. In fact, it was the opposite. Who celebrated Newroz in Rojava that year? Who shot Syrian troops during Newroz that year?

Vladimir said...

I will ask some Rojava Kurds more about it. I said I heard, because I cannot proove Öcalan said this.

Earlier Kurdmedia reported that Öcalan condemned Becikci. Later someone sent in another article, which was bigger. Then it turned out Öcalan said more then that and that the earlier news item was put ouf of context.

Kurdish media and Kurds themselves say a lot of things. But it's hard to find evidence for their claims.

Don't you think Rasti, that the "enemy of my enemy is my friend" tactic didn't work in Kurdistan? Just look to the civil wars between Kurds themselves. They only served as pawns and Kurds were dropped again, when they weren't needed anymore.

Mizgîn said...

There was a long discussion about Ocalan's remarks at DozaMe. We all went over the same articles (in full) that KM used in their very WEAK retraction. It explained nothing to people who hadn't spent time going over the articles in Turkish.

The "enemy of my enemy is my friend" only works in the short term . . . for everyone.

Yes, they only served as pawns, so why don't Kurds ever learn anything from the bitter past? There needs to be some drastic rearranging of priorities and attitudes.