The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

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Addie
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The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#1

Post by Addie » Mon Nov 30, 2015 2:20 pm

New York Times Magazine
A Dream of Secular Utopia in ISIS’ Backyard

One of the safer crossings into Syria is at a small town called Fishkhabour, in the far northwestern corner of Iraq. In a whitewashed shack on the shore of the Tigris River, an official from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government pointed out the window toward a pontoon bridge that bobbed in the cola-colored water. A year ago, 30,000 refugees fleeing an Islamic State massacre in Syria walked for 30 hours before crossing it in the opposite direction, half-starved, half-dead, terrorized. The official told me and my interpreter, Mohammed Ismael Rasool, that a few days before we arrived, an Italian volunteer was arrested by a border patrolman while trying to swim back toward Iraq. ‘‘Don’t change your mind,’’ he said, wagging a finger.

Our destination was a sliver of land in the far north of Syria: Rojava, or ‘‘land where the sun sets.’’ The regime of President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t officially recognize Rojava’s autonomous status, nor does the United Nations or NATO — it is, in this way, just as illicit as the Islamic State. But if the reports I heard from the region were to be believed, within its borders the rules of the neighboring ISIS caliphate had been inverted. In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.

But much of the information emerging from Rojava seemed contradictory and almost fantastical. To the Turkish government, the territory, which is now the size of Connecticut and has an estimated 4.6 million inhabitants, was nothing more than a front for a Turkish group known as the P.K.K., or Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Since its founding in 1978, the P.K.K., led by Ocalan, had been fighting for independence from Turkey, hoping to establish a homeland for the country’s 14 million Kurds. The effort had caused the deaths of 40,000 people, thousands of them civilians, and led to the imprisonment of Ocalan. The American State Department designated the P.K.K. a terrorist organization in 1997. Having failed in Turkey, officials claimed, the P.K.K. was trying to create a Kurdish homeland amid the disruption of war. ‘‘We will never allow the establishment of a state in Syria’s north and our south,’’ President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey said in June. ‘‘We will continue to fight in this regard no matter what it costs.’’

But to sympathetic Western visitors, Rojava was something else entirely: a place where the seeds of the Arab Spring promised to blossom into utopia. ‘‘What you are doing,’’ said Raymond Joliffe, a member of Britain’s House of Lords, during a trip in May 2015, ‘‘is a unique experiment that deserves to succeed.’’ A Dutch professor named Jan Best de Vries arrived in December 2014 and donated $10,000 to help buy books for Kurdish university students. David Graeber, a founder of Occupy Wall Street, visited that same month and wrote before his trip that ‘‘the autonomous region of Rojava, as it exists today, is one of few bright spots — albeit a very bright one — to emerge from the tragedy of the Syrian revolution.’’


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#2

Post by BillTheCat » Mon Nov 30, 2015 3:01 pm

Biji Kurdistan! :thumbs:


'But I don't want to go among mad people,' said Alice. 'Oh, you can't help that,' said the cat. 'We're all mad here.'
-Lewis Carroll

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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#3

Post by Addie » Sat Sep 23, 2017 10:07 am

New York Mag
The Kurds’ Long Fight for Independence Is Coming to a Head

The Kurds of northern Iraq are set to vote on Monday in a referendum on independence from Baghdad. The referendum is widely expected to result in a decisive (though by no means unanimous) “yes” — which is why nearly everyone is begging, cajoling, or threatening Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, not to go through with it.

Kurdistan — which in its broadest definition includes parts of eastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, and western Iran — has been waiting a long time to become a real country. While potential independence for some part of the Kurdish regions was envisioned as the Allied Nations partitioned the Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of Sèvres in 1920, the final redrawing of the map after the First World War left the Kurds without a state of their own. Kurdish demands for independence or greater autonomy have been a major factor in the complex ethnic politics of the Middle East ever since.

In both Iraq and Syria, Kurdish soldiers and volunteers have done a lot of the heavy lifting in the fight against Islamic State militants, such as the KRG’s Peshmerga forces saving the oil-rich city of Kirkuk from the rapid advance of ISIS in 2014 after the Iraqi army fled. Iraqi Kurdistan has managed to remain relatively safe through the chaos of the past several years and has taken in hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees and internally displaced people from war-torn parts of Iraq.

For all that, many Iraqi Kurds believe they have demonstrated an ability to govern themselves better than Baghdad and deserve independence as a result: The outcome of Monday’s referendum will likely reflect that sentiment. The referendum is not a declaration of independence in itself, but it is binding on the regional government, so if it passes, the KRG will launch negotiations with the Iraqi government over its future status and begin campaigning for international recognition as an independent state.


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#4

Post by Addie » Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:31 am

Reuters
Kurds stick with independence vote, 'never going back to Baghdad': Barzani

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq’s Kurds will go ahead with a referendum on independence on Monday, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massoud Barzani told a news conference.

Iraq’s Kurds will seek talks with the Shi‘ite-led central government to implement the expected ‘yes’ outcome of the referendum, even if they take two years or more, he said.

“We will never go back to the failed partnership” with Baghdad, he said, adding Iraq has become a “theocratic, sectarian state” and not the democratic one that was supposed to be built after the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

Barzani dismissed the concern of Iraq’s powerful neighbors, Iran and Turkey that the vote could destabilize the region, committing to respecting the laws on international boundaries” and not seek to redraw region’s borders.


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#5

Post by Addie » Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:58 pm

Reuters
Turnout high as Iraqi Kurds defy threats to hold independence vote

ERBIL/SULAIMANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Kurds voted in large numbers in an independence referendum in northern Iraq on Monday, ignoring pressure from Baghdad, threats from Turkey and Iran, and international warnings that the vote may ignite yet more regional conflict.

The vote organized by Kurdish authorities is expected to deliver a comfortable “yes” for independence, but is not binding. However, it is designed to give Masoud Barzani, who heads the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), a mandate to negotiate the secession of the oil-producing region.

Turnout was 76 percent an hour before voting closed, the Kurdish Rudaw TV station said, later adding that vote counting had started. Final results are expected within 72 hours.

About 5.2 million voters were asked to say yes or no to the question: “do you want the Kurdistan Region and Kurdistani areas outside the (Kurdistan) Region to become an independent country?”


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#6

Post by Foggy » Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:49 pm

Whey to go, Kurds.

(Little Miss Muffet joak; sad! weak!)


... and how does that make you feel?
What is it you're trying to say?
:think:
#pasta

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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#7

Post by Addie » Mon Sep 25, 2017 5:33 pm

:lol:


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#8

Post by Addie » Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:21 am

Associated Press
Iraqi Kurds await results of landmark independence vote

IRBIL, Iraq — As Iraqi Kurds awaited the results of their landmark referendum on independence from Baghdad on Tuesday, thousands of Iranian Kurds held rallies in their support, reflecting the strong current of nationalism that runs through Kurdish communities across the region.

The vote, which took place on Monday, was billed by the Iraqi Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination. But to Baghdad, it threatens a redrawing of Iraq’s borders, and leaders in Turkey and Iran fear the move would embolden their own Kurdish populations.

Regional authorities in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish north put the turnout at over 70 percent, but many voters reported irregularities during Monday’s balloting, including cases of individuals voting multiple times and voting without proper registration.

For decades, Kurdish politics have hinged on dreams of an independent Kurdish state. When colonial powers drew the map of the Middle East after World War I, the Kurds were divided among Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#9

Post by Addie » Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:01 pm

WaPo
Iraqi Kurds vote in favor of independence as crisis escalates

IRBIL, Iraq — Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede from Iraq, with nearly 93 percent approving a referendum held Monday in the northern region of the country, according to an official tally released Wednesday.

Kurds celebrated in the streets of Irbil, the capital of their semiautonomous enclave, hailing the result as a landmark moment in a century-long and bloody struggle for autonomy.

Election authorities said they were proud of the 72 percent turnout, calling it a powerful expression of the enthusiasm Kurds have for self-rule — despite mounting threats of economic and political isolation by regional powers and Baghdad.

The bid for independence continued to roil Iraq’s central government and regional neighbors Turkey and Iran, and is shaping up to usher in a period of contentious wrangling over its implementation.

Earlier Wednesday, Iraqi lawmakers authorized Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to deploy troops to a disputed city in northern Iraq and urged legal action against Kurdish leaders as a showdown escalated over the vote. The parliament also called for the government to take control of all oil fields in the Kurdish region.


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#10

Post by maydijo » Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:33 pm

My rule of thumb for the Middle East is that everything is more f'd up when you mess with the status quo, so let's see what new hell this brings.

For starters, everyone hates the Kurds, so we will likely be looking at a lot more animosity between countries. Oil oligarchies tend to be incredibly corrupt, often with wide disparities between the classes, both of which are destabilizing and lead to increases in poverty. As South Sudan has shown us, nation building is complex and takes a great deal of international sponsorship. As much as the US screws that up, they are still better at it than any of the other top contenders for Kurdistan (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran . . .) but with this administration, the US will certainly not fill that role. There is a very strong possibility that an independent Kurdistan will become either a puppet or a sponsor of terrorism. So yay, freedom. We are in for some troubled times.



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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#11

Post by Addie » Fri Sep 29, 2017 2:46 pm

Reuters
International air ban over Iraqi Kurdistan comes into effect

ERBIL, Iraq (Reuters) - An ban on international flights to Iraqi Kurdistan, imposed by Iraq’s central government in retaliation for the region’s vote for independence, went into effect at 6:00 pm (1500 GMT) on Friday, Iraqi state TV said.

Baghdad had given the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) until 6:00 p.m. to hand over control of its international airports in Erbil and Sulaimaniya to avoid the ban. The KRG said it would not comply.

The last international flight from Erbil, the seat of the KRG, took off at about 5:00 pm (1400 GMT), an airport official said. The Zagrosjet flight was heading to Istanbul.

Only passengers traveling domestically were still trickling into Erbil airport after 4 p.m. as the flight ban does not affect flights between Iraq and the Kurdish region.

One of the last planes to arrive on Friday before the international flight ban took effect came from Turkey, carrying the bodies of Kurdish migrants who drowned last week off Turkey’s Black Sea coast while trying to reach Europe.


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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#12

Post by neeneko » Fri Sep 29, 2017 3:15 pm

maydijo wrote:
Wed Sep 27, 2017 5:33 pm
As South Sudan has shown us, nation building is complex and takes a great deal of international sponsorship. As much as the US screws that up, they are still better at it than any of the other top contenders for Kurdistan (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Iran . . .) but with this administration, the US will certainly not fill that role. There is a very strong possibility that an independent Kurdistan will become either a puppet or a sponsor of terrorism. So yay, freedom. We are in for some troubled times.
One of the fascinating, and rather frustrating, elements of the kurds is that they have already done a fantastic job of nation building, there would not really be all that much for the US to do other than stopping other nations from waltzing in and taking the land back. But something that makes them fairly unique in the region is they have their own pretty stable internal system already and are pretty pro-western.



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Re: The Quest for a Kurdish Homeland

#13

Post by Addie » Mon Oct 16, 2017 8:53 pm

The New Yorker
Kurdish Dreams of Independence Delayed Again

On Sunday, Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s chief spymaster, travelled to the Iraqi city of Sulaimaniya to meet with the leaders of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or P.U.K., one of the two main Kurdish political parties. For years, the P.U.K. and its sister party, the Kurdish Democratic Party, or K.D.P., have been struggling to break away from the rest of Iraq and form an independent state. A Kurdish republic is opposed by all the region’s countries—the governments in Baghdad, Turkey, and Iran—which fear that sizable Kurdish minorities in all three nations will begin to act autonomously. Only weeks ago, in a region-wide referendum, Iraq’s Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede. The Kurdish dream, it seemed, was tantalizingly within reach.

It is not known what Suleimani—the Middle East’s most cunning operative—told the P.U.K.’s leaders. But, within hours, their fighters began abandoning their posts, making way for Iraqi military units just across the front lines. Not long after, Iraqi forces took over the former Kurdish positions and a stretch of oil fields near the city of Kirkuk. With the Iraqi Kurds now split in two—the P.U.K. on one side and the K.D.P. on the other—hopes for an independent Kurdish state appear to be fading fast. “It was a horrible, horrible betrayal,” a senior official in the Kurdish Regional Government told me.

On the P.U.K. side, the deal was struck by the survivors of Jalal Talabani, the group’s longtime chief and a former Iraqi President, who died earlier this month: his widow, Hero; his son Bafil; and his nephew Lahur. It’s not clear what was included in the deal, but the speculation is that Suleimani offered a mix of threats and inducements, including money and access to oil-smuggling routes. “Everyone is calling it the P.U.K. drug deal,” a former senior American official who works in the region told me. Notably, many P.U.K. units refused the order to stand down and fought the oncoming Iraqi units.

The deal struck by Suleimani, and the push by Iraqi forces into the Kurdish territory, is the latest turn in a tumultuous period in the region. It started in the summer of 2014, when the Islamic State swept out of the Syrian desert and captured a huge swath of northern and western Iraq, rolling over the Iraqi Army in the process. When ISIS fighters reached the outskirts of the Kurdish region, they were beaten back by the Kurdistan regional army known as the peshmerga—in the Kurdish language, “those who face death.”

The peshmerga became the most effective fighters against ISIS, often earning the praise of American commanders. The military campaign against ISIS galvanized the Kurds’ determination to go forward with their plans for independence. Linguistically and culturally apart from the rest of Iraq, the Kurds have long suffered at the hands of governments in Baghdad, especially under Saddam Hussein, who killed hundreds of thousands of them. The discovery of vast oil deposits in the Kurdish region after Saddam’s fall seemed to give them the means to break free. With ISIS in its death throes, the time seemed right. On September 25th, Masoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdish region, presided over a referendum on the question of independence. Every government in the region, as well as the Trump Administration, called on Barzani to cancel the vote, but he refused. When more than ninety per cent of Kurds voted in favor of independence, those same governments lined up to isolate the Kurds.


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