Erdoğan’s Kurdish policy isn’t about the Istanbul elections – it’s about the Syrian thorn in his side

By propitiating the Kurds, Erdoğan could destine the new elections in Istanbul in his favour, some people think. It is assumed that this is why he ended the confinement in isolation of the Kurdish leader Abdullah Öcalan. But if that’s the case, why then did he simultaneously start an offensive against PKK fighters in the north of Iraq?

Continue reading on Patreon – and do consider to support my work there by becoming a Patron!

The Dutch version was published at the site of magazine Vrij Nederland. Read it without paywall here!

Crop fires in Iraq and Syria may be start of larger disaster

In Iraq and Syria, fires are destroying wheat, barley and lentil crops. Islamic State (IS) sleeper cells may be to blame, but other factors should not be ruled out.

Rainfall was abundant in the north of both countries over the winter, reaching levels that had not been seen in at least two decades. It was a welcome sign of hope for farmers, a prediction of good harvests and a much-needed income in a still harsh economic climate.

Continue reading on Fanack!

SP-fractievoorzitter Eindhoven Murat Memiş vast in Turkije

SULAYMANYA – Murat Memiş, voorzitter van de SP-fractie in de gemeenteraad van Eindhoven, werd op 30 april in het bijzijn van zijn vrouw en twee jonge kinderen opgepakt in de Turkse badplaats Antalya. Inmiddels is hij weer vrij, maar hij mag van de Turkse autoriteiten het land niet verlaten. Memiş (31), een Koerdische Nederlander, wordt verdacht van lidmaatschap van, recruteren voor en het maken van propaganda voor een terroristische organisatie. Op die vergrijpen staan in Turkije lange gevangenisstraffen. Burgemeester John Jorritsma zal de Eindhovense gemeenteraad vanavond aan het begin van de raadsvergadering over de kwestie informeren.

Lees verder op Patreon!

Family business: Nechirvan Barzani takes over presidency of Kurdistan Region from uncle

On 10 June 2019, Nechirvan Barzani was sworn in as president of Iraqi Kurdistan. He follows in the footsteps of his uncle Masoud Barzani, who held the post between 2005 and 2017.

The inauguration ceremony was attended by Barham Salih, Iraq’s president and the Barzani family’s main rival. He is, after all, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The understanding between the PUK and the Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is that the PUK can propose a candidate for Iraq’s presidency while the KDP can put forward a candidate for Iraqi Kurdistan.

Continue reading at Fanack!

In Turkey, violence starts as hunger strikes end

On 27 May 2019, the Turkish army launched a military operation against the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in the Hakurk area in northern Iraq. It was not just an air operation for a change but a seemingly limited ground operation as well, with soldiers dropped in the rugged mountains from helicopters.

Five days earlier, the Turkish state allowed lawyers to visit imprisoned Kurdish leader and PKK founder Abdullah Ocalan, the second of two visits since 2011, raising questions about Turkey’s intentions.

Continue reading on Fanack!

Turkey’s ruling AKP manipulates election outcomes in Kurdish South-east, leaves municipalities broke

The big question in the Kurdish-majority municipalities in the south-east of Turkey was whether the candidates for the leftist Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), which won the most votes in the local elections on 13 March 2019, would be acknowledged as the winners. Now that most of them have received their mazbata (official certificate) and assumed their positions as mayors, another story has emerged: the crippling public debts the mayors have discovered in their towns. In the background, another issue lingers: will the Kurdish mayors actually get the chance to fulfill their five-year terms?

Continue reading at Fanack!

Turkey’s Saturday mothers gather for the 700th time

Every Saturday afternoon a group of mothers in Turkey gathers on a square in Istanbul to draw attention to the fate of hundreds of missing people. On Saturday 25 August 2018, they gather for the 700th time. Journalist Fréderike Geerdink tells us more about the mothers.

Interview for late night radio show Met het Oog op Morgen, Friday evening 24 August, Dutch public radio. In Dutch, obviously, listen from minute 0:37:37.

Thirty-five years on, no political solution for Kurdish-Turkish conflict

Rage engulfed Turkey in late July 2018 when a woman and her 11-month-old son were killed, reportedly by a roadside bomb, after leaving an army base in the south-eastern province of Hakkari. The woman had paid a surprise visit to her husband, who worked as an officer at the base.

The deaths were blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Two days later, the PKK issued a statement claiming that it never targets civilians, and the death of the mother and child was a ‘mistake’. Turkish rage, however, was not solely directed at the PKK, as Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu clearly expressed at the funeral of the two victims. He placed the larger blame on Europe and the United States (US) for being “supporters of terrorism”, as he put it.

Published on 16 August 2018. Continue reading on Fanack website.

Enough is enough: safe zone needed in Southeast Turkey

Forty eight civilians have lost their lives in the current violence in Southeast Turkey, the Human Rights Association has estimated ( between 21 July and 28 August, so by now that number is already up again). One of the cases that especially hit me was the death of Eyüp Ergen, a nurse in the state hospital in Cizre. He was an orphan since 1994, when the state killed his parents while evacuating their village. His sibling is now the only one left of that family. It is a painful example of the fact that a Kurd hardly ever experiences one traumatic experience in his or her life. It is always tragedy after tragedy. Continue reading “Enough is enough: safe zone needed in Southeast Turkey”

No, the PKK doesn’t want the HDP to be pushed under the 10% threshold

Twenty three members of security forces have been killed by the PKK since 7 July, Anadolu Agency reported, and I’m sure this number will have increased by the time this column is published. Same goes for civilians who have lost their lives at the hands of the state, most recently three people in Silopi. And how many PKK fighters died? The army says some 390, KCK co-leader Bese Hozat, with whom I had an interview last week in Qandil, said that was just state propaganda, claiming nine of their guerrillas died. Hard to tell who’s right, but 390 seems an exaggeration when you consider the experience the PKK has in keeping themselves safe up there in the mountains for decades already.

Coffins with Kurdish flags. These two young men were victims of Suruc massacre, 20 July 2015.
Coffins with Kurdish flags. These two young men were victims of Suruc massacre, 20 July 2015. Photo: Fréderike Geerdink.

However high the numbers, the fact is that the violence is totally spiralling out of control and every day there are new families and new communities mourning the loss of a loved one. The grief over coffins is heartbreaking to see, whether the coffin is buried with a Turkish flag or with the Kurdish colours. I can only wholeheartedly join the call from HDP and CHP politicians and from academics and intellectuals to both sides to return to the negotiating table. Continue reading “No, the PKK doesn’t want the HDP to be pushed under the 10% threshold”