Koerden vragen steun van Fryslân bij bescherming tegen Turkse overheersing

On Wednesday 30 October I was the main guest at IepenUP Live, a regional TV program in the province of Fryslân in the north of the Netherlands. The good thing was, I was not the only guest but joined stage with Sherin Seyda and with film maker Beri Shalmashi. Check this link to watch and listen! In Dutch.

Kurds unable to unite against Turkey’s aggression

Turkish products sold in Iraqi Kurdistan can be recognized by a barcode starting with the numbers 868 or 869. These make it easier for Kurds to boycott Turkish products in protest against Turkey’s invasion of north-eastern Syria on 9 October 2019. Or does it? It may also confront them with their high level of dependence on Turkey, making it close to impossible to implement such a boycott. And what can the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which depends politically on Ankara’s support, do to defend the Kurds in Syria?

The implications of the invasion by the Turkish army, in cooperation with assorted jihadist groups, are potentially huge for the KRG. Together with the Iraqi government, it has stepped up its border security to prevent a possible influx of members of the Islamic State (IS). The resurgence of the group, which was pushed from its last pocket of territory earlier this year by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), was also the topic of the first statement that the KRG made after American President Donald Trump announced that the United States was withdrawing its remaining troops from Syria. By now, hundreds, if not more than a thousand, IS members have escaped from prisons and camps that were guarded by the SDF until the invasion. Women (and children) escaped from Ain Issa refugee and internment camp, which was ransacked by Turkey-backed groups, while men ran away from prisons.

ontinue reading at Fanack!

‘The Kurds of Northern Syria’ – A primer on Kurdish identity and representation

International actors were both a benefit and a detriment to the Kurdish struggle for representation, Wladimir van Wilgenburg and Harriet Allsopp write in their book “The Kurds of Northern Syria, Governance, Diversity and Conflicts’’. The authors sketch the picture of how Turkey was a detriment to Kurdish representation and why the Turkish army invaded Syria to obstruct the Kurds both in the summer of 2016 and in early 2018. Of course, the current and possibly final attack on the lands east of the Euphrates isn’t in the book, but after reading “The Kurds of Northern Syria’’, you understand the current crazy news cycle.

Continue reading at Ahval!

Strijd van de lange adem

‘Als we moeten kiezen tussen compromissen en een genocide op onze mensen, dan kiezen we zeker de levens van onze mensen’, schreef de hoogste commandant van de Syrische Democratische Strijdkrachten (SDF) Mazloum Abdi afgelopen zondag in Foreign Policy. Zijn troepen stonden met de rug tegen de muur. Vanuit het noorden viel Turkije aan, vastbesloten de SDF van de aardbodem te vegen en daarbij de bevolking niet te sparen. Sinds precies een week kon de SDF niet meer rekenen op de Amerikanen, die Turkije en jihadistische milities de vrije hand gaven en zo de Koerden in de onbetrouwbare armen van Rusland en president Assad dreven. Het is het definitieve einde van een democratisch experiment dat de potentie had een oplossing te zijn voor het conflict in Syrië.

Lees verder op de site van de Groene! Het verhaal staat ook in de papieren Groene Amsterdammer, die tussen 17 en 24 oktober 2019 in de winkel ligt. Koop dat blad!

Radio interviews about Turkish attack on northeast Syria

Since Turkey’s attack on and invasion of northeast Syria started, I have given several interviews on Dutch and international radio. I list them here with links so you can listen!

Tuesday 8 October: Spraakmakers op 1, Journalist Fréderike Geerdink over de situatie in Noord-Syrië.

Thursday 10 October, BBC World Service, Turkey has stepped up its offensive in northern Syria.

Thursday 10 October, Irish RTÉ News at One, Turkey faces ‘sanctions from hell’ over Syria assault.

Friday 11 October, De Nieuws BV, “Terwijl mensen worden vermoord denkt Nederland aan de kosten en baten”, een quote van de andere gast in de uitzending, Peshmerge.

IS strikes as Turkey attacks northeast Syria

As the Turkish attack on north-eastern Syria began on the afternoon of 9 October 2019, with air strikes in and around the city of Ras al-Ayn, another enemy reminded the Kurdish-Arab forces of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that it has not been fully defeated: the day before Turkey launched its offensive, the Islamic State (IS) carried out an attack in Raqqa, the caliphate’s former capital.

What anybody familiar with the region has known all along, namely that a Turkish attack would trigger disaster in assorted ways, started to become reality when US President Donald Trump announced that US troops will no longer stand in Turkey’s way.

Continue reading on Fanack!

In Syria, lack of international recognition for Raqqa’s civilian administration hampering reconstruction

On 17 October 2019, it will be two years since the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) declared victory over Islamic State (ISIS) in Raqqa, which since 2014 had been the capital of the self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’. Tens of thousands of people who left the city before the final battle have now returned. But life is far from easy: most of the buildings are in ruins, there is no electricity and IS sleeper cells still pose a threat. Crucially, a lack of international recognition of the city’s civilian administration is hampering reconstruction.

The predominant colour in Raqqa is grey. Grey is the colour of destruction, the colour of bomb-blasted walls and of collapsed roofs that hang suspended like curtains. Anything that had colour in the destroyed buildings – carpets, furniture, personal belongings – are covered with a layer of grey rubble and dust.

Continue reading on Fanack!

Syrian photographer documents destruction by walking tightrope

His absolute independence is what saved him in all the years that he stayed in Raqqa, the Syrian city where photographer Aboud Hamam was born and raised and that he refused to leave, even during the years that Isis was in charge. Under the current rule, he finally let go of his pseudonym for years, Nur Firat. “I miss Nur Firat sometimes,” Hamam said during a recent interview in Raqqa. “He achieved a lot.”

Keep reading at Index on Censorship!