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Kurdish Situation Report: March 1st, 2016

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Welcome to The Kurdish Situation Report, a weekly update on the latest news coming from the four Kurdish regions in Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Iran. The Kurdish Situation Report is produced by the Washington Kurdish Institute, and published by the Kurdish Project.

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Turkey (Bakur or Northern Kurdistan)

  • The Turkish government has shut down an independent Turkish broadcaster on Friday afteraccusing it of supporting Kurds. Under the ruling AK party pressure Turkish satellite provider Turksat were told to cease broadcasts of IMC TV as Ankara says it is investigating whether or not the channel supports Kurds. The general coordinator, Eyup Burc, however, believes this move was purely political and violating freedom of media and expression.
  • Turkish forces continue their attacks on Amed’s historic Sur district where a state of siege remains in force for 89 uninterrupted days. Tank and artillery strikes by state forces have begun early this morning, also targeting the area where nearly 200 civilians remain trapped in basements of buildings under fire.
  • Turkey Health Minister Mehmet Müezzinoğlu has said that 355,000 Kurdish people have fled from Turkey’s Kurdish Southeast to other cities across Turkey since the beginning of December 2015 due to military operations in SE against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Speaking at a Justice and Development Party (AK Party) meeting in Bursa.
  • Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Co-Chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş have written a letter to the Secretariat General of the United Nations, UN-affiliated institutions, all parliaments and Presidency of the European Parliament, European Commission, Secretariat General of the Organization For Security and Cooperation in Europe, embassies and political parties abroad. HDP co-chairs called upon all national and international democratic institutions and platforms to express a solid reaction against the current political and humanitarian crisis in Sur and act in solidarity with the people of Sur.
  • In her press release in the European Parliament (EP), Italian parliamentarian Barbara Spinelli stated that the designation of the PKK as a ‘terrorist organization’ had political motivations. Italian parliamentarian Barbara Spinelli spoke during the press release that was held as part of the campaign in the European Parliamentarian for the removal of the PKK from the European Union’s (EU) list of ‘terrorist organizations.’The petition campaign demanding the removal of the PKK, a crucial actor in the democratic and peaceful solution of the Kurdish issue.

Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan)

  • The town of Girê Spî in Rojava, West Kurdistan, has been cleansed of ISIS. ISIS groups got positioned in the region of Mentiqet-ul Îskan after infiltrating into the area from Turkish border. They launched an aggression on the areas of Îskan, Eyn Arûs, Watanî Hospital and Hemam Tirkman village at around 01:15 on Feb 27. YPG/YPJ and asayish (public security) forces immediately responded to the attack and managed to encircle them a while later amid fierce clashes that lasted 16 hours. Dozens of ISIS members were killed during the fighting.
  • Three years after Kobane electricity generated from Tishrin Dam had been cut by terrorist Islamist groups, Kobane Electricity Department announced the city would have 24/7 electricity in upcoming days. Since ISIS’s takeover of the Tishrin Dam three years ago, Kobane residents have not had electricity. With the liberation of the dam by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on December 26th of last year, Kobane Electricity Department intensified its efforts to reinstate the city’s electricity.
  • General Command of People’s Protection Units (YPG) in Aleppo and Afrin Canton issued astatement declaring Kurdish forces’ compliance with the United-Nations-Security-Council-proposed ceasefire. The statement went on that some Islamist groups had violated the ceasefire by attacking villages in Afrin Canton as well as Sheikh Maqsood neighborhood in Aleppo.

Iraq (Bashur or Southern Kurdistan)

  • On February 29, Nechirvan Barzani the Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), received a European Union (EU) delegation headed by Patrick Simonnet the newly-appointed EU Ambassador to Iraq. In the meeting, Ambassador Simonnet expressed his happiness for visiting Kurdistan and thanked the KRG for its cooperation with the EU. He also put emphasis on the EU determination to support the Kurdistan Region. Barzani also asked the EU and the international community not to leave Kurdistan alone in the face of the current financial crisis. Ambassador Simonnet also held a meeting with Qubad Talabani the Deputy Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). As to the KRG’s current financial crisis, Talabani mentioned the drop in oil price and cutting of KRG’s budget share by Baghdad as the two main reasons. Expressing the Kurdistan Region’s determination to pass the current financial crisis, Talabani said that the current cabinet would continue to implement reforms.
  • The Kurdish community in the United Kingdom hosted Yousif Muhammed the Speaker of the Iraqi Kurdistan’s Parliament to give a speech on the latest developments in the Kurdistan region. In his speech, Dr. Muhammed praised the heroic resistance of Peshmerga against ISIS terrorists and warned Kurdish parties not to use them for their own partisan purposes. In order to overcome the current crises and provide Kurdish citizens with a decent life, he said that political parties’ economic activities should be limited, other sources of income beside oil should be introduced, and all public money transferred abroad should be returned.
  • The United States has started training two Peshmerga brigades who will be later armed and deployed near Kirkuk, a Kurdish military official said. Halgurd Hikmat, a spokesman for the Peshmerga Ministry told Rudaw that the training started on Sunday and will last 10 weeks. Hikmat revealed that the two brigades will be armed and equipped by the US once the training is completed.

Iran (Rojhelat or Eastern Kurdistan)

  • HRANA: Fattah Yousifpour a Kurdish citizen from Bokan, Eastern Kurdistan, has been sentenced to 6 months in jail due to doing “propaganda against the Islamic Republic regime.” He was first arrested by Iranian Intelligence agency in late January of 2015 and was later released on bail. Fattah Yousifpour, 47, is an agricultural engineer and father of one child.
  • In an interview with Xandan News Agency, Mustafa Hijri the Secretary General of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan said that his party would resume armed struggle against the Iranian regime. He also said that the current financial crisis in Iraqi Kurdistan had impacted his party negatively since the KRG was no longer able to give them financial assistance.

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