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The Kurdish Situation Report: November 2nd, 2015

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 co-produced by the Washington Kurdish Institute and The Kurdish Project.

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Points of Interest for November 2nd, 2015

Points of Interest for November 2nd, 2015

Corresponding locations for this week’s news stories are numbered above.

Turkey (Bakur or Northern Kurdistan)

Supporters of Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party, HDP, wave a poster of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan, top right, as he addresses an election rally in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, May 30, 2015. Turkey will hold general election on June 7, 2015 and approximately 56 million Turkish voters are eligible to cast their ballots to elect the 550 members of the Grand National Assembly. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

Supporters of Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, wave a poster of jailed Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

1) Preliminary results after Sunday’s national parliamentary election show that the pro-Kurdish People’s Democracy Party (HDP) managed to hold on to the 10% threshold it needed to remain in the Turkish parliament. But the HDP’s leaders and supporters experienced none of the euphoria they felt after winning the 10% threshold in June’s national parliamentary election.

“Unfortunately, it was a difficult and troubled period of election campaigning. Lives were lost,” said HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas, after casting his vote on Sunday. “My wish is that a great peace and calm emerges [from the vote]. We will continue our politics of peace against this politics of massacres,” he added.

2) The Turkish Ministry of the Interior removed another female district mayor from her post in Turkey’s southeastern province of Van on Wednesday, charging her with the crime of declaring self-governance.

Diba Keskin, member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and co-mayor in Van’s Ercis district, was arrested after she allegedly made a call for self-governance in the district through a press statement on Oct. 14.

Iraq (Bashur or Southern Kurdistan)

Soldier guards Kurdish oil in northern Iraq

A Kurdish soldier guards a Kurdish oil operation in northern Iraq.

3) The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) released a statement on the decision by the United States district court in Texas to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Iraqi Ministry of Oil.

The lawsuit had created a legal obstacle to the KRG selling oil to the United States, but the dismissal of the lawsuit allows the KRG to exercise its right under the Iraqi Constitution to market and sell oil around the world.

4) Backed by the U.S.-led coalition, Peshmerga forces in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq stormed the Shingal (Sinjar) area in Nineveh province. Shingal (Sinjar) used to be the home for thousands of Yezidis, but has been under the control of Islamic State terrorists since August 3, 2014.

Speaking to ARA News in Sinjar, Yezidi fighter Aziz Mishko said that the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, backed by the U.S.-led warplanes, have launched a massive military operation on the southern areas of the ISIS-held Shingal in a bid to liberate the region from the terror group.

5) German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen arrived in Erbil on Monday evening after having met with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad earlier that day. Minister Leyen held meetings with senior KRG officials, and expressed Germany’s support for the Kurdish Peshmerga in their fight against ISIS.

Syria (Rojava or Western Kurdistan)

November 1st was World Kobane Day.

6) The Syrian Democratic Forces released a statement announcing a new military operation in Syria. “We had vowed to free all Syrian soil from the dirt of terrorist groups and promise the word of freedom to our people who have long suffered from terror and oppression.”

“Today, October 31st, we announce the beginning of the first step for our military activities. In the context of the plan to free our country, Syria, from terrorist groups, with the participation of all the factions within the Syrian Democratic Forces and with support and coordination with the planes of the international coalition to fight Daesh [ISIS], we announce the start of a military campaign to liberate the rural district to the south of the city of al-Hasakah, Jazira region, Syria.”

7) People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced on Saturday, October 31st, that Kurdish fighters in Rojava had launched an offensive operation against Islamic State terrorists around Khatunia village, near the border of Syria and Iraq.

According to Shimar Himo, a political activist in Rojava, Islamic State terrorists withdrew from parts of the area without any violent clashes. However, Himo told PUKmedia that in Khatunia, Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) were still fighting Islamic State terrorists as of yesterday.

8) More than 400 international cities held rallies in support of World Kobane Day on Sunday. Kobane was liberated from a siege by the Islamic State in January 2015, but only recently have residents of Kobane started to return and rebuild their former hometown.

Notable rallies were held in Stockholm, London, Melbourne, Barcelona and Vienna. Many more rallies were held throughout the world, and support was active on Twitter, as well, with the hashtag #WorldKobaneDay.

9) Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) have been shelled by Turkish military forces from across the Turkish-Syrian border. YPG units stationed in Tell Aybad, east of Kobane, reported having been hit by heavy weaponry at 1100 hours and 1800 hours on October 27th. The attacks were confirmed by Turkey’s Prime Minister.

Since it first launched cross border attacks against the YPG in June, Turkey has indicated its displeasure with Syrian affiliate of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). Turkey has warned that it will not allow the YPG to take over the border town of Jarablus, west of Kobane, that is currently controlled by Islamic terrorist groups.

Iran (Rojhelat or Eastern Kurdistan)

Flood-in-Iranian-city-of-Ilam-680x360

Massive flooding hit the Kurdish-majority regions of Iran, highlighting poor government infrastructure in the region.

10) Last week saw heavy flooding in Iran’s Kurdish-majority Ilam province. The flood damaged roads, buildings, and killed three civilians, highlighting the Iranian government’s weak infrastructure in the Kurdish-majority region.

Ilam’s Governor, Mohammed Razza Murwarid, blamed the Iranian government for neglecting its Kurdish citizens. “The flood shows that the province’s construction infrastructure is weak, and that the [central] government has not taken the construction and building sector into consideration.”

11) Over forty members of Parliament from various European countries have signed a letter demanding the release of Kurdish filmmaker Keywan Karimi. Karimi was sentenced to six years in prison and over 200 lashes for including a kissing scene in one of his recent movies. The letter, addressed to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, calls for the cancellation of Karimi’s punishment, citing the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by Iran in 1976.


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