Why Turkey’s devastating attacks on Afrin must stop

Screen Shot 2018-02-17 at 16.56.02Turkey has resumed lethal air strikes in Syria’s Kurdish enclave of Afrin. Afrin is already crowded with tens of thousands of displaced people who have fled violence in other parts of Syria over the years. Here, award- winning Kurdish Syrian Journalist Ronahi Hasan argues why the US and EU must urge Turkey to stop

I gathered my strength as much as I could to perform the duty required of me, to verify the outrageous video on social media, where a group of men gathered around a mutilated body of a woman lying on the ground with parts of her body removed, including her breasts. The video was published by the Turkish-allied Syrian rebels with the comment: “Her body is looking beautiful”. Another man remarked happily: “There is another one”.

Their horrific boasts prove that they have committed a crime in broad daylight to reassert sexual male domination by stripping and mutilating Barin Kobani, a Kurdish Female fighter near Afrin. Once again, it is a grisly symbol of the horrors that Syria is suffering from these jihadist fighters. The video was confirmed by The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, who said they received it from a Syrian rebel fighting with Turkish forces in the Afrin offensive.

For more than four years, the Kurdish people’s Protection Forces (aka the YPG) have been battling the Islamic State across Northern Syria to establish a democratic and federal Syria along the lines of the Rojava region in the north. Its makeup largely consists of Kurdish YPG fighters and smaller groups of Arab, Turkmen and Armenian fighters.

The Kurdish peshmergas in Iraq and the YPG in Syria are instrumental in retaking swathes of territories, including Raqqa late last year, from the extremist group ISIS.

But this victory of defeating fanatic organisation seems to be increasingly undermined as terror returns under the new version of Islamic State, the Turkey-backed “Free Syrian Forces” (FSA) who are now allied with the ISIS and Al-Qaeda. Under the Obama administration, the FSA was the main recipient of CIA funding to oust Assad, but this support diminished as ISIS and Al-Qaeda became significantly influential among them.

Not surprisingly, Turkey has taken the initiative to gather those rebels and support them as they did before they armed the Syria opposition, notably the extremist Islamic wings represented in the Muslim Brotherhood at the beginning of the Syrian revolution. At the same time, Ankara has consistently taken measures that provide space for jihadists to advance its interests in the region, and has replaced the secular Turkish society with Ottoman and Islamic heritage because Erdoğan sees himself as the Islamic leader.

After a violent coup attempt on 15 July 2016, Erdoğan was given authoritarian tendencies to bolster presidential powers until 2029. Turkey’s track record of human rights is appalling. It has suppressed Kurds’ identity, arrested many journalists and jailed thousands of students for the crime of free speech. Furthermore, the Turkish president has publicly flaunted his commendation and support for the Al-Nusra Front. According to evidence assembled by Columbia University, Turkey has been “tacitly fuelling the ISIS war machine”. Journalist Ted Galen Carpenter says: “They (Turkey) allowed jihadists from around the world to swarm into Syria through its borders easily. There is also evidence of direct assistance to Jihadists.” As Forbes puts it, “providing equipment, passports, training, medical care, and perhaps more to Islamic radicals”.

During the Iraq war, NATO’s ally Turkey denied America the use of its base to conduct strikes against Islamic terrorist in Syria. Even in the fight over Kobani, their tanks sat quietly just across the boarder without backing the western coalition in their campaign against ISIS. Recently, the Speaker of the Turkish Parliament called the Afrin offensive against Syrian Kurds a ‘jihad’ – the Islamic definition of “holy war”.

Erdoğan is unable to digest this loss and is trying to take revenge on the Kurds. The Turkish state is attacking Afrin because it is afraid of any sort of status for the Kurds. Therefore the Turkish government has accused the YPG of being the Syrian offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). But the fact that, Syrian Kurds aim for a federal system that embraces all ethnic and religious groups in northern Syria.

Since 2013, Afrin has been a refuge and safe haven for people who have fled ISIS from places like Raqqa, Manbij, Al-Bab and Jarablus. Syrian Kurds have never threatened Turkey’s security as they alleged. Kurds around the world and here in Wales are protesting against this genocide in Afrin for killing children, women and elderly.

Syria’s future has come down to the whims of foreign states -not the Syrian people. The US and the EU should make it clear to Erdoğan that YPG is a central to the West’s efforts to defeat ISIS, and undermining this effort should be a red line. Also, they should persuade Erdoğan to resolve Turkey’s Kurdish conflict. Engaging the YPG would establish a buffer between the war in Syria and Turkey, enhancing Turkey’s security, and fostering a common vision for governance and regional cooperation when Assad is deposed.

This article was publish in the Western Mail 15/02/2018

I pray for a ‘Yes’ vote that will terminate Kurdish plight

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Kurdish people in support of a referendum (Credit: Reuters) 

Why are we not acceptable in the community, why do they treat us not even as second-class citizens, why do we not have a country like other nations in the world… why did God make us Kurds?

These questions have always haunted me and hurt me at the same time. Since I was a child, I opened my eyes to see that other people did not share our language, culture and ethnicity. They do not accept our Kurdish minority on the land where my ancestors have lived for thousands of years.

An early example of ill-treatment was when my birth was registered. The Kurdish name my parents had chosen was switched to an Arabic name, which has no meaning.

When we had to introduce ourselves to our mostly Arab teachers, I remember their disgusted looks at my classmates who were mostly Kurds. I was so happy that my Arabic name hid my Kurdish identity. But because my name was unique, some curious people would inquire about its origin, and then I had to admit that I too was a Kurd.

But this is really just the tip of the iceberg of discrimination experienced by Kurds in all of the four parts of Kurdistan ruled by coercive authorities.

Between Kurdistan and Wales

For some it may be confusing when I say I am from Rojava Kurdistan, because they know I am from Syria. Kurdistan is the identity of our homeland, whether or not it exists on the world maps, because Kurdistan in our heart.

Over the past hundred years, Kurds’ struggle can be traced back to the Sykes-Picot agreement – the deal between the French and British that divided the Kurds across four countries: Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. But the Kurdish people, who number more than 40 million, have never recognised those artificial boundaries and believe their homeland ‘Kurdistan’ is one.

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The Sykes-Picot Agreement map of 9 May 1916, showing the area controlled by the French in blue and by the British in red, carving new states in the Middle East 

 When I arrived to the UK – and, more precisely, in Wales – more than eight years ago from Rojava Kurdistan in Syria, I thought the United Kingdom was one nation. I did not know that Britain is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, each with some autonomy. I did not even realise that the Welsh people had their own language and culture in the same way as my people do.

Meanwhile, Iraq is made up of a decentralised capital, regions, governorates and local administrations. The 2005 constitution created one Iraqi region, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and adopted the principle of power distribution through federal government. But the relationship between Iraq and the Kurdistan region has collapsed for many reasons: the Shia majority government has taken control of disputed regions and, in oil-rich areas like Kirkuk, has failed to share revenues fairly with the Kurdish population. It has also failed to take steps to address problems caused by a process of “Arabisation” as implemented under Saddam Hussein.

The Iraqi government has consistently failed to pay money due to the Kurdish authorities, and Iraqi forces abandoned their posts and fled when faced with an ISIS offensive on Mosul and the Kurdistan region’s capital of Erbil.

Drawing comparisons between Wales and Kurdistan is something of a fool’s game. Over the past few decades, Iraqi Kurds have been subjected to discrimination, policies of ethnic cleansing, massacres and the Halabja chemical attacks.

On the other hand, and over the centuries, the British government has consistently neglected and suppressed Welsh identities. This led to the banning of Welsh language in schools for employing the ‘Welsh Not’ system. Thereof, any child caught speaking Welsh would wear a pice of wood around the neck as a badge of sham to dissuade children from speaking their native tongue. Afterwords, the child wearing the Not at the end of the day would be beaten by their teacher and classmates. Aa well as, the English began passing repressive laws which meant that “an Englishman may never be convicted in court on the testimony of a Welshman” and stating that Englishmen were entitled to seize the property of the Welsh.

Independent Kurdistan is a matter of necessity

Iraqi Kurdish President Masoud Barzani tweeted his announcement about holding an independence referendum on 25th September 2017. This historic decision has provoked a storm of controversy about the legality of a referendum – and whether it is too sensitive a time for such a vote.

Undoubtedly, Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq have managed to defeat ISIS on the ground. They will be central in the longer-term eradication of the Jihadi ISIS ideology that is critical to world stability.

Despite the fact that the Kurds have been persecuted by consecutive Iraqi authorities, Kurdistan has proved its success in terms of stability and prosperity in the region. Its impressive economic performance could not only benefit other countries in the region like Turkey, but could also be valuable to post-Brexit Britain by boosting prosperity in the Middle East. The Kurdish region is free from the sectarian strife that has marred the rest of the country, and will be a guarantee for democracy and moderation for all ethnicities.

Kurdistan has become a safe haven to nearly two million refugees from sectarian conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Creating an independent Kurdistan can help the foreign policy, too. Backing the independence will stop Iran’s domination in the Middle East and their supporting insurgent groups.

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This Kurdish man from Rojava Kurdistan- Syria with his friend at a rally in Erbil couldn’t hold back their tears of happiness for the prospect of Kurdish independence (Credit: Azad Abd Al Rahman)    

So, Kurds have been loyal allies in the struggles against terror, and have made enormous sacrifices. Kurds now finally have to transcend the Sykes-Picot borders.

Even though I am living in Cardiff, thousands of miles from my homeland, on Monday my heart will be in Kurdistan as I pray for a ‘yes’ vote that will terminate the Kurdish plight and reunite my people in the country of their ancestors.

This article was published in the Western Mail (25/09/2017)

“You (Kurds) will get what ever you want to be” said a Briton to the KRG representative

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 13.43.39.pngPanellists discuss the Kurdistan Region’s upcoming independence referendum at the UK House of Commons in London

By Ronahi Hasan

News of the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum has crossed the seas to become the focus of an event at the centre of the British power, the House of Commons, last Monday.

The forum was entitled “The Kurdistan Region: A Strategic Ally in a Tough Neighbourhood” and was organised by the Centre for Kurdish Progress in partnership with Kurdistan24 ahead of the Kurdistan independence referendum on the next week.

The room was packed with audience members and panellists for a discussion chaired by Gary Kent, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Kurdistan, and keynote speakers including Conservative MPs Jack Lopresti and Nadhim Zahawi; Dr Ranj Alaaldin, Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Doha; Noreldin Waisy, General Manager of Kurdistan 24, and Karwan Jamal Tahir, Head of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in the UK.

The relationship between Kurdistan and Baghdad

Despite the fact that the Kurds were persecuted by consecutive Iraqi authorities, Kurds participated in rebuilding Iraq economically and politically, and enjoy a democratic and prosperity boom in Kurdistan, according to Karwan Jamal Tahir from the KRG.

But since the ISIS war in 2014, ties between the Kurds and the Iraqi government have deteriorated again. “We made a lot of effort to stabilise Iraq. Instead, we have been rewarded with budget cuts, creating obstacle to the international community to arm Peshmerga forces,” he said.

“We have had enough of violence, war and instability. There’s nothing left to do but to adopt a different form of co- existence in a form of two sovereign countries.

“We all witnessed how Peshmerga forces have confronted IS, how they destroyed the myth of Da’ash, and how our brave Peshmergas sacrificed and gave their blood.

More than 2,000 peshmergas paid with their life, and nearly 10,000 were injured.” added Mr Tahir.

He gave assurances that the independence referendum would not hinder the fight against ISIS. He concluded his speech by saying, “We have waited long enough, and we will be asking our international community and our friends here in Britain to come along to observe our referendum and, ultimately, to help with facilitating dialog with Bagdad.”

A member of the audience asked about the demographic structure in Kirkuk-the most hotly contested of Iraq’s disputed territories- and including it within the Kurdish referendum.

Mr Tahir explained that the Kurdish people, as well as the Turkmen, were subjected to the force of demographic changes. The takeover of Kirkuk by Peshmergas was because of the vacuum of Iraqi forces in the city. Kurdish forces filled the gap to protect the minorities there from IS sergeants and because of the failure to implement Article 140. Since then, he said, Kirkuk has been secure. “Suicide bombers, killing and kidnapping have declined dramatically,” he said.

In addition, Noreldin Waisy from Kurdistan 24 stated, “The majority of Turkmen parties are supporting referendum.”

“ Kurdistan had proved to be stable and did not pose a threat to the neighbouring countries. Independence is a dream for every single Kurd, no matter where they are,” he added.

Referendum: what difference could it make?

Dr Ranj Alaaldin from the Brookings Institution in Doha argued the need for the UK to engage with Kurdistan if it declares independence.

“The UK, post-Brexit, has ambitions to become a major global power. It is beginning a new chapter with the world, and that also means it has to rethink its traditional approaches to the Middle East,” he said.
Dr Alaaldin highlighted the Kurdish state could take in efforts to stabilise Syria, in finding a remedy to the global refugee crisis and in the battle against jihadi terrorism. He said it could also help to protect British national security interests.

Nadhim Zahawi MP predicted that the future of Kurdish state was “optimistic” and even in the event of a ‘no’  vote, he expects substantial devolution, and compromises from Baghdad in order to appeal to those who will still argue for an independent Kurdistan.

“I passionately believe in the right for all human beings to decide on their own destiny, and Kurdish people are no different,” he said

In the same context, his fellow MP, Jack Loprest, quoted from Margaret Thatcher: “If you give people a choice, they choose freedom.” Mr Loprest said he was hopeful the Kurdish people would choose freedom, which would benefit both Iraq and Kurdistan.

At the end of event, the panellists seemed generally to agree that the world must respect the Kurds’ desire for independence.

What’s behind the deal between Hezbollah & ISIS?

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Islamic State fighters and their families being bussed from the Lebanon-Syria border in Qalamoun to eastern Syria under a ceasefire deal with Hezbollah                                                                                                                                     (Credit: Omar Sanadiki/Reuters)

Many of us who seen the devastation caused by Da’ash-ISIS in Syria and Iraq cannot fail to have been shocked by pictures of ISIS terrorists laughing and using their mobile phones in air-conditioned buses following an agreement with Lebanese Hezbollah militants. The pictures have certainly sparked anger in the region and among the U.S-led coalition allies.

So why did the terrorists look like they were celebrating instead of acting like defeated prisoners? And what are the implications of the deal for the region?

Last month, the evacuation convey – made up of approximately 300 ISIS members and their families – moved from the Lebanon- Syria boarder area to territory the ISIS group controls in the Syrian province of Deir al-Zour, 6km (4 miles) from the Iraqi boarder.

But the US-led coalition launched air strikes to block the convoy’s progress. Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the coalition to defeat ISIS, denounced the pact in Twitter posts: “Our coalition will help ensure that these terrorists can never enter Iraq or escape from what remains of their dwindling ‘caliphate,’” he said.

But the deal between ISIS and Hezbollah should raise a number of questions. Why has the Syrian regime allowed Hezbollah militants to choose to negotiate “appeasement” instead of eliminating ISIS after it became besieged and weak? Why has Hezbollah agreed to make a deal with ISIS at the same time as Lebanese forces were making progress in securing the border with Syria by driving the last of the terrorists out of areas including the town of Arsal and villages of Ras Baalbek? Does Iran have a role in this pact?

The image we have seen of “Islamic State”, during recent violence in Syria and Iraq, is based on no mercy and a determination never to surrender control. The doctrine of ISIS written by Abu Yazid al-Maghribi, citing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself (especially Chapter XIV), clearly states that no agreement can be made with what the group perceives to be an “invading occupier”. The deal reached, therefore, appears to be an outright contradiction of their doctrine if they consider both Hezbollah and Bashar Al Assad army their enemy.

Such a pact has prevented the Lebanese army and people from celebrating the defeat of terrorism and the victory of the Fajer Al Jirod battle. And many have accused Hezbollah of stealing the victory from the Lebanese state, which, they claim, should be allowed to protect its own people by defeating ISIS.

Why to Deir Al-Zour?

The city, which shares borders with Iraq and Jordan, is of great strategic importance to all parties. Moreover, it is the “eastern gate” of Syria’s territory, and is the second largest Syrian province after Homs, with a total area of ​​33,060 km² (12,760 sq mi),17% of the total area of ​​Syria.

In addition to its richness in oil fields, it is distinguished by its geographical location on the west bank of the Euphrates River, and is the link between Iraq and other Syrian provinces.

Undoubtedly, this transaction would give a considerable boost in morale to some ISIS elements in the region, after their comrades in Iraq suffered heavy losses.

The city’s position on the border with Iraq also makes it very important for Iran, which is establishing a ground-based strategic corridor running from Tehran and passing through Iraq to link Syria from the Deir al-Zour gate to Damascus and Beirut. Media outlets have reported that Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi and the Union of Iraqi Forces (Sunni) rejected Hezbollah’s deal of 28th of August to move ISIS elements from the Lebanese borders to the Syrian-Iraqi ones.

For its part, the presidency of the Kurdistan region expressed its concern about the matter. It described the transfer of large numbers of armed ISIS forces from Lebanon through Syria to the Iraqi border as “suspicious”.

However, whatever the reasons for the Hezbollah – ISIS deal, many of us will remember the terrible outcome of a similar agreement that took place in 2014 between Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and ISIS. Under its terms, he handed over control of Mosul and other Sunni provinces to this terrorist organisation, which was led to the Shiite militias taking control of Iran later on. The goal of this latest deal is once again to displace Sunni Arabs and other minorities from their areas and create conflict in a region already torn apart by war.

Interestingly, Mr Al-Maliki is one of the few political figures in favour of the agreement. Two of the leading international powers involved in the region, the US and Russia, have yet to issue a formal response.

This is what happened in my home city of Qamishlo in March 2004

Photo of some martyrs who have been killed in Qamishlo uprising

 

Every single detail of what happened on 12th March 2004 awakes painful memories in my mind when the Qamishlo (or Qamishli in Arabic) uprising anniversary comes around.

Before that day 13 years ago, I was living in a flat in central Qamishlo where there was a public park separating me from a stadium – the crime scene. In the afternoon, I woke from a short nap and felt so anxious and worried. After a few minutes, I heard a noise outside and I rushed out onto the balcony to find out what was happening. I was told that there was a riot in the stadium and two children had been killed, because the Syrian police opened fire on the Kurdish fans.

I rushed to pick up the phone and call my parents to ask whether my two brothers were at the stadium. They did not know. I went out onto the street towards the trouble.

People were crowding all around the match location searching for their children or relatives. Parents were screaming and crying and two women stopped me yelling and begging me to find their children. It was a nightmare.

I continued walking, with some youths protecting me from the gunfire, until I arrived at my father-in-law’s house at the opposite corner of the stadium, just a seven minutes walk from my home. I called my family again and they assured me that my brothers were fine.

But what was really going on in Qamishlo stadium? It is alleged that the clashes erupted when some fans of the Sunni Arabs’ guest team (Al-Futuwah) started brandishing pictures of deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and insulting the Iraqi Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani to provoke fans of the local Kurdish Qamishlo team (Al Jihad). The Arabs, who had travelled up from Deir ez-Zor with their team, were armed with sticks, stones and knives to attack the Kurdish fans. They felt justified in acting savagely towards the Kurd because they considered that they had backing from the government whose security forces had open fired on the Kurds killing dozens of people, some of them children. Even when those victims were at the nearby hospital, security forces surrounded the building and prevented the public from donating blood while the doctors appealed for help for the seriously wounded.

 

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Police and security forces at the centre of stadium to protect fans of the guest team (Arabs)

This was not the end of the story: the following day tens of thousands of marchers joined the funeral procession for the victims, raising the Kurdish flag and shouting slogans demanding Kurdish rights, calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice and condemning the Bashar Al Assad regime.

In response, the Syrian forces opened fire on funeral protesters. I was among those people and I still remember how they randomly shot demonstrators and how I witnessed two men killed in front of me in cold blood.

The Kurds from other parts of Syria showed their solidarity: thousands took to the streets across the country to protest against the regime. The news spread around Syria sparking days of protests and rioting in all Syria’s Kurdish regions as well as Kurdish neighborhoods in the two biggest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

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Thousands of Kurdish people took to the streets to protest against the Syrian regime

Unrest climaxed when Kurds toppled a statue of Hafez al-Assad. The names of 32 people who died during the unrest have been confirmed and at least 100 other Kurds were wounded. In addition to that, approximately 2,000 people were arrested. As a result of the crackdown, the security services re-took the city and thousands of Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan.

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Pictures of some martyrs who were killed by Syrian forces in Qamishlo riot

Syrian Kurds have been suppressed and denied basic rights for half a century under the rule of the Al Ba’ath regime. In 1962, an exceptional census stripped some 300,000 Kurds of Syrian citizenship. Furthermore, Kurdish land has been seized and redistributed to Arabs in an attempt to “Arabize” Kurdish regions. But the Qamishlo uprising was a tipping point. Kurds are no longer afraid to express their anger and the authorities are more willing to deal with the Kurdish issue brutally and with an iron fist.

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Syrian Kurds toppled the Assad statue as a demonstration of anger

Syria is already irreversibly and fundamentally changed. Yet the question is whether it’s the right time to remove the dust from the Kurdish question and confront the dictatorship. The right of Kurdish people to live on their land needs to be recognised.

As long as people speak through weapons, neither stability nor order will be achieved.

 

راجعوا سايكس بيكو لأن المسودة مازالت في طي التعديل

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بقلم روناهي حسن

الجميع اصبح الان مدركا أو الى حد ما يدرك أن هناك مخطط واضح لتقسيم المنطقة شئنا ام ابينا بين الشخصيات التاريخية الرئيسية (بريطانيا و فرنسا) ومعها أمريكا و مصالح الروس. التاريخ لا يموت ابدا بل يعيد نفسه بمسميات جديدة و بمجريات هي نفسها في المضمون -محاربة الجهاديين
لدى البحث في اتفاقية سايكس بيكو, كان التقسيم انذاك بين فرنسا و بريطانيا في منطقة الشرق الاوسط و شمال افريقيا. كل من هاتين الدولتين كانتا تبحثان عن حصة الاسد لنفوذ لها في المنطقة و رسم حدود للمناطق التي كانت متواجدة فيها والتي كانت تشكل نقطة خلاف بينهما. فقد وجدت هاتان القوتان ان الامبراطورية العثمانية تتهاوى, وان بقائها هو تهديد لمصالحها في المنطقة و خاصة الخطر من استغلال السلطان العثماني للمسلمين لمحاربة هذه القوى تحت مسمى الجهاد كونه الممثل للخلافة الاسلامية و فرصة لتحقيق ماربه في نفس الوقت
ظهرت في تلك الفترة القوى العربية المناهضة التي كانت تنشد باقامة دولة عربية مستقلة من الاحتلال العثماني و التي كان يقف وراء هذا المطلب الشريف حسين. لطالما مر معنا مراسلات الحسين ـ مكماهون في كتب التاريخ والتي كانت تتم بين الممثل الأعلى لبريطانيا السير مكماهون و بين أمير مكا الشريف حسين، اذ كانت بريطانيا تتوعد العرب متمثلة في شخص الحسين بالوقوف مع مطالبهم ضد الاحتلال العثماني في اقامة دولة عربية مستقلة، ولكن هذه الوعود ما كانت إلا ذر الرمال في العيون
و السبب وراء رجوع بريطانيا عن وعودها للعرب هو أنها فضلت حليفتها و منافستها اللدود فرنسا بتنازل فرنسا عن بعض من مستعمراتها للبريطانين في مقابل نقضها لوعودها للعرب بنيل الحرية. و السبب الذي واجهه الفرنسيين به الانكليز هو أن العرب مشتتين و متفرقيين ويتحاربون فيما بينهم وانه من المستحيل احياء روح الوحدة فيهم لذلك هم لايستحقون الاستقلال، بالرغم ان العرب كان لهم دور كبير في مساعدة الانكليز بإضعاف السلطان العثماني الذي كان حليف الالمان ضد بريطانيا و فرنسا ابان الحرب العالمية الاولى
المغزى هو انه اذا لم يكن للكرد رؤية سياسية موحدة في هذا الوقت الراهن امام هذه القوى العالمية فإن اية خلافات او حتى مناوشات سترد قطعا بالدمار على الكرد و خاصة بعد ان اثبتوا ولائهم كحلفاء حقيقيين للولايات المتحدة و الغرب من خلال الملاحم البطولية ضد الارهابيين في ساحات القتال
منذ بدايات الأزمة السورية و حتى الان، لم تنجح المعارضة السورية ببلورة رؤية سياسية موحدة تطرح على الامريكان و الغرب و حتى الان في مفاوضات جنيف المتتالية و هذا ما قيل لي من خلال مقابلات مع شخصيات سياسة رفيعة في الحكومة البريطانية انهم لن يقفوا في طرف معارضة تحارب و تقاتل فيما بينها
في المحصلة مصالح هذه الدول أقوى من اي وعود أو خطط تكتيكية على المدى القصير و تاريخ البارحة و اليوم يثبت كم من الدعم أعطيت لهذه القوى و توقفت حين وصلت هذه الدول لمبتغاها. و لكن حين يرون الكرد هذه المرة برؤية سياسية موحدة وكقوة عسكرية موحدة ضاربة في المنطقة و يعتمد عليهم وليسوا بورقة تستخدم حين الطلب حينها لا مجال ان المطلب الكردي سيجد النورفي الاتفاقية الشرق الأوسطية الجديدة لأن الخطوط لم توثق بعد في الرمال

The voice of suffering cries out in an IS wilderness

As the battle for Kobani has come to an end, this is the remarkable story of one man who stayed behind to tell the world what was happening- with the help of journalism student Ronahi Hasan ( This article was published in the Western Mail in 2015)

“I am exposed to stray shots from all sides every day. I have seen more than 70 beheadings – and I have witnessed many other horrible things on the streets.” These are the words of Baran Misko, 30, a citizen journalist based in his hometown – the northern Syrian city of Kobani, which lies just south of Turkey.

Baran lives not far from what used to be my own home. I’m a Syrian Kurd, too, and used to pass Kobani on the way to university in Aleppo before I had to leave Syria as a political refugee. I’m now studying Journalism at the University of South Wales, in Cardiff, in what seems like a different world.

I found Baran through my contacts and social media networks, and spoke to him over Facebook from the comfort on my classroom.It wasn’t the kind of interviewing we learn about in class; it was me typing questions to him via Facebook, in Kurdish, and him typing back with a weak signal and in the middle of a war going on.

Like many of the other 500,000 residents in Kobani, Baran’s parents and siblings fled the fighting and are now living in the Turkish province of Urfa Hanlh.

Escape seemed almost as dangerous as staying. Baran witnessed, for example, the tragic death of children being crushed under the sea of desperate bodies trying to reach the safety of the Turkish border.

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Kurdish fighters walk through rubble in Kobani, giving the victory sign.

Rather than fleeing to safety with them, Baran decided to stay and report on the tragedies of Kobani.

“The hardest thing was being forced to leave our homes, turning round to look at the house where all my memories and history are. I was crying the whole way to the border where I knew my family would be safe, but I promised myself to stay in Kobani until the end.”

Baran and his collegues have also been forced
to take on another role: that of gravedigger. After a particularly violent attack, they began burying the dead, but came under attack from ISIS. Baran survived, but sadly he was forced to dig yet more graves for his colleagues.

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Flame and thick smoke rise from an airstrike by US-led coalition on an ISIS-held building inside Kobani

For the very few local journalists like Baran who are still trying their best to cover the crisis, they face the same hardships and heartaches as people whose stories they are trying to tell.

“I live in the same way as over 10,000 other civilians who have been trapped in Kobani or stranded on the border of Turkey, sleeping in the open,” Baran told me at the height of the siege.

“We eat whatever we can -sometimes we may go three days without a meal.

“For over three weeks I did not change my clothes. However, I try not to think about my situation- instead I give all my attention to the development of the war, the fighters and the displaced and trapped people, whether inside or on the border among mines. I try to get their voices and suffering heard by the world.”

Baran had been studying at Homs University for a degree in Land reclamation and restoration. Then he took up journalism in an attempt to communicate the plight of Kobani’s residents to the rest of the world.

This predominantly Kurdish town had been besieged by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since September 2014, in its bid to link Kobani to its other territories that now span swathes of northern Syria and Iraq.

Why would anyone stay behind, and risk their life to tell Kobani’s story?

“The fact that there are so few – if any – in- dependent journalists inside Kobani compelled me to record the events as professionally and impartially as I can,” Baran told me.

“I chose this mission at the beginning of the Syrian revolution – I knew how dangerous it was to be a war reporter, but I firmly believe it is my duty to report the truth, precisely by focusing on the humanitarian plight of the civilians and children in the conflict.” And that is what he did.

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Female Kurdish fighter alongside with her fellow fighter against ISIS

At one point, the situation in Kobani was escalating rapidly, and I called Channel 4 to share Baran’s story with them. Together, we were able to set up an interview where I acted as interpreter between Baran and a Channel 4 correspondent. This interview was later aired on the evening news.

And this wasn’t the only international media outlet that Baran shared his stories with; he has also had contact with the Sky TV’s Arabic news, Radio Monte Carlo MCD, Rudaw TV and so on.

In the face of the atrocities committed by ISIS against the civilians in Kobani, I asked Baran whether he truly thought it was possible for reporters like him to cover the conflict by remaining objective and neutral. He said the task of a journalist is to convey the truth and remain faithful to their profession.

“Unfortunately, in our case journalists are perceived by those on different sides of the war as enemies. It’s a very different situation to developed countries that take into consideration the law of human rights and do not see journalists as members of the resistance.”

Reporters without Borders has estimated that two foreign journalists, eight Syrian journalists and one Iraqi journalist have so far been killed by ISIS in Iraq, while around 20 Syrian journalists are missing or being held by ISIS and other armed groups in Syria.

The oppression of journalists in Syria is nothing new. The free press has been banned ever since the Al Ba’ath Party seized power in the coup of March 8, 1963, when they took over the press and closed many newspapers and magazines. This heavy-handed approach continued under Hafez Al Assad and his son Bashar Al Assad.

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This little boy is still able to find joy despite Kobani’s plight

However, the desperate situation in Kobani has been taking its toll on Baran. “When
 I see the pounding of Kobani and remember that my family are far away from me, my heart breaks,” he told me “I cannot describe the intensity of groans and shrieks– and the sound of my mum’s crying will never leave me.”

Baran clings onto hope that the situation will improve- but he is convinced that life will never be the same again.

Do we have to blame the media for publishing the incident or is it the lack of democracy?

By Ronahi Hasan

In one of my social media for broadcasting lectures, we came across the story of Dean Farley who shoved the prime minster David Cameron in Leeds while he was jogging in the street and got arrested by security officials.

In that moment I remembered something that happened to me, because this incident with Dean took me back three years to when I went to London for a demonstration.

I believe Mr Farley and I have something in common in this matter as we were both treated unfairly and were arrested for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

When the events in Syria were in the news daily, people used to protest on the street every weekend and sometimes during the week. The Kurdish areas in Syria were subjected to violence and killing daily by the Syrian regime. One of the most prominent Kurdish leaders had been assassinated and other young people were killed and so a protest was planned against this brutal action.

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Kurdish opposition leader Mashaal Tammo

The day after the funeral of Mashaal Tammo, my family and I, set off in the morning towards London to protest in front of the Syrian Embassy, in response to this heinous action.

In fact, I didn’t realize that a big demonstration would take place at the embassy. As soon as we arrived I crossed the road to the other side of the embassy and started chanting against Assad’s regime. I threw two eggs, one slightly on the edge of the building and the other just on the pavement. Suddenly, like a wolf attacks the lamb, a group of police jumped on me and put me in handcuffs in a cruel manner. Afterwards, I was taken to the police station and I was questioned if I had been involved in any damage to the building, which I completely denied. After many hours they freed me as a result of me not being involved in the damage to the building.

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Thousands of Kurds mourn the funeral of martyr Mashaal Tammo

I actually arrived when the chaos had already begun. Some protesters had already been arrested for smashing a window and throwing paint on the door. They were expressing their anger and frenzy for the serious and terrible situation in Syria while the world watched silently.

I was brought up in the Kurdish city of Qamishlo in Syria, I managed to evade arrest many times for being involved in any type of activities including cultural, political and even the arts. This chauvinist Arab regime tortured and ill-treated Kurds who live on their historical land and prevent them from having any human rights.

I never thought that one day I would find myself in jail in one of the most democratic countries in the world. The problem did not stop here. The big problem was when I was released as the news had spread like wildfire. I got a call from my sibling who was out of the country and friends too, because there was a TV news channel, Al Arabia that filmed me at the embassy without me even realizing. I remembered my family back in Syria and I thought “OH my god what I have done, they surely now are in a big trouble!”. They fled from the family home, in case of being caught by the Syrian forces after my “egg throwing: incident which was headline news for two days.

However, what happened was not only insulting to my dignity, but it ripped my family apart. My brother who was living with my parents was forced to flee the country as a suitable alternative to any impending punishment the Syrian government may have inflicted on him.

So in our case, is it the fault of the media for publishing this news or it is my fault that I thought that pelting eggs as a way of protesting in a free society would not have got me in trouble.

The bottom line, I am against any kind of violence, but even so there is no comparison between egging an inanimate object and opening fire on people and bombing the infrastructure of my homeland.

 

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Picture shows the massive destruction in Syria war

 

 

The university student who died from a spiked drink

 

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It was evening time when the phone rang and I had to hear the dark news that Jane had died.

I can’t describe what terrible feelings I felt at that time, which made me to burst into tears for what had happened to this cheerful angel.

Jane Khalaf, 19, was a loved and intelligent girl, the kind of person who needed not knock to enter someone’s heart she crossed the borders without visa or permission.

A shelley resident and second year Northumbria University politics student who was sent on an exchange trip to Germany. She died after her drink had been spiked while she was out celebrating the city’s carnival in Cologne city.

When I came to the UK, five years ago her family was the first family I met and celebrated New Years Eve with. They were such a warm and generous family; at the time my children and I were away from their dad and relatives back home so it was a hard time for us.

Jane’s parents are Kurdish, from my country Syria, but Jane was brought up in Britain. She benefitted from living in an open- minded environment adopting and balancing between her two different cultures- Kurdish and British.

I remember her kindness, when she was playing and sharing her toys with my children who felt isolated and homesick as they were living in a new foreign country. She made them feel safe and welcome.

What happened to Jane was an utter catastrophe! She told her friend that while celebrating at the carnival her drink had been spiked. She waited a long time for an ambulance to arrive. When she eventually got to hospital she was left for hours until she collapsed and fell into a coma and never woke up.

The bad treatment did not stop here. Her family only realised their daughter was in hospital when her friend in Germany messaged through Facebook. They were not notified by anyone from the German authorities. When her parents arrived in Germany, people from the hospital and the authorities were rude and unhelpful. Her mum Rojin said in her statement: “The way we were treated and the way her case has been dealt with in Germany was appalling…”

The question raised in my mind, what was the motive behind the death of this young exchange student? Was it a sexual assault gone wrong? Anyone who knew Jane would know that she was totally anti drugs.

This spiking story spread like wild fire. Soon people began to further question what had happened, because of the culture of victim blaming in our society that the girl is the only one responsible for what happens to her.

Thanks to the efforts of her family, the media shed light on this horrible story and showed the truth without causing her family any embarrassment with false information.

According to an ITV report this year one in ten people have had their drink spiked. Whereas, a survey set up by the Swansea University shows that it had happened to one in three students. Perhaps showing how students are at a greater risk for these kinds of occurrences.

Jane was an humanitarian to the core and had high sense of patriotism towards her oppressed people- the Kurds- in Kurdistan. Therefore, she chose to study politics which I predicted a big future for her especially after reading one of her blog entries “The day you can send me a link of an honest politician who voices his true opinion, will be the day I no longer react to this world’s hideous wars, violence and waves of oppression.”

What we can learn from this tragic death is how important it is to be vigilant wherever you are with your friends. To keep your drink with you at all times to avoid this horrible fate.

Unfortunately, the perpetrator is still free and he may strike again and make another girl his victim.

Now is the time for every honest person to take action and participate in this petition in order to bring justice to Jane’s case.

Lets make the 20 of November, a day of awareness on the dangers of drink spiking and make our beloved Jane a symbol of this heinous act.

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                     Rest in piece our beloved Jane

 I would be grateful if you could take a part in this petition and send your comments or suggestions about this matter