الرئيسية » English Articles » Kurds-Barzani-Turkey-PKK-Iran

Kurds-Barzani-Turkey-PKK-Iran

1. Kurds must stay away from violence, says Barzani
2. Danish PM blasts Turkish conviction of Kurdish mayors
3. Turkey convicts 53 Kurdish mayors for backing Denmark-based TV station
4. KNC-NA calls for revoking prison sentences of Kurdish leaders in Turkey
5. PKK denies casualties after Turkish air strikes in Iraq
6. Offensive operations and military campaigns in the entire regions of Northern Kurdistan: 7 Turkish soldiers killed
7. One Turkish soldier dead, 13 wounded in clash with Kurdish rebels
8. Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebels in Iraq
9. BOOK REVIEW: Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence, by Aliza Marcus
10. Fighting for free speech in Turkey
11. Arrests over university clashes reach 18
12. Assad: Syria is preparing for war
13. Iran shells border villages in northern Iraq-PJAK
14. Iran training media for Israel-Syria war
15. Iran would ‘eliminate Israel’ if attacked: army general
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1. Kurds must stay away from violence, says Barzani

16.04.2008
Today’s Zaman with wires Ankara

In an apparent call to members of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which uses northern Iraq as a launch pad for attacks on Turkey, Iraqi Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani said Kurds should abandon using violence as it is no longer a useful tool for achieving certain targets.
Barzani’s remarks — which are the latest in a serious of positive messages concerning relations with Turkey over the last month — came in the resort town of Salahaddin in Arbil, where he gathered with a group from Turkey’s Şırnak Bar Association, the Zagros television station, based in Arbil and owned by Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), reported yesterday.
“Today, the use of violence is left in the past. Kurds should adjust themselves to this transformation and change their mentality; they should try the other path that is modern and peaceful,” Barzani was quoted as saying during the meeting.
In the last few weeks, Iraqi Kurdish news portals have constantly reported on positive messages delivered by Barzani, particularly concerning a landmark visit to Ankara by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on March 7-8. The Iraqi president’s visit had come only one week after the Turkish military withdrew troops from northern Iraq following an eight-day ground offensive against the PKK. Washington, which provided intelligence assistance to Turkey during the offensive, has urged the Turkish capital to have direct talks with the largely autonomous Kurdish administration in northern Iraq led by Barzani, who has angered Ankara by defying Turkish calls to designate the PKK a terrorist organization and prove that he is not supporting the organization by taking visible steps to show otherwise.
The PKK, took up arms for self-rule in the mainly Kurdish southeastern region of Turkey in 1984, sparking a conflict that has claimed at least 37,000 lives. Bilateral relations have soured over Turkish fears that Iraqi Kurds plan to break away from Iraq, a prospect Ankara fears could fuel the separatist terrorism inside its own borders. Nonetheless, also recently, Barzani had repeatedly voiced his administration’s loyalty to Iraq’s unity.
“The Kurds represented and still represent an essential pillar in the political process; before the former regime was ousted, we were almost an independent state, but Kurdistan’s (northern Iraq) parliament opted for unity with our Iraqi brothers outside of the Kurdistan region,” Barzani was quoted as saying in an interview with the Aswat al-Iraq news agency earlier this month.
Over the weekend, at a gathering with KDP executives and members, Barzani delivered similar conciliatory messages both on Iraq’s unity and the future of relations with Turkey.
“We need a fundamental change. We brought democracy for Iraq and federalism for Kurdistan. Carrying our nationalism to another phase is not on the agenda anymore because we should prepare ourselves for the next phase like we had prepared ourselves for the last phase,” Barzani was quoted as saying at the gathering by the Peyamner Web site, affiliated with the KDP.
“We want our relations with neighboring countries. The phase of denying a nation is left in the past as well. Now is the phase of dialogue. Kurds shouldn’t get involved with violence either amongst itself or in neighboring countries. … The mentality of the Kurdish should change and this way the mentality of these countries would also change,” Barzani was also quoted as saying.
Earlier this month, Foreign Minister Ali Babacan said if the regional Iraqi Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq display a stronger stance against the presence of the PKK on their soil, Ankara would be encouraged to engage in more substantive dialogue with them.
Stressing the importance Ankara attaches to contacts with the central government in Baghdad, Babacan said there are already “channels of communication” between Ankara and the regional administration in northern Iraq, when asked whether there was a plan for a visit to Ankara by Nechirvan Barzani, Massoud Barzani’s nephew and prime minister of the Kurdish region.
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2. Danish PM blasts Turkish conviction of Kurdish mayors

4/16/2008
AFP

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday criticised a Turkish court’s conviction of 53 Kurdish mayors for “praising criminals”, due to a letter they wrote him in 2005.
“It is incomprehensible that a letter of this kind can lead to a guilty verdict,” Rasmussen said in a statement.
The mayors had been on trial since September 2006 over a letter they wrote to Rasmussen in December 2005, asking him to ignore Turkey’s calls to ban the Denmark-based Kurdish television station Roj TV.
Turkish authorities say Roj TV is a mouthpiece of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a separatist campaign in the mainly Kurdish southeast since 1984 and is listed as a terrorist group by Ankara and much of the international community.
A court in Diyarbakir sentenced the mayors to two months and 15 days in jail each but converted their sentences into fines of 1,875 Turkish liras (about 1,400 dollars, 900 euros) on account of their good behaviour in court.
“Turkey wishes to join the European Union, and we therefore expect that it adopts the same norms (in regards to freedom of expression) as the EU,” Rasmussen said.
“This is a case that Denmark and the EU are watching closely and we have emphasised this to Turkey,” he added.
sa/nl/tw
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3. Turkey convicts 53 Kurdish mayors for backing Denmark-based TV station

The Associated Press
Published: April 15, 2008

ANKARA, Turkey: A Turkish court on Tuesday found 53 Kurdish mayors guilty of praising a criminal group because they asked Denmark to let a television station with alleged links to Kurdish guerrillas continue to operate there.
The mayors described the case against them as a free-speech issue, but Turkey views Kurdish rebels as terrorists and believes Europe is not doing enough to curb sources of support among Kurdish expatriates.
Most of the mayors are members of the Democratic Society Party, a political group that faces possible closure for alleged links to the rebel Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which seeks autonomy for the large Kurdish population in southeast Turkey and which has been listed by the European Union and the United States as a terrorist organization.
Tuesday’s verdict against the mayors will be used as evidence in the case against the party, said Muharrem Elbey, a lawyer for the Kurdish mayor of Diyarbakir, the biggest city in southeast Turkey.
The state is divided over whether the possible scrapping of a party with 20 seats in Parliament would strengthen the rule of law or push a new wave of alienated Kurds out of the political mainstream and into guerrilla ranks.
The court in Diyarbakir sentenced the mayors to two months in prison, but later commuted the sentence to fines of 1,835 Turkish liras (US$1,400 or €900), citing the mayors’ good behavior during the trial. Three other mayors were acquitted. The mayors said they would appeal.
The politicians were indicted in 2006 after writing to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to request that the Roj TV station be kept on air in Denmark. Turkey says the station is a propaganda machine for the rebels.
The station has a broadcasting license in Denmark, but its studios are in Belgium. An investigation into its activities by Danish authorities is under way.
Danish-Turkish relations have long been strained over Kurdish groups based in Denmark.
Kurdistan National Liberation Front, a political group with strong ties to the PKK, opened an office in Copenhagen in 1995, causing protests from the Turkish Embassy. The activities of the office eventually faded out.
Turkey has been under pressure from the European Union to strengthen the rights of Kurds, a non-Arab people distantly related to the Iranians. They constitute about 20 percent of Turkey’s population of at least 70 million.
The PKK’s rebel commanders often joined the station’s broadcasts by satellite telephone from mountain hideouts in northern Iraq, and the station broadcasts images of rebels training or attacking Turkish soldiers.
The mayors have denied supporting the PKK guerrillas.
“The mayors’ letter was an appeal for a Kurdish-language television station to remain on air,” said Elbey, who represents Diyarbakir mayor Osman Baydemir. “They never praised the content of the broadcasts.”
Elbey said that if the appeal fails, he will consider taking the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. The court’s decisions are binding on Turkey.
The prosecutor initially wanted the court to try the mayors for aiding and abetting the PKK, but reduced the charge to praising a criminal group. The earlier charge carries a maximum 15-year
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4. KNC-NA calls for revoking prison sentences of Kurdish leaders in Turkey

Kurdish National Congress of North America, April 16, 2008:

On April 10, 2008, Mrs. Leyla Zana, a former MP for the Turkish government, and a recipient of the Rafto Prize in 1994, and the Sakharov Prize in 1995, was sentenced to two years imprisonment for violating article 7/2 of a 1991 anti-terrorism law which prohibits “those who make propaganda in connection with such (terrorist) organizations.”

The “propaganda” of which Mrs. Zana is accused occurred in a speech she gave in the Kurdish city of Diyarbakir , during a celebration of the Kurdish New Year holiday of Newroz. In her speech, she referred to “three leaders” of the Kurds including Jalal Talibani and Massoud Barzani of Kurdistan-Iraq and Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey . Her mention of Öcalan is construed as supporting terrorist organizations.
This will be Zana’s second imprisonment for speaking out on behalf of Kurdish causes. In 1991, soon after she was elected as a MP to the Turkish Parliament, her parliamentary immunity was stripped away after she recited her oath of office in both the Kurdish and Turkish languages. Under the Turkish Constitution, speaking Kurdish, her native language, Parliament was taboo. At the time, she was accused of “insulting Turkish honor” and she was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. She spent approximately 10 years of that sentence behind bars prior to her release in 2004.
On April 15, 2008 Turkey also sentenced 53 Kurdish mayors to more than two months imprisonment. The mayors had sent a letter to the Danish Prime Minister Anders Rasmussen in December 2005 and called on Denmark to resist the pressure from Turkey and not close down the Kurdish satellite television station, Roj TV.
We call on Turkey to revoke Mrs. Zana’s and the mayors’ recent sentencing, and put an end to the socio-political plague that has prevented Turkey from being a democratically functional state by amending its constitution, where the Kurds and Turks can live together in peace. We encourage the Turkish authorities to see that the exclusionary policies of the past are not the path to a bright future. We also urge the U. S. , European and other democratic nations, and non-governmental organizations to urge Turkey to release itself from the cycle of “hate and fear” and find a viable way to resolve the Kurdish “issue” with a political frame of reference.
Kurdish National Congress of North America
P.O. Box 1663 , Lake Forest , CA 92609 USA
Tel/Fax: 1-949-583-1417
www.kncna.org
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5. PKK denies casualties after Turkish air strikes in Iraq

April 17, 2008
Agence France Presse (AFP)

ANKARA: Turkish warplanes attacked a group of separatist Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq as they attempted to sneak across the border into Turkey, the Turkish military said Wednesday.
A statement said the armed group was “rendered ineffective” in the raid, which took place on Tuesday in the Avasin-Basyan area of northern Iraq, without saying how many rebels were killed.
Ahmad Danis, the spokesman for the rebel Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) confirmed the air raids and said similar strikes were carried out on Wednesday morning.
“There was a Turkish air strike against some old PKK bases in Zaqros mountain near Amediyah but there were no casualties,” he told AFP by telephone from a rebel hideout in the Qandil Mountains of northern Iraq.
“Turkish aircraft targeted the same area this morning again without causing any casualties,” he added.
Turkish warplanes have targeted PKK positions in northern Iraq since mid-December. In February, the army conducted a week-long ground offensive against PKK hideouts in the region, where Ankara estimates more than 2,000 militants take refuge.
Also Tuesday, the army clashed with PKK rebels in two mountainous areas in southeast Turkey, killing at least one militant, the statement said.
The soldiers also seized rifles, ammunition, explosives and other bomb-making materials in rebel hideouts, it added.
The Turkish government has a one-year parliamentary authorization, which expires in October, for cross-border raids in northern Iraq against the Kurdish separatists.
The United States has backed Turkish military action against the rebels by providing real-time intelligence on PKK movements in Iraq.
AFP
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6. Offensive operations and military campaigns in the entire regions of Northern Kurdistan: 7 Turkish soldiers killed

Media and Communication Center of the People’s Defense forces of Kurdistan-HPG

April 14, 2008
Military dispatch:

Attack on a convoy of the Turkish military in Dirsm

To the press and public opinion:

1. Three Turkish soldiers killed and 3 others injured in an attack operation by our fighters of the HPG on a Turkish military convoy. It was a part of the military campaign launched by the Turkish army in the area of omrna (Mardin) on April 12 this month. Our units carried out the attack near the village of (Kavaki) in Omrena / Mardin province early in the morning.

2 – The Turkish army began a large-scale military campaign supported by Military helicopters and F16 jet fighters in the area of (Tello) in the province of Siirt. this military campaign lasted until April 13 and did not achieve any results, contrary to the Turkish army misinformation that two of our fighters have lost their lives.

3 – The military campaign launched by the Turkish army on April 10, in the areas of (Yaylaidra) and (Karakojan) in Bingöl province is expanding to all of the these areas. The Turkish army is using Cobra helicopters and F 16 jet fighters.

4 – The military operations launched by the Turkish army on April 11 in the area of (Kegh) in Bingöl province is progressing.

5 – The military campaign launched by the Turkish army on April 11 is continuing in the areas of martyr Brosq, Centre Bingaul, Horoz Papa , Yishlar, Cole, Dali Tappah and Shiran in the province of Bingöl.

6 – Our fighters lunched an offensive operation along the lines of the Turkish army military campaign launched on the first of April, in the region of Sheikh Juma in Bitlis province, the operation resulted in the death of 2 Turkish army soldiers and 3 others wounded.

7 – Our fighters launch an attack on a military convoy headed from Siirt to Shervan to participate in the military operations against our fighters there, we have had no information about the extent of the Turkish army’s losses.

8 – Our fighters launched a coordinated attack on Turkish military units belong to the Turkish army operation launched on April 12 against the area of martyr Brosque in (Diyarbakir), the operation resulted in the deaths of 2 Turkish soldiers and injuring three others.
During the attempt to transfer the Turkish army dead and wounded soldiers by Sikorsky helicopter, our fighters launched second operation, which resulted in the death of another soldier in addition it forced a military helicopter to exit from the battle field. The Turkish army transferred its dead and wounded soldiers to Aziz government hospital.

9 – Battle erupted between our fighters and soldiers of the Turkish army on April 10 in the area of Zara in the province of Diyarbakir, the battle lasted from noon until the 11th of April next morning. Two of our fighters were martyred during the fight, they are: Amcain Vargin (Zahid Ozdomir) and Showrash Malatia (Olash Karaaouglan). We did not get detail information to the Turkish army losses in this battle.
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7. One Turkish soldier dead, 13 wounded in clash with Kurdish rebels

17 Apr 2008
DPA

Ankara – One Turkish soldier was killed and 13 wounded Wednesday night in a fire-fight with Kurdish separatists, the CNN-Turk television station reported on Thursday. According to CNN-Turk, Turkish soldiers found the group of Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas in a mountainous region of the south-eastern province of Siirt, near the border with Iraq. After calling on the guerrillas to surrender the soldiers were fired upon, CNN-Turk reported.
It was not known if the PKK suffered any casualties and operations in the area were continuing on Thursday.
The clash comes a day after Turkish warplanes bombed a group of PKK rebels inside northern Iraq. The Turkish General Staff said the group were planning to cross the border to launch attacks inside Turkey.
In February, the Turkish army launched a week-long cross-border incursion into northern Iraq in a bid to destroy PKK camps. .
Ankara blames the group for the deaths of more than 32,000 people since the early 1980s when the PKK began its fight for independence or autonomy for the mainly Kurdish-populated south-east of Turkey.
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8. Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish rebels in Iraq

Irish Sun
Wednesday 16th April, 2008
(IANS)

Turkish warplanes attacked Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq Tuesday, according to a statement issued by the Turkish military Wednesday.

In a short statement posted on its official website, the Turkish General Staff said warplanes hit a group of Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) guerrillas in mountainous northern Iraq who were attempting to cross into Turkey to launch attacks.

The statement said that on the same day clashes between Turkish troops and PKK rebels in the south-eastern Turkish provinces of Diyarbakir and Sirnak had left one PKK rebel dead and resulted in the seizure of a large number of weapons and explosives.

The fighting Tuesday came one-and-a-half months after Turkey ended a week-long incursion into northern Iraq which saw up to 10,000 soldiers sent across the border to seek out Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) rebels and their camps.
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9. BOOK REVIEW: Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence, by Aliza Marcus

Blood and Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence, by Aliza Marcus. New York and London: New York University Press, 2007. 351 pages. $35.00, hardcover.

Michael M. Gunter

Professor of political science, Tennessee Technological University; author of The Kurds Ascending: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem in Iraq and Turkey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008)

Formally established on November 27, 1978, but with immediate roots dating back several years earlier, the Partiya Karkeran Kurdistan (PKK), or Kurdistan Workers party, led by Abdullah (Apo) Ocalan long labored in relative obscurity as far as the United States was concerned. No longer, however. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the PKK camps in northern Iraq have become an increasingly important issue for the United States. Turkey has repeatedly threatened large-scale military intervention into northern Iraq to root them out if the United States, Iraq or the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq refuse to do so. If such intervention were to occur, it would not only threaten the relative stability of the KRG, but might even result in disastrous U.S.-Turkish clashes.

However, the United States, battling the insurgency to the south, is in no position to go after the PKK, ensconced in its mountainous retreats. Indeed, retired U.S. General Joseph Ralston has been serving since August 2006 as the U.S. “Special Envoy [to Turkey] Countering the PKK.” His mission seems to be to placate Turkey with largely meaningless verbal assurances in order to forestall Turkish intervention. The issue of the PKK sanctuaries even became involved in the July 22, 2007, Turkish parliamentary elections. Accordingly, Aliza Marcus’s reader-friendly, but detailed, study of the PKK will be welcomed by both policy makers and scholars.

As a journalist reporting on the PKK in the early 1990s, Marcus had run afoul of Turkey’s stringent security laws for an article she published in November 1994 on the government’s torching of Kurdish villages during its anti-PKK campaign. Her present book is not the first dealing solely with the PKK. More than a half a decade ago, Paul White published a solid analysis, Primitive Rebels Or Revolutionary Modernizers? The Turkish National Movement in Turkey (Zed Books, 2000), which largely dealt with the PKK. More recently, Ali Kemal Ozcan published a detailed theoretical analysis, Turkey’s Kurds: A Theoretical Analysis of the PKK and Abdullah Ocalan (Routledge, 2006), while Kevin McKiernan’s journalistic account, The Kurds: A People in Search of Their Homeland (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), also dealt in part with the PKK. David Romano’s recent sophisticated study, The Kurdish Nationalist Movement: Opportunity, Mobilization and Identity (Cambridge University Press, 2006) also contains some significant analysis of the PKK, while Denise Natali’s equally sophisticated work, The Kurds and the State: Evolving National Identity in Iraq, Turkey, and Iran (Syracuse University Press, 2005), has little. Of all these recent studies, Marcus only lists the White book in her bibliography, which also omits several other earlier works in English that had previously dealt with the PKK. The inevitable time lag between final revisions and publication probably explains some of these omissions. Certainly, Marcus now gives us the most thorough and readable account of the rise of the PKK and its charismatic leader, Abdullah Ocalan.

The author bases her analysis on detailed interviews with very knowledgeable former PKK members, most now living in European exile. She also “incorporates information from a variety of [other] sources, including interviews with well-known Kurdish opponents of the PKK, independent Turkish and Kurdish activists, and foreign sources with knowledge” (p. vii). Her analysis is particularly objective, given her own thorough knowledge of events based on her years of earlier reporting on the PKK.

Marcus divides her study into four parts, the first dealing with the origins of the PKK. “Ocalan’s supporters would make much of the fact that he came from as depressed surroundings as his followers, unlike many of the earlier leading Kurdish figures, who often were linked to large tribal or wealthy landowning families” (p. 15). He literally “came out of nowhere” (p. 30). On the other hand, Marcus also adds that “what is missed is that many of the early supporters were actually those who had lifted themselves out of their poverty-stricken, uneducated ‘lumpen’ surroundings” (p. 37). After a brief stint working in a Turkish government office in Diyarbakir and then Istanbul (measuring land deeds), Ocalan “enrolled in the prestigious political science department of Ankara University” (p. 23). “The state’s own assimilationist policies had in some cases awakened exactly what it was trying to wipe out” (p. 26). “Being arrested for joining a peaceful demonstration convinced Ocalan there was little room to act in Turkey’s democracy . . . [and] that armed revolution was the only answer” (p. 25). “The negative reaction of the Turkish leftists to his ideas helped convince Ocalan that there was no point in continuing to look for a Turkish partner” (p. 28). Ocalan also argued that the “fatal flaw” of the other Kurdish leaders was that they “always remained part of feudal Kurdish society” (p. 34). Thus, these other Kurdish “leaders were not true Kurdish revolutionaries. . . . While rivals accused Ocalan of hate-mongering, some Kurds saw in his stance a certain independence that made them think he could be the one to lead them to their own state” (p. 35). Citing one of Ocalan’s earlier associates, Marcus writes how “the 1920s were our model, how the Russian Communist party forbade all other parties and got rid of the cliques. We saw this as all positive and we wanted to do the same” (p. 42).

In the summer of 1979, more than a year before the military coup of September 1980, Ocalan secretly left Turkey for Syria, where he remained for almost 20 years. It proved to be a fortuitous move, enabling him to avoid being captured with most of the other Turkish and Kurdish militants when the military seized power. In Syria, Ocalan eventually made useful contacts. As one former associate explained: “From the Palestinians we learned things. We learned about making demonstrations for martyrs, about ceremonies. We did a lot of reading on a people’s war; we also had armed training. They gave us clothing, cigarettes. We owe the Palestinians something” (p. 58). Soon the PKK had the Helwe Camp (later called the Mahsun Korkmaz Camp) in the Syrian-controlled Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP) also allowed the PKK to build a base in northern Iraq. “In Lebanon they learned how to make bombs and throw grenades, but in northern Iraq they would learn how to survive in the mountains as a guerrilla force” (p. 71). In the early 1980s, the PKK sent survey teams into southeastern Turkey to map out the terrain and finally caught Turkey by surprise when it launched its guerrilla struggle in August 1984.

Part II deals with the consolidation of the PKK’s power. In practice, this meant Ocalan’s consolidation of absolute authority over the organization. Indeed, at times, Marcus’s major theme appears to be “Ocalan’s cult of personality” (p. 210), “narcissism” (p. 266) and sheer “paranoia” (p. 135). He “always was concerned about challenges to his authority and to the unity of the PKK under his authority” (p. 90). “Between 1983 and 1985, Ocalan ordered or encouraged the murder of at least 11 high-level former or current PKK members” (p. 94). “At least 24, perhaps closer to 50 or 100, new recruits were executed in 1989 and 1990 on suspicion of being real or potential traitors” (p. 135). Sometimes Ocalan even blamed others for these murders and then executed the perpetrator. Referring to himself as “the ‘Party Leadership,’ . . . Ocalan . . . applied, manipulated, ignored and changed everything at will” (p. 144). He even “began to believe that the PKK’s actions were behind many world events . . . [and] saw himself as the center of world events” (p. 266). To protect his position, Ocalan also opposed broader Kurdish unity. “The development of a politically experienced Kurdish class was hobbled” (p. 163). Reading this, one cannot help but be reminded of Stalin’s tactics and wonder how the PKK ever became so powerful.

In the third part of her book, Marcus analyzes the PKK’s serious attempt to win control of southeastern Turkey in the early 1990s. She explains that Ocalan also could be “politically savvy and reasonable” (p. 211). He had a “relatively strong grasp of the need for political changes, underscoring the very practical, ideological elasticity that had helped the PKK survive and grow so successfully over the years” (p. 244). Although at times he had a “coarse, patronizing and even threatening way of talking . . . [it] could be tempered by a vigorous defense of the Kurdish struggle” (p. 157). “Thousands of other young Kurdish men and women began to throw their support behind the groups, helping turn the PKK into a mass organization” (p. 160). The PKK’s pursuit of a relentless guerrilla war won it mass trust and respect, while its decision also to move into legal, nonviolent activities gave it a much longer reach. Marcus refers to this mass civilian support as the “milis” (p. 154), although it was more commonly referred to as the Kurdistan National Liberation Front (ERNK). “It helped that the PKK was the only Kurdish nationalist organization fighting the Turkish state, making it hard for Kurdish nationalists to ignore it and still be active” (p. 217). The Serhildan (people’s uprising) that occurred in the spring of 1990 even had the possibility of becoming “something like the Palestinian intifada” (p. 180). Weapons proved easy to obtain: “After U.S.-led Coalition Forces established a safe haven in north Iraq [in 1991], huge stocks of old Iraqi army weaponry and equipment were there for the taking” (p. 186). “The Turkish military clearly was on the defensive” (p. 219).

The PKK’s success, however, “assumed a static situation, one in which the Turkish army did not learn from its mistakes and Ocalan did not make any” (p. 181). In May 1993, the Turkish military began to change its overall counterinsurgency tactics by burning villages that had supplied the PKK and resorting to the clandestine murder of civilian Kurdish activists. “Everyone spoke of the same problems, not enough supplies, no contact with the local people, constant attack by [pro-government Kurdish] village guards” (p. 240). Ocalan proved incapable, or maybe unwilling, to react. Indeed, he “may have spoken against a mass uprising because he feared that it would remove the Kurdish fight out of his control” (p. 181). “When [PKK] commanders raised the problem of the forcible evacuation of Kurdish villagers, Ocalan exhorted them to press the villagers to return. But PKK rebels could barely protect themselves any more, let alone unarmed civilians” (p. 241). “To the extent that mistakes had been made, Ocalan stressed, they were made by rebels who were too weak or too cowardly to properly implement his orders” (p. 240).

The fourth and final part of this book deals with Ocalan’s capture in February 1999 and subsequent events. This section is not as thorough as the previous three. Marcus could have said more about why Ocalan was finally expelled from Syria, the rise of the new legal Kurdish parties (HADEP and then the DTP), and how in her own words “the PKK survives” (p. 305) despite seeming “empty, bereft of a focus” (p. 299). She correctly argues that “Ocalan in captivity became a symbol of the Kurdish nation — oppressed, imprisoned, used and then discarded by nations with other interests at heart” (p. 280). She also concludes that “the PKK survives because it is popular among Kurds in Turkey. It is popular because it fought for so long, and the PKK’s fight tied people to the party and gained it Kurdish respect” (p. 305). The PKK also remains because “the state’s fundamental approach did not change: In front of every, even limited, reform, the state put obstacles to slow down implementation” (p. 293). “The Kurdish problem will remain because the answer lies in Turkey opening a real dialogue with Kurds, and taking it from there” (p. 304).

Despite her detailed interviews to gain insights into the workings of the PKK, Marcus apparently never met Ocalan himself. In addition, she interviewed few if any of his top political associates, such as Cemil Bayik, Duran Kalkan, Murat Karayilan (who currently heads the PKK guerrillas in northern Iraq’s Kandil Mountains), Halil Atac, Mustafa Karasu and Ali Haydar Kaytan. She does not even mention that Kani Yilmaz, once considered possibly the PKK’s number three in command, was expelled from the organization after Ocalan’s capture and eventually assassinated in northern Iraq. Although she gives an excellent analysis of his falling out with Ocalan and eventual capture by the Turks, Marcus never even mentions the well-known nickname of the legendary PKK military commander Semdin Sakik, aka Parmaksiz Zeki (Fingerless, having had a thumb blown off while firing a missile). For some reason, she also writes about “Iraqi Kurdistan, as it is now called” (p. 301), instead of using its current, universally known name, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

But this is petty carping. Marcus has given us an excellent, objective and most readable account of the PKK, complete with a bibliography, an index, and numerous interesting photos. Her book will be must reading for policy makers, scholars, and lay persons interested in this still-important organization.
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10. Fighting for free speech in Turkey

14-Apr-08

Turkey (BBC News) -Hundreds of writers have been prosecuted in Turkey for “insulting Turkishness”, but Sarah Rainsford discovers that there are still some people willing to publish controversial books.
It is a very difficult time to be a writer in Turkey.Last year the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered. This year, an ultra-nationalist gang allegedly had the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk on its hit list.
Both men had been prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness”.
Today, many writers once known for their forthright views have fallen silent. But one man is still putting himself on the line in a fight for free speech.
I found Ragip Zarakolu in one of the dimly-lit corridors of the Sultanahmet courthouse waiting to be called for his latest trial.
A small man with grey curls and crinkled kindly eyes, Mr Zarakolu is a publisher on a mission to shatter every taboo in Turkey.
As a result, he once admitted to me with characteristic chuckle he is now the most prosecuted publisher in the country.
This time he is also accused of “insulting Turkishness” under article 301 of the penal code.
The case was opened after he published the work of a British writer. It was the story of the writer’s family in 1915, when hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians were deported as traitors during World War I.
Turkey’s taboos
Ragip Zarakolu is one of very few Turks to challenge the official line, but it comes at a cost.
Shortly before his trial I visited his office just across the tram lines from Grand Bazaar. In a basement beneath McDonalds I discovered an Aladdin’s cave of Turkey’s taboos.
Last year the prominent Turkish-Armenian journalist, Hrant Dink, was murdered. This year, an ultra-nationalist gang allegedly had the Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk on its hit list.
Both men had been prosecuted for “insulting Turkishness”.
Today, many writers once known for their forthright views have fallen silent. But one man is still putting himself on the line in a fight for free speech.
I found Ragip Zarakolu in one of the dimly-lit corridors of the Sultanahmet courthouse waiting to be called for his latest trial.
A small man with grey curls and crinkled kindly eyes, Mr Zarakolu is a publisher on a mission to shatter every taboo in Turkey.
As a result, he once admitted to me with characteristic chuckle he is now the most prosecuted publisher in the country.
This time he is also accused of “insulting Turkishness” under article 301 of the penal code.
The case was opened after he published the work of a British writer. It was the story of the writer’s family in 1915, when hundreds of thousands of Ottoman Armenians were deported as traitors during World War I.
Turkey’s taboos
Ragip Zarakolu is one of very few Turks to challenge the official line, but it comes at a cost.
Shortly before his trial I visited his office just across the tram lines from Grand Bazaar. In a basement beneath McDonalds I discovered an Aladdin’s cave of Turkey’s taboos.

Crammed on to shelves and piled high on tables and on the floor were books on every controversial topic in Turkey, and an American ambassador’s memoir of the Armenian massacres side by side with books on Kurdish nationalism.
“My late wife and I began by publishing the history of the Turkish Communist Party. That was the first taboo,” Ragip Zarakolu explained, a pretty unlikely looking subversive in his woollen overcoat and brown moccasins.
The book came out in 1982, in the wake of a military coup. It was banned and later burned by the generals as a threat to social order and Ragip’s wife was brought to trial.
A decade later the pair shifted focus to the plight of Turkey’s Kurds. It was the height of the separatist insurgency and the mainly Kurdish south-east was under martial law.
Undaunted by yet another court case, they then published texts about the fate of the Ottoman Armenians.
“We decided it was time to confront our past and discuss it,” Ragip explained.
But in 1993 that approach was not welcome. Ragip’s wife was sentenced to two years in jail – under anti-terror legislation – for publishing the work of a French scholar about the Armenian massacres.
EU accession efforts
Turkey has changed enormously since then, working towards membership of the European Union. But the trials of writers and publishers continue.
Ironically, the book Mr Zarakolu is currently being prosecuted for is among his least controversial. It tells how a Turkish official protected the author’s Armenian grandmother in 1915 – a Turkish Oskar Schindler.

“Our society has traumas that we are avoiding Ragip Zarakolu”

But the insult charge was brought as nationalist feeling began to soar here, partly linked to Turkey’s EU accession efforts.
The Justice Ministry recently revealed that 1,700 people were tried under Article 301 in 2006 alone. The best-known cases have all involved comments on the Armenian massacres.
“If you believe you are great, clean, and honest it is hard to face something like 1915,” Ragip Zarakolu explained.
“Our society has traumas that we are avoiding.
“Really, we should see a therapist!”
Fuelling discussion
What Turkey has instead is Ragip Zarakolu relentlessly publishing books that delve into the darkest chapters of the past. And, despite the nationalist backlash, he is sure he is making a difference.
His books are read mainly by students and academics, but they have helped fuel a cautious discussion on topics that were once utterly off-limits.
And now the law may be changing too, to protect people’s freedom to do just that.

Under immense pressure from the EU, the Turkish government has proposed softening Article 301 on “insulting Turkishness”.
Nationalist politicians are outraged, but for Ragip Zarakolu it was a well-timed move.
His trial was postponed until parliament decides whether the crime he is accused of should actually exist.
As we filed out of the courthouse into the sunshine, the veteran publisher was pleased. But he believes even a “reformed” Article 301 is dangerous, so his fight goes on.
“My wife went to prison for publishing the first book here on the Armenian genocide. Now I plan to print that book again and to include the notes from her trial,” Ragip Zarakolu confided.
“Fifteen years later we’ll see what happens!” he said.
Then, chuckling as usual, he wandered away from the court and down the street.
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11. Arrests over university clashes reach 18

Thursday, April 17, 2008
ANTALYA – Doğan News Agency

A court in Antalya ordered the arrest of five people yesterday as part of the investigation into the violent clashes on Akdeniz University’s campus earlier this month, taking the total number of detained over the incidents to 18.
Two of the five people arrested were students. The students were charged with damaging state property, causing bodily injuries and encouraging criminal behavior. The three people who were not students were charged with damaging state property and threatening bodily harm with weapons.
Video recordings of the clashes revealed that the two students were found to be sympathizers of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) while the three individuals arrested who were not students were said to be sympathizers of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
In clashes at Akdeniz University on April 4 and 6, scores were injured and shots were fired by some of the demonstrators.
Seven people were injured in the clashes.
Local nongovernmental organizations condemned the clash, noting that recent tensions at the university had culminated in Sunday’s clashes. In a statement, the NGOs said, “This is no coincidence. The responsibility lies with the authorities who failed to take the necessary precautions. The culprits need to be caught as soon as possible.” Akdeniz University Rector Professor Mustafa Akaydın blamed the police for failing to prevent the violence.
After the clashes, most students in the dormitories on the university campus left because of fears about their safety.
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12. Assad: Syria is preparing for war

By JPOST.COM STAFF
Apr 17, 2008

Syria sees war with Israel as a real possibility, and is preparing for such an event, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday to Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar. Nevertheless, he said that the likelihood of war with Israel breaking out is low under the current circumstances.
Speaking to a group of Arab intellectuals, the Syrian president added that whilst war was not a preferable option, “if Israel declares war on Lebanon and Syria or if America declares war on Iran,” Damascus will be prepared.
“We must keep American interest in mind,” continued Assad. “In the last Lebanon war it was evident that Israel wanted to pull out at a specific time, however the American government forced them to continue.”
He added that “we know there is someon
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13. Iran shells border villages in northern Iraq-PJAK

Tuesday, April 15, 2008
ISTANBUL – TDN with wire dispatches

Iranian artillery shelled villages near the border in northern Iraq suspected of sheltering members of the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), the Iranian arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a local news network reported yesterday.
Abdullah Ibrahim, an official in the region, said, “Iranian artillery struck the Kinera, Sawen Mountain and Mamenda areas without causing any damage.”
The Iranian military often shells Iraqi border villages in an attempt to flush out the terrorists, sending residents fleeing from their homes.
PJAK, based in northern Iraq, threatened Sunday to launch attacks inside Iran if Tehran failed to halt anti-Kurdish policies in the country, the Agence France-Presse reported. PJAK warned it has the ability to “carry out bombings against Iranian forces” inside Iran.
Iran and Turkey will seek initiatives today against the outlawed PKK and its breakaway faction, PJAK, during the 12th Iran-Turkey High Security Commission meeting in Ankara, Turkish press reported over the weekend.
During the meeting, the two neighboring countries will examine joint measures to deal with the separatist threats posed by the PKK and PJAK. The Turkish Armed Forces launched a cross-border ground operation into northern Iraq on Feb. 21 in an effort to neutralize positions of the outlawed separatist PKK located within the borders of the Kurdish administration in northern Iraq and to destroy organizational infrastructure in the region.
On Feb. 29, Turkish troops returned to bases inside Turkey.
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14. Iran training media for Israel-Syria war

April 17, 2008
J Post

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Corporation (IRIB) has begun a training course for war journalists, who will be sent to Syria and Lebanon in case these countries engage in war with Israel, the Iranian news agency ‘A’sr Iran reported.
The course, titled “Training Reporters in Crisis,” will be taken by 20 radio and TV reporters.
After graduating the course, the journalists will be placed on call and would be sent to Syria and Lebanon if war breaks out there.
Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad gave a speech on Wednesday, where he emphasized that while his country was preparing for war with Israel, he felt the odds for war were not high.
“We know that there are those in the American administration who want this war and so we are preparing for the worst,” Al-Asad nevertheless added.
The Syrian president said further that the US wanted a civil war in Lebanon and for there to be war between the Arabs and Iran.
For his part, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has recently told the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharonot that Israeli and Syria were exchanging messages.
“I can assure you that with regard to the standing issues between us and the Syrians, they know what I want of them, and I know well what they want from us
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15. Iran would ‘eliminate Israel’ if attacked: army general

Tuesday, 15 April 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran would “eliminate Israel from the global arena” if it was attacked by the Jewish state, the deputy commander of the army Mohammad Reza Ashtiani warned on Tuesday, the Mehr news agency reported.
“We are not worried by Israeli manoeuvres, but if Israel takes such action against the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will eliminate it from the global arena,” General Ashtiani was quoted as saying at a news conference.
His comments come a week after Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer warned that any Iranian attack against Israel “would lead to the destruction of the Iranian nation.”
Ashtiani was speaking ahead of Iran’s national army day on Thursday when a major military parade is expected in Tehran.
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