Countdown to 2nd Kurdish Conference in Washington, DC


The New Kurdish Reality in the Middle East: Perils, Prospects and Possibilities

Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Representative Office in Washington, DC

Friday, September 26, 2014, 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The National Press Club, Holeman Lounge

529 14th St NW Washington, DC 20045

The optimism of the Arab Spring has too rapidly been replaced by a dramatic wave of violence throughout the Middle East. The whole geography stretching from Iraq to Libya has become a battlefield. The war in Syria alone has caused hundreds of thousands of casualties with no promise of peace in sight. Iraq is now fully a part of the Syrian war. While a process of Lebanonization has never been so imminent for Syria and Iraq, Lebanon, too, may be pulled into active warfare if no settlement is secured in these two countries. The latest violence in Israel-Palestine exacerbated the region’s tense political climate. The changing regional order presents opportunities as well as dangers: They carry a potential for instituting democratic citizenship while simultaneously planting the seeds of even more violent and dictatorial regimes.

Within this regional setting, Kurdistan is home to multiple perils, prospects and possibilities. The peace process in Turkey is underway, even if with complications and slow pace. The attacks of the so-called Islamic State on the Kurds in Syria and Iraq have motivated major Kurdish parties to act in relative unity. The “Kurdish problems” in the four Middle Eastern states have become further interconnected and more globalized, rendering the provision of justice for the Kurds essential for securing and sustaining regional peace and stability. Although regional powers and the West have typically viewed the Kurds as a “problem” people, there is now increasing awareness that Kurdish struggles for justice, democracy and sovereignty may, in fact, have much to offer for regional peace in the twenty-first century.

With such a vision, we invite you to our second Washington Conference, which brings together academics, experts and politicians from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and the US to discuss the situation of the Kurds in a rapidly transforming Middle East and to foster dialogue among conference participants as well as with policy makers and the general public in the United States.


Opening Remarks by Mehmet Yuksel, HDP Representative in Washington, DC

Session I:  Developments in the Iraqi Kurdistan and the Plight of Ezidis

8:30 – 10:00am

Moderator: Kirmanj Gundi, Prof. at Dept. of Educational Administration and Leadership, Tennessee State University

  • Vian Dakheel, Ezidi Member of the Iraqi Parliament
  • Karwan Zebari, Director of Congressional Affairs, KRG Washington Office
  • Ruken Isik, PhD Student Concentrating on Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Maryland (UMBC)

Question & Answer Session

Session II: The Kurdish Situation in Syria: A Democratic Model for the Future   

10:10 am – 12:00pm

Moderator: Gonul Tol, Founding Director of the Middle East Institute’s Center for Turkish Studies

  • Alan Shemo, Member of Democratic Union Party (PYD) Foreign Affairs Committee
  • Rusen Cakir, Political Analyst on Turkey and the Middle East
  • Salih Muslim, Co-Chairman of Democratic Union Party (via Skype)
  • Mutlu Civiroglu, Kurdish Affairs Analyst

Question & Answer Session


Session III: The Peace Process in Turkey

1:00 – 2:50pm

Moderator:  Hisyar Ozsoy, Assistant Prof. of Sociocultural Anthropology, University of Michigan-Flint

  • Nazan Ustundag, Assistant Prof. of Sociology, Bogazici University; Researcher at SAMER
  • Kadir Ustun, Research Director at SETA Foundation, Washington
  • Nazmi Gur, Deputy Chairman of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

Question & Answer Session

Session IV: The United States, the Kurds, and the Future of the Middle East

3:00 – 5:00pm

Moderator: Luqman Barwari, President of Kurdish National Congress of North America

  • Michael Werz, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress
  • Sezgin Tanrikulu, Deputy Chairman of Republican People’s Party (CHP)
  • Najmaldin Karim, Governor of Kirkuk, Iraq
  • Selahattin Demirtas, Co-Chair of Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP)

Question & Answer Session

Please RSVP at to confirm your participation

ABD Beşikçi’ye Giriş Yasağı Konusunda Sessiz

 — İsmail Beşikci ve kendi adına kurulu vakfın başkanı İbrahim Gürbüz, 20 Nisan günü İstanbul Atatürk Havalimanı’nda Washington’a gelecek uçağına binmek üzereyken, Amerika yolcularını tarayan özel güvenlik birimleri tarafından uçağa binmesi engellendi.


Kürt Amerikan Topluluğu (KAS) tarafından ABD’ye davet edilen Beşikçi’nin Washington ve New York’ta birer konferans vermesi bekleniyordu.

Beşikçi ve Gürbüz’ün Amerika’ya neden alınmadığı sorulan ABD Dışişleri Bakanlığı sözcüsü Jen Psaki, bireysel olayların ayrıntılarını açıklamalarının Göçmenlik ve Vatandaşlığa Kabul Yasası’nca yasak olduğunu söyledi ve konuyla ilgili sorulacak sorunun Amerikan İç Güvenlik Bakanlığı’na iletimesi gerektiğini kaydetti. Psaki ayrıntı vermedi.
Amerika’nın Sesi Kürtçe Bölümü’nden Mutlu Çiviroğlu’nun telefonla sorularını yanıtlayan İsmail Beşikçi Vakfı Başkanı İbrahim Gürbüz, kendilerine birkaç gün önce ABD vizesi verilmesine rağmen, Amerikan sınır polisinin talimatıyla Atatürk Havalimanı’nda uçağa binişlerinin engellendiğini söyledi. Kararın nedeninin kendilerine açıklanmadığını belirten Gürbüz bununla birlikte girişlerinin yasaklanmasının Amerikalı yetkililerin bireysel kararı olmadığını düşünüyor.
İbrahim Gürbüz’le söyleşiyi aşağıdaki ses dosyasından dinleyebilirsiniz.

İsmail Beşikci Vakfı başkanı İbrahim Gürbüz’le söyleşi


Turkey’s Anadolu News Agency Takes Step Towards It ‘Centennial Vision’

By Mutlu Civiroglu

The Washington office is Anadolu’s second in the United States. Photo: Mutlu Civiroglu
The Washington office is Anadolu’s second in the United States. Photo: Mutlu Civiroglu


WASHINGTON DC – Turkey’s Anadolu Agency (AA) opened its Washington office last week, with the regional director of the official news agency saying that was an important step toward the  company’s vision of becoming one of the world’s leading news organizations.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, who inaugurated the office, said that Washington DC “is actually a very important capital for Turkey.”

He said the new bureau sends an important message to the US, demonstrating the significance Ankara gives to Washington, and Turkey’s willingness for closer relations.

Babacan said that the new office will allow AA to deliver important news from a capital such as Washington to a wider audience around the world.

Ural Yesil, AA’s regional director for Europe and Americas, told Rudaw this is the agency’s second office in the United States.

“We opened our central office in New York last year, and the Washington office is the second one in this country. We have our centennial vision of being a leading news agency in the world. That is why we are in Washington now.”

Yesil said that AA took the decision to expand operations in America – from the United States to Canada and Chile in Latin America – after successful operations in the Middle East and Europe.

“The Washington office is our 27th office abroad. We are covering 100 countries with our representatives and correspondents. On an average day we have 1,500 news stories, more than 2,000 photos and hundreds of videos in seven different languages,” he added.

He noted that in 2011 AA operated in only a single language, which had grown to seven with the addition of French last week.  He added that AA has 1,500 subscribers in 25 countries.

“Our goal is to become one of the top five news agencies in the world by the 100th anniversary, in 2020,” Yesil said, adding that was the company’s “Centennial Vision.”

Answering Rudaw’s question about the agency’s Kurdish service, which started last year, Yesil called that a brave move.

“Opening the Kurdish service actually was a unique decision from our side. You don’t see many news agencies broadcast in Kurdish. There are regions, countries that speak Kurdish. It is important to reflect the policies of the Turkish government and Turkey as a whole to the world and Kurdish regions,” he said.

He explained that the goal of launching the Kurdish service was that the agency wanted Kurds to hear directly from Anadolu about Turkey and Turkish government policies, rather than from other international agencies.

“We want to publish our stories in Kurdish and take out the middle man — to directly deliver our news to Kurdish end users. We think it is an important step for our agency, and we have been receiving positive feedback since we started our Kurdish service.”