Category Archives: USA

Readout of the President and Vice President’s Meeting with Iraqi Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani

Photo: The White House
Photo: The White House

President Obama participated in a meeting at the White House with Vice President Biden and Masoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. They discussed a range of issues, including the campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL and the status of ongoing political initiatives to address the needs of the Iraqi people and foster cooperation across all communities.

President Obama and Vice President Biden reaffirmed the United States’ strong and continued support to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the Kurdish people.

They also reaffirmed the United States’ enduring commitment under the Strategic Framework Agreement to a united, federal, and democratic Iraq, as defined in the Iraqi constitution.

President Obama and Vice President Biden each commended the bravery of the Kurdish Peshmerga and expressed condolences to the victims of ISIL throughout Iraq.

President Barzani thanked President Obama and Vice President Biden for the significant military support that the United States has provided to Kurdish Peshmerga in coordination with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi Security Forces, including the military action taken to protect Erbil and other parts of Iraqi Kurdistan following the fall of Mosul.

Both sides agreed on the importance of strengthening relations between Baghdad and Erbil and underscored their continued shared commitment to provide support to the millions of civilians displaced by the violence in the region.

US Consul Espinoza: “Biji Obama” Chants by Kurds Are Important For US

John L. Espinoza US Consoul to Adana, Turkey (Photo: http://adana.usconsulate.gov/consul_general.html
John L. Espinoza, US Consul to Adana, Turkey

Commenting on the “Biji Obama [Long Live Obama]” chants by Kurds after the U.S. bombarded ISIS targets in Syria’s Kobane, U.S. Consul John L. Espinoza said it was important for them to see the support people gave to their fight.

“I cannot speak directly for the White House, but the fight against ISIS is very important for the U.S. We see defeating ISIS as being linked to us. Of course, it is very important for us that people who see our fight support us,” said Espinoza, who is the U.S. consul in Turkey’s Adana province.

Espinoza said their fight against ISIS would continue and they were discussing ways in which they could better continue the fight against the ISIS threat together with the coalition forces.

“As this threat constantly changes, we don’t know how to fight against it tomorrow. Therefore, we need to assess the threat very well and struggle with it accordingly,” said Espinoza, adding that in meetings they conducted, they learned the reconstruction of Kobane was very important and they were working on the topic together with the coalition forces and Turkey.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

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Video by DHA 

Psaki: We’ll Continue to Support the Brave Defenders of Kobani

Jen Psaki, Spokesperson of the US State Department
Jen Psaki, Spokesperson of the US State Department

Jen Psaki, Spokesperson of the State Department comments on Kobane on Daily Press Briefing of January 27, 2015:

QUESTION:  The biggest challenge in Kobani seems to be over. The Kurdish officials from Iraq and from Kobani have declared victory there.  But as you know, there are many more challenges that faces the rebels protecting the city.  Of course, they have said it officially that they don’t have ammunition – enough ammunition and stuff.  Also the civilians who want to go back to the city, when they want to rebuild the city – I’m wondering whether the United States is going to be a major player in terms of providing humanitarian and military assistance for the people and the rebels there to help alleviate the challenge that remain.

PSAKI:  Well, we have been, continue to be, have consistently been the largest provider of humanitarian assistance as it relates to the Syria conflict in the world, and that won’t change.  And certainly, as there are humanitarian needs, whether it’s in Kobani and other places, I expect that we will contribute – continue to be major contributors.

I know you’re looking ahead, but obviously the point we’re at now, so let me just reiterate this.  As CENTCOM announced yesterday, anti-ISIL forces now control approximately 90 percent of the city of Kobani, and we congratulate its brave defenders.  We’ll continue to support them as we look to the coming weeks ahead.  This is an important step in the first phase of a long-term campaign to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL, because of the strategic value ISIL places on Kobani.

I think, broadly speaking, the fight against ISIL is far from over, but we do feel that their failure in Kobani has denied them one of their strategic objectives.  And over time, we’ve seen that they’ve not only used Kobani as a base for driving their own narrative of inevitability, but also they’ve put a lot of resources and people into Kobani as well.

QUESTION:  There is no doubt that without the United States military support, the rebels would not have been able, probably, to do what they have done.  But as you know, the United States has helped transfer weapons to those rebels.  But should we expect that they would receive more ammunition?  Because probably the United States is the only partner they can look up to now.  Turkey is not going to do that; Syrian Government is not going to do that.  Should we expect the United States to do that?  Because ISIS could, at any moment, when the airstrikes are gone, come back and recapture the town and attack the town.

PSAKI:  As I mentioned, we will continue to support the effort.  In terms of more specifics, I’d certainly point you to my colleagues at the Department of Defense.

Source: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2015/01/236800.htm#SYRIA

 

Chief YPG Commander Berxwedan: Our Victory is the Beginning of the End for ISIS

YPG Commander Mahmud Berxwedan, Canton PM Anwar Moslem, Defense Chied Ismet Hasan and other officoals Photo (Mislim Nebo)
YPG Commander Mahmud Berxwedan, Canton PM Anwar Moslem other officials Photo (Mislim Nebo)

Mahmud Berxwedan, the chief commander of the YPG in Kobane delivered a speech at the special ceremony held about the liberation of Kobane City.

“ISIS thugs should know that just as the houses of Kobane became a graveyard for them, our villages will also be a graveyard for them. Our victory is the beginning of the end for ISIS worldwide.”

Berxwedan recalled that victory had come a day before the anniversary of the declaration of the founding of the Kobane canton, adding: “We will continue to resist until not one square meter of our land is under occupation. We would like to thank everyone who supported us, in particular those maintaining the vigil on the border.”

YPG commander also thanked the coalition forces led by the USA that supported the Kobane resistance from the air, the FSA forces that fought alongside the YPG/YPJ and peshmerga forces that provided support with heavy weaponry.

“Our struggle has not ended yet. Our villages are under occupation and the threat to Kobane has not gone away. I call on the youth of Rojava and Kobane to join the operation to liberate the villages. If we cannot liberate our land we will have to live a 100 years under ISIS barbarism.”

Source: http://en.firatajans.com/gallery/our-victory-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-isis/our-victory-the-beginning-of-the-end-for-isis-1422360472

Van Hollen, Blackburn Urge State Department to Grant Travel Visa to Co-Chairman of the PYD

 

Chris                                                    Marsha

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Co-Chairs of the Kurdish American Caucus, released a letter on January 14 to Secretary of State Kerry urging him to grant the travel visa request of Salih Muslim Mohammed, Co-Chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syria.

“As the U.S. continues its campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), we believe that the PYD is one of the most effective partners the U.S. has on the ground in Syria,” they wrote.

Salih_Moslem

“We urge you to permit Salih Muslim to come to Washington in January to meet with non-governmental members of the American foreign policy community and others to discuss directly what we can do together to defeat ISIL and advance the cause of a secular, democratic Syria.”

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Full text of the letter:

The Honorable John F. Kerry

Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC  20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

As Co-Chairs of the Kurdish American Congressional Caucus we are writing to request that you grant the visa request of Salih Muslim Mohammed, Co-Chairman of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) of Syria, to travel to the United States to attend a conference in Washington DC in January 2015.

As the U.S. continues its campaign to degrade and ultimately destroy the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), we believe that the PYD is one of the most effective partners the U.S. has on the ground in Syria.

Earlier this year PYD fighters helped to end the ISIL siege around Mount Sinjar thus allowing thousands of Iraqi Yazidis to escape death at the hands of ISIL. Since then they have also been fighting valiantly to prevent the expansion of ISIL in northern Syria, most prominently in the border town of Kobani.

While we welcome the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIL targets and the dropping of arms supplies which have helped the PYD forces defending Kobani, we think it is important to expand our contacts with this critical Syrian partner in the war against the IS and other salafist jihadists active in the country.

As we understand it, the reluctance to issue a visa to Salih Muslim is partly due to Turkey’s concerns about the PYD and its links with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK). However, the Turkish government has itself been negotiating directly with the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan. It has also engaged on a number of occasions in conversations with Salih Muslim in Ankara, including at the level of the Under Secretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The PYD has made it clear that they seek good relations with the Government of Turkey.

Last but not least, the PYD unlike the PKK, is not on the United States Foreign Terrorist Organizations List.  In fact, the PYD is a distinct organization with distinct goals and objectives to protect the Kurdish minority in Syria from the on-going violence in that war-torn country and to participate in an eventual national reconciliation agreement that will provide guarantees and protection for Syria’s many minority groups, including the Kurds.

We urge you to permit Salih Muslim to come to Washington in January to meet with non-governmental members of the American foreign policy community and others to discuss directly what we can do together to defeat ISIL and advance the cause of a secular, democratic Syria.

We appreciate your urgent consideration of this matter.

Sincerely,

Chris Van Hollen
Co-Chair
Kurdistan American Caucus

Marsha Blackburn
Co-Chair
Kurdistan American Caucus

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Source: http://vanhollen.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/van-hollen-blackburn-urge-state-department-to-grant-travel-visa-to-co

In Day 50, A Synopsis of the Situation in Kobane

YPG 3

Mutlu Civiroglu https://twitter.com/mutludc

According to military, political and civilian sources in Kobane, in the day 50 of the resistance,  YPG has been gaining a momentum after successfully repelling strong ISIS attacks in eastern front which aimed at seizing the border crossing. Despite excessive man power and close combat in eastern front, YPG forces did not allow ISIS to advance.

With recent offensive in eastern front, ISIS hoped to seize the border gate to Turkey to totally suffocate the city and force YPG to surrender. Senior YPG sources report ISIS resorted to more than 20 car bombs in recent days, and all of these attacks were thwarted successfully with only some light YPG injuries.

One other reason for the recent ISIS attack on east was to prevent arrival of the Iraqi Kurdish peshmergas and heavy weaponry they brought along. As of November 3, the situation in eastern front is stable and ISIS members were further driven out from the border area. Kobane sources report that the failure of recent ISIS push caused demoralization of ISIS, and killing of 3 princes in last 48 further even worsened the situation on the ground.

On Sunday night clashes continued in East and South with some YPG advance reported. In Western front Kurdish peshermergas first time actively involved in a major assault. In this front YPG, “Euphrates Volcano” and Peshmerga forces carry out attack against ISIS positions in Abrus, Albalur and Minaz villages.

YPG Kobane

One other note is that US led coalition airstrikes have been playing a major role in destroying heavy ISIS weaponry which caused serious damages and destroyed many houses in the city. Sources in Kobane add that ISIS shelling decreased thanks to successful airstrikes.

However, it is still too early to conclude that the danger is over and ISIS is defeated. It is not secret that ISIS has made Kobane a matter of honor and will not give up easily. Therefore, despite recent major setbacks, ISIS forces in Kobane still receive reinforcements from Raqqa and surrounding cities, and some field commanders were replaced with new ones.

It is also reported that the arrival of peshmergas has brought a positive atmosphere for the Kurds and considerably lifted the spirit of YPG fighters on the frontline as well as the civilians in the city.

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If you want my participation to a show, interview me or get a quote on Kobane and other Kurdish related issues, please contact me at mciviroglu@gmail.com

You can follow me on Twitter for latest updates from Kobani  https://twitter.com/mutludc

Polat Can of YPG on November 1, World Kobane Day

YPH_Jazaa

Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc

On November 1, protests in support of Kobane will be staged all over the world. How do you view these global efforts and support for Kobane as the spokesperson for YPG?  

On behalf of all our fighters, friends and commanders, we salute everyone who has expressed their friendship to us in a democratic and peaceful manner. We will never forget their goodwill and heartfelt support.

Today, Kobane is able to stand for two reasons: the first is the heroic resistance of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Kurdish Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) fighters, and the second is the support pouring from all corners of the globe. Such conscious, democratic and peaceful efforts have motivated the international coalition against ISIS to help the Kurds, and significantly contributing to improvement of the situation on the ground.

Polat Cano

We would like these efforts to expand further. Kobane is no longer an issue for Kurds, Syria or Kurdistan, but it also belongs to the whole world. It is an expression of democratic and peaceful existence.

YPG is not a force made up of only Kurds. We have popular support from all ethnicities in the region, including Syriacs, Arabs, Chechen and Turcomans. We even have fighters from many other nations in our ranks, including those from the USA and Netherlands. We want their efforts to be recognized as well.

We want November 1st to be the day the world showed its ownership of Kobane, and for the resulting activism to be a success for the whole world. Today, those who fall in Kobane are YPG fighters, and we want the world to recognize this by carrying YPG flags and banners.

Senator Ted Cruz: Arm the Kurds against ISIS

Senator Ted Cruz Comments on ISIS on CNN’s State of the Union with Candy Crowley

Ted Cruz

“We have a tremendous asset on the ground right now, which is the Kurds… The Obama administration keeps focusing on Syrian rebels, many of whom have far too close ties to radical Islamic terrorists for it to make any sense for us to be supporting them.

The Kurds are allies and they are boots on the ground. And when we work with them in concert, they’re ready to fight on the front line, along with serious airpower.”

Update From Kobani (October 6, 2014)

Kobaneeee

According to sources inside Kobani, as if October 6 7:30am UTC the city is still under the YPG control. City center was shelled all day on Sunday by the tanks stationed on south of the hill which is under ISIS control.

Civilians death and injuries were reported although the exact numbers are not known.

Contrary to what is widely reported, there are still many civilians in the city. Ayse Efendi, Cochair of Kobane Council and the wife of PYD leader Salih Muslim estimates there are 10-15 thousand civilians still in the city.

Kobane Defense Minister Ismet S. Hasan says heavy fighting especially continued near Mistanour Hill.

Ismet_Hasan

“ISIS wanted to attack the city with a vehicle full of explosives but YPG forces detected and destroyed the vehicle.”

Hasan also informs that a commander of Women’s Protection Units (YPJ *) Arin Mirkan detonated herself in a self-sacrificing mission to among a group of ISIS fighters.

Meanwhile coalition forces also conducted airstrikes around 02:30 local time against ISIS targets on Mistanour Hill and Termik Village.

Since access to areas targeted by coalition jets is either none or quite limited, real effectiveness of the attacks are unknown.

However, Hasan stated his content about coalition airstrikes calling them important.

“US airstrikes are important and we value them. We hope there will be more frequent strikes against ISIS targets who continuously shell the city. Airstrikes can be more effective if they are day time because ISIS predicts the strikes and act accordingly.”

* YPJ is the the women only military force of the YPG. Some experts estimate about 35% of the YPG fighters are women.

**This report is written from the information obtained from Hasan and several other sources inside of Kobani.

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For feedback, quote or interview requests, please contact me at mciviroglu@gmail.com

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Countdown to 2nd Kurdish Conference in Washington, DC

Was_Konf

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.

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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 hdp.washington@gmail.com to confirm your participation