Flags of the PYD, KCK and Abdullah Ocalan at a demonstration in London
21 April 2015
Is the UK government's recent “guidance” to the PYD a Cause for Concern? - Part VI of Surveillance, Targeting and the Criminalisation of Kurds
By Desmond Fernandes
Currently, the British government - acting in line with US-determined and Turkish government approved NATO doctrine - is pressurising the Democratic Union Party (PYD) into not only disassociating itself from the PKK (which US-UK and NATO member governments questionably define and categorise as 'terrorist'), but also unquestionably and unconditionally aligning itself with the highly questionable US-UK-NATO backed “moderate Syrian opposition”.
The British government has also refused to support the autonomous administration of Rojava[i] significantly on the grounds that it was “not conducted in consultation with … the International Community” (by this, it really means, as we all know, the US-UK-NATO governments, who perceive any bottom-up self-administrative/self-determination/confederative democratic initiatives that are not controlled by them to be against the interests of the so-called 'International Community').
All of this can be gleaned from a statement that has just been issued by the PYD (signed by its Co-chair, Saleh Muslim, on 15th April 2015, entitled 'Response to UK Government Report 2015' - excerpts of which are reproduced below):
In March 2015, the UK Government published a report in response to the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee (titled: UK Government Policy on the Kurdistan Region of Iraq). In this report, the Government outlined its policies towards Iraqi Kurdistan and Syrian Kurds. The report (paragraph 15) unfairly criticised our party, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), despite our latest discussion with UK Special Representative for Syria, Mr. Gareth Bayley and the clarification we have already provided [on the matter]. Although we in the PYD welcome the UK Government’s engagement with Kurdish affairs, [we] seek to clarify our stance regarding the issues raised by the report. The report’s text is in bold and the PYD’s response is in plain text.
1. The UK has consistently made it clear that it will be very difficult to provide any support for the PYD while they maintain links to the Assad regime and refuse to co-operate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition.
We can assure the UK Government that we have neither direct nor indirect links to the Baathist regime in Syria. Since March 2004, the PYD has been fighting the Assad regime following the Qamishli uprising. More recently, the PYD, People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) have clashed with Assad’s forces and their local clienteles in Aleppo city and Al Hasakah Province.
The PYD and other Kurdish forces have always sought full co-operation with moderate Syrian opposition groups. However, the so-called “moderate Syrian opposition” is exclusionary and has ignored the demands and rights of minorities, including the Kurds.
Nonetheless, the PYD and the YPG have worked with moderate factions of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), such as the Euphrates Volcano and Raqa’s Rebels, fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists in Kobanê.The PYD welcomes any efforts aimed at opening a more direct dialogue with [genuinely] moderate Syrian opposition groups.
2. We are also concerned that the PYD maintains some links with the PKK, which is a proscribed organisation in the UK …
3. The PYD also needs to demonstrate a greater ... respect for other political forces within Kurdish controlled areas.
The report ignores the fact that there is an established democratic, pluralistic and self-governing region in Syria’s Kurdistan (Rojava) … The report also ignores the role played by the YPG and YPJ in protecting ethnic and religious minorities, such as the Yazidis, Assyrians and other Christian groups both in Iraq (Shengal, Mosul) and in Rojava. In addition, the report does not mention the heroic resistance of the YPG and the YPJ and their military co-operation with the Peshmerga and the US-led international coalition forces in fighting and ultimately defeating ISIL in Kobani.
4. We do not support the PYD’s unilateral announcement in November 2013 of forming a temporary administration in the Kurdish areas of Syria. This move was not conducted in consultation with the wider Syrian population or the International Community. It will be for all Syrians to decide the exact nature of the political settlement in Syria as part of a transition process, including whether an autonomous region will be created for the Kurds in Syria".
We are concerned that this characterisation of the Rojava initiative bears no relation to the actual situation on the ground. The self-administration was not declared unilaterally by the PYD, but by all diverse ethno-religious communities, including forty socio-political organisations in Rojava, as signatories of the “social contract”.
Furthermore, Syria is currently a war zone with no clear possibility of any immediate resolution in sight. In such a dangerous context fraught with tremendous uncertainties, the Kurds cannot be expected to give up Rojava in the expectation that some supposed future transition process will secure the democratic aspirations of the Kurdish people. Given these uncertainties, the PYD insists that the Kurds and all the diverse communities in the liberated cantons should be permitted to hold onto Rojava self-administration at least until guarantees of representation of their demands in a future transition agreement is a genuine possibility.
Problematic British government guidance to “cooperate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition”
It is important to appreciate just what is being demanded here from the PYD by the British government when it provides guidance to “cooperate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition”. As Eric Draitser clarified as recently as mid-March 2015, various investigative reports confirm the extremist character of many of the supposedly “moderate Syrian opposition” groups supported by the USA (and consequently the British government and NATO member states' governments):
While many in the West are willing to buy the ISIS narrative and pretext for war, they do so with little understanding or recognition of the larger geopolitical contours of this conflict … [Moreover], in attempting to unravel the complex web of relations between the terror groups operating throughout the region, important commonalities begin to emerge. Not only are many of these groups directly or tangentially related to each other, their shadowy connections to western intelligence bring into stark relief an intricate mosaic of terror [and NOT “moderation”] that is part of a broader strategy of sectarianism designed to destroy the “Axis of Resistance” which unites Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. In so doing, these terror groups and their patrons hope to internationalise the war in Syria, and its destructive consequences …
Often left out of the western narrative [and, indeed, the British government's narrative as presented to the PYD] is the fact that the so called “moderate rebels” such as the Al Farouq Brigade and other similar groups affiliated with the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) are also linked through various associations with a number of jihadi organisations in Syria and beyond.[ii]
“These alleged 'moderates'”, Draitser asserts, “have been documented as having committed a number of egregious war crimes, including mutilation of their victims, and cross-border indiscriminate shelling. And these are the same 'moderates' that the Obama Administration” - with the UK government in tow - “spent the last three years touting as allies, as groups worthy of US weapons, to say nothing of the recent revelations of co-operation with US air power”.[iii]
The British government, as the PYD has clarified in its recent statement, is applying extensive pressure upon it to “cooperate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition”. As I have reported elsewhere, the “moderate Syrian opposition” that the US-UK governments have been (and still are) supporting have been (and continue to be) infiltrated at the highest levels by religious extremists who have viewed Kurds, Christians and ‘Others’ as necessary targets to be removed or genocidally ‘cleansed’ from Syria and the newly emerging ISIS-backed ‘Sunni state’.As Nafeez Ahmed has concluded: "Missing from the chorus of outrage" over ISIS "has been any acknowledgement of the integral role of covert US and British regional military intelligence strategy in empowering and even directly sponsoring the very same virulent Islamist militants in Iraq, Syria and beyond, that went on to break away from al-Qaeda and form ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or now simply, the Islamic State (IS).
“Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly co-ordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by long-standing but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East".[iv]
Ahmed informs us that, "according to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: 'I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business ... I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain, not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria'. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor, including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials, confirmed that as of 2011, US and UK special forces training of Syrian opposition forces was well underway".[v]
And with a command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, which UK and NATO authorities surely will have been aware and appraised of, "military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for [“moderate”] rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training [“moderate”] FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports", Ahmed confirms, "show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – [In August 2014], one ISIS commander ... said: 'Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us' ...
“Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by The New York Times showed that 'most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups... are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West [ostensibly claims it] wants to bolster'".[vi]
Equally chillingly, Ahmed confirms that by the Washington DC Syrian Support Group's (SSG's) "own conservative estimate, as much as 15% of rebel fighters are Islamists affiliated to al-Qaeda, either through the Jabhut al-Nusra faction or its breakaway group, ISIS. But privately, Pentagon officials estimate that 'more than 50%' of the FSA'” - in other words, the 'moderate Syrian opposition' that the British government is strongly advising the PYD 'to co-operate fully with' - “is comprised of Islamist extremists".[vii]
On 24th August 2013, Professor Michel Chossudovsky, in Global Research further stated that: "If we look at various media reports, including CNN but it is also acknowledged in Israeli media, the rebels, namely Al-Nusra, are in possession of chemical weapons but, moreover, it is acknowledged that western forces are actually training Al-Nusra rebels in Jordan and Turkey and this is confirmed by a December 9th CNN report. We had, subsequently, the report of the United Nations independent mission which confirms that rebel forces are in possession of sarin nerve gas and the United Nations human rights investigators actually made a statement to that effect ... In fact, what they said is that the rebels were in possession of chemical weapons. Then, we also had a Turkish police report which essentially confirmed these previous reports, the fact that the Al-Nusra terrorists who are supported by the Western military alliance, they were arrested with sarin gas in their possession".[viii]
Chossudovsky had also stated on 17th June 2013 in Global Research: "Let's be under no illusion ... The forbidden truth, which the Western media has failed to reveal, is that the US-NATO-Israel military alliance is not only supporting the Al-Nusra Front, it is also making chemical weapons available to its proxy 'opposition' [“moderate”] rebel forces".[ix]
"According to security analyst Charles Shoebridge, a former British Army and Metropolitan Police counter terrorism intelligence officer, the crisis across Iraq and Syria cannot be resolved without first addressing the extent to which western policies created the crisis in the first place ... Shoebridge pointed out that the US and UK in particular, 'through the covert work of MI6 and the CIA', appear to have 'played a key role in facilitating the flow of arms and jihadist fighters to Syria from such places as Libya, the Caucuses and Balkans, with the aim of militarily boosting those fighting Assad ... It should also be noted in this respect that the 'moderate' rebels the US and UK support, themselves openly welcomed the arrival of such extremists.
“Indeed, the Free Syria Army (FSA) backed by the West was allied with ISIS, until ISIS attacked them at the end of 2013. Still today, ‘moderate’ rebels backed by the US and UK are allied with Syrian al Qaeda affiliate al Nusra, despite the US and UK having banned this group at home'".[x]
According to Katie Kieffer, writing in April 2013:
Our CIA is still playing the role of vetting which Syrian rebel groups will obtain arms including machine guns, ammunition, and rocket-propelled grenades … Unfortunately, the CIA has “vetted” shady intermediaries (including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood) and shady recipients of thousands of tons worth of military equipment and millions of rounds of ammo …
[For example, on] 5th September 2012, a Libyan ship called Al Entisar (“The Victory”) docks in the Turkish port of Iskenderun, carrying 400 tons of cargo including many weapons such as rocket-propelled grenades (RPG's) and shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (MANPADS) destined for Syrian rebels 35 miles away from Iskenderun. The ship’s captain told The Times of London that the Muslim Brotherhood and the [“moderate”] Free Syrian Army broke into a fight over the arms.[xi]
The respected analyst Wayne Madsen, in an investigative three part series published in September 2014 (entitled 'ISIL/ISIS: Another contrivance brought to you by Mossad, MI6, and the CIA'), arrived at the following disturbing conclusions that we also need to seriously reflect upon:
As President Barack Obama prepares to announce what could be a long and drawn-out US military strategy to defeat the Islamic State jihadists who have seized control of large portions of Syria and Iraq, it is important to highlight the roots of this organisation. The insurgents, who are considered more dangerous than Al Qaeda by many Pentagon and US intelligence specialists, have disturbing links to intelligence services of the United States, Israel, and Britain. The deeper one digs into the operations surrounding the “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL), or, as it is variably called, the “Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham” (ISIS), “Al Dawlah” (the State), or “Da’ish” (a concatenation of “al-Dawla al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al-Sham”), the more the Islamist insurgent group’s links to Western and Israeli intelligence are revealed …
While Zarqawi was hyped as one of America’s most dangerous enemies, the man who eventually succeeded him as the head of ISIL in Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, became one of America’s trusted allies. Al-Baghdadi, along with the leaders of the Al Nusra Front, initially placed their forces under the umbrella of the [allegedly “moderate Syrian opposition”, as the UK-US governments project it as] Free Syrian Army. In May 2013, US Senator John McCain, a chief water carrier for the neocon interventionists and Israeli interests, covertly met with [allegedly “moderate”] Syrian rebel leaders after crossing into rebel-held Syrian territory from Turkey. McCain was accompanied by General Salem Idris, the head of the [“moderate Syrian opposition”] Free Syrian Army’s (FSA's) Supreme Military Council, as he met with the commanders of a number of Syrian rebel units.[xii]
“One of these rebel commanders”, Madsen contends:
was none other than Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the current head of ISIL. McCain’s office has denied that Al-Baghdadi was present at the meetings but photographic evidence of the ISIL chief’s meeting with McCain and the US-supported Free Syrian Army officials is [according to Madsen] overwhelming … America’s response to ISIL’s threat to turn Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and other countries into an Islamic Caliphate are as perplexing as American indifference over proclaimed caliphates by initially US-supported Islamist radicals in Libya and by Boko Haram in Nigeria and Ansar Dine in Mali. The lackadaisical attitude by the CIA and the White House over these groups, which kidnap, rape, torture, burn, bomb and behead their way into international headlines is exactly what would be expected from a scenario in which radical Islamist groups were created by the CIA, Mossad and MI6 to create permanent conflict situations between the West and 'Islam' and between Muslims themselves.[xiii]
Less than a month ago, on 25th March 2015, Maram Susli reported that “the CIA backed and armed Syrian rebel group, Hazm brigade, disbanded and its members have defected to Al Qaeda linked Jabhat Al Nusra (JAN) and ISIS. Hazm brigade also [conveniently] left behind a warehouse of US provided weapons, including anti-tank TOW missiles, which JAN has seized.
“With no one left to arm against the Syrian state but Jabhat Al Nusra (JAN), the US State Department has” now even “attempted to rebrand JAN as a non-Al Qaeda moderate force. The next step of the plan is to allow US proxy Qatar to openly arm JAN. The latest defection and disbanding” episode, reports Susli, “was not the first time that the US backed” 'moderate Syrian opposition group' “Hazm brigade had handed over US provided weapons to Al Qaeda, the last incident occurring in December 2014. It was previously asserted that the US administration advertised the ‘moderate’ Hazm brigade in order to maintain plausible deniability whilst knowing the heavy weapons they provide, such as anti-tank missiles, would eventually end up in the hands of Al Qaeda”.[xiv]
On 27th December 2014, less than 4 months ago, Susli reported that:
US supplied TOW anti-tank missiles have ended up in the hands of Jabhat Al Nusra (JAN), Syria’s branch of Al Qaeda. The US provided the missiles to CIA vetted [“moderate opposition”] Syrian rebel faction Harakat Hazm in May. A video posted by Al Nusra shows the weapons being used to take over Syrian military bases, Wadi Deif and Hamidiyeh in Idlib province. A story that should have been headline news of Obama’s arming of Al Qaeda across all US media, largely went unnoticed …
It is known that the US armed and trained [“moderate Syrian opposiition”] Harakat Hazm group had signed a ceasefire agreement with Jabhat AL Nusra in November in the same region of Idlib Province. At that time, Al Nusra had claimed TOW and Grad missiles were now in their hands. It is [also] questionable whether or not Al Nusra had ‘seized’ the arms as The New York Times suggests or if it had simply been given the arms by Harakat al Hazm.
Rather than fighting Al Nusra, Harakat Hazm [as a US vetted “moderate Syrian opposition” group] has had no problem uniting with them. Currently Harakat al Hazm are united with Jabhat al Nusra in Handarat Aleppo …
In spite of this revelation, there is evidence to suggest the US is still arming the [“moderate”] FSA with TOW missiles. Videos continue to emerge of Harakat al Hazm employing Tow missiles. The US government has not made a statement on whether or not they have stopped providing the rebels with TOW missiles and munitions.[xv]
'Moderate Syrian opposition' “FSA and Al Qaeda collaboration” has also taken place, Susli reported last December:
The alliance between FSA faction Harakat Hazm and Al Nusra in Aleppo, is not a new or isolated occurrence. US vetted rebels have in fact have been allied with Al Qaeda for much of the Syrian War, with localised clashes over control being rare.
The leader of the Syrian Revolutionary Front, Jamal Ma’arouf, touted as a moderate by the West, admitted to The Independent that he has openly fought battles alongside Jabhat Al Nusra and refuses to fight against them.
In 2012, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), referred to as the ‘moderate rebels’ by the US State Department, fought alongside Islamist State In Al Sham (ISIS) in Aleppo ... The FSA head of Aleppo Military Council, Abdul Jabbar Al Oqaidi, who has met with US Ambassador Robert Ford, was filmed with ISIS Emir Abu Jandal praising ISIS ... As late as September 2014, FSA commander Bassel Idriss said that they had joined forces with ISIS and Jabhat Al Nusra in Qalamoun Mountain.
[He was] quote[d] by Global Post: “Let’s face it: The Nusra Front is the biggest power present right now in Qalamoun and we as [the 'moderate Syrian opposition'] FSA would collaborate on any mission they launch as long as it coincides with our values” …
[And] as well as fighting alongside Al Qaeda, the US vetted rebels have also defected and sold weapons and hostages to Al Qaeda groups. The line between the FSA and Al Qaeda groups is often blurred with entire FSA factions and individual fighters defecting to Jabhat Al Nusra or ISIS on multiple occasions, taking along with them the training and weapons paid for by US taxes in the process.
An ISIS commander, Abu Atheer … [said] that his group bought weapons from the FSA: “Anyhow we are buying weapons from the FSA. We bought 200 anti-aircraft missiles and Koncourse anti tank weapons. We have good relations with our brothers in the FSA”.[xvi]
Chillingly, one learns that:
The spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, an American journalist beheaded by ISIS, told CNN that US backed [and adjudged to be 'moderate Syrian opposition', according to the British government] FSA rebels had sold Sotloff to ISIS for $25,000 to 50,000 USD. The White House denied the claim. However, the claim was corroborated by Theo Padnos, another journalist held hostage in Syria ...
Given the ['moderate opposition'] Syrian rebels’ history of openly working alongside or defecting to Al Qaeda groups, it is highly doubtful the US government did not predict the TOW missiles would end up in Al Qaeda’s hands …
The US [and, one might add, the British government] might find reports of arms ending up with Al Qaeda embarrassing, but such embarrassment can be mitigated by controlling the amount of attention it gets from the US [and, one might add, the UK mainstream] run media. Therefore, the purpose of advertising a ‘moderate rebel force’ is to maintain plausible deniability whilst still supporting what is largely an Al Qaeda rebellion against the Syrian government. In fact, there is evidence to suggest the US would prefer Al Qaeda to other rebel groups. They are far cheaper to run given that they are funded by Gulf States and they may fit better with the US long term objective of balkanise Syria along sectarian lines.[xvii]
In March 2015, Susli further pointed out that:
Former-US ambassador Robert Ford recently admitted through his twitter account to Syrian journalist Edward Dark, that the US knew the [allegedly “moderate”] Syrian rebels they were backing were allied to Al Qaeda. With the announcement that Hazm brigade had disbanded, the State Department has lost their cover to aid al Qaeda whilst maintaining plausible deniability.
NATO media has acknowledged that Jabhat Al Nusra (JAN) is the most powerful group fighting the Syrian state besides ISIS ... Given the level at which the US has committed itself to an anti-ISIS narrative, they have little left to paint as a moderate force but JAN ... Hence, NATO media has [even] been running a PR campaign for JAN’s new found moderation …
In an article headlined “Accepting Al Qaeda”, the Council of Foreign Affairs (CFR) advised that the US must keep ‘Al Qaeda afloat to contain ISIS’' … The CFR doesn’t [even] bother to suggest that JAN drop their Al Qaeda affiliations, instead suggesting the US should accept them in spite of their Al Qaeda affiliations. This would be the second time the CFR would recommend the US makefriends with Al Qaeda. They had previously labelled the Ahrar Al Sham insurgent group “Al Qaeda worth befriending”.[xviii]
A key point to note here, Susli emphasises, is that:
The CFR is considered to be the US’s “most influential foreign-policy think tank”. In 2009, Hillary Clinton welcomed the fact that the CFR had set up an outpost down the street from the State Department, saying “I won’t have as far to go to be told what we should be doing”.[xix]
As far as Susli is concerned:
Just like ISIS, JAN has been busy destroying Syria’s historical sites, though unlike the case with ISIS, it was under-reported across NATO run media.[xx]
So what are we and the PYD to make of “consistent” British government advice to the PYD to “co-operate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition”, which includes the FSA? If not, we are informed, “it will be very difficult to provide any [UK government] support for the PYD”. Presumably, this means any form of humanitarian, economic and/or military support.
But the societal repercussions of the PYD engaging in “full co-operation” with the “moderate Syrian opposition” need to be reflected upon by human rights defenders and the British government needs to be publicly confronted with the following information:
Haitham Qdemathi, a US citizen of Syrian descent who introduced himself as one of the political leaders of the Free Syrian Army (FSA,) told bianet they were grateful for the contributions of both the Turkish government and foreign fighters, such as Al-Qaeda militants, for their contributions to the rebel movement. We met with Qdemathi at a location right next to the Cilvegözü Border Gate in the southern province of Hatay ... He explained that he had been residing in the US for 30 years but had returned back to the region following the establishment of the FSA.
Qdemathi said his Arabic was not very fluent and thus proceeded to speak to us in English. The region where we spoke to Qdemathi contains a tent-camp surrounded by barbed wires and which provides logistical support for FSA fighters. In the middle of the camp sits a flagpole with a gigantic FSA banner on top bearing green, white and black colours, while a Turkish flag is also attached right underneath. Qdemathi said he mostly lived on the Turkish side of the border …
Following an exchange in which he questioned our identities and the reasons why we had come there, Qdemathi spoke on their role in border controls and their relationship to the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK): "We are trying to put an end to border smuggling. We are working in conjunction with the Turkish government on this; we are helping them", Qdemathi said, adding that the inhabitants of the camp were leaving off at day time to join the fight in Syria and returning back at night, while the wounded were also receiving medical treatment inside the camp ...
Authorities have already allocated the Mustafa Kemal University Training and Research Hospital to [the 'moderate Syrian opposition'] FSA fighters. Syrian doctors are also employed in the medical institution. "We are working in collaboration with the Turkish government. We keep watch on the Syrian side of the border. This is a win-win situation for everyone", he said.
They were also conducting identity and passport checks for those crossing the border, he added … There are Al-Qaeda militants in the FSA coming from a variety of backgrounds, including Yemen, Qatar, Afghanistan and Lebanon, according to some reports ... "I am aware of the presence of Al-Qaeda members in the FSA coming from outside of Syria. I have never personally met any of them, however. Nonetheless, we are grateful to all of them for fighting on our ranks", he replied, when inquired about these allegations.[xxi]
As far as Bill Van Auken is concerned: “The reality is that the operation being mounted by the CIA against Syria bears a striking resemblance to the one it carried out in the 1980's along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, when Saudi Arabia also provided much of the funding for arms and Al Qaeda was born as an ally and instrument of US imperialist policy. There is increasing evidence that Islamist elements from within Syria and from surrounding Arab countries are the backbone of the imperialist-backed insurgency seeking regime change in Damascus”.[xxii]
Eric Draitser also is clear that the supposed “moderate Syrian opposition” promoted by the US-UK governments has been responsible for extremist carnage throughout Syria:
One integral element of the destabilization campaign [across Syria] has been the use of foreign “diplomatic” entities, primarily the so-called Syrian National Council to act as the ostensible voice of the opposition, while in fact being the mouthpiece of US-NATO. The SNC, led by foundation-funded Western proxies such as Bassma Kodmani, advocates regime change in Syria and supports the loose collection of terror groups and death squads operating under the moniker of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA).
The Council has been hosted by Turkey, receiving financial and diplomatic support from Ankara … It has become clear in recent months that the SNC is, in fact, composed of a number of factions including the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been implicated in weapons smuggling along the Syria-Turkey border in tandem with the CIA … Essentially, the Syrian National Council (and, to a lesser degree, the Free Syrian Army) could not exist were it not for overt support, both financial and diplomatic, of the Turkish government.
What the Turkish government has called “support for the Syrian people” has, in fact, become support for international terror networks. It is now public knowledge that Al Qaeda is operating on Turkish soil near the Syrian border, using Turkey as a safe haven and command centre from which to launch incursions into Syria. As Tony Cartalucci points out, however, this trend is nothing new…
Here we see the complicity of the United States and its proxies in the region in organizing and unleashing Al Qaeda as a weapon against its enemies. Turkey has merely allowed itself to be made into a staging ground for this type of destabilization ... Erdogan, Davutoglu and others have chosen to try to make Turkey into a regional hegemon capable of dominating its neighbours economically, politically and militarily … As author and historian Webster Tarpley has pointed out: “Turk[ish governing circles] have been bought off by the Anglo-American elite”.[xxiii]
In July 2013, a State Department official admitted that military weapons were being passed on to the FSA in the same manner in which US medical and food aid had been: “I sign the paperwork and shake the hands of the FSA official. I wish them well and walk away”.[xxiv] As simple and publicly unaccountable as that, and this is a umbrella group that the British government would like the PYD to extend full cooperation with.
Chossudovsky further informs us of:
Reports from British military sources (November 2011) [that] confirm that:
“British Special forces have met up with members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) … The apparent goal of this initial contact was to establish the rebel forces’ strength and to pave the way for any future training operations … More recent reports have stated that British and French Special Forces have been actively training members of the FSA, from a base in Turkey. Some reports indicate that training is also taking place in locations in Libya and Northern Lebanon.
British MI6 operatives and UKSF (SAS/SBS) personnel have reportedly been training the rebels in urban warfare as well as supplying them with arms and equipment. US CIA operatives and special forces are believed to be providing communications assistance to the rebels” - Elite Forces UK, January 5th 2012 …
The insurgency in Syria has similar features to that of Libya: it is integrated by paramilitary brigades affiliated to Al Qaeda, which are directly supported by NATO and Turkey … NATO’s activities are not limited to training and the delivery of weapons systems. The recruitment of thousands of “freedom fighters”` is also envisaged, reminiscent of the enlistment of Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war.
This recruitment of Mujahideen was part of NATO`s strategy in Libya, where mercenary forces were dispatched to fight under the helm of “former” Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) Commander Abdel Hakim Belhadj. The Libyan model of rebel forces integrated by “Islamic brigades” together with NATO special forces has been applied to Syria, where “Islamist fighters” supported by Western and Israeli intelligence are deployed. In this regard, Abdel Hakim`s LIFG brigade has now been dispatched to Syria, where it is involved in terrorist acts under the supervision of NATO Special Forces.[xxv]
Whilst the UK government strongly advises the PYD to “co-operate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition”, Kurds and targeted 'Others' in Rojava know what such risks entail, even if it is of no concern to the British government, which has more 'important' geopolitical agendas to work on with its US-NATO 'partners' (to rid Syria of Assad, put in place more pliant pro-US/UK/French Syrian leaders, apply further pressure on the Iranian government, facilitate 'appropriate' corporate oil networks in the region and put in place political systems in Syria that are not democratically controlled from the 'bottom-up' but controlled in a 'top-down' manner by US-NATO-Israeli 'deep political' and publicly unaccountable circles).
For Kurds and targeted 'Others' as well as the PYD in Rojava, the following information about the US-UK-NATO backed “moderate Syrian opposition” – which the British government is all-too-aware of but chooses to dismiss as inconsequential to its ambitions in the Near and Middle East – is critically significant and all too relevant when considering issues of safety and the right to life. Just before ISIS' genocidal onslaught against Kurds and 'Others' in Sinjar and its attempted capture of Kobane:
A leader of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), supported by the West and Turkey, threaten[ed] to destroy the Kurds and declare[d] that the FSA brigades joined Al-Qaeda-linked groups against Kurds with weapons supplied by foreign countries. The brigades which refuse[d] to be part of this war [we]re threatened, while many members of Al-Qaeda continue[d] to enter Syria through Turkey, with the help of pro-government "associations".
Since July 16th 2013, the Kurds have been attacked by jihadist groups, like the al-Nusra and Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant. These groups have suffered heavy losses against Kurdish fighters, since they begun fighting against them. In particular, they were driven out of Rass al-Ain (Serekaniye in Kurdish), on the border with Turkey, losing an important border post where they received weapons and reinforcements. All attempts to regain this position resulted in heavy casualties which included several jihadist leaders.
Unable to advance against the Kurdish fighters, jihadists have begun to loot, kidnap, execute and kill Kurds. At least 70 civilians, mostly women and children, were brutally massacred between 31st July and 1st August in the small towns of Tall Hassel and Tall Aren in the province of Aleppo. Thousands of people [we]re trapped and threatened with execution and rape in this region, where some 40,000 Kurds live[d]. Many young people have been executed for the sole reason of being Kurds, according to villagers who managed to escape. Hundreds of civilians were abducted. Most of them [we]re women and children.
The FSA brigades which are known to get Western military, diplomatic and financial support [we]re also involved in the massacre. In a video, the head of the military council of the FSA Aleppo province, Abdul Jabar al-Akidi, is seen next to another FSA commander and says they will wipe out the Kurds after the meeting which brought together 70 commanders of the "Syrian opposition" in Antep, Turkey, on July 26th 2013.
Openly declaring the involvement of the FSA brigades in the massacre of Kurdish civilians in Tall Hassel and Tall Aren, he added that the military council took the decision to exclude the front al-Akrad (Kurdish) which refuses to join the jihadists and support al-Qaeda against the Kurds. He asked the head of al-Akrad to surrender its weapons ...
The head of al-Akrad front emphasizes that Western countries need to know which armed bands have received weapons and for what purposes they are used. He describes the actions of these "armed gangs" in the areas of Tall Aran, Tall Hassel, Bab, Mumbic and Jarablus: "These gangs kidnap people in the streets and they disappear. In particular, they kidnap wealthy people and torture them for days asking for a ransom. Nearly 50 people have been kidnapped in the region. These gangs have no revolutionary goal. Their actions are not at all consistent with Islam. Instead, they damage the image of Islam. This is banditry, looting” ...
The other peoples of the region, notably the Arabs and Assyrian-Chaldeans are also victims of looting. "They do not act in name of Allah, nor Islam, they are just here for theft and looting. They are all foreigners", said Watha Ali, a resident of Rass al-Ain. The Kurdish people's defense units (YPG) said on August 3rd 2013 that the Free Syrian Army forged an alliance with al-Qaeda groups against Kurds. While Kurdish fighters are pursuing a major operation to drive the extremists out of the historic area of Tal Halaf and the city of Tall Abyad, on the border with Turkey, other members of al-Qaeda are trying to enter Syria from Turkey.[xxvi]
On 8th August 2013, ANF News reported that:
The Diplomatic and Foreign Affairs Office of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Europe released ... another appeal to the International Community to protect multi-ethnic communities in Syria. In the appeal, the PYD says that "Kurdish political Parties, organisations and community members in exile earnestly call the International Community to protect the civilians - Kurds, Arabs and other Syrian multi-ethnicities, Assyrians, Armenians, Christians - against the brutal ethnic cleansing attacks taking place against the peacefully co- existing ethnicities in the Kurdish region in Syria".
Since 17th July 2013, al-Qaeda affiliated armed groups, Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have launched brutal attacks on Kurdish areas and its neighbourhoods in Tel-Abeyd, Serekaniye, Tel- Aran, Tel-Hasel, killing, kidnapping and shelling with heavy weaponry the Kurdish neighbourhoods and calling publicly to kill, kidnap and loot Kurds and force them to leave their homes and properties.
As a result, hundreds of Kurdish civilians have been kidnapped, tortured and their houses have been looted and burned down. These on-going brutal massacres are scattering and targeting all Kurdish civilians in Qamishli, Kobanê and Afrin areas.
Since 29th July 2013, two Kurdish towns Tel-Aran and Tel-Hasel and its villages of Aleppo, have been under brutal attacks and massacres [of] hundreds of innocent Kurdish children, women and elderly people have [taken place] and [people have been] beheaded … Kurdish homes have been cruelly looted and destroyed and 300 civilians have being kept hostage and their fate is still unknown. Thousands of vulnerable civilians forcibly fled in horror, and since then, both towns [have been] under siege and isolated and there are confirmed reports that both towns' civilians have been subjected to ethnic cleansing and massacres by those terrorist armed groups.
The [PYD] statement adds that: "These terrorist attacks on civilians, just for their ethnic identity, is an act of ethnic cleansing of ethnic communities who have been co-existing peacefully together and it destabilises the Kurdish regions that have been relatively peaceful in an attempt to evict the people and forcibly impose the rules of the Extremist Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)". The PYD also add[ed] that: "These armed terrorist groups which are a major threat to regional and global stability and peace, have been militarily facilitated by Turkey and supplied by the Gulf States. The recent intervention of six military tanks and hundreds of jihadists from Turkey into Tel-Abeyd, Syria, shows the Turkish involvement in the on-going Syrian sectarian war which neither serves the interests of Syrians, nor Turkey and its allies".[xxvii]
ANF, in August 2013, reported upon the following concerns:
The World Food Programme (WFP) says it distributed food to 2.4 million people across Syria in July, instead of the expected 3 million. But the Kurdish region ... did not receive any humanitarian assistance of the United Nations. The table of the WFP is a proof of this. Western Kurdistan, the Kurdish territory in Syria, is under a de facto embargo by Turkey since the beginning of the revolt, launched in March 2011. The country closed its doors to Kurds, while leaving the door open to al-Qaeda-linked fighters and Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters who receive military and financial support from Turkey.
Inside the country, allegedly al-Qaeda-linked groups and FSA brigades made an alliance against the Kurds. Since July 16th, fighting is raging between these groups, supported and armed by foreign countries, and the Kurdish fighters.
The size of the international embargo is visible on a table showing the "humanitarian" aid distribution and published in the report of the WFP. It honestly looked like an array of "discrimination" and "embargo". According to the WFP spokesman in Geneva, the agency is below its initial objectives, having managed to reach 2.4 million people in Syria in July, instead of the expected 3 million. The spokesperson Elisabeth Byrs says the agency hopes to address these gaps and reach its 3 million goal in August. "But this situation of insecurity and escalation in violence, especially in areas such as Homs, Aleppo and Al Hasakeh led to delays", she said ...
On the table, we can see that Al Hasakeh, which includes Western Kurdistan, has not received any help. It [wa]s the most stable region in Syria [at that point], but one in need of food because of the closure of borders and roads. There [wa]s no risk in delivering food in the Kurdish region, and this raise[d] the suspicion that the choice not to deliver food in the Kurdish areas ha[d] to do with the attempt by international and regional forces to break the resistance of the Kurdish people who adopted a "third way" in the Syrian conflict, establishing a de facto democratic autonomy within a "confederation of peoples of the Middle East".[xxviii]
Concerning Obama’s announcement in December 2012 that Washington was ready to recognise the so-called National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces as the “legitimate representative of Syrian people” (where he added that “the National Coalition was now inclusive, reflective and representative enough for Washington to take this big step”), Eric Draitser, founder of Stopimperialism.com, comments:
“Well, I think that this is of course a laughable statement. The reality is that this coalition was created at the behest of Hillary Clinton [US Secretary of State] and the Obama administration. They have loaded it with Muslim Brotherhood members as well as many other factions, many of which have their relations to al-Qaeda and other extremists.
So, for them to say that it is representative of the Syrian people is to say that, in fact, it is representative of the agenda of Washington and London and Paris and so forth and more of the point, the terrorist elements within the Free Syrian Army as well as the al-Nusrah Front, these are the same elements that will be receiving aid from the United States.
The so-called coalition is merely a front to allow the United States to publicly support those same elements which they have been doing covertly since the very beginning of the conflict ... It is important to remember that Khatib, this nominal leader of this organization has already made public statements saying that he is in favour of turning Syria into a purely Islamic state. Now think about the implications of that. That means genocide and ethnic cleansing for the Christian population, for the Druze population, for the Kurds. What kind of a country is going to exist in Syria under the leadership of these co-called [“moderate”] representatives?
Again, I would remind people that the al-Nusrah Front and the Libyan Islamic fighting group and the many other foreign-based elements that have come into Syria at the behest of NATO; they have no interest in Syria … Their interest is in bringing chaos and as the gentleman in Washington [Webster Griffin Tarpley] said, death squads is the tactic.We have seen terrorist bombings and this should remind people of the situation in Iraq, which was again very similar”.[xxix]
As Peter Dale Scott has also concluded: “The prime geostrategic interest of the drug traffic in Afghanistan and elsewhere was” – and is – “precisely to prevent peace and security from happening. It is true that the international illicit drug industry, like the international oil industry, is polymorphous and flexible, relying on diversified sources and markets for its products in order to maintain its global dominance. But for the global drug traffic to prosper, there must always be key growing areas where there is ongoing violence, and state order does not prevail”.[xxx]And US-NATO agendas in the regions discussed – alongside support for the “moderate Syrian opposition” - serve to facilitate these ‘conditions’.
Support of the following kind has been forthcoming:
Abdul Hakim Belhaj [of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – LIFG, has] spearheaded efforts ... After Belhaj's visit to the Turkish-Syrian border and his pledge to send cash, weapons, and fighters, up to 600 Libyan terrorists were reported to have made the journey to Syria to join the fighting. At least one ship flush with weapons from Libya was interdicted by Lebanon on its way to rebels' hands in Syria. In addition to LIFG terrorists admittedly entwined with the so-called ['moderate'] "Free Syrian Army" (FSA), more recent reports indicate that Iraqi terrorists have also joined their ranks.
Reuters in their article, 'Outgunned Syria rebels make shift to bombs', admit that not only is the FSA conducting a terrorist bombing campaign against the people of Syria, but that it is facilitated by rebels who "fought with Al Qaeda elements in Iraq" and learned their bombing skills while attacking both sectarian Iraqi targets as well as Western troops …
It appears that Al Qaeda, admittedly a creation of the CIA in the 1980's to draw in and fight Soviets in Afghanistan, is still patronized by the West and used as both a convenient casus belli as well as a terrorist proxy force against enemies of Western foreign policy.[xxxi]
On 20th May 2013, Kamal Mirawdeli decided to:
rewrite below the bold points I made in my unpublished comments in The Times to reveal and unravel the reality of what is happening in and to Syria and its people … The Times newspaper persistently criticizes Obama for his ‘failure’ to support the Syrian Opposition and passionately calls for the supply of lethal weapons to the ['moderate'] Syrian Free Army (FSA) to end the despotic dictatorship of the Ba’thist regime of Bashar Assad. I wrote [these] comments in the free space provided by the newspaper, on a recent such article by The Times, but unsurprisingly it did never appear!:
1. MAD: Mutually-Assured-Destruction: The West’s policy which is sinisterly implemented by its client states and allies, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, is the policy of Mutually-Assured-Destruction of the Syrian people by first dividing them into sectarian communities and then encourage, arm and finance them to fight to the finish and destroy each other.
2. Liberation of land without people: The result is a prolonged process of deliberate, cruel inhuman and brutal genocide of a people and total destruction of their cities, villages, neighbourhoods, including landmarks of their ancient civilization, historical monuments of their common struggle and peaceful-coexistence and all economic and social infrastructures and habitats that make living as human beings possible. All this in the name of liberation.
3. Trample upon International Law and Sovereignty: What the West, Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia (and now Jordan) are doing is a flagrant violation of international law and all principles of sovereignty and human rights. It is deliberate intentional criminal indulgence in the genocide of a nation through aggressive intervention and the provision of finance and transportation of murderous gangs, arms, equipment and ammunition.
4. Genocide without punishment ... In Syria so far, more than 100,000 people have been killed, twice this number maimed, 1.5 million people have been uprooted and become external refugees, 4 million are internally uprooted and impoverished ...
5. Destroy children and future generations: The main target of the Israeli-Qataris-Turkish genocide plan [has] been children as with the elimination of security and normal life, family life has become impossible, neighbourhoods and communities have been uprooted, normal economy and transactions [have] disappeared and poverty and famine have become rife. Mass displacement internally and externally means the loss of life and future of a generation of children and young people.
6. The New American Doctrine: Behind all this there is a new American doctrine replacing the 1990s ‘humanitarian intervention’ and the post-9-11 ‘democratic regime-change-fighting-terrorists' interventions. This new doctrine is a revival of the old British classical Divide-and-Rule doctrine with a more lethal content. The policy now is: Divide-Destroy-Deliberate. Divide people into sectarian factions, make sure each faction is armed directly or indirectly, assure their mutual destruction, then deliberate how to intervene and harvest the gains through ‘democratically’ imposing political pimps and puppets as representatives of the vanished and vanquished people.
7. Invasion after Destruction: This new policy means intervention or invasion of countries after their assured destruction. This represents the reversal of the Iraqi experience which was the invasion of Iraq, followed by destruction of its people and civilization. Now Syrian people are destroyed before any direct Western invasion. This also represents learning lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan experiments which cost thousands of American and Western lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.
8.The security and interests of Israel are paramount [even as] … western oil companies patiently wait for their new-colonial invasion and oil fields.[xxxii]
On 19th July 2013, the Kurdish Communities Union (KCK) “urged the Turkish government to end its hostile attitude towards the national democratic rights of Rojava's Kurds and to end its relationship with Al Qaeda affiliated armed groups”.[xxxiii] Ahmet Abidin Ozbek had concluded that “Erdogan ... [wa]s supporting openly Islamic radicals in Syria and he also talk[ed] openly against any form of Kurdish autonomy in Syria”.[xxxiv] It would, unfortunately, seem that the British government's position – in aligning itself with the US and Turkish governments line – is one that remains hostile to the PYD's 'bottom-up' non-US-UK-NATO directed 'democratic Rojava experiment'.
The British government's ongoing criminalisation of the PKK: A cause for concern?
Of equal concern has been the British government's confirmation that it still holds the position that “the PKK … is a proscribed organisation in the UK”. It is also disconcerting to many that it continues to insist that the PYD shed all its links with the PKK. There is no apparent attempt or willingness on the British government's part to de-proscribe the PKK. This, despite the PKK's engagement in a formal peace process with the Turkish government and despite its crucial defence of Kurds and 'Others' facing genocide in Sinjar and Kobanê. This position is of concern as it suggests that the government is unwilling to shift from its questionable US-Turkish government and NATO directed stance, despite a range of appeals to it, the US government and the 'International Community' to reconsider such a disruptive stance.
In early 2001, the Home Office, as we know, banned 21 organisations in the UK. As Les Levidow and Saleh Mamon have noted:
The list predictably included many organisations resisting oppression abroad, e.g. the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) … Tony Benn MP denounced the entire anti-terror framework, which signified “an agreement among the governments of the world that no government is to be challenged from inside with support from outside. That is what it is about – nothing to do with human rights, and very little to do with ‘terrorism’. In a global economy Britain wants to trade with repressive regimes. And if they find that these regimes are complaining that there are people in London campaigning for Kurdish rights, for Tamil rights or for Kashmiri rights, then the British government is expected to respond”.
By banning organisations as terrorist, the government “reduced highly complex political situations to simplistic caricatures”, argued the solicitor Gareth Peirce … The 2000 Act criminalised association as well as membership. It became an offence to organise or speak at a meeting of more than three people with the knowledge that a member of a banned organisation will be a speaker. It became illegal to support these organisations anywhere – politically, financially or any other way. ‘Support’ was conveniently left ambiguous; it could mean attending a meeting sympathetic to a banned organisation, or giving funds to its humanitarian programme, or simply wearing a t-shirt with its name. Under the statutory duty of disclosure, moreover, it became a criminal offence not to inform the police if you know someone who has engaged in such activities.[xxxv]
Consequently, “by creating such new crimes of association, the Terrorism Act 2000 directed suspicion and intimidation at entire communities”.[xxxvi] As Adem Uzun, a member of the Administrative Council of the Kurdistan National Congress and a member of the Kurdish negotiation team during the ‘Oslo Process’ between 2009 and 2011 that brought the Turkish government together with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), remarks: “Those who criminalise us; those who put Kurds on the terrorist lists; those who put our names on Interpol lists; those who carry out these attacks and denigrate us are not just damaging those groups and peoples, but they are also threatening everyone”.[xxxvii]
The playwright, the late Harold Pinter had also, by 2001 “pointed to the prejudiced political calculations behind the Act and the list of proscribed groups … The case of Turkey and the PKK was an eloquent example of where Britain stood in relation to human rights across the world and American [i.e. US government] policy. While Turkey had brutally suppressed the Kurdish people and sought to humiliate them by the arrest of Ocalan, they had failed because of the strength of the Kurdish resistance … While this went on, Britain was trading with Turkey and energetically supplying the regime with weapons of torture, as had been documented by Amnesty International”.[xxxviii] 'Anti-terrorism' legislation of this kind, Les Levidow and Saleh Mamon from the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) have concluded, has undoubtedly “attacked the right of self-determination, as well as popular support across countries”.[xxxix]
As I noted in my last article for Kurdish Question:
Until the UN-US-UK-EU linked 'terrorism lists' that criminalise the PKK are effectively challenged and abolished, Kurdish diasporic communities as well as those extending support to such communities and their self-determination and anti-genocidal struggles - even inclusive of German MP's - will continue to be targeted and/or criminalised.
The targeting by police of a Kurdish protester as she peacefully protested ISIS' injustices against Kurds and 'Others' outside the UK Houses of Parliament last autumn (see chilling footage at: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=582_1411604706); Shilan (Silhan) Ozcelik'sarrest in March 2015; the 'targeting operation' delaying the return of Konstandinos Erik Scurfield Kemal'sbody in the same month in the UK and the targeting of MP Nicole Gohlke in Germany have all occurred as a result of [these ongoing] 'blacklisting' and out-of-control, publicly unaccountable 'anti-terror' regimes.[xl]
The British government, in its recent positional statement, unfortunately, appears to have dismissed the basis of the appeal by lawyers from the European Association of Lawyers for Democracy and World Human Rights (ELDH), issued in October 2014:
Thousands of Kurds in Turkey and the member states of the EU have been prosecuted. Associated organisations or political parties and Kurdish Newspapers have been banned, TV stations are closed. The rights of countless Kurds and political supporters to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press have been violated by these measures. Provisions of the law concerning aliens, up to provisions on deportation of aliens, have been used. The banning of the PKK not only puts into question the right of residence of ten thousands of Kurds, but it also leads to their criminalisation.
Democratic and progressive lawyers all over the world have repeatedly protested against the criminalization of so many Kurds and have demanded the removal of the PKK from the list of terrorist organisations of the European Union and the lifting of the ban on political activities. The PKK itself has made several attempts – of which only some were successful – to appeal against prosecutions, which they considered to be unlawful, in Germany and other European countries. One of the most recent, dated 2nd May 2014, was the legal action at the Court of the European Union, on behalf of the Executive Committee of PKK, taken against the Council of the European Union. Its objective was to remove the PKK from the EU list of terrorist organisations.
Furthermore, the list of terrorist organisations has met with general legal concerns, amongst others from the former President of the German Constitutional Court, Hans-Jürgen Papier, and from the former Special Rapporteur of the Council of Europe, Dick Marty … The listing takes place in a non-transparent procedure which does not allow the persons or organizations concerned appropriate legal means of defence, such as inspection of files or the right to be heard …
High ranking politicians of the governing coalition in Germany as well of the opposition parties have to acknowledge that certain promising results in the battle against the advance of the so called “Islamic State” (IS) in Iraq and in the self-governed Region in Western Kurdistan/Northern Syria (Rojava), are the result of the unprecedented and courageous battle of the PKK and its allied forces. Fewer politicians than ever are maintaining their old stereotypes when assessing PKK … The [current] circumstances demand a legal reassessment of the PKK by the German government, by the governments of other European countries, as well as by the European Union.
Despite even recently working alongside US-UK 'coalition' forces to facilitate the 'liberation' of Kobanê, the British government's current position is to still insist on the criminalisation of the PKK, in deference to NATO ally Turkey. US 'PKK categorisation' persists even as Richard Hall confirmed on 22nd December 2014 that “the Kurdish group has become a de facto ally of the United States in the fight against IS, playing a key role on the front-lines in Iraq, from Mount Sinjar to Makhmour. This secular group has won friends in the US and Europe for its success against IS and its stated commitment to democracy and women's rights in the Middle East.
“But you won’t hear US officials lauding the efforts of the PKK, for one simple reason: the group is designated a terrorist group by the State Department … Then there is Turkey. On the surface, it is keen to solve the ‘Kurdish question’, but it wants to do so on its own, and is vehemently against any reclassification of the PKK. As the second-largest NATO member in terms of its military capabilities, its sway over the US”, Hall perceptively points out, “is far from negligible”.[xli]
“The State Department”, meanwhile, “appears to be in no rush to remove the PKK from the list. Despite a fractured relationship of late, caused in part by differences of opinion over how best to deal with the Syrian conflict, Turkey remains a key ally in the region at an important time. One official, outlining the State Department's position to McClatchy, said: 'The idea that “This group’s being very helpful against ISIL so we should remove the designation” – that wouldn’t merit a sufficient case, in our view, for de-listing'. Speaking to Global Post, a State Department spokesperson said: 'The US position on the PKK is clear and long-standing - the PKK is a foreign terrorist organisation'".[xlii]
This is even as there are multiple calls from all shades of the political spectrum – from right to centre to left – to immediately decriminalise the PKK for the sake of global and regional (in the Near and Middle East, Europe, US) peace and stability. As David L Philips, Director of the Programme on Peace-building and Rights at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights, noted in May 2013: “The United States can help address both problems” – “the Syria crisis … [and] the peace process between Turkey and the PKK” – “by removing the PKK from its list of Foreign Terrorist Organisations (FTO's) …The situation in Syria is urgent. Delisting the PKK would open the door to discussions with the Democratic Union Party (PYD)” in Syria.[xliii]
“At Turkey's urging, the United States listed the PKK as an FTO in 1997. The European Union added the PKK to its list of terror organizations in May 2002. NATO and more than 20 countries also classified the PKK as a terror group. FTO designation stigmatizes and isolates designated terrorist organizations. It also carries travel bans and financial restrictions. The 2011 Anti-Terrorism Act makes it a criminal offence to provide material resources or counsel to terrorist organizations and prohibits their representatives from entry to the United States. Arduous procedures are required for an organization to get off the FTO list … The Secretary of State may de-list at any time if the circumstances have sufficiently changed, or if the national security of the United States warrants revocation”.[xliv]
For Philips, “de-listing is essentially a political decision … [But] a strong case can be made for de-listing sooner than later. Ocalan was arrested in 1999 and sentenced to life in prison ... Proclaiming the recent peace initiative on March 21st 2013, Ocalan wrote: 'We reached the point where weapons should go silent and ideas speak'. Turkey is at a historic crossroads … Ocalan [has] endorsed a cease-fire and withdrawal of PKK fighters from Turkey after lengthy negotiations … The United States has de-listed FTO's before … Groups have also been de-listed when [geopolitical] circumstances change … Attitudes in Europe are also evolving. In April 2008, the Luxembourg-based Court of First Instance said that decisions made by EU governments in 2002 and 2004 to list the PKK as a terror group and freeze its assets were illegal under EU law. On April 24th, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe changed its terminology for describing PKK militants to 'activists'. The European Parliament is also debating a resolution to remove the PKK from the EU's terror list … Engaging the PYD would be a big step towards forging consensus. [But] neither the United States nor the EU” - or the British government, it clearly seems - “will act without Turkey's blessing”.[xlv]
More recently, an “op-ed by the Bloomberg editorial board argued that its terrorist status 'is falling out of date'. The Washington Post offered a similar argument, albeit more indirectly, as did David Phillips, Director of the Peace-building and Human Rights Programme at Columbia University, in an op-ed for CNBC”.[xlvi]
At the 11th European Union-Turkey Civic Commission conference that was held in the European parliament in December 2014, Adem Uzun detailed the manner in which, “today in Kobanê, the forces for humanity, democracy, freedom and the fraternity of the peoples are raising the flag of resistance against fascism and colonialism. The PKK is at the front-line of the war against these dark forces in Kobanê, Rojava and the whole of Kurdistan. Hundreds of academics, artists, intellectuals, writers and politicians who have recognised this reality are now demanding for the EU to revise its policies in regard to the PKK [and] are highlighting the need to de-list the PKK. Turkey wants the PKK to remain on the list, in order for the PKK to remain on the negotiating table. Some European states agree with Turkey’s argument. But the argument is wrong: the PKK is not afraid of a solution, it is the Turkish state who is avoiding a solution and delaying the process. The removal of the PKK from the list will further encourage Turkey to commit itself to the solution process. If the EU and the US are committed to finding a solution to this conflict, then they must encourage Turkey to remove the PKK from the list”.[xlvii]
In mid-November 2013, Demirtaş, then co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), held a press conference in the European Parliament in which he clearly:
stressed that the EU and the European Parliament should also take more courageous steps and produce more courageous policies regarding the recognition of Kurdish rights in Turkey. Demirtaş criticized the EP and the EU for failing to encourage the Turkish government to take steps on the issue. Demirtaş stressed that the EU in particular should put forward encouraging proposals …
Demirtaş called on the EU to remove the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) from the list of terrorist organisations, and underlined that “the EU should definitively review its list of ‘terrorist organisations’ because of the fact that it provides no contribution but constitutes an obstacle to the peace process in Turkey to keep an armed organization which guarantees disarmament in the list of terrorist organisations”.[xlviii]
CAMPACC, alongside people from the legal profession – such as Gareth Peirce (of Birnberg Peirce Solicitors), Melanie Gingell (of Doughty Street Chambers), Professor Bill Bowring, (Professor of Law and president of the European Lawyers for Democracy and Human Rights – ELDH), Mike Mansfield QC (and President of the Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers), Ali Has (solicitor advocate), Bronwen Jones (Tooks Chambers), Margaret Owen, Phil Shiner (of Public Interest Lawyers), Francis Webber, Louise Christian and several other lawyers, concerned people and organisations such as the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign, have argued that:
The case for the de-listing of the PKK is now quite overwhelming … Recent initiatives to secure peace through talks can still be jeopardised by the continued listing of the PKK as a terrorist group in Turkey which is reinforced by the UK and European Union’s ban on the organisation … The ban on the PKK distorts the whole political process by ensuring that anyone who expresses an opinion on controversial issues in Turkey can be held to be an associate of terrorism and prosecuted with the full force of a law that is as indiscriminate as it is unjust.
This … is an intolerable situation … There is an urgent need to look again at the proscription of the PKK as this may become an obstacle to any future negotiations that will be required to achieve the peace settlement to which everyone is publicly pledged.[xlix]
In May 2014, European lawyers appealed again to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the EU terrorism listing of the PKK. They argued that it represented a threat to a permanent peace and to conflict resolution processes. Zubeyir Aydar, a member of the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK) Executive Committee, a Kurdish lawyer and a former member of the Turkish parliament stated that: “Listing of the Kurdish movement in the EU and in the US terror list, which is directed from Ankara in accordance with the Turkish dirty policy against the Kurdish people, only strengthens the hands of the war lovers in Turkey and weapons sellers who are living in the bloody market. This inhumane policy goes against the peace process”.[l]
One of the lawyers submitting the appeal to the ECJ reiterated her view that: “For a permanent peace to be achieved in the four parts of Kurdistan and in all of the Middle East, the PKK … must be de-listed from the EU list of terrorist organisations. The ban on the PKK which has obeyed the international law of war is not based on international laws”.[li]
German left and democratic circles have also insisted “on the removal of the ban despite several statements by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Steinmeir, saying: 'The ban on the PKK will continue as there is not sufficient reason to lift it' … The Bündis Gegen IMK platform formed by 84 Kurdish, German and Turkish left organisations [recently] held a march in Cologne to demand the removal of the ban … The German Left Party [Die Linke], the main opposition party in Bundestag, the national parliament of the Federal Republic of Germany, [additionally] filed an application to the Federal Parliament to demand the removal of the ban on the PKK in effect for 21 years now.
“Issuing a statement on the appeal, the Die Linke group recalled that Kurdistan is separated into four parts and that the PKK and YPG/YPJ fighters are struggling against the ISIS gangs in West and South Kurdistan. Die Linke also recalled that it was the Internal Affairs Ministry that was run by the CDU in 1993 that imposed the PKK ban, launching a criminalisation of the Kurdish liberation struggle. Die Linke group underlined that 'the PKK has emerged out of the repression and the bans Turkey imposed on the Kurds. Today, the Kurdish liberation movement pursues a life struggle with local administrations. The Kurdish liberation movement working for the defence of the rights of women and minority groups has been the motor of democratisation in the Middle East'. Recalling that the Turkish government is negotiating with the PKK in a peace process, the party remarked that the lifting of the ban on the PKK will put pressure on Ankara to undertake real reforms for the advance of the process”.[lii]
Several politicians in Germany have even risked criminalisation to make their principled point that the PKK has to be decriminalised to facilitate a meaningful peace process in Turkey, a greater democratisation initiative in the Middle East and a defence of Kobanê and Sinjar. On 21st December 2014, E-Kurd Daily reported that:
The Berlin Public Prosecutor’s Office has initiated a criminal investigation into ten deputies from the Left Party (Die Linke) who held up a PKK flag ... The prosecutor’s office accepted the photograph shared by the deputies on social media in support of parliamentarian Nicole Gohlke, whose immunity was lifted on account of unfurling a PKK flag, as evidence of a ‘crime’. The Federal Parliamentary Immunity Commission in Munich removed the immunity of Left Party deputy Nicole Gohlke after she unfurled a PKK flag at a solidarity night for Kobanê in Munich on 18th November 2014. Following this, the Left Party deputies unfurled a PKK flag in the Federal Parliament in protest on 13th December.
Parliamentarians Diether Dehm, Karin Binder, Sabine Leidig, Pia Zimmermann, Hubertus Zdebel, Wolfgang Gehrcke, Alexander Ulrich, Andrej Hunko, Kathrin Vogler and Ulla Jelpke have now received letters from the Berlin Prosecutor’s office informing them that an investigation has been initiated into their protest. The Prosecutor’s office stated that the photograph shared on Facebook is considered evidence of a ‘crime’, as the PKK has been banned in Germany since 1993. Parliamentarian Ulla Jelpke reacted angrily to the prosecutor’s decision to launch an investigation, saying the PKK ban must be lifted immediately. She said that the ban criminalised tens of thousands of Kurdish activists in Germany, recalling recent developments in the Middle East and Turkey, and added: "Even conservative political circles and media in Germany now say the PKK ban should be lifted”. The Left Party, which with 64 deputies is the main opposition party, [has] put down a motion in the federal parliament for the lifting of the ban, saying the Kurdish freedom movement was [and is] the motor of democratisation in the Middle East.[liii]
In December 2014, the European Union-Turkey Civic Commission's (EUTCC's) 11th conference held in the European Parliament ended with a number of key resolutions and recommendations. Of note was the following recommendation:
The Conference calls on the European Union and the United States to show active support for a genuine negotiation process in Turkey and in this context in particular: The peace talks that were first announced at the end of 2012 and following a ceasefire called by Abdullah Ocalan laid the basis for the start of negotiations that have the potential to achieve peace in Turkey and Kurdistan.
However, as long as the PKK remains on the terrorist list, these talks are unlikely to succeed as genuine negotiations. The blacklisting of the organization in the EU, US and Turkey has led to the widespread criminalisation of political dissent and suppression of pro-Kurdish voices, creating many political prisoners whose amnesty must also be seen as a necessary part of a genuine negotiation process.
This, in turn, has allowed the French authorities to disregard the Turkish responsibility in the Paris assassinations of three Kurdish women politicians. The conference calls on the French government to admit the evidence accumulated by the French judiciary and make an official statement on the Turkish monitoring of these political murders.
The struggle that the PKK has been engaged in against ISIS in the wake of the attacks on Sinjar on 3rd August and on Kobanê on 15th September demonstrates the necessity of ending the criminalisation of the Kurds across Europe and the need to de-list the PKK from the terrorist list now … The conference calls for more logistical support for the resistance in Kobanê: The struggle of the PKK against the ISIS has not only saved the lives of tens of thousands in both Sinjar and Kobanê, but it has also prevented the ISIS from succeeding in their plan to capture these strategic regions inhabited by Kurds and other peoples and communities by means of savage massacres.[liv]
The recommendation to de-list the PKK is also one that many concerned others also hold to be key and essential if the realisation of a meaningful peace and conflict resolution process is to occur. We only need to look to the failure of the Sri Lankan-LTTE peace process and the resultant physical genocide and ongoing state-directed genocide there to see the way in which continued criminalisation of the LTTE (via the ‘terrorism list’) by the EU and US ensured that a meaningful peace and conflict resolution process could and would not occur.
In the Sri Lankan situation, one should note that the Irish Forum for Peace in Sri Lanka and the IMB (Internationaler Menschenrechtsverein Bremen) submitted the following charges for the Bremen [Permanent People’s] Tribunal to consider:
1. In the island of Sri Lanka, a Genocide is being committed against the Tamil people in the north and east of the island. The process of the Genocide has occurred in stages and is ongoing.
- The Sri Lankan state and its armed forces are guilty of carrying out the crime of Genocide against the Tamil people … During the internationally backed peace process – that started in February 2002 – the USA with the assistance of the UK, deliberately took a series of calculated measures to alter the balance of power between the Sinhala State and the de facto Tamil administration and succeed in destroying the negotiations process that had provided succour to the victims of the genocidal process.
These US/UK measures [and this significantly included the deliberate inclusion of the LTTE in the ‘terrorism list’, alongside the PKK] created the conditions for the war to start and ensured its continuation until the Tamil resistance was physically exterminated – with genocidal results. With the elimination of the political/physical force that had hitherto shown the capability to halt the actions of the Sri Lankan State and its principal backers, the genocidal process was restarted and is proceeding with unprecedented tempo”.[lv]
The recent 2014 judgement of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in the People’s Tribunal on Sri Lanka makes clear that:
The EU … contributed to the implementation of the genocidal process with its acceptance of the US government position on the “terrorist” nature of the Eelam Tamils [i.e., via the proscription list] … The EU decision to ban the LTTE, taken on 29th May 2006, was the most devastating blow to the peace process, destroying the ‘parity of status’ and paving the path to a full scale war. This crucial decision, which disregarded the views of the Scandinavian ceasefire monitors, was taken under US pressure, as later was revealed in a parliamentary speech made by Sri Lanka’s then Foreign Minister … and confirmed in leaked US diplomatic cables.[lvi]
Indeed, even as early as 2001, when the LTTE was proscribed by the UK government, it had been reported by Tamilnet that:
Britain’s decision to include the Liberation Tigers on the list of proscribed terrorist organizations “will impose severe restraints” on the Norwegian initiative, the LTTE said … The ban will ‘adversely affect Tamil interests and severely undermine the current peace initiatives [and] will encourage the repressive Sri Lankan regime to be more uncompromising, intransigent and to adopt a military path of State violence, terrorism and war’, the LTTE’s chief negotiator Anton Balasingham was quoted as saying … ‘The peace initiatives depend precariously on the leniency or the harshness in which this draconian legislation will be implemented by the law enforcing agencies in Britain’, Mr Balasingham said.[lvii]
Ulf Henricsson, who was heading the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) in 2006, could not be more clear about the consequences of placing the LTTE on the ‘terrorism’ list:
[He] criticised the European Union for having ignored a “seven-point memo” sent … before banning the LTTE. The EU ruling meant the Sri Lankan government thought it had “carte blanche” to take on the Tigers … The EU decision was made following a “more high-level decision made in the cafes of Brussels”, [he] was quoted as saying. “If one is suddenly on a terrorist list [i.e., during formal peace negotiations], it’s not very difficult to see we’re going to run into difficulties – which we have done”, [he noted].[lviii]
Henricsson recently reiterated his view that “it was a big mistake for the EU to ban the LTTE. There was pressure from the USA and the Sri Lankan government … ‘I would say that was a big mistake, because it stopped the possibility to get a peaceful solution and negotiation’”, he clarified.[lix]
As Adem Uzun has recognised, the inclusion of the PKK on the UK-US-EU terrorism list, despite the peace and conflict resolutions and initiatives it has undertaken, has been designed to frustrate any meaningful peace process. As the foregoing discussion makes all too clear, the UK government's decision to maintain the 'terrorism' status of the PKK at this crucial time, to advise the PYD to sever all links with the PKK and to “co-operate fully with the moderate Syrian opposition” is highly problematic and needs to be challenged on a number of human rights related, ethical, political and legal fronts. If this is not done, the lives of 'Othered' peoples stand to be threatened in a number of horrific and unacceptable ways.
Desmond Fernandes is a member of the Campaign Against Criminalising Communities (CAMPACC) and the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign and is also an Advisory Council member of the European Union-Turkey Civic Commission. He was a Senior Lecturer in Human Geography and Genocide Studies at De Montfort University (UK) and is the author of The Kurdish and Armenian Genocides: From Censorship and Denial to Recognition? (Apec: Stockholm, 2007; Peri, Istanbul, 2013), The Struggle for Kurdish Language Rights in Turkey (Peace in Kurdistan, London, 2011), Gladio in Turkey and Syria? NATO Doctrine and the criminalisation and targeting of the PKK and Kurdish diasporic communities (Apec: Stockholm, 2015, forthcoming), Zana's Wait for Me, Diyarbakir, the Kurdish Genocide, Turkish State Terror and US-NATO inspired Torture (Apec: Stockholm, 2015, forthcoming) and co-author of The Targeting of “Minority Others” in Pakistan (BPCA: London, 2013) and The Education System in Pakistan: Discrimination and the Targeting of the Other (BPCA, London, 2014). His single authored and co-authored articles have appeared in a number of journals and magazines, including Genocide Studies and Prevention (the official journal of the International Association of Genocide Scholars); Kurdistan Aktuell, L’Appel du Kurdistan, Armenian Forum, the Thailand Environment Institute Journal, the International Journal of the Sociology of Language; Peace News; Law, Social Justice and Global Developmentand Variant: Cross Currents in Culture.
[i] Rojava is a de facto autonomous region in northern and north-eastern Syria consisting of three non-contiguous cantons of Afrin, Jazira and Kobani. TEV-DEM, the Movement for a Democratic Society, is a political coalition that governs the democratically autonomous areas that are collectively referred to as Rojava.
[ii] Draitser, E. (2015) 'Breaking the Resistance with US Sponsored Terrorism and Proxy Wars', Global Research, 18 March 2015 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/breaking-the-resistance-with-us-sponsored-terrorism-and-proxy-wars/5437334).
[iii] Draitser, E. (2015) 'Breaking the Resistance with US Sponsored Terrorism and Proxy Wars', Global Research, 18 March 2015 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/breaking-the-resistance-with-us-sponsored-terrorism-and-proxy-wars/5437334).
[iv] Ahmed, N. (2014) 'Follow the Money; Follow the Oil: How the West Created the Islamic State. Part 1 – Our terrorists', Counterpunch, 12-14 September 2014 (accessed at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/).
[v] Ahmed, N. (2014) 'How the West created the Islamic State … with a little help from our friends' (accessed at: [email protected]/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state-dbfa6f83bc1f">https:[email protected]/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state-dbfa6f83bc1f>).
[vi] Ahmed, N. (2014) 'Follow the Money; Follow the Oil: How the West Created the Islamic State. Part 1 – Our terrorists', Counterpunch, 12-14 September 2014 (accessed at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/).
[vii] Ahmed, N. (2014) 'Follow the Money; Follow the Oil: How the West Created the Islamic State. Part 1 – Our terrorists', Counterpunch, 12-14 September 2014 (accessed at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/).
[viii] Chossudovsky, M. (2013) 'Obama overtly supports al-Qaeda, provides terrorists with chemical weapons', Global Research, 24 August 2013 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/obama-overtly-supports-al-qaeda-provides-terrorists-with-chemical-weapons-michel-chossudovsky/5340423).
[ix] Chossudovsky, M. (2013) 'The Forbidden Truth: The US is Channeling Chemical Weapons to Al Qaeda in Syria, Obama is a Liar and a Terrorist', Global Research, 31 August 2013 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-forbidden-truth-the-u-s-is-channelling-chemical-weapons-to-al-qaeda-in-syria-obama-is-a-liar-and-a-terrorist/5339004).
[x] Ahmed, N. (2014) 'Follow the Money; Follow the Oil: How the West Created the Islamic State. Part 1 – Our terrorists', Counterpunch, 12-14 September 2014 (accessed at: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/09/12/how-the-west-created-the-islamic-state/).
[xi] Kieffer, K. (2013) 'BENGHAZIGATE: Obama’s Secret Gun-Running Programme', TownHall.com, 29 April 2013 (accessed at: http://townhall.com/columnists/katiekieffer/2013/04/29/benghazigate-obamas-secret-gunrunning-program-n1580051/page/full).
[xii] Madsen, W. (2014) 'ISIL/ISIS: Another contrivance brought to you by Mossad, MI6, and the CIA – Parts I-3, Milfuegos Blogspot, 16 September 2014 (accessed at: http://milfuegos.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/isilisis-another-contrivance-brought-to.html; http://tilsp.com/link/milfuegos-blogspotcom-aHR0cDovL21pbGZ1ZWdvcy5ibG9nc3BvdC5jb20v).
[xiii] Madsen, W. (2014) 'ISIL/ISIS: Another contrivance brought to you by Mossad, MI6, and the CIA – Parts I-3, Milfuegos Blogspot, 16 September 2014 (accessed at: http://milfuegos.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/isilisis-another-contrivance-brought-to.html; http://tilsp.com/link/milfuegos-blogspotcom-aHR0cDovL21pbGZ1ZWdvcy5ibG9nc3BvdC5jb20v).
[xiv] Susli, M (2015) 'Rebranding Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria as “Moderates”', New Eastern Outlook/Global Research, 23 March 2015 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/rebranding-al-qaedas-jabhat-al-nusra-in-syria-as-moderates/5438321).
[xv] Susli, M. (2014) 'US Armed Rebels Gave TOW missiles to Al Qaeda', New Eastern Outlook, 27 December 2014 (accessed at: http://journal-neo.org/2014/12/27/us-armed-rebels-gave-tow-missiles-to-al-qaeda/).
[xvi] Susli, M. (2014) 'US Armed Rebels Gave TOW missiles to Al Qaeda', New Eastern Outlook, 27 December 2014 (accessed at: http://journal-neo.org/2014/12/27/us-armed-rebels-gave-tow-missiles-to-al-qaeda/).
[xvii] Susli, M. (2014) 'US Armed Rebels Gave TOW missiles to Al Qaeda', New Eastern Outlook, 27 December 2014 (accessed at: http://journal-neo.org/2014/12/27/us-armed-rebels-gave-tow-missiles-to-al-qaeda/).
[xviii] Susli, M (2015) 'Rebranding Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria as “Moderates”', New Eastern Outlook/Global Research, 23 March 2015 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/rebranding-al-qaedas-jabhat-al-nusra-in-syria-as-moderates/5438321).
[xix] Susli, M (2015) 'Rebranding Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria as “Moderates”', New Eastern Outlook/Global Research, 23 March 2015 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/rebranding-al-qaedas-jabhat-al-nusra-in-syria-as-moderates/5438321).
[xx] Susli, M (2015) 'Rebranding Al-Qaeda’s Jabhat Al Nusra in Syria as “Moderates”', New Eastern Outlook/Global Research, 23 March 2015 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/rebranding-al-qaedas-jabhat-al-nusra-in-syria-as-moderates/5438321).
[xxi] Soylemez, A. (2012) 'Syrian Rebels Working in Collaboration with Turkey, BIA News Centre, 28 August 2012 (accessed at: http://bianet.org/english/world/140545-syrian-rebels-working-in-collaboration-with-turkey).
[xxii] Auken, V. B. (2012) 'CIA directing arms shipments to Syria's "rebels", 24 June 12 (accessed at: http://www.uncommonthought.com/mtblog/archives/2012/06/24/cia-directing-a.php).
[xxiii] Draitser, E. (2012) 'Choosing Hegemony: Turkey, NATO and the Path to War', StopImperialism.com, 1 August 2012 (accessed at: http://landdestroyer.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/turkey-plays-nato-attack-dog-risks-future/).
[xxiv] Ditz, J. (2013) 'US “Vetting” in Syria Boils Down to a Handshake', Antiwar.com, 25 July 2013.
[xxv] Chossudovsky, M. (2012) 'Introduction' to Syria: NATO’s Next “Humanitarian” War? Global Research, 12 February 2012 (accessed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-nato-s-next-humanitarian-war/29234).
[xxvi] ANF (2013) 'The dirty war against Kurds in Syria', ANF, 4 August 2013 (accessed at: http://en.firatnews.com/news/news/the-dirty-war-against-kurds-in-syria.htm).
[xxvii] Firat News (2013) 'PYD call to the international community', Firat News, 8 August 2013 (accessed at: http://en.firatnews.com/news/news/pyd-call-to-the-international-community.htm).
[xxviii] ANF (2013) 'No UN food for Kurdish region in Syria', Firat News, 7 August 2013 (accessed at: http://en.firatnews.com/news/news/no-un-food-for-kurdish-region-in-syria.htm).
[xxix] Draitser, E. (2012) 'Obama will recognize al-Qaeda-linked militants in Syria: Analyst', Press TV, 12 December 2012 (accessed at: http://www.presstv.com/detail/2012/12/13/277814/obama-backs-alqaeda-in-syria/).
[xxx] Scott, P. D. (undated) 'A Meta-Group Managing Drugs, Violence, and the State The US Contribution to the Afghan-Kosovo Drug Traffic -Part XI' (accessed at: http://oraclesyndicate.twoday.net/stories/2639366/).
[xxxi] Cartalucci, T. (2012) 'NATO Member Turkey Harboring Terrorist Army', Land Destroyer, 29 June 2012 (accessed at: http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/nato-member-turkey-harboring-terrorist.html).
[xxxii] Mirawdeli, K. (2013) 'What is happening in and to Syria? Unravelling the New Western Doctrine in the Middle East', Kurdish Aspect, 20 May 2013 (accessed at: http://www.kurdishaspect.com/doc052013KM.html).
[xxxiii] Firat News (2013) 'KCK: This is our last warning to the AKP', Firat News, 19 July 2013 (accessed at: http://en.firatnews.com/news/news/kck-this-is-our-last-warning-to-the-akp-government.htm).
[xxxiv] Ozbek, A. (2013) 'What is the real deal of the Ocalan-Erdogan peace process?', Kurdistan Tribune, 27 March 2013 (accessed at:http://kurdistantribune.com/2013/real-deal-of-ocalanerdogan-peace-process/?doing_wp_cron=1364579402.1011660099029541015625).
[xxxv] Levidow, L. and Mamon, S. (2014) 'UK securitisation targeting suspect communities’, in Critical Cities: Ideas, Knowledge and Agitation from Emerging Urbanists, Volume 4, 2014, June 2014.
[xxxvi] Levidow, L. and Mamon, S. (2014) 'UK securitisation targeting suspect communities’, in Critical Cities: Ideas, Knowledge and Agitation from Emerging Urbanists, Volume 4, 2014, June 2014.
[xxxvii] Quoted in Fernandes, D. (2014) 'On Adam Uzun and Living Freedom – The Evolution of the Kurdish Conflict in Turkey and the Efforts to Resolve It '. Paper presented at the UK launch of Adem Uzun’s report, written for the Berghof Foundation, SOAS University, 20 June 2014 (also accessed at: http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/resources/desmond-fernandes-on-the-significance-of-adem-uzuns-report-living-freedom/). Uzun's report can be downloaded from the Berghof Foundation’s website.
[xxxix] Levidow, L. and Mamon, S. (2014) 'UK securitisation targeting suspect communities’, in Critical Cities: Ideas, Knowledge and Agitation from Emerging Urbanists, Volume 4, 2014, June 2014.
[xl] Fernandes, D. (2015) 'Terrorism Laws and the Criminalisation and Targeting of Silan Ozcelik and MP Nicole Golkhe', Kurdish Question, 1 April 2015 (accessed at: http://www.kurdishquestion.com/index.php/insight-research/terrorism-laws-and-the-criminalisation-and-targeting-of-silan-ozcelik-and-mp-nicole-gohlke.html).
[xli] Hall, R. (2014) 'Kurdish group fighting Islamic State tells America: Stop calling us terrorists', Global Post, 22 December 2014 (accessed at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iraq/141221/kurdish-group-fighting-islamic-state-tells-america-sto).
[xlii] Hall, R. (2014) 'Kurdish group fighting Islamic State tells America: Stop calling us terrorists', Global Post, 22 December 2014 (accessed at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iraq/141221/kurdish-group-fighting-islamic-state-tells-america-sto).
[xliii] Phillips, D. (2013) 'Remove the PKK From the Terror List', Huffington Post, 21 May 2013 (accessed at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/pkk-terror-group-status_b_3289311.html).
[xliv] Phillips, D. (2013) 'Remove the PKK From the Terror List', Huffington Post, 21 May 2013 (accessed at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/pkk-terror-group-status_b_3289311.html).
[xlv] Phillips, D. (2013) 'Remove the PKK From the Terror List', Huffington Post, 21 May 2013 (accessed at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/pkk-terror-group-status_b_3289311.html).
[xlvi] Hall, R. (2014) 'Kurdish group fighting Islamic State tells America: Stop calling us terrorists', Global Post, 22 December 2014 (accessed at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/iraq/141221/kurdish-group-fighting-islamic-state-tells-america-sto).
[xlviii] Quoted in Ekurd.net (2013) ‘Turkey’s pro-Kurdish BDP leader called on EU to remove PKK from the list of terrorist organisations’, Ekurd.net, 14 November 2013 (accessed at:
[xlix] CAMPACC (2013) Petition: ‘To the UK government, the European Union and the Turkish Government’.
[l] Alasor, R. (2013) ‘The role of EU and US in the war against Kurds’, Ararat News, 12 May 2014 (accessed at: http://www.mesop.de/2014/05/12/the-role-of-eu-and-us-in-the-war-against-kurds-by-roni-alasor/).
[li] Alasor, R. (2013) ‘The role of EU and US in the war against Kurds’, Ararat News, 12 May 2014 (accessed at: http://www.mesop.de/2014/05/12/the-role-of-eu-and-us-in-the-war-against-kurds-by-roni-alasor/).
[lii] Firat News Agency (2014) 'German Left Party appeals for the removal of the PKK ban', 10 December 2014 (accessed at: http://en.firatajans.com/news/german-left-party-appeals-for-the-removal-of-the-pkk-ban; http://www.kurdishinfo.com/german-left-party-appeals-removal-pkk-ban).
[liii] Ekurd.net (2014) 'Investigation into 10 German deputies who held PKK flag in Bundestag', Ekurd.net, 21 December 2014 (accessed at: http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2014/12/turkey5272.htm).
[liv] EUTCC (2014) 'EUTCC Final Resolution of 11th EUTCC Conference in European Parliament', EUTCC, 15 December 2014 (accessed at: http://www.kurdishinfo.com/final-resolution-11th-eutcc-conferenc-european-parliament).
[lv] Permanent People’s Tribunal (2014) Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 07-10 December 2013. Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal & The International Human Rights Association: Bremen.
[lvi] Permanent People’s Tribunal(2014) Peoples’ Tribunal on Sri Lanka, 07-10 December 2013. Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal & The International Human Rights Association: Bremen.
[lvii] Tamilnet (2001) ‘UK ban imposes restraints on the peace process – LTTE’, Tamilnet, 28 February 2001 (accessed at: http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=5821).
[lviii] Quoted in: Tamilnation.org (2007) ‘Tracking the Norwegian Conflict Resolution Initiative’ (accessed at:
[lix] Tamilnet (2014) ‘EU made big mistake in banning LTTE: Henricsson, former head of SLMM’, Tamilnet, 24 February 2014 (accessed at: http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=37067).