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For a United and Independent Kurdistan

The USA and the Kurds’ pursuit of happiness

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Turks in Afrin

The Turkish army in abandoned Afrin. Where is the victory?

March 18 in 2018 is the day Turks declared their petite victory against Kurds in Kurdish Syrian city of Afrin. After about two months of an unprovoked offensive that started on January 20, the Turks declared it a victory on this day. Is it really since they were refused a fight?

The 2008-09 Chinese epic film Red Cliff is one of my favorite films about war and the role of the leader to protect its civilians. In the film, the southerner chief Liu Bei constantly and repeatedly chooses the side of the civilians under his rule against alliances, promises and also the land. He is seen in the film by his most loyal as a coward, traitor of sworn alliances, etc but Liu Bei honors himself with his allegiance to his people and his role as the savior before all.

While Turks declaring history on March 18, we learn that YPG, a PKK offshoot in Syria, proactively emptied the city of its civilians.

Kurds refusing fight

Kurdish fighters walking in the Kurdish planes

As known by any Kurd throughout their lives, Turkish racist hatred against the Kurds is not to be taken lightly. Afrin offensive of the Turks, named Olive Branch as an insult to the historical meaning of these two words, was unprovoked but not unexpected. Turks have been declaring all along that they would not allow any Kurdish political entity formed along its borders. This is exactly what has been happening though.

When the Syrian conflict started, when the Sunni Arabs rebelled against the minority Assad regime, all the eyes were on Kurds. We were expected to run tot he streets and sacrifice ourselves for “whomever”. Though this did not happen. Instead, Kurds took a reserved stance.

PKK offshoot PYD was not by any means the leading Kurdish faction at the time but they had been the hard workers on the ground, with support from their comrades across the borders in other parts of Kurdistan. While the followers of different Kurdish factions looked for political gains by staying close to the Turks, PYD busied itself by forming ruling bodies and a protection army: the YPG. First not taken as an important player on the ground, with the rise of ISIS and their successful resistance to this evil force, YPG quickly rose to fame with the pictures of its female heroines.

YPJ fighters smiling

YPJ female fighters proved their prowess in their fight against ISIS evil

When Turks were more-or-less openly supporting ISIS to capture Kurdish city of Kobani from YPG, it was an unexpected US move to support them there against these evils. From then on, the YPG, under the umbrella name Syrian Democratic Forces, SDF, has been the American ally in Syrian theatre.

Turks first attacked Jarablus to stop the Kurdish advance to the east of Euphrates river. The target of the Kurds was to unite Afrin with the rest of the Kurdish controlled map. Turks feared this was an American scenario to create a Kurdish state along their southern border. They claimed this was to form a Kurdish state that would extend itself to Kurdish land under Turkish control. Long story short, to put an end the Kurdo-American dream of a Kurdistan that reaches to the Mediterranean, the Turks attacked the Kurdish city of Afrin. However, after giving the Turkish army a hard time for about two months, the Kurdish commanders refused to give the strong Turkish army the fight they wanted.

By not giving the Turks the fight they wanted the Kurds effectively not allowed the Turks to have a victory however, the Turkish advance is there and they have taken control of a Kurdish city, albeit empty, from a group of Kurdish fighters whom the only superpower of the world declares repeatedly as their ally on the ground.

I recall the film Charlie Wilson’s War. The message of the film is that Americans should never abandon their allies once their own war was over. Now that the war against ISIS is over, will the Americans abandon their ally on the ground to the racist Turks?

Self formed Kurdish fighters denied a victory to NATO’s second biggest army. Turks are having a good laugh today. On the grand picture the laugh is obviously against the Americans. How is the world’s only super power going to honor back this laugh? By shaming Charlie Wilson once again?

I do not want to believe so. There has to be more to USA. There has to be principles of its founding fathers. America has the ethical responsibility to support its allies in their pursuit of happiness. Otherwise, what does the Republic stand for?

pursuit of happiness

The gift of pursuit of happiness may be the biggest export of USA to the world. Is it going to be denied to the Kurds?



Written by M. Husedin

19 March 2018 at 6:28 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

What’s next for Kurds in Iraq and Syria

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It has been quite some time since I wrote for this blog. Although I continue writing articles for an online Kurdish website (, in Turkish, I have not been producing in English.

Events have taken a path that is very favorable for the Kurds, both in Iraq and Syria. The fake and failed states of Iraq and Syria have literally fallen apartand Kurds have gained so well that it has become nonsense to talk about Iraq or Syria.

rojava and bashur

One thing about Iraq is that (or was that) that it has been an Arab state. Disregarding the Kurdish majority up in the North, Iraq has always had an Arab identity and Kurds fit nowhere in this. Even though a recognition of Kurdish ethnic political rights was always an issue for governments in Iraq, it had not been realized until American invasion in 2003.

Thanks to the American intervention with Gulf War I, then with the invasion in 2003 and the weakening of Baghdad in its capacity to rule, Kurds prospered and ensured control in their native lands. The invasion of the Sunni parts of Iraq by ISIS and its subsequent defeat by Peshmerga has helped Kurds to gain control of the last bits of their historical land, liked to be called the disputed regions by Arabs of Iraq. No more. Map of Kurdistan in Iraq has been drawn with blood and no sane person could recommend the Kurds to give them back.


As for Arabs in Iraq, it is the historical enmity between the Sunni and Shii populations that will not cease to exist unless one or both decide to give up their religion. They hate each other and, be assured, will continue to do so.

What is then best for Iraq? To divide into three separate states. One for Kurds, one for the Sunni and the last for the Shii. Once these three go their own ways, there will be no reason for any conflict in this geography, unjustly called Iraq any more. Would anyone of these to pursue political ambition beyond what is Iraq today, it would then be an analysis of a different topic.

Currently Kurds are preparing for a referendum for independence that will take place on September 25 and there is no doubt the majority of them will vote in favor.

Syria is yet another failed state created at the same time with Iraq, during post WWI era. Ruled by the Alawite Arab minority in the last decades Syria could hardly be considered one its citizens were happy with. The Kurds, at least a good portion of them, did not even have ID cards and bsides the Kurds, Sunni Arabs, the majority of the population, could not take part in ruling the country.

If Arab Spring had one effect there, this effect was unleashing the political ambitions of Kurds and the Sunni that resulted in a full scale war, with various regional and global powers supporting one side or the other.

failed syria

In the current state of the ongoing war the regime controls a fraction of the country, which is the most populous and strategically most important parts, if Syria was ‘intact’ as before. Kurds however, control the most important dams and oil wells, that were anyway on Kurdish land. The fight of the Sunni opposition in the South of the country being a mystery for the news watchers, the north is almost a complete loss for them, save some parts neighboring Turkey and this thanks to the support of Turkey and its allies. Regime is supported by the Russians and by good luck, the Kurds, led by the Syria faction of the PKK, managed to ally themselves or their interests with those of the USA.

Currently the opposition and the regime enjoy a kind of truce in their fighting, but Kurds continue their fight with ISIS in Raqqa, which is the capital of the self declared Khilafat. According to the latest news report, there are about 2’000 IS fighters left in the city but Kurdish fightersi known to be fierce at battle field, and with support of the US Army, fight well to recapture the city. It is important to note though that the Kurdish ambitions do not involve controlling Raqqa. After the recapture, it is very likely that some Kurdish fighters at different levels will remain in Raqqa only to help create a governing body formed by local Arabs. This obviously gives the advantage to the Kurds to create (and in the future keep under control) a neighboring Arab regime that is friendly to them and will remain so.

The future for Kurds

map of kurdistan - approximate

Pandora’s box in the region was opened in 1991 when the USA responded with a war to Saddam’s invasion of Iraq. Kurds were given a safe haven in the North and this was used for a political establishment in the course of the history. Could it better than it is today? I do not think so. I believe things developed perfectly for Kurds, as all the setbacks in all this time has also helped to have an experience that will prevent similar setbacks in the future.

After Iraq came Syria, rather unexpectedly for most. The lazy Kurdish politicians of Iraq and their non-ambitious political establishment could not take advantage of the troubles in Syria to expand their rule there. There was PKK and with the right people on the ground, PKK managed to control a land bigger than those of the Iraqi Kurds. Richer? I do not know but if they could somehow reach to the Mediterranean they could also possibly take the political lead from Barzani or Talabani families and their affiliates to themselves. If some news reports are to be believed, they currently have a better supplied and better organized, or at least a more battle ready armed force than the Peshmerga of Northern Iraq.

Let’s together imagine a scenario where finally the Iraqi Kurds decide declare independence that would be recognized by the UN. How could this possibly effect the politics of Kurds in Syria and beyond, Kurds in Turkey and Iran.

Kurds in Syria (Rojavayé Kurdistan, West of Kurdistan)
The PKK will find it in a position to match the legal status of the newly independent Kurdistan, which is Bashuré Kurdistan for Kurds, South of Kurdistan. Guessing these two, we may expect a stupid enmity and aggression from Turks, which I believe will lead to a Turkish defeat in the hands of Kurdish fighters, the YPG, Syria faction of the PKK. I do not expect at any time a Turkish aggression towards Bashur, mainly for the inability of Turks in such a situation to explain the world their reason nor open yet another front with Kurds in addition to ongoing conflict within Turkey (Bakuré Kurdistan, North of Kurdistan, led by PKK directly) and in Syria, Rojava. Second and most striking reason is the Turks’ need for the cash flow they receive from Bashur. In a scenario in which this cash flow cuts, and Qatar cash flow in suspect, Turks would fall into an economic crisis they would not be able to get out of.

Short? Expect a Turkish attack to Rojava and suffering a terrible defeat. What will follow is a guess but it could either be an attempt for independence or, better in my opinion, a constitutional deal with Damascus regime that will give such an autonomy that would leave them more independent, more powerful and completely conflict free than what independence could give.

This is it for today. Please leave your comments below on what you think of these thoughts.


Written by M. Husedin

11 August 2017 at 11:49 PM

What have we Kurds to learn from Israel

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(This article was published long time ago and does not reflect my view of today in regards to the “Palestinian Arabs. I would not know atthe time of writing the strength of Palestinian propaganda and their hatred against Israel).

A lot.

Not that I am one of those Kurds who is “kaafir”. No, I am not muslim. I never was but I also have never been a bad person either. I am of “sersur” origin, which you will know as Alawi or Alevi following the name given by the Kemalist of Turkey in the 20th century, or one might easily associate the belief as one that shares the same roots with the Ezidis and the Ahl-i Haqq. I am not a follower of this belief either. I am rather a non-believer.

What has this to do with Israel and the Kurds? It is about the identity that makes one Kurd, which is what frames this article. It is not about Islam, the Muslims or the Jewish. It is about the Kurds. The Kurdish identity. The identity that unites us.

Israel and its brutality
Rhetoric would ask if we don’t see the brutality of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) in Gaza? Whether we don’t know the suffering of the Palestinians in general.

I know all these and my heart is with the suffering Palestinians. Truly. Though my honest political opinion on the Israeli – Palestinian conflict is that there should have been a way to find peace between the two societies to settle on the same land peacefully. This hasn’t been the case, and looking at the rhetoric of both sides, no peace is any time soon.

And, no, this small piece of article is not about who is right and who is wrong. As a Kurd, sorry to say, I have no “ideological or humanitarian” particular interest in the rights and wrongs of the world. I prefer to have a politically nationalistic view of the events, be it in the US, Venezuela or Israel – Palestine. When I ask “what have we to learn from Israel” I mean it.

What have we Kurds to learn from Israel?
jew-jitsuRhetoric is one thing that I keep repeating to my friends when it comes to Israel. The Israelis always manage to put things in  a way that is received in the best way possible by the audience. They always put forward the bad actions of their enemies / opponents, make sure that their suffering is repeated by the interviewer, that people know they are not the ones who attacked the first and finally they make sure it is known that their action is for the defense of their people and nothing else. And it is true! They always make sure that their action is in defense.

Us, the Kurds
Let’s have a look at Kurdistan now. A land of about 500’000 km2, as big as France. A Kurdish population of minimum 35 million and to some accounts 50! Where are we in defense of this land and this people? Aren’t we yet only happy about the soon-to-be declared independence of 4.5 million Kurds that are squeezed into about less than 20% of Kurdistan?

What have we Kurds to learn from Israel? First and foremost and with one word: defense. The defense and the whole education system that is behind the Israeli defenses, together with the industrial / technological machine that supports it. Internal strength.

The diplomacy the Israelis develop with each and every strategically important entity on earth, be it a state, a semi-state (like ours or Catalonia) or a corporate structure. The external strength.

A note on Israeli – Palestinian conflict: I don’t like my fellow Kurds taking sides strongly with the IDF because of their dislike of the Arabs, or Anfal contributor Palestinian immigrants of the Saddam Army. And no,  I don’t care what Mr Abbas said against the Kurdish independence. His fault does not lead me to make another fault. Seeing the State of Israel as possible Kurdish allies shall by no accounts  mean that we can not or will not criticize them.

Written by M. Husedin

24 July 2014 at 1:39 PM

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Kurdish politics is in a momentum it never had before. The turmoil in Syria and its effect in Kurdish dynamics through Kurdistan’s southwestern tip is impossible to not to see. At the same time, the whole change in the region (Near East) forces the Kurds to unite their faith but the tension this force creates among different Kurdish factions is also impossible to not to see.


And nowadays an American intervention to Syria, thus to Kurdistan is imminent. Nobody seems to discuss this. In this article I would like to share my speculative view of it.

The US has invested hugely in Kurds through the southern Kurds, Kurds of Iraq. This investment met with Kurdish dream of being independent from Iraq and resulted in the KRG today. With the turmoil in Syria the Kurds are once again hopeful of breaking yet another chain on the road to independence, this time the rule of Damascus.

As any other dream, there is a waking up and facing the reality. As it was in South Kurdistan between PDK of Barzani against YNK of Talabani during the 90s, this time in Southwest piece of Kurdistan it is between PKK affiliate PYD and other small factions affiliated to either PDK or YNK of the South.


The upper hand seems to be with PYD. They were the hardworking group when opportunity rose as a result of the fighting between the Arabs of Syria. They worked hard, defended well their achievements and did their best to become permanent.

PDK on the other hand, as well YNK, had their long time affiliates in Southwest, Rojava most like to say. They were not as agile but they were well established there. PYD seemed to recognize this and they agreed in some kind of cooperation.

As it is the nature of PKK known since the attempt of a Kurdish National Congress in Exile in Brussles in the 90s, cooperation became a tool in its hands. PDK or any other party could not develop any real policy against this attitude of PKK and on the eve of an attack by the US to Syria, at a time when the hopes are high for a Kurdish Congress, Kurds are not united. We are once again left without a policy of our own.

Hopes are not to be left down. The force created by the nation itself for unification is strong. It is just the politicians that can not make up their minds to come together.

All these put aside, we have a problem which is the air bombardment of the US, that is to come. How will it affect the Kurds?


In my opinion the Americans will not leave their investment to nothingness unless the investment proves itself to be nothing. PDK and the so far invested Neçirvan Barzani will need to take some clever action in Rojava. They will be pushed for this. I believe the American move will result in opening a political channel for the PDK there. To be followed.

Written by M. Husedin

05 September 2013 at 4:02 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Kurdish politics dynamics, the PKK and peace with Turks

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It’s been a long time since I have last posted on this blog. I have to admit it is mainly because I do not know of my audience. It is clear that I do not want to write to friends, but then, who do I write to? Who are you?


With this post I want to mention my opinion of the ongoing peace process between the PKK and the Turkish State.

It has to be the same one continuing, the process that started with the visit of the British minister of Foreign Affairs to Hewler, Iraqi Kurdistan, back in 2009. Since then, I do not believe the agenda has changed. In the overall picture, it is the same process which the Americans gave the kick for with a report written by David L. Philips, dated back to 2007: Disarming, Demobilizing, And Reintegrating The Kurdistan Worker’s Party.

The current process
The idea behind should be simple. Do not break the hearts of the Kurds but take the PKK out of the game (might it be only the war game or the whole game? I pick the latter). Overall strategy seems to be “gather Kurds behind Nechirvan Barzani”. This, the way I see it, is being built up slowly but surely.

The milestones during this process -for the managers of the project- are likely to be the following:

  • The retreat of PKK guerrillas to their bases in Qandil Mountains
  • The referendum for the new Turkish constitution
  • The death of Ocalan in prison
  • The attack of Assad forces to Kurds in Northern Syria
  • The coming of Peshmerga to Syrian (Southwest) Kurdistan as liberator.


If these happen as listed, then what will happen in Northern Kurdistan politics is another guess. Somehow the whole pie seems to be planned to be given to / collected under the lead of the ‘Iraqi’ Kurdish state. Aren’t they being invested as the future Kurdish state? All these hydrocarbon digging, selling, transporting agreements…

PKK’s one main weakness within the Kurdish political community is its un-understandable resistance to commonly accepted Kurdish national flag, Ala Rengin. Not that they do not target a Kurdish state anymore (or in that case they declare to have no problem with the borders designed right after the World War I, the current borders that deny the Kurds), they also refuse having anything in common with the rest of the Kurdish political establishment.

It is clear for me that any remaining PKK dominance on Kurds of Northern Kurdistan after the retreat of the guerrilla and the death of Ocalan will be wiped away by a Hewler backed nationalist wind supported by the strong symbol of the nation, the Ala Rengin.

These are how I read the ‘Peace Process’. In my opinion, PKK, in reality, does not deserve the dominant position in Kurdish politics with the current ideology it has. It won’t hurt if it leaves politics peacefully.

Written by M. Husedin

03 May 2013 at 1:31 AM

Can Syria’s Kurds Protect Their Oil Fields?

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Can Syria’s Kurds Protect Their Oil Fields?

ERBIL Kurdistan Region – Can Syria’s Kurds use the oil reserves in their territories as leverage to strengthen their position after the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime?

Most of the oil-rich places in Syria, including the Rumilan fields, are located in the Kurdish territories, and some people believe that the fields should be protected at all cost as an important insurance for the Kurds in the future.

Located in Syrian Kurdistan, Rumilan produces 270,000 barrels of oil a day, more than half of Syria’s total crude output.  Syria’s daily production of 385,000 barrels goes not figure on the global energy map, but its total reserves of 2.5 million barrels are still reportedly 2 percent of the world’s reserves.

Even though most of Syria’s oil lies in Kurdish territories, no oil refineries have been built there: The crude from Rumilan is piped to refineries in Humos and Banyas.

“President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has oppressed the Kurds politically as well as economically,” said Abdulhakim Bashar, secretary-general of the Kurdish Democratic Party in Syria.  “The natural resources are being transferred to other Arab cities for refining.”

The oil fields discovered in Kurdish territories during the 1960s led to major demographic changes in Syrian Kurdistan. 

“If it was not for the natural resources, the current boundaries would have been a lot different today.” said oil expert Rebwar Khinsy.  “The Kurdish residents around the oil-rich fields were forced to leave and replaced by Arabs, so it remains to be seen whether the fate of Rumilan will turn out like the disputed oil-rich city Kirkuk in northern Iraq after Assad’s fall,” he said.

Bashar said that, “Rumilan has always been part of Kurdistan and it will not become Kirkuk.  There may be a couple of oil fields outside Rumilan where both Kurds and Arabs live.  Other than those, the rest of the Rumilan oil fields are in the heart of Kurdish territories.”

Syria’s infrastructure has been badly hurt by the conflict between the regime and opposition forces, which began nearly two years ago.  Some believe it could take at least 10 years to rebuild the country, but add that the infrastructure in the country’s Kurdish regions is still relatively good and was not badly affected by the war.

Salih Muslim,  co-leader of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party of Syria (PYD), told Rudaw that, “The Kurds support the fall of the regime, but they don’t want to see the whole country go down.  That’s why they will protect the Rumilan oil fields.”

Abdulmajid Tamir, a member of the Kurdish Youth movement in Syria, believes, “The Kurds must do everything they can to prevent the Rumilan oil fields from being set on fire.” 

He said that the regime might hold its position for several years and the Syrian Kurdistan might stay independent during this time, so it is important for the Kurds to take advantage of this and make preparations to operate Rumilan, as everything is still in place, except for oil refineries.

“The attempts by the Islamic radical groups to control Serekaniye (Ras al-Ain) is mostly for Rumilan,”

said Razwan Badini, a university professor.  “They try to infiltrate the Kurdish territories through a multi-ethnic place like Serekaniye and finally control a strategic location like Rumilan,” he said. 

Written by M. Husedin

14 February 2013 at 4:03 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

The war for Kurdistan and the International Humanitarian Law

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Many articles on Kurds (of Kurds or others) start with a justification of  “why the Kurds have the right to fight; that the Kurdish land has been inherited from their ancestors, that they form a majority on their land and that they are under oppression of regimes that deny their very rights of  ‘being'”.

It is in the recent years that the articles on Kurds changed in nature. More expert articles are produced on various topics. One point, however, is weakly emphasized within the Kurdish and the international community, which is the definition of the war going on in Kurdistan according to International Law and the necessary obligations such a definition brings to the parties engaged in the conflict in Kurdistan.

Two main international conventions set the rules that oblige the state and non-state parties to abide with: Geneva Conventions and Hague Conventions. Together with subsequent treaties, case law, and customary international law, these conventions form the International Humanitarian Law (link).

International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is a set of rules which seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. It protects persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. (link)

It is mainly due to lack of knowledge of Kurds and lack of institutions to follow the war in Kurdistan, many actions of the oppressive regimes in Kurdistan have gone unseen.

In a war all tactics and stratagems are a part of the ‘game’. The winner and loser are defined by their own terms. Developing diplomacy skills, preparing assaults your opponents are not prepared to, etc. are all part of this game of war. There are actors who oppose wars and there others who define -in their own terms- wars that are ‘justified’. None changes the fact that “there always have been customary practices in war”. Kurds have been one of the most naive nations when it comes to wars.

Modern warfare has brought with it a set of rules that oblige the parties to the warfare to abide with. As mentioned, these set of rules are mainly the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions. There is not a piece of land on earth where parties to a conflict are not obliged by these.

In where International Humanitarian Law (IHL) does not apply, International Human Rights Law (IHRL) applies:

Both international humanitarian law (IHL) and international human rights law (IHRL) strive to protect the lives, health and dignity of individuals, albeit from a different angle. It is therefore not surprising that, while very different in formulation, the essence of some of the rules is similar, if not identical. For example, the two bodies of law aim to protect human life, prohibit torture or cruel treatment, prescribe basic rights for persons subject to a criminal justice process, prohibit discrimination, comprise provisions for the protection of women and children, regulate aspects of the right to food and health. On the other hand, rules of IHL deal with many issues that are outside the purview of IHRL, such as the conduct of hostilities, combatant and prisoner of war status and the protection of the red cross and red crescent emblems. Similarly, IHRL deals with aspects of life in peacetime that are not regulated by IHL, such as freedom of the press, the right to assembly, to vote and to strike. (Link)

Is the Kurdish cause limited to “freedom of press, the right to assembly, to vote and to strike”? Is that the extent of the nature of the war going on in Kurdistan? Of course not and one does not need an expert opinion to see it so. However, lack of expert opinions in case of the war in Kurdistan has been a major faiblesse of the struggle for Kurdistan, Kurdish independence.

Kurds have long suffered and continue to suffer under states that simply do not feel obliged by these rules. In case of Turkey, where according to Geneva Conventions a clear non-international armed conflict (NIAC) continues between the state forces and the PKK, by refusing that there is a conflict, the state simply denies the rights of Prisoners of War (POW) to PKK fighters and many other obligations these conventions bring.

There are hostilities going in all over Kurdistan. Kurdish political parties, mainly PKK today, engage in open armed conflict with states of Turkey, Syria and Iran. In many instances armed troops of the PKK and the states fighting against the PKK visibly organize cross border operations. What is missing is the recognition of this war by the international community.

Not that there are no efforts for this. Perhaps the most important piece of work on this is the one of Kerim Yildiz and Susan Breau: The Kurdish Conflict: International Humanitarian Law and Post-Conflict Mechanisms.

This book is a groundbreaking analysis of the on-going conflict waged by the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in southeastern Turkey and its spill over into northern Iraq in terms of the international law of war (jus in bello or international humanitarian law) and the use of force (jus ad bellum).

their analysis is divide
d into two parts. Part I concerns the international law of armed conflict as applied to the Kurdish struggle, while Part II delves into some potential legal and political solutions. Upon analyzing the relevant literature and treaties, the opening chapter of Part I concludes “on a factual basis in spite of the denial of Turkey” (p. 58) that the complex conflict in southeast Turkey, which also spills over into northern Iraq, constitutes a non-international armed conflict. Thus, “it can be argued that a whole range of humanitarian guarantees are offered to both civilians and combatants” (p. 88) by such means as the Hague Regulations of 1907 as well as the Geneva Conventions of 1949 with their Common Article 3 that provides limited protections for civilians and members of armed forces hors de combat. (link)

Based on ordinary knowledge of the mentioned conventions, the aim of this article is to:

  1. Bringing to the attention of Kurdish political organizations the fact that their fighters have more rights according to the mentioned conventions; that the states they are engaged in war / conflict have certain clear obligations that are not respected.
  2. Inviting the international community, (mainly the ICRC, the organization which, by the Geneva Conventions, mandated) to ensure that the states engaged in hostilities with well organized Kurdish military organizations to respect the mentioned laws. (ICRC’s hypocrisy in not mentioning the hostility between the Turkish State and the PKK in Iraqi soils is worth mentioning in bold (link))

Following are taken from a study published on the ICRC’s website, titled “The protective scope of  Common Article 3: more than meets the eye”, written by Jelena Pejic (link).

(The bolds and italics are of mine)

it is widely accepted that non-international armed conflicts governed by Common Article 3 are those waged between state armed forces and non-state armed groups or between such groups themselves. IHL treaty law allows a distinction to be made between NIACs within the meaning of Common Article 3 and those meeting the higher, Additional Protocol II, threshold.

At least two criteria are considered indispensable for classifying a situation of violence as a Common Article 3 armed conflict, thus distinguishing it from internal disturbances or tensions that remain below the threshold.

The first is the existence of parties to the conflict. Common Article 3 expressly refers to ‘each Party to the conflict’, thereby implying that a precondition for its application is the existence of at least two ‘parties’. While it is usually not difficult to establish whether a state party exists, determining whether a non-state armed group may be said to constitute a ‘party’ for the purposes of Common Article 3 can be complicated, mainly because of lack of clarity as to the precise facts and, on occasion, because of the political unwillingness of governments to acknowledge that they are involved in a NIAC. Nevertheless, it is widely recognized that a non-state party to a NIAC means an armed group with a certain level of organization that would essentially enable it to implement international humanitarian law.International jurisprudence has developed indicative factors on the basis of which the ‘organization’ criterion may be assessed. They include the existence of a command structure and disciplinary rules and mechanisms within the armed group; the existence of headquarters; the ability to procure, transport, and distribute arms; the group’s ability to plan, co-ordinate, and carry out military operations, including troop movements and logistics; its ability to negotiate and conclude agreements such as ceasefire or peace accords; and so forth.Put differently, even if the level of violence in a given situation is very high (in a situation of mass riots, for example), unless there is an organized armed group on the other side, one cannot speak of a non-international armed conflict.

The second criterion commonly used to determine the existence of a Common Article 3 armed conflict is the intensity of the violence involved. This is also a factual criterion, the assessment of which depends on an examination of events on the ground. Pursuant to international jurisprudence, indicative factors for assessment include:

the number, duration and intensity of individual confrontations, the type of weapons and other military equipment used, the number and calibre of munitions fired, the number of persons and types of forces partaking in the fighting, the number of casualties, the extent of material destruction, and the number of civilians fleeing combat zones. The involvement of the UN Security Council may also be a reflection of the intensity of a conflict.

certain NIACs originating within the territory of a single state between government armed forces and one or more organized armed groups have also been known to ‘spill over’ into the territory of neighbouring states. Leaving aside other legal issues that may be raised by the incursion of foreign armed forces into neighbouring territory (violations of sovereignty and possible reactions of the armed forces of the adjacent state that could turn the fighting into an international armed conflict), it is submitted that the relations between parties whose conflict has spilled over remain at a minimum governed by Common Article 3 and customary IHL. This position is based on the understanding that the spill over of a non-international armed conflict into adjacent territory cannot have the effect of absolving the parties of their IHL obligations simply because an international border has been crossed. The ensuing legal vacuum would deprive of protection both civilians potentially affected by the fighting and persons who fall into enemy hands.

It is ironic that the ICRC can define what very well suits the conflict going on between Turkey, Iran, Syria and the PKK but not find it worth even being mentioned.

Is there more than that meets the eye?

Written by M. Husedin

29 September 2012 at 11:28 AM