Building bridges, weaving nets, constructing words.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

ROJAVA, SYRIAN KURDS AND THEIR FIGHT FOR FREEDOM.

For those who still do not know, Kurdistan, the land of the Kurds, is a geographical extension of at least 400,000 km2 along mountain ranges that underpin the natural boundaries between the states of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. It has an estimated population of about forty million people. There is not certainty about this number because countries that govern this fragmented territory have made every effort to prevent reliable censuses. Their ancestors date back to prehistoric times. Shanidar cave and the archaeological site of Jarmo in Iraq, Gobelki Tepe in Turkey, etc, are some of its most famous evidence. Moreover, studies conducted by prestigious geneticists qualify Kurds’ ancestors as one of the three oldest indigenous peoples of the Middle East along with Assyrians and Jews.

Artificially divided following other interests than their own, Kurds lost the train of history with the Treaty of Lausanne of 1923. Since then we speak of Kurdistan from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey instead of a single Kurdistan. Its strategic location, its deposits of oil under its soil, its rich mining resources, the water gathers in the mountains and crosses its fertile slopes and valleys and its agricultural wealth, made Kurdistan the object of desire of the victorious powers of the First World War and the state governments of the emerging countries after them. The traditional tribal structure and the weak urban infrastructure of the Kurds as well as the strong rivalry among the most notable personalities have facilitated internal dissension which has stopped any united state possibility.

Rebellion after rebellion, war after war, Kurds have shown that they are a people who love their history, their culture - despite speaking four different dialects and having different religious beliefs - and, above all, freedom. Subjected to a brutal genocide by Turkish and Iraqi governments and forced relocation by them and Iran, their fate was known, or rather, recognized after the bombing of Halabja in 1988 and the Anfal campaign of extermination conducted by Saddam Hussein. The uprising of early 1991 after the Gulf War left them in the north and the Shiites in the south, at the mercy of Saddam's revenge. The application of an air exclusion area allowed them to continue living on their land but deprived of food, medicine and all kinds of supplies as an added reprisal by the Baath regime.

In parallel, successive Turkish governments maintained the policy of prohibiting the use of the Kurdish language, teaching and tradition to twenty million people living in its territory while punishing entire villages under the guise of purging PKK guerrillas.
In Syria, the Baath regime of Hafiz al-Assad, simply denied its existence, depriving them even of identification documents.

The invasion of Iraq in 2003, allowed the Kurds of Iraq, or rather South Kurdistan, put in place a regional government, making the three provinces of Erbil, Duhok and Suleimania a haven of peace in the chaotic Iraq. Despite corruption and agreed bipartisanship, the KRG has developed a frenetic activity reconstruction. Its recovery is exemplary in such a difficult surrounding.

Their Kurdish brothers in Syria have not had the same luck. They are now suffering a new episode of cruelty. The Syrian Civil War has allowed the entry of numerous Islamist terrorist groups: Al Qaeda, Isis, Jabhat to Nursa, and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, forcing Kurds to organize and turn once again to arms to defend themselves. In Rojava - Kurdish west - the name given to Kurdistan in Syria, the YPG, People's Protection Units have managed to control the Kurdish areas of the country, namely, Afrin, Kobani and Jazira, ensuring the safety of its citizens, both Kurds and other ethnic groups. But its situation, like all non-Islamist resistance has proven to be very precarious. Unable to get serious and strong international support to first destroy the terrorists and then depose Bashar al-Assad - although some would argue that the Kurds are collaborating with the regime - its moral, sometimes falters as in the last weeks.

A Kurd Rojava told me a sometime ago, about the desperation and helplessness in solitude to be found on the one hand, from the fragmented opposition to the regime and, secondly, from the International Community. Up in arms, Kurds constantly monitored the border with Turkey due to the entering of many Islamist terrorists, apparently with the tacit consent of the government of Ankara. Turkey, under no circumstances, is willing to accept an autonomous Kurdish zone, much less independent, and has willing risked preference with criminal ISIS before the Kurds until now.

Apart from these factors, there is a healthy and necessary ideological division among Kurds as in any plural society. There are two parties or factions that bring together most of the Kurds in Syria, the DUP the Democratic Union Party, more belligerent than the second largest group, the Kurdish National Council or KNC trend. Besides there is a strong connection between the PDU and the PKK or Kurdistan Workers Party from Turkey and the KNC with the KDP or Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq. As if this ideological division was not enough, each party supports a different faction of the Syrian resistance. The first has joined the National Coordination Body while the second has joined in August 2013 the Syrian National Coalition.


The international community took no interest in the situation in Syria until a major humanitarian crisis happened. The slow reaction will push the country into a more complex and intractable theatre of war than the one that took place in Lebanon. The Turkish blockade of the Kurdish military aid and volunteers will only increase the loss of lives. And the sole bombardment by the International coalition, though helpful, will not halt the advance of ISIS. The Kurds, once more have been left to their own, a mistake that not only will have dramatic consequences for them but the future of the whole region.

Saturday, 31 May 2014

MURDER AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM IN BRUSSELS.

Emanuel and Mira Riva, a couple from Tel Aviv, have orphaned two teenage daughters of 15 and 17 years after being shot at the Jewish Museum in Brussels on 24 May. An official spokesman and a volunteer at the museum have also been killed in this attack. Although the media has not given too much coverage to the event, perhaps due to its coincidence with the European elections, the killings raise enough questions to think very seriously about them. Are they the symptom of a transnational underlying problem that we refuse to see or simply the consequence of a political and security issue which should only be read internally in Israel? Or, what is the same was one or more of the murdered specific and targeted objectives or only the unfortunate victims at the wrong place and time? Did the murderer choose on purpose to commit these murders in such an emblematic place as the Jewish Museum in Brussels, not only the Belgian capital but also the European Union, on the day on which the new parliament was being elected or did it happened just because the target was there? It is clear that there are many possible theories about the reason or reasons for the crime.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

TURKEY AND ITS INTERNET CENSORSHIP.



If anything has characterized the recent history of the Middle East is the lack of freedom of its citizens under the different types of oppression imposed by the governments in the region. This lack of freedom resulted in the restriction if not complete suppression of freedom of speech, opinion, information, movement and political exercise.

Not surprisingly, Iran could take another step against differentiation. Article 5 of the Iranian Constitution states:

The official language and script of Iran, the lingua franca of its people, is Persian. Official documents, correspondence and texts and textbooks, must be in this language and script. However, it also allows the Persian, the use of regional and tribal languages ​​in the press and media as well as for teaching of their literature in schools.

The Academy of Persian Language and Literature has recommended Rohani government not to apply this article since it undermines the unity of the country and the development of the Persian language. Assimilation, and if this is not effective, the elimination of the "others" is what differentiates the totalitarian states from democracies.

The cultural and social richness of a country derives from the diversity of its citizens. In the case of Iran, a transit of Eastern and Western civilizations, this can be seen in the 16% of the population that is of Azeri origin, 10% Kurdish, Baloch 2%, Turkmen and Arabs, and to a lesser measure Pashtuns, Armenians, Georgians, Assyrians and Jews. If this proposal by the Persian Academy was to be implemented a 40% of the population living in Iran would be deprived of the right to speak in their mother tongue in order to unify and rule the Persian culture and language. Another disgusting event to add to the long list of outrages of the Persian regime to which we are already accustomed to.

What it is a matter of surprise - not to those who are aware and have been announcing and denounced the authoritarian drive of Erdogan - is that a country, "theoretically" democratic, like Turkey, is in the process of passing a legislation that restricts the dissemination of information especially online. If this new legislation is finally approved, the Telecommunications Authority of this country could have unrestricted access to the online activities of users and increase its ability to block content without judicial authorization. It also would require providers to collect and retain information about its users for up to two years. Another way to lock up information in a country that has, since 2007, blocked access to 1,112 internet pages[1].

Not satisfied with the application of a firm hand on the streets to quell protests against his policies of radical Islamization Erdogan wants to "stop" the dissemination of any information or criticism, especially after the disclosure of the extent of the corruption in his government. Turkey is well known for its constant attack on reporters. As a matter of fact Turkey is the country that has imprisoned more journalists worldwide in 2013[2]. Now Erdogan wants to stop the only leakage of information out his control: internet. According to the Turkish research company Konda[3], 77.6 % of those who protested for Taksim Square got information through the network of networks. No wonder Erdogan described the social networks as "the greatest threat to society."

With this law, Turkey would become part of the select club of countries censoring information online, namely Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Iran, Turkmenistan and Vietnam, among others. This step should definitely remove its aspirations to join the European Union.

The news blackout is a common practice in Turkey. It has been doing so since its foundation in 1923 especially regarding the status of Kurdistan and its denial of the Armenian genocide. Moreover it has imprisoned anyone who criticized its repressive policy.

Meanwhile, the Turks, especially young people for whom Internet is a fundamental basis for communication and interaction, have taken to the streets to protest again. Erdogan may turn a deaf ear to this new demand and approve the Internet law, but certainly will pay a heavy price in next elections, though we will probably know nothing about it because of censorship.



[1] http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10029075.asp?scr=1
[2] http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/new-media-laws-increasing-internet-censorship-in-turkey.aspx?pageID=449&nID=61212&NewsCatID=396
[3] http://www.konda.com.tr/en/about_us.php

Sunday, 19 January 2014

GENEVE II, A SOLUTION FOR THE SYRIAN CONFLICT?

While the blood of Syrians is shed fighting for their freedom against the government loyals in the multiple battlefronts, several meetings are taken place between the various opposition factions to prepare the next Geneva summit of 22 January. If the 9th and 10th of January, the Spanish government acted as host for a first meeting in Cordoba in order to assist in the search for binding agreements for all dissident groups. A few days later the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the "eleven" countries friends of Syria - namely, Germany, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, United States, France, Britain, Italy, Jordan, Qatar and Turkey – met in Paris to establish a common action policy and reaffirm a number of commitments to end  the doubts of the opposition, including the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad .


Finally, the Syrian National Coalition - which brings together various opposition groups – met in Istanbul on January 17 to discuss their participation in the meeting they call "Geneva II". In the previous days, discrepancies, that have weakened the opposition since the start of the conflict, arose again. Prior to its conclusion, there were several resignations of several members. Nevertheless, the decision to come to Geneva II was adopted by a majority of 58 votes in favour to14 against and two abstentions. Both meetings in C√≥rdoba and Istanbul have made clear that the first essential condition for the opposition to end this terrible civil war is that Bashar al-Assad and his acolytes leave office  Something that seems so little feasible now as was at the beginning of the conflict. To this Bashar declared, had I wanted I would have given up from the beginning. We stand on guard for our country.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

MODERN SLAVERY.

She approached me with shaky steps. She was holding the tray as if her life depended on it. She struggled to move with the orange juice without tripping. Head down, aware of the inquisitive eyes of her boss and frightened by the number of guests occupying the terrace stumbled a few feet in front of me. Fortunately, the bright orange liquid did not reach me but left a small puddle on the tile floor.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

SAUDI ARABIA: DRIVING IS AN OVARIES MATTER.

Driving harms the pelvis and ovaries. 
Of all the sexist comments against women's ability to drive a motor vehicle, this is perhaps the most peregrine and absurd. It should be enough to say that while there are numerous scientific studies that support the link between prostate cancer and staying long hours sitting in certain professions, such as drivers, there are none in the case of women. Imams have outdone themselves with this shameful explanation which focus, once again, on the "crux" of the matter: only women wombs matter and therefore should not move at will outside the control of male relatives, lest they discover that the world is outside the four walls of their prisons, excuse me, homes.