Iraq-Turkey oil pipeline to resume operation

The pipeline exporting crude oil from Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to the Turkish port of Ceyhan is ready to resume operation, seven months after it was ordered closed by an international court ruling. On March 23, the Paris-based International Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Baghdad against Ankara, finding that the latter breached a 1973 agreement by allowing the Kurdistan Regional Government to begin independent oil exports in 2014. The judgement confirmed that Iraqi national oil company SOMO is the only entity authorized to manage export operations through the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. The KRG, based in Erbil, has now acceded to these terms, agreeing to market through SOMO.

Turkish strikes on Iraq after Ankara blast

Turkey launched a wave of air-strikes on Kurdish rebel positions in northern Iraq, hours after a suicide blast hit the Interior Ministry complex in Ankara Oct. 1. The Turkish military said 20 targets were destroyed and several fighters from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) were "neutralized." The People Defense Forces (HPG), armed wing of the PKK, released a statement via the rebel movement's Firat News Agency (ANF) saying that a "sacrificial action" against the Interior Ministry was carried out by a unit from their Immortal Brigade. The two assailants, both women, were killed in the attack—one as she detonated her payload while storming the entrance to the ministry compound, the other shot by police. Two police officers were also wounded. The HPG statement said the attack was a "warning" to the Turkish government over its ongoing military operations against Kurdish militants both in Syria and in Iraq. (BBC News, Arab NewsEKurd, Al-Monitor, EuroNews)

Iraq: security forces fired on Kirkuk protesters

Iraqi security forces appear to have opened fire on demonstrators without prior warning in Kirkuk on Sept. 2, killing at least four people and injuring 16, Human Rights Watch has found. The violence comes amid months of increasing tensions between Kirkuk's Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen populations. An inquiry into the incident opened by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani should be independent and impartial in its investigation of allegations of excessive use of deadly force by Iraqi security forces, HRW urged. "Time and again, the Iraqi government has responded to protests with lethal force and arrests of journalists," said HRW Iraq researcher Sarah Sanbar. "The government needs to take concrete steps that result in accountability for these actions."

Syria: revolution reborn

The Free Syria flag again flew high in villages, towns and cities across the country Aug 25, as thousands filled the streets, reviving the chants of the revolution. Protests had days earlier erupted in the regime-held south of the country, first in the Druze-majority city of Sweida (Suwayda) and Dera'a—the town that saw the initial anti-regime protests of the 2011 uprising. They were triggered by the cost-of-living crisis, especially the recent increase in fuel prices as the regime has yet again cut subsidies. But protests sparked by economic demands soon escalated to renewed calls for the downfall of the Bashar Assad dictatorship. 

Turkey intransigent on Syria occupation zone

In his drive for "normalization" of his regime, Syran dictator Bashar Assad has been welcoming meetings with regional leaders in recent months. However, in comments to a reporter last week, he set a withdrawal of Turkish troops from northern Syria as a precondition for any meeting with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. "Erdogan's objective in meeting me is to legitimize the Turkish occupation in Syria," Assad said. Turkey's Defense Minister Yasar Guler responded days later by saying: "It is unthinkable for us to withdraw without ensuring the security of our borders and our people."

UN: halt indefinite detention at Syria camps

UN Special Rapporteur for human rights Fionnuala Ní Aoláin released a statement July 22 urging the cessation of "indefinite mass detention without legal process," particularly of children, in northeastern Syria detention centers. After arriving in Damascus, Ní Aoláin visited prisons and detention sites at various places around the country and witnessed "major humanitarian challenges," including inadequate access to water and electricity and issues with health services.

Iran: 'morality police' to resume hijab patrols

With the protest movement in Iran now in abeyance, Tehran's national Police Command announced July 16 that the feared "morality police" will resume patrols enforcing the mandatory wearing of the hijab by the country's women. Formally known as the Guidance Patrols (Gasht-e Ershad), the force created in 2006 was that which arrested Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman, last September. Her death in custody three days later sparked the uprising that has now lasted for 10 months. The patrols were suspended for review as the protests mounted last December. Article 638 of Iran's Islamic Penal Code states that: "Women who appear in public without prescribed Islamic dress (hejab-e-shar'i), shall be sentenced to either imprisonment of between 10 days and two months, or a fine of between 50,000 and 500,000 rials." (Jurist, BBC News, MEE)

Kurds betrayed in Sweden NATO deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has dropped his opposition to Sweden's entry into NATO, it was announced just ahead of the opening of the military alliance summit in Vilnius July 11. US President Joe Biden thanked Erdogan for his "courage" in clearing the way for Stockholm's bid. In an apparent quid pro quo, the State Department said the administration is dropping its objections to Turkey purchasing F-16 fighter jets from the US. Congress opposed sales of the jets to Turkey after Ankara bought Russian S-400 missile systems in 2017.

Syndicate content