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August 13, 2014



On an unrelated note, American griping about the Russians arming Ukrainian separatists came to a screeching halt about 2 weeks ago. Surely coincidental.

I'd be interested to see who's signing off on the weapons transfers, as a significant amount will end up in the hands of the PKK, a US-labelled terrorist organization. Should make for some interesting interagency meetings.


The post seems to be a little uncharitable to the Kurds, blaming them for the various and contradictory ways in which their ostensible supporters in the West seem to be using them. I'm not aware of any incidents where the peshmerga have actually been, say, holding back for fear of looking too invincible.


On an unrelated note, American griping about the Russians arming Ukrainian separatists came to a screeching halt about 2 weeks ago.

No, it didn't actually.

"[VP Biden and Pres Poroshenko] agreed that if Russia were serious about improving the humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine, it had to immediately stop its shelling of Ukrainian troops and release Ukrainian hostages being held inside Russia, as well as cut its provision of weapons to Russian proxies operating in Ukraine." August 9.

"[Biden and Poroshenko] expressed concern with Russian statements suggesting a role for Russian “peacekeepers” in Ukraine, with Russia’s ongoing military buildup on Ukraine’s border, and with Russia’s continuing transfer of weapons to Russian proxies in Ukraine." August 6.

That's just from whitehouse.gov.


Oh, yes, here's Obama on 6 August:
"What we have been doing is providing a whole host of assistance packages to the Ukrainian government and to their military, and we will continue to work with them to evaluate on a day-by-day, week-by-week basis what exactly they need in order to be able to defend their country and to deal with the separatist elements that currently are being armed by Russia."

And 1 August:
"We can’t control how Mr. Putin thinks. But what we can do is say to Mr. Putin, if you continue on the path of arming separatists with heavy armaments that the evidence suggests may have resulted in 300 innocent people on a jet dying, and that violates international law and undermines the integrity -- territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, then you’re going to face consequences that will hurt your country."

Iraq's moved up the agenda in the last couple of weeks and most of his public statements on foreign policy have focussed on Iraq. But that isn't the same as a screeching halt. Every time he's mentioned Ukraine he's mentioned that the Russians are arming the rebels and this is a bad thing.


Given that the PKK and Turkey have been on an exclusively political track for the last 2-3 years, and that Pejak seem to have faded away now that the US and Iran are involved in direct negotiations over their "issues", I'm pretty sure that the overwhelming bulk of whatever weaponry that gets supplied to the Iraqi Kurds is unlikely to be used for anything other than holding IS at arms length - there really isn't any actual other hot conflict for the arms to be diverted to at present.

The more intriguing question is whether, and to what extent, the sons/daughters of the European Kurdish diaspora are going to start taking a leaf out of the IS handbook and head off to join the fight.


Where are the European Kurds? I mean, Cheetham aside. I don't have a very clear idea of which cities/countries have big Kurdish populations.


This article suggests 240,000 Kurds in France, 200,000 in Britain and 500,000 in Germany.


Officially, at any rate, the weapons are going to the KRG armed forces. In practice, that means Barzani's KDP Peshmerga, and to a lesser extent the PUK Peshmerga (which isn't much involved in holding Erbil or Duhok, where most of the action is at the moment). PUK and PKK are quite close at the moment, but Barzani's primary ally is Turkey and he's been trying to weaken the PKK for years, so he isn't going to give them anything if he can avoid it.

On the other hand, he's not currently in a position to refuse help from either the PKK or their Syrian proxies (PYD/YPG). It was mainly YPG fighters who saved the Yezidis of Sinjar, although the USAF took all the credit. So perhaps there'll be some payment for services rendered, although I imagine it would make Turkey very upset.

Regardless, as Dan said, the PKK would probably just send the weapons on to the YPG for use against the Islamic State, since PKK's armed wing in Turkey (HPG) is in ceasefire mode.


Wrexham used to have a population of a few dozen Iraqi Kurds, who were mistakenly believed by the local population to be asylum seekers. This allowed the jewel of Clwyd to have the distinction of being one of the few towns in Britain to have experienced anti-asylum seeker riots while hosting no actual asylum seekers. The riots went on for a couple of days; when they ended, it was discovered that the Kurdish population of Wrexham had at some point got into a couple of minibuses and gone to Birmingham.

chris y

There was a Kurdish guy lived three houses down from us last year. Seemed nice enough. They (he and his German wife and their kid) moved, but I imagine they're still in town, since they both work here.

nick s

we're effectively forcing them to live permanently inside a Tony Blair speech.

Or a Christopher Hitchens column rattled off between the first fag of the day and the first Johnny Walker. Poor buggers.


> Where are the European Kurds?

A good chunk of the "Turkish" population in Germany are actually Kurds. Wikipedia suggests 20-25% (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turks_in_Germany)

Iraqi kurds I think to some extent follow the same pattern as other Iraqis, esp. refugees from the 2000s. i.e. UK, Germany, Sweden, Netherlands.

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