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News :: International
Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat - ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’
29 Jul 2014
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Syria conflict: Syrian and Turkish Kurds unite to battle Isis threat - ‘We shoot them like sheep, but next day double the number return’

Syrian Kurds are struggling to fight off Islamist militants, flushed with their Iraqi success – but Turkish Kurds, veterans of guerrilla conflict, are joining forces with them. Isabel Hunter reports from Suruc on the Turkish-Syrian border

Isabel Hunter Monday, 28 July 2014

On the border between, Turkey and Syria, Muhammed Ahmad, a 23-year-old Syrian Kurd is waiting to return to the fight against Isis. He described Isis as formidable opponents. “It’s like they’re on drugs,” he said, “they charge at you in groups of 300 and, even though we shoot them like sheep, you know the next day there will be double.” But despite their dedication, Isis jihadists are human. He pulls out his phone and scrolls through grotesque pictures of Isis fighters he and his comrades have killed. Their faces are sunken, bloody and in some cases pummelled beyond recognition – a ritual performed by their fellow fighters, according to Mr Ahmad, to stop the identification of the dead.

Following its success in Iraq, Isis has directed its forces towards Kobani, a Kurdish town close to the Turkish border and the Kurds are struggling to hold them off.

At night, the battle for the Syrian Kurdish stronghold of Kobani, which is under attack from three sides, can be heard in Turkey. Rockets screech and there are regular explosions and the popping of rifle fire.

Last week, the Turkish Kurdish Workers’ Party, (PKK) said 1,000 fighters had gone to help their brethren fight Isis.

“We announced the number of fighters to make people pay attention to what is happening in Kobani,” says Ismail Kaplan, a local Kurdish leader. “Since Isis came back from Mosul with US weapons, they are much more powerful so we need to give the Kurds a hand – if Isis becomes stronger, we will attack to help the Kurds in Syria.”

Gaining Kobani, known as Ain al-Arab in Arabic, would be a huge strategic victory for Isis, allowing it to control a large section of the Turkish border. At the border, the Kurds have established, a camp-cum-lookout post complete with speakers and a stage adorned with flags for evening entertainment. When the Kurds are not peering through binoculars across the border they sing patriotic songs and raise morale. Their purpose is to alert Syrian Kurdish forces of Isis activity below and to protect Turkish Kurds from the invasion they fear could be imminent. The line between Syria and Turkey is blurring as the Kurds rise together to defend the Syrian Kurds’ autonomous region which was declared for the first time a year ago.

At the camp, Sadet Kooran, 49, described how her two brothers died fighting the Turkish army and she was herself imprisoned for five years in the 1980s. Her 27-year old daughter is now a PKK fighter. “I haven’t heard from her for five years – but she is the daughter of our people and she is fighting for our rights,” she said. Kooran doesn’t know if her daughter is fighting in Syria or is at a PKK base elsewhere. In Suruc, Ismail Kaplan said the PKK is ready to fight Isis if it continues onto Turkish soil.

“We have lots of weapons hidden in the mountains – with one phone call, the PKK guerrillas will be there in minutes to defend the people,” he said.

There are no Turkish border guards near the camp. Just a couple of miles along the border Turkish soldiers are inspecting a section of the barbed-wire fence which divides Turkey and Syria.

Turkish Kurds have begun conscripting everyone aged 18 to 30 to fight Isis across the border. By the border, a group of 10 youths sitting under the shade of the tree in the fierce summer sun was waiting for the border to open to cross the train tracks to Kobani and pick up their weapons once again.

But the traffic is not all one way. Not more than a mile from the official Murşitpinar crossing on the Turkish side, Lami Cicek is mourning the death of his 18-year-old brother at his home. Muzlem was fighting for the Kurds for nine months until he was hit by a bullet just below his left armpit last week. He later died. “He was so bright and educated – a musician! He used to play for the fighters,” Mr Cicek said, “But as soon as he signed up, we knew he would die there.”

From the hills overlooking the Euphrates a white truck has been spotted abandoned in a field below – an Isis vehicle, for sure we’re told, as binoculars are handed around.

At the same time, young women arrive in a fleet of minibuses, ululating defiantly as they join their comrades at the border camp. Muhammad Ahmad is motivated by more than nationalistic feeling. His father has been detained by Isis and his uncle was killed by its fighters – beheaded for answering back to an Isis soldier who reprimanded his female companions for not being properly dressed. He stops at one of the pictures of dead men, a picture of a young man with a straggly beard staring coldly at the camera. “Him”, he says. “He was the one that killed my uncle – we saw the videos online.”
See also:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/syria-conflict-syrian-and-turkish-kurds-unite-to-battle-isis-threat--we-sho

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ISIS: The jihadist movement stamped 'Made in America'
30 Jul 2014
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30 July 2014

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is made up of forces variously estimated at between 3,000 and 10,000 fighters. It has taken over much of eastern Syria and northern and western Iraq, as well as the Trabil crossing on the Jordan–Iraq border. Its territory now extends to within 76 miles (122 kilometres) of the Iraqi capital, Baghdad.

The group has declared its intention of establishing a caliphate in the region, eliminating all the borders established in the Middle East by Britain and France after World War I along the lines of the secret Sykes-Picot agreement of 1915.

Last month, working with armed tribal leaders and former members of Saddam Hussein’s outlawed Baath Party, it captured the northern city of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, took control of its military and commercial resources, and continued expanding south along the Tigris River, taking the city of Tikrit.

Over the last two weeks, ISIS forces have expelled the Christian community from Mosul, which has been home to Christians for more than 1,600 years, demanding that they either convert, flee or face execution. Over 1,000 Christians have reportedly fled the city.

Crucially as far as the major powers are concerned, ISIS has captured much of the region’s strategic oil industry. It is also seizing large amounts of US weaponry abandoned in the country after the withdrawal from Iraq three years ago, including 1,500 Humvees, 4,000 PKC machineguns, and 52 M198 155-millimeter howitzers. This heavy artillery gives them the capability to bombard Iraqi cities, including potentially Baghdad, threatening Western commercial interests.

The fact remains, however, that the US, the major European powers, and their regional allies all previously lent financial, military and political support to ISIS and similar groups, which have “Made in the USA” stamped all over them. They have, until now, played a significant part in Washington’s efforts to overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, as part of a broader effort to gain control of the region’s vast energy resources and transit routes.

ISIS is distinguished by its religious fanaticism, commitment to capitalism, and virulent anti-communism. Like the Taliban in Afghanistan and similar groups in Somalia, Nigeria and elsewhere, it uses terror to put pressure on the imperialist powers and force them to make some accommodation with it as a regional power centre.

Such outfits have been able to garner some measure of support by exploiting the deeply rooted social discontent of broad layers of the population in the Middle East, largely as a result of the failure of the secular nationalist regimes and parties to improve the social and economic conditions or achieve any meaningful independence from imperialism.

ISIS is an offshoot of Al Qaeda, the terrorist Islamic group previously headed by Osama bin Laden, the son of the wealthy owner of a construction company with close links to the House of Saud. Al Qaeda was formed in the late 1980s in Afghanistan with support from the CIA, which backed the mujahedin as part of its covert war that began in 1979 against the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul.

Over a ten-year period, the US gave the mujahedin around $5 billion in weaponry and aid to recruit and train local forces. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan promoted the mujahedin, encouraging volunteers from the Arab and Islamic countries, such as bin Laden.

Al Qaeda was by no means the only Islamic fundamentalist group supported by Washington and its allies in a struggle for geopolitical influence against regimes and movements allied to Russia. Israel fostered Hamas, the offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, as a counterweight to Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation.

ISIS, formed in 2004, later incorporated a number of Sunni insurgent factions in Iraq. It was responsible for three terrorist bombings of hotels in Amman, Jordan in 2005, but remained a small group until the demonstrations that began in Dera’a in southern Syria in March 2011.

The Western powers, flush with success after organising an Islamist insurgency in Benghazi in order to justify NATO’s overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, thought they could use similar forces to overthrow Assad in Syria, whose regime draws its main base of support from the Alawite sect, a Shi’a offshoot, and Sunni businessmen.

For three years, the US, along with the Gulf states and Turkey, poured billions into “opposition” groups, supposedly to unnamed “moderates,” but in reality to Al Qaeda-linked Sunni groups such as al-Nusra and ISIS to spearhead a sectarian war. The US, Turkey and Jordan have operated a base in Jordan where US instructors trained dozens of ISIS members. In an article last year, the New York Times confirmed that the CIA assisted Arab governments and Turkey by airlifting weaponry to these groups in Jordan and Turkey. The Guardian reported last March that British and French instructors were also involved.

Other ISIS members were trained near Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where US forces are based. After completing their training, they went to Syria and later Iraq. Following the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, the CIA used the US consulate in Benghazi as a transit base for weaponry, Islamist fighters and cash to Syria, until it was attacked on September 11, 2012 by Islamist militias in a “blowback” operation that killed the US ambassador and three consular staffers.

As opposition grew to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shi’ite-dominated government, installed by Washington, which has launched a reign of terror against Iraq’s minority Sunni population, the US and Saudi-sponsored civil war in Syria spilled over into Iraq.

ISIS’s seemingly rapid advance must have been well prepared by its allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Israel carries out constant surveillance of Syria from the Golan Heights, from where it has launched attacks on Syria, and provided intelligence information and a field hospital for the “rebels.” Israeli figures, including former Israeli ambassador to Washington Michael Oren and Amos Gilad, director of the Defence Ministry’s policy and political-military relations department, have spoken openly of Tel Aviv’s working relations with the Saudis.

Shalom Yerushalmi, writing in the Israeli daily Maariv last March, claimed that Saudi Arabia was not just coordinating its intelligence efforts with Tel Aviv, but actually financing much of Israel’s campaign against Iran, possibly as much a $1 billion, including its assassinations and development of computer viruses.

It is likely that Washington knew in advance of the ISIS offensive, given its stationing of Patriot missiles and the CIA’s monitoring operations near the Turkish-Syrian border. It was widely reported last March that after the recapture of areas in western Syria by regime forces, ISIS and al-Nusra had withdrawn to their bases in the east, near the border with Iraq. But if the ISIS advance was unknown to the US, it means that its allies are working behind its back.

While Riyadh has now sought to distance itself from ISIS, outlawing the group, it is unlikely that it has stopped all funding. It is determined to ensure a Sunni buffer between itself and Iran and a government in Baghdad that is not beholden to Tehran, while working with Tel Aviv to ensure that Washington does not collaborate with Iran to suppress the Sunni insurgency.

Washington is now riven with dissent as to how to proceed. In Syria, it is backing the very forces it opposes in Iraq. Meanwhile, it has sent forces to protect its embassy and 5,000 staff and subcontractors in Baghdad, and is preparing the ground for new military ventures, using the threat from ISIS as a pretext.



http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/07/30/isis-j30.html
Woman shot dead for not wearing veil
30 Jul 2014
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Posted on » Thursday, July 31, 2014

MOGADISHU: Militants in Somalia have shot dead a woman for refusing to wear a veil, her relatives said yesterday.

Ruqiya Farah Yarow was killed outside her hut near the southern town of Hosingow by gunmen belonging to the Al Shabab group, they said.

The militants had ordered her to put on a veil, and then killed her after returning and finding she was still not wearing one, the relatives said.

An Al Shabab spokesman denied the group had killed the woman. Al Shabab does not fully control the area where she was living, he added.

Relatives, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals, said that Yarow was shot twice and died instantly. She is survived by her husband and children, they said. Al Shabab, which controls much of southern and central Somalia, imposes strict rules of behaviour, including dress codes for men and women. It is also possible that Al Shabab wants to distance itself from the shooting because it is likely to provoke a strong public reaction, experts said.

http://www.gulf-daily-news.com/NewsDetails.aspx?storyid=383005