Defending sociable lapwings from ISIS and poachers in Turkey

This 28 October 2014 video from France shows a sociable lapwing amidst a flock of northern lapwings (sometimes quarreling with them).

From BirdLife:

What makes birdwatchers want to monitor species in an ISIS war zone?

By Burak Özkırlı, Wed, 11/11/2015 – 09:08

Ceylanpınar, located in the Urfa (or Şanlıurfa) province of Turkey, is next to the Syrian border. As a result, it has felt the effects of the ongoing civil war in Syria and skirmishes between the YPG (the Kurdish People’s Protection Units) and ISIS.

The region, which contains one of the single largest pieces of farmland in the world, is also a Key Biodiversity Area monitored by Doğa Derneği (BirdLife in Turkey) staff and volunteers. It is the home of the Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregarius), one of the most threatened bird species in the world (listed as Critically Endangered on the updated IUCN Red List of Birds, an assessment of bird species carried out by BirdLife International for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species).

There are only 5,600 breeding pairs left in the world. Their decline is likely due to habitat degradation, as well as the pressures of hunting and illegal killing along its migration route and breeding grounds (read more on BirdLife’s work to protect the Sociable Lapwing here).

Sociable Lapwing flocks rest and feed in rain-fed arable fields. They stop over for some time, then they leave for further south. The small rain-fed parcels are extremely important as irrigated cultivations have covered a majority of the landscape in recent years. Therefore, the bird flocks tend to congregate in these small areas,” says Turan Çetin, the steppes officer of Doğa.

“Even a single individual means hope for the team in the area and the viability of the species’ population.”

Doğa’s 10-people Sociable Lapwing monitoring team visited the area to survey it in early October 2015, well aware of the dangers of travelling in 4×4 vehicles with binoculars and optical equipment to a place 30 km from the Syrian border.

The team’s immediate goal is to stop illegal killing and taking in the area, while they continue to lobby for preventing the shrinkage of rain-fed agricultural lands. Since in Ceylanpınar, reaching the local communities is more important than ever to save the Sociable Lapwing, the team has been contacting hunters and shepherds and holding regular meetings with them and locally recognised conservationists to inform them about the species.

As a result, many hunters can now successfully identify Sociable Lapwing so that they don’t shoot them, some have exchanged their rifles for cameras and at least one is now a member of the Sociable Lapwing team.

The team says it is still eager to continue the monitoring of the birds in the region. If the loss of the bond between people and nature is one of the drivers behind the extinction of biodiversity, this example shows that the relationship between people and nature is deep, and each time it is revived, it saves the life of at least one plant, bird or animal in some part of the world.

Turkish army attacks Kurds in Syria

This video says about itself:

21 June 2015

In the face of the deadly threat posed by the so-called Islamic State, many Kurdish women decide not to leave their survival to fate. Instead, they fight for their lives and their future. Taking up arms, they join the YPG – Kurdish People’s Protection Units that defend their town’s borders from the militants. The enemy fears female warriors. Jihadists believe if they are killed by a woman they will go straight to hell.

By James Tweedie:

Turkey: PM admits attack on Syrian Kurd fighters

Wednesday 28th October 2015

Turkish troops carried out cross-border assault on YPG

PRIME Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has confirmed that Turkish forces attacked Kurdish militia in northern Syria on Sunday.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) said on Monday that its forces in the border town of Tal Abyad had come under machine-gun fire from across the frontier in Akcakale.

In an interview with ATV television late on Monday, Mr Davutoglu confirmed the attack — a clear act of war against Syria.

He said Turkey was enforcing its warning to the Democratic Union Party (PYD), of which the YPG is the armed wing, not to advance west of the Euphrates river — some 50 miles west of Tal Abyad.

“We said the PYD will not go west of the Euphrates and that we would hit it the moment it did. We hit it twice,” Mr Davutoglu said. “Turkey cannot abandon its border, its fate, to any country.”

The PYD is affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Turkey and the US have declared a terrorist organisation.

Tensions between Ankara and Washington were raised earlier this month when the US airdropped some 50 tons of ammunition to the YPG — ostensibly to help the militia advance south from Tal Abyad to the Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa.

But the YPG seems keener to link up its large area of control of north-eastern Syria with the north-western pocket around Afrin, driving Isis out of a stretch of border country with Turkey from where the group allegedly receives arms and new recruits.

It would also relieve pressure on Aleppo, Syria’s second city, which is besieged by Isis and other rebel groups.

The 18-month bombing campaign by the US-led coalition against Isis and Washington’s $500 million (£325m) programme to train “moderate” rebels have had no appreciable effect on the group.

But the Russian intervention in Syria has helped the Syrian Arab Army push back terrorist forces including the Nusra Front.


The praise lavished on Kurdish militias in the Senate chamber only underscored the immense crisis and deep contradictions plaguing the US intervention in the region. The Senate hearing was held on the same day that the government of Turkey, Washington’s NATO ally, acknowledged that it had launched strikes against US-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria. The Kurdish groups struck by Turkey, including People Protection Units (YPG) forces, were “some of the most important allies within Syria of the American-led coalition,” according to the New York Times: here.

The announcement by the Obama White House that up to 50 US Special Forces troops are being deployed on the ground in Syria represents a qualitative escalation of Washington’s illegal intervention in the war-ravaged country: here.

Turkish government bloodbath in Cizre town, solidarity demonstration

This video says about itself:

Pro-Kurdish protesters clash with police in Turkey

26 July 2015

Clashes between pro-Kurdish protesters and police broke out in the southeastern province of Cizre on Sunday night. The unrest came after the funeral of a protester killed in demonstrations against military strikes targeting PKK camps in northern Iraq.

From Dutch daily De Volkskrant (translated):

Nobody is allowed to enter Turkish town, ‘civilians are shot’

“A bloodbath threatens in Cizre. At least 25 civilians have been killed, including a baby of six weeks old,” says Bozo Bilal Acar from the besieged town Cizre in southeast Turkey. “There are snipers on the roofs shooting at civilians. I myself was a few times almost hit by them.”

By: Sacha Kester September 11, 2015, 18:22

On Saturday 12 September (today), at 15:00, there will be a solidarity demonstration with the people of Cizre, starting on the Malieveld in The Hague, the Netherlands.

‘Pentagon helping ISIS against Kurds’

This video says about itself:

The Kurds Forging A New Nation In Syria

20 November 2014

Secret Revolution: Out of the chaos of Syria’s civil war, Kurdish leftists have forged a mini-state run on communal lines.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Patrick Cockburn

Sunday 30 August 2015

Turkey duped the US, and Isis reaps rewards

The real losers are the Kurds, the only force to have effectively resisted the jihadis in Syria

The disastrous miscalculation made by the United States in signing a military agreement with Turkey at the expense of the Kurds becomes daily more apparent. In return for the use of Incirlik Air Base just north of the Syrian border, the US betrayed the Syrian Kurds who have so far been its most effective ally against Islamic State (Isis, also known as Daesh). In return for this deal signed on 22 July, the US got greater military cooperation from Turkey, but it swiftly emerged that Ankara’s real target was the Kurds in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Action against Isis was almost an afterthought, and it was hit by only three Turkish airstrikes, compared to 300 against the bases of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

President Barack Obama has assembled a grand coalition of 60 states, supposedly committed to combating Isis, but the only forces on the ground to win successive victories against the jihadis over the past year are the ruling Syrian-Kurdish Party (PYD) and its People’s Protection Units (YPG). Supported by US air power, the YPG heroically defeated the Isis attempt to capture the border city of Kobani during a four-and-a-half month siege that ended in January, and seized the Isis crossing point into Turkey at Tal Abyad in June.

The advance of the Syrian Kurds, who now hold half of the 550-mile Syrian-Kurdish border, was the main external reason why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered the US closer cooperation, including the use of Incirlik, which had previously been denied. The domestic impulse for an offensive by the Turkish state against the Kurds also took place in June when the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) won 13 per cent of the vote in the Turkish general election, denying Mr Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) a majority for the first time since 2002. By strongly playing the Turkish nationalist and anti-Kurdish card, Mr Erdogan hopes to win back that majority in a second election on 1 November.

There are signs of a growing understanding in Washington that the US was duped by the Turks, or at best its negotiators deceived themselves when they agreed their bargain with Ankara. Senior US military officers are anonymously protesting in the US media they did not know that Turkey was pretending to be going after Isis when in practice it was planning an offensive against its 18 million-strong Kurdish minority.

Further evidence of misgivings in Washington came last week with an article in The New York Times entitled “America’s Dangerous Bargain with Turkey” by Eric S Edelman, former US ambassador to Turkey and under-secretary for defence policy, who is normally regarded as a neo-con of good standing. He accuses Mr Erdogan of unleashing “a new wave of repression aimed at Kurds in Turkey, which risks plunging the country into civil war” and he goes on to suggest that this might help the AKP win back its majority, but will certainly undermine the fight against Isis. He says: “By disrupting logistics and communications between the PKK in Iraq and the PYD in Syria, Turkey is weakening the most effective ground force fighting the Islamic State in Syria: the Kurds.”

In fact, there is growing evidence that the Turkish government has gone even further than that in weakening US allies opposing Isis in Syria, Arab as well as Kurd. For several years the US has been trying to build up a moderate force of Syrian rebels who are able to fight both Isis and the Syrian government in Damascus. The CIA-run initiative has not been going well because the Syrian military opposition these days is almost entirely dominated by Isis, which holds half Syria, the al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, and the equally sectarian Sunni Ahrar al-Sham.

Read more: Modern-day Monuments Men take on Isis
Site fighting Isis run by British ex-jihadi too scared to go public
Isis militants routed from village in Northern Iraq

But in July, the US plan to create such a moderate force was humiliatingly knocked on the head when Jabhat al-Nusra attacked and kidnapped many of this US-trained force as they entered Syria from Turkey. It now seems certain that Nusra had been tipped off by Turkish intelligence about the movements of the US-backed unit known as “Division 30”. Turkey apparently did this because it does not want the US to have its own surrogate in Syria. According to an investigation by Mitchell Prothero of the McClatchy news organisation, citing many Syrian sources in Turkey, the Turkish motive was to destroy the US-run movement, which was intended to number 15,000 fighters targeting Isis. Its disintegration would leave the US with no alternative but to train Turkish-sponsored rebel groups whose primary aim is to topple Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. The article quotes a Syrian rebel commander in the Turkish city of Sanliurfa, 30 miles north of the Syrian border, as saying that the Turks “don’t want anything bad to happen to their allies – Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham – along the border, and they know that both the Americans and the Syrian people will eventually recognise that there’s no difference between groups such as Nusra, Ahrar and Daesh.”

How does Isis itself assess the new US-Turkish accord? Its fighters may find it more difficult to cross the Syrian-Turkish border, though even this is uncertain. But it will be relieved that its most effective enemy in Syria, the PYD, will in future be restrained by Turkish pressure. Its PKK parent organisation is coming under sustained attack from Turkish forces in south-east Turkey and in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq.

The destruction of one of the most famous temples at Palmyra by Isis last week, and the decapitation of the site’s most famous archaeologist a few days earlier, are a show of strength and acts of defiance very much in the tradition of the Islamic State. The aim is to dominate the news agenda, which can easily be done by some spectacular atrocity, and thereby say, in effect, “you may hate what you are seeing, but there is nothing you can do to stop it”.

And this is demonstrably the case not just in Syria but in Iraq. Isis captured Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province in Iraq on 17 May and Palmyra five days later on 22 May. In neither case has there been an effective counter-attack. Isis is still winning victories where it counts, and faces no real threat to its existence.

The US campaign against Isis is failing and the US-Turkish deal will not reverse that failure and may make it more complete. Why did US negotiators allow themselves to be deceived, if that is what happened. No doubt the US air force was over-eager for the use of Incirlik so it would not have to fly its planes from Jordan, Bahrain or carriers in the Gulf.

But there is a deeper reason for America’s inability to confront Isis successfully. Ever since 9/11, the US has wanted to combat al-Qaeda-type movements, but without disturbing its close relations with Sunni states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Gulf monarchies. But it is these same allies that have fostered, tolerated or failed to act against the al-Qaeda clones, which explains their continuing success.

Turkish government fights WordPress and Kurds, not ISIS

This video from the USA says about itself:

16 November 2014

Jon Stewart: Turkey: Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane.

From the Peace in Kurdistan campaign in Britain:

Kurdish message of peace stifled by Turkish censorship

Monday 10th August 2015

The Peace in Kurdistan campaign explains how President Erdogan is more interested in trampling the Kurds than fighting Isis

DAYS ago, the Peace in Kurdistan Campaign’s website was blocked to users in Turkey in the latest government crackdown on Kurdish and pro-Kurdish news and media.

As part of a broad attack on internet freedom, 77 million websites hosted by were temporarily blocked under Turkey’s Internet Law 5651. After WordPress challenged the ban, the Turkish government lifted restrictions on the majority of sites, leaving just five — which included and four other pro-Kurdish sites — inaccessible inside Turkey. WordPress’s appeal to the courts regarding our site and the others is still pending.

The move came as the Turkish air force’s heavy bombardment of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) sites in northern Iraq and Rojava, the first such strike since 2011, threatened to put a definitive end to the more than two-year peace process.

Using their participation in the US-led anti-Islamic State (Isis) campaign as cover, the Turkish government has taken the opportunity to wage war not against Isis at all, but against the Kurdish movement, human rights defenders, activists and the peace process by breaking the 10th ceasefire called by the PKK in the last 15 years.

What is especially galling for the Kurds is that this new clampdown on freedom of expression, combined with the renewed offensive against the PKK, comes in the wake of the Suruc massacre of young Kurds who were preparing to take part in a voluntary mission to aid the people of Kobane — the city that became a symbol of Kurdish resistance to Isis.

The massacre, carried out by an Isis-inspired suicide bomber, left 33 youths dead and hundreds more badly injured. The Kurds immediately blamed Turkey because of its complicity in aiding Isis — assistance which has been well documented.

However, Turkey’s AKP government has quite cynically used the outburst of popular anger at the massacre as a pretext for launching its attacks on the Kurdish movement, both within the country and across the border, by systematic bombing of PKK camps in Iraq. Hundreds have since been killed and maimed by indiscriminate bombing, including many civilians, according to reports.

At the same time, the Turkish authorities, steered by an increasingly authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have begun attempts to lift political immunity from pro-Kurdish HDP parliamentarians, which will pave the way for their prosecution and possible disqualification from standing for re-election in the event of the president calling a snap general election. This is likely if coalition negotiations fail.

The latest wave of censorship included a temporary ban on Twitter, a platform used by nearly a third of the country’s population. In total 96 sites have been blocked on the grounds they are publishing “terrorist” propaganda. The vast majority of these were pro-Kurdish or leftist political sites.

This duplicity was mirrored in police raids and air strikes that took place the same week, ostensibly part of Turkey’s fight against Isis. Of the 1,050 arrests that took place across Turkey in nationwide “anti-terrorism operations” last week, 137 were alleged Isis sympathisers while 847 were Kurdish activists suspected of links to the PKK. Similarly, on the day the supposed anti-Isis air strikes began, just one sortie was sent to attack Isis targets, while 75 F-16s and F-4E 2020s dropped around 300 smart bombs onto 400 PKK targets in just two days.

For those us familiar with Turkey’s repressive, vague and draconian anti-terrorism legislation, these acts come as little surprise. Over the years we have campaigned for journalists imprisoned for speaking in support of Kurdish rights and for the reinstatement of media outlets after they were repeatedly banned or taken off the air. One such campaign was for the Kurdish-language broadcaster Roj TV, which, although based in Denmark, was forced from the air after the Turkish government agreed to support former Danish PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen’s appointment as Nato secretary-general.

We are well aware that we too are working under the suspicious gaze of an integrated surveillance system with global reach. Our peaceful activities that advocate for the inviolable rights of Kurdish people and a peaceful, negotiated resolution to the conflict are still seen as a threat.

For more information see

Under the guise of fighting ISIS, Turkey’s president is re-igniting a bloody war with the Kurds for his own political purposes: here.

‘Turkish air force killing Iraqi civilians’

This video says about itself:

Turkey kills “by mistake” 35 Kurdish civilians

30 December 2011

Tension increases at the border between Turkey and Iraq after Turkish officials confirmed their troops killed by mistake 35 civilians during an airstrike in the Kurdish village of Ortasu.

That was then. And now today, 1 August 2015.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

‘Turkish fighter jets again cause civilian casualties in northern Iraq

Today, 16:55

New attacks by Turkish warplanes on PKK targets in northern Iraq have killed ten civilians. This report the [Iraqi] Kurdish Rudaw media network, which has a reporter in the area. …

The attacks were on Zargali village, in the district Rawanduz. …

The Kurdish government in northern Iraq … condemned Turkey for “bombing civilians.” …

In The Hague this afternoon some 700 Kurds and Turks protested together against the Turkish bombardment of the PKK. The demonstrators marched from the central station to the Spui, where there were speeches.

Turks and Kurds demonstrate in The Hague, the Netherlands, against Turkish government bombing, 1 August 2015