First ever Kurdish wheatear in France


This video says about itself:

The Kurdistan Wheatear (Oenanthe xanthoprymna), also known as the Kurdish Wheatear, Chestnut-rumped Wheatear or Red-rumped Wheatear, is a species of bird in the Muscicapidae family. The Red-tailed Wheatear (O. chrysopygia) was formerly considered a subspecies of this bird but is now often regarded as a separate species.

From Birdguides.com in Britain:

Rarity finders Kurdish Wheatear in Auvergne — a first for France

At 1,464 m Puy de Dôme is the highest point of the Chaîne des Puys, a chain of extinct volcanoes in the Auvergne region of France. The summit, often very windswept, is covered by an alpine meadow on which the Romans built a temple dedicated to the god Mercury. In spring and summer, it is a very busy place as a lot of tourists visit, either by walking or by train. Typical breeding species include Water Pipit, Skylark and Crag Martin.

Situated near Clermont-Ferrand, the site is easy for me to visit and I regularly make the ascent early in the morning, at a time when I am often alone and birds are easy to observe. On Sunday 17 May, on the ruins of the Roman temple, I observed a wheatear of a species unknown to me, but I had no field guide, no camera and I was in a hurry. I thus went back to the summit the following afternoon.

On arrival at the temple at 4 pm I immediately found the bird in the same place, and watched it for one hour. It was very showy, coming to within 10 metres. By this point there was no doubt: this wheatear, with a black throat, white supercilium, grey-brown back and a rusty red rump, was a Kurdish Wheatear!

Perched on the walls of the temple it hunted insects and sang in the sunshine, indifferent to the people surrounding it, making for a wonderful observation in perfect conditions. How had it arrived here, so far from its breeding range in the Middle East?

Arriving back home I learned that this was the first known sighting in France, and indeed Western Europe. The bird was still present on Tuesday 19th, when it was twitched by several French birders, but not seen thereafter. What a symbol that this rarest of visitors chose to settle at a location which asks to be classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site!

Kurdish Wheatear has a restricted breeding range from eastern Turkey to south-west Iran and winters in the Sinai, eastern Egypt and Sudan. This represents the first record for France and continues an excellent run of vagrants in the country so far in 2015 which includes the first national records of Asian Desert Warbler and Bimaculated Lark, the second Eastern Black Redstart and White-crowned Black Wheatear (the latter the first since 1884), and third Little Swift.

Alex Clamens

Friday 22nd May 2015

ISIS opponents are ‘terrorists’, Australian government says


This video about Kurdish northern Syria says about itself:

Anarchy in Rojava: A libertarian revolution in the Middle East

21 February 2015

In this edition, we look at the fierce men and women, who have been fighting the head chopping Islamists of I.S.I.S. to create [a] libertarian commune along the border between Syria, Iraq and Turkey. On the music break we have Kurdish rapper Rezan with “Em Kurdin.” Our guest this week is Chris Dixon, author of “Another Politics” a book about anti-authoritarian organizing in Turtle Island.

In Iraq and Syria, there is the terrorist organisation ISIS. A result of George W Bush’s and Tony Blair’s Iraq war, as President Obama said. For the Pentagon and its allies, they are the pretext for re-starting the Iraq war and starting war in Syria (officially against ISIS, in practice about oil).

The government of NATO country Turkey has often helped ISIS, as even United States Vice President Joseph Biden admitted in a moment of honesty for which he later wrongly apologized.

The government of NATO country Turkey considers the Kurdish opponents of ISIS ‘terrorists’. So do the governments of other NATO countries, like the Netherlands.

So does the government of another NATO country, Great Britain. They recently jailed a Kurdish-British girl for ‘terrorism’ for plans to fight ISIS.

Now, to Australia. Not a NATO country, but usually considered to be a part of the self-styled ‘free world’. Also a military ally of NATO in the re-started Iraq war; though most Australians oppose that.

From the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia:

Former Labor party president Matthew Gardiner arrested at Darwin airport

April 5, 2015 – 7:19PM

Eryk Bagshaw

Matthew Gardiner, the former Northern Territory Labor party president who joined Kurdish forces to help them fight Islamic State, was detained at Darwin Airport on Sunday before being released without charge, the Australian Federal Police have confirmed.

Mr Gardiner, 43, left his wife and two sons in Australia to leave for Syria in January, after making connections with others on social media who were sympathetic to the Kurdish cause. …

The Kurds, who Mr Gardiner was helping, have been involved in a bitter battle with Islamic State since the jihadist group invaded their territory last year. …

The Attorney-General’s department has long maintained that Australians who leave Australia to engage in an illegal conflict and then come back, will be arrested, prosecuted and jailed. …

Under the current legislation it is possible for Australians to join the armed forces of a foreign country. However, the Kurds are not recognised as a legitimate armed force. …

Mr Gardiner served with the Australian army in Somalia during the 1990’s and had over a decade in military experience before becoming a senior Labor figure.

He was also the treasurer of the peak body Unions NT and the secretary of hospitality, childcare and emergency services union United Voice in the Northern Territory.

Friends were shocked when they discovered the dedicated father and vocal unionist had left to join the conflict.

Federal [Labor party] Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said he was relieved Mr Gardiner was back home in Australia despite fighting in an overseas conflict which he does not entirely agree with.

“I’m concerned anyone thinks they should be getting involved in these foreign conflicts, no matter what their intentions,” Mr Shorten told the ABC.

“The message has to be to Australians: We’re not going to fix those issues by becoming a foreign fighter and the law’s going to have to take its process.”

Mr Shorten should apply these words to the Australian government’s participation in the re-started Iraq war, rather than for stabbing his party colleague Gardiner in the back; Mr Gardiner, who now may get a long jail term because of governmental hypocrisy.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands, 6 April 2014:

Al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, has kidnapped 300 Kurdish men in northern Syria. According to an official in the Kurdish region Kobani the men were with women and children on their way from the city Afrin to Aleppo when they were stopped. Only the men were taken.

British government charges anti-ISIS girl with terrorism


This video from Syria is called 2014 International Women’s Day in Qamishlo – Rojava Kurdistan.

NATO, Saudi, Bahraini, etc. armed forces fight wars in Iraq and Syria. Officially ‘against ISIS terrorism’, but in practice more about oil.

However, when Kurds in, eg, Syria really fight ISIS, then the government of NATO member Turkey helps ISIS in various ways; and declares the Kurdish anti-ISIS people to be ‘terrorists’. The government of the Netherlands and other NATO countries follow Mr Erdogan’s government in calling anti-ISIS Kurds ‘terrorists’.

So, it seems, does David Cameron’s British government, also NATO allies of Erdogan‘s Turkish government.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

British teenage girl charged with trying to join Kurdish forces fighting Isis

Shilan Ozcelik, 18, becomes first Briton to be arrested for trying to fight against Islamic State in Syria

Owen Bowcott

Friday 13 March 2015 18.34 GMT

A teenager from London, who was allegedly trying to join a Kurdish military women’s unit fighting Isis in Syria, has been charged with a terrorist offence.

Shilan Ozcelik, who is of Kurdish descent, was arrested earlier this year at Stansted airport. She is believed to be the first British citizen to be arrested for trying to join the campaign against the jihadis who control eastern Syria and western Iraq.

Ozcelik, from Holloway, north London, faces one charge of engaging in conduct in preparation for giving effect to an intention to commit acts of terrorism under the 2006 Terrorism Act.

Her supporters say she travelled to Brussels in an attempt to join the women’s protection units, also known as YPJ, that are based in Rojava – the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria under attack by Isis.

She was arrested by on 16 January at as she returned from Brussels. Neither the YPJ nor the YPG, the main men’s Kurdish peshmerga militia in northern Syria, are banned organisations in the UK. …

Ozcelik appeared at Westminster magistrates court on Wednesday and was charged with a terrorist offence. She was remanded in custody and is due to appear at the Old Bailey next month. Her supporters are planning a demonstration outside Holloway prison in north London, where she has been remanded.

Earlier this month a former British Royal Marine, Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, died fighting for Kurdish YPG forces in northern Syria.

Wildlife news, not war news, from Iraq


This video is about a chuckar partridge (the national bird of Kurdistan; and of Pakistan).

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Sunday 22 February 2015

How butterflies are harbingers of hope in war-torn Iraq

A conservation group dedicated to preserving biodiversity offers a hope of fledgling renewal for this war-shattered land

Nature Iraq: not an oxymoron, but the name of the country’s leading conservation group.

Since it was founded in 2004, it has set up a series of projects to understand and protect the wildlife of Iraq. Now it is able to reflect on three years of effective work which has brought great benefits, both to humans and to wildlife.

You might think that compared with other problems being faced by people in Iraq, those that concern the distribution of butterflies are pretty insignificant. But you’d be wrong. Butterflies matter to the world: and perhaps they matter more to Iraq than to any other nation on earth.

That’s because conservation is one of the arts of peace. Preserving wildlife is important at all times and in all places; but when it comes to the healing of a shattered and broken country, a butterfly has a significance that towers above the trivialities. So here are a few examples of what Nature Iraq has been getting up to.

For a start, it has been running a study and education programme in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the north-east of the country. The group is supported by the Darwin Initiative, funded by the UK government; by the Centre for Middle Eastern Plants, based in Edinburgh; and by Birdlife International, with headquarters in Cambridge. So it’s a business that rises above local troubles. It has a global input and a global significance: wildlife conservation in one place is possible only through the efforts of people in many other places.

Nature Iraq has established an on-line course on biodiversity and conservation, in partnership with the University of Sulaimani in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah. It’s been running for three years and 60 students have now completed the course. Another 60 have just signed up.

Then there’s a nationwide citizen science project on the distribution of butterflies and dragonflies. Thanks to the widespread use of smartphones, photographs of these insects are now flooding in to Nature Iraq, which has already identified four species new to the country. The organisation has set up a team of experts across the world, so that every species can be properly identified and mapped. …

The mountain of Peramagroon, which covers an area of 100 sq km, is a spectacular spot that’s home to Egyptian vultures and a flycatcher called the Kurdistan wheatear. It has a species of wild goat and a good population of spur-thighed tortoises. A survey of the area’s plants revealed 650 species, more than twice the number previously known from the area; among them were several species new to science.

A study of land use on Peramagroon will enable Nature Iraq to establish a proper conservation action plan. A series of school visits have been made to the area, and children have been setting up nest boxes as a result. Nature Iraq is also field-testing a phone app that will help to identify birds in Peramagroon; it contains details of 130 species. The long-term aim is to develop this and similar apps for use across the Middle East.

When it is more important to identify a saker falcon than a Black Hawk helicopter, you know that an important step towards peace has been taken. Bwar Khalid of Nature Iraq said: “I hope we can do more projects and activities in the future, especially in our country where there has been nothing except war and destruction.”

Butterflies and dragonflies matter. People looking for butterflies and dragonflies matter. Unknown species of mountain plants matter. Children setting up nest boxes matter. The fact that a Kurdistan wheatear is different from an eastern black-eared wheatear matters. All these things matter if you wish to turn a country deeply harmed by war into a place where life is worth living. …

Such projects have the vividness of a New Year’s resolution: a new start, one in which better things will surely be possible. Hope comes in a butterfly; in an eastern rock nuthatch; in the flora of a mountain; in people dedicated to looking after them all.

ISIS attacks Syrian Kurds from Turkish territory


This 16 November 2014 video from the USA is called Jon Stewart: Turkey: Erdogan helps ISIS at Kobane.

According to Turkish journalist Murat Bay, ISIS fighters crossed the border today to attack Syrian Kurds before the eyes of Turkish soldiers. These soldiers saw that and did absolutely nothing.

Kurdish blogger Gilgamesh confirms this invasion.

See also here.

The co-chair of the Kobane council, Anwar Muslim, went farther with the allegations: “Under the pretense of stopping an ISIS attack on Turkey the Turkish army bombarded the center of Kobane with tanks and artillery. A number of civilians and fighters have been wounded.” Muslim claimed the Turkish authorities cut electricity during their bombardment: here.

REBELS REPORT ISIS LAUNCHED ATTACK FROM TURKEY “Any day now, the U.S. and Turkey may finally reach an agreement on jointly combating the Islamic State. But in the meantime, Turkey appears less helpful to the U.S. mission than ever: There is growing evidence that Islamic State militants conducted a battle on Turkish soil this past weekend. The reports, if confirmed, would illustrate that Turkey’s ongoing reluctance to escalate pressure against the Islamic State has had real costs — and that, even if the country does become more involved in the fight, skepticism about its true intentions will linger.” [HuffPost]

According to the Syrian Human Rights Observatory, Jihadists attacked with stones two men aged 18 and 20 accused of being homosexuals. The same source supports that the 20 year old victim was later executed in the city Magianten in the eastern Deir Al-Zor province after Jihadists allegedly found pictures with ”shameful acts between men” in his phone: here.

The US war on the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’ or ISIL, also known as Islamic State of IS – the single biggest development in US foreign policy during 2014 – continues to puzzle those looking for its strategic logic. But the solution to the puzzle lies in considerations that have nothing to do with a rational response to realities on the ground. In fact, it is all about domestic political and bureaucratic interests: here.

Is Turkey holding up a resolution in Syria? The pieces for a political deal to end the Syrian civil war are coming together — if Ankara will let them: here.

$25 IS ALL YOU NEED TO GET FROM TURKEY TO SYRIA Behind Turkey’s “jihadi highway.” [Sophia Jones, HuffPost]