I’ve put the following news about the situation there up here on the main menu because it seems that there is very little publicity being given to this uprising now happening (including amongst “anti-capitalist” sites), an uprising in which town halls have been seized, several political party HQs, including those of the pseudo-opposition, have been torched and some of the guards of these HQs have been killed, plus many other events.
It’s not of the same nature as the uprising against Saddam Hussein in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War, but it only started on Monday (18th December). So watch this space. I can’t pretend to know much about what has happened there in the 26 years since the Gulf War, but this is not an analysis, more a way of highlighting a little known significant insurrection taking place now.
This will be updated as I discover more about the situation
The following, sent by a Kurdish anarchist, was received by email today:
“We regret to say that some of the information you have received is Incorrect for instance: the demos only lasted 2 day and a half day, From Monday, 18/12 to Wednesday Morning , 20/12 . The numbers of the People who was killed only 5 to 7 and there was no police or any other People in KRG forces been among those were killed. The numbers of the People injured were around 60 as far as we know and also the numbers of People arrested were around 280. There was strike in Kalar and some more small towns that people did not open their shops on Sunday , 24/12 in Protest against the authority. That was it, so unfortunately the demos and the protest did not continue for the long time , at least at the moment.”
I have no way of verifying how much of this is accurate and how much the links I give below for the days after 20/12/17 are false, not that they contradict each other that much (after all, if a strike was organised for 24/12 that implies that the situation had still been simmering since 20th December). However, almost certainly this contact is far more accurate about the number of people killed than the link below stating that “25 were killed on both sides”.
Attached was a letter written on 25th December (excerpts):
“I would like to update you about the current situation in Iraqi Kurdistan, Basur. On Monday, 18/12/17, huge demos and protests started in almost all the territory that controlled by PUK and a couple of a small towns under controls of PDK (Barzni Party). The demos in the cities and towns that under controlled of PUK continued until Wednesday morning, 20/12. in few towns the offices of all political parties: PUK, KDP, so called the Movement for change ( Goran) and Islamic political parties burned down, 5 of the protesters killed and over 50 people injured and also more than 280 people were arrested.
The owner of the NRT TV station who was against the referendum of 25/09/12 for the Kurdistan independent state and later on he formed an organisation under the name of “ New Generation” with the help of some of the academics, liberal writers and some of the ” Goran” for forming a new government arrested since Tuesday evening . In the meantime The PUK forces raided the NRT TV Station and stopped it from airing. The PUK justification was the TV station “encouraging people to come on the streets and this is very dangerous that threaten the peace in Kurdistan”. It is the same excuse that all the authorities and the States are using it in the same circumstances.
The small protests and demos happened on the same day, Monday, in the towns were under control of KDP but have controlled soon after they were happened . Some of the activists injured and more than dozen of people were arrested, but most of them later on released.
Yesterday, Sunday, 24/12/17, there was in some of the small towns the shops, restaurants and cafe shops closed in protest against the authority. It suppose the same things happens on 26/12 and 27/12.
The positive signs of the current protests and demos, in my opinion, is people stepped into a new stage in their struggle and rejected the illusion that Kurdish authority , Setae, is different from the former Baathist state in term of providing the services and also in term of the brutality, if we consider the Baath party in Iraq was very very strong politically and economically and also it has been faced a very strong opposition which was the Kurdish movement .
We also should admit that under Saadam’s Regime people was paid, had electric power, cheap gas , cheap oil, cheap petrol and schools & universities were all free of charges. Under the KRG the situation of people has got much worse,: no salary to public sector people, no jobs, no freedoms, most of the resource have been privatised, so many forging Universities and studying institutions opened but are not free of charges and very expensive, the Islamic political parties now have so much influence over people and became very strong, all the lands have been sold, so much corruption are going on and plus many more.
The negative point in the protest and demos” is: The people are not trying to organise themselves outside of the political parties to form independent non-hierarchal local groups to aim of ruling themselves.”
This talks of a battle between Kurdish Peshmergas and Iraqi troops. Pure speculation – but maybe this is typical bourgeois strategy on the part of the Kurdish forces – distract from the essential enemy within (proletarian struggle) by intensifying conflict with an external nation-state enemy.
Iraqi Kurdistan: report saying major media in the region shut down & websites removed “Protesters who gathered in Koya told NRT on December 19 they wanted basic services and salaries: “Now, we don’t call on the government because there is no government. Since the government do not exist, we call on it to leave. The lawmakers and ministers all remain silent for money. Our demand is that government leaves,” a teacher added. They said they hadn’t been paid for up to four months. Protesters blocked the Kifri-Kalar road. They also attacked the offices of the five main political parties and NRT said [website since closed down] they burned the local Asayish (internal security) office….The same thing happened in Piramagroon, photo were posted online.”
Iraqi Kurdistan: 4th day of movement “Around 20 party offices and a town hall have been set ablaze across the troubled region since Monday”… as PM Barzani complains about riots being a conspiracy to undermine security & stability (for him and all the other racketeers)…This, though obviously from a mainstream viewpoint, gives a hint of some of the political-economic aspects of the situation.
Iraqi Kurdistan: massive arrests on 3rd day of movement “Kurdish forces launched a wide-scale arrest campaign in Sulaymaniyah to silence demonstrators, who have taken to the streets for the third day in a row in protest at delayed salary payments and poor services. Scores of civilians were arrested as part of the campaign”…Sulaimaniyah: troops occupy city “Heavily armed troops and anti-riot police locked down Iraqi Kurdistan’s second city Sulaimaniyah on Wednesday after two days of protests killed five people and wounded nearly 200 across the region.Armoured personnel carriers, water cannon and trucks mounted with machine guns were stationed at all of the city’s main crossroads, an AFP correspondent reported.There was virtually no traffic and most shops were closed, particularly around the central Saray Square, the epicentre of the protests”
Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan: 25 killed on both sides as riots against all political rackets continue “Clashes between protesters and security forces in Raniya left six dead and about 90 wounded. Rioters attacked a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan office in Koysinjaq, where they killed four guards and wounded seven more. At least four more wounded were reported. In Sulaymaniya, four policemen and six protesters were wounded….In Kanaan, a member of the oil police was killed.” More here “Earlier Tuesday, protesters torched a number of public facilities in Sulaymaniyah, including the offices of some opposition groups. Aydin Maruf, a lawmaker for the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), told Anadolu Agency that demonstrators had set fire to the ITF’s office in the city’s Kifri district. According to Maruf, protesters also torched the local headquarters of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, as well as the Koy Sanjaq prefecture building near Erbil, the municipal capital of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).” More here “Four guards of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) were killed as Kurdish protesters stormed the union’s headquarters in Erbil in protest at late salary payments and poor services….The angry protesters torched the offices of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the opposition Change Movement (Gorran) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan in Piramagroon northwest of Sulaimaniya.”…town halls seized “For the second day, the protesters burned the seats of political parties, without distinction….The most serious incident took place in Raparine, 130 km north of Sulaymaniyah, capital of the province of the same name. Protesters set fire to the headquarters of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the two main parties in the region, and seized the city hall. “Clashes ensued with the police opening fire, killing five people and injuring at least 70 people,” Taha Mohammad, spokesman for the local health department, told reporters. In other locations, around 100 people were injured by bullets, stones or suffocation … Demonstrations also took place in Rania, 130 km northwest of Sulaymaniyah, where the protesters also set fire to the PUK and Islamic Union headquarters and took control of the town hall...In Koysinjaq, Erbil province, protesters were reported to have set fire to the mayor’s office, as well as to the PPK, PUK and Islamic Union headquarters...In Kifri, Sulaymaniyah province, hundreds of protesters took control of the KDP headquarters after throwing stones.” ….insecurity forces shut down TV reporting of riots Apparently the riots are taking place in 14 different areas: Raparines, Souleimaniyeh, Rania, Koysinjaq, Kifri, Kalar, Ranya, Taqtaq, Chamchamal, Koya, Rawanduz, Halabja, Said Sadiq, & Qaladze.
“The demonstrators torched the office of the ruling Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP)…The protestors also set fire to the offices of KDP, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Change Movement (Gorran), Islamic Union of Kurdistan (Yekgirtu), and Islamic Group (Komela), in different cities and towns in Sulaimaniyah province…In some protests, the demonstrators turned violent when some protestors stoned the security forces guarding the Kurdish offices, prompting the troops to use tear gas in an attempt to disperse the crowds…the demonstrations started in the morning, but turned violent in the afternoon after the security forces used tear gas and the demonstrators threw stones on them. The protests were sparked by frustration over unpaid salaries to teachers and other civil servants, in addition to the deterioration of basic services and widespread corruption.” More here: “At least 12 people were killed, and 32 were wounded: about 30 people were taken to hospital for injuries or other ailments, including suffocation due to tear gas, after the riots in Kurdistan. An unreported number of the victims were security personnel.” And here “A security services building was also torched by the protesters across the troubled region.”. See also this, written following the 1991 Gulf War, mainly about the history of Kurdish parties in Iraq. And this thread in The Guardian at the beginning of 2013 on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq war; whilst the article itself is obviously rubbish this depressing comment illustrates some of the reasons for today’s massive attacks: “I have been living in Iraqi Kurdistan for the past few years, and I have to say this article is as misleading as it could get, Saddam was a Dictator but he never had plan to eradicate the Kurds, and when he did, he was supported by Western countries with many who did the dirty jobs were Kurdish Militant (Jash) loyal to Saddam. Ten years later, living here, I notice that Majority of he Kurdish population wish for the days of Saddam, not because they love Dictator, but because under Saddam, Iraq had a stable economy and a Socialist public service with no corruption, today, everything is private, the public sector is dying, and both the Iraqi and the KRG Government are ruled by few elites, almost a band of Mafia, each own an oil filed, and no one is aware as to what is happening to all the oil exports, they get rich while the country is sinking more into chaos and poverty.”
I put this up in October 2015 in News of Opposition:
Iraqi Kurdistan: riots spread to 3 areas “Protests across Sulaymaniyah Province in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region continue to spread this Saturday, with furious protesters attacking and burning the offices of the ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) throughout the province. On Saturday October 10th, protests began in Sulaymaniyah city center, with demonstrators attempting to attack KDP buildings. Security forces prevented the protesters from nearing the main KDP office, using tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. In the town of Said Sadiq, east of Sulaymaniyah, mostly teenage protesters attacked the KDP office with rocks. KDP supporters protected the office and responded by throwing rock back. …In Kalar town, located south of Sulaymaniyah, protesters also attacked a KDP office in the town with rocks…In Qaladiza town, north of Sulaymaniyah province, the site of Friday’s clashes in which three people were killed and 18 more injured, on Saturday protestors attacked another KDP office in the town and burnt it down. There are also reports of protests in Penjwin, near the Iranian border. In the last a few days, protests have spread across Sulaymaniyah province. Protestors claim to be angry at the delay of salaries and the presidential crisis, although most of the attacks have been directed at KDP buildings in the province.”
See also this from 1991 which talks about how the Kurdish nationalist parties often sided with Saddam Hussein. It should also be pointed out that in February to April 2011 demonstrations in Sulaymaniyah, in Iraqi Kurdistan led to a massive repression by the same political forces critiqued in the previously mentioned text. On this – largely unknown or, at least, forgotten – uprising, see also this report, and this post-repression assessment, when 10,000 troops occupied the Kurdish city.
Iraqi Kurdistan: tensions building up against ruling party over unpaid salaries etc. Video here (a lot more detail here)