News / Middle East

    Iraqi Kurd President Says Ready to Defend Kurds in Syria

    Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani smiles during an interview with Reuters in Arbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, June 2, 2013.
    Kurdish Regional Government President Masoud Barzani smiles during an interview with Reuters in Arbil, about 350 km (220 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq, June 2, 2013.
    Reuters
    Iraqi Kurdistan is ready to defend Kurds living in Syria if it is found that they are being threatened by al-Qaida-linked fighters involved in the Syrian civil war, the president of the well-armed autonomous region said.
        
    In a letter posted online on Saturday, Masoud Barzani said he had directed Kurdish representatives to go to neighboring Syria to investigate news reports that the "terrorists of al-Qaida are attacking the civilian population and slaughtering innocent Kurdish women and children."
        
    His statement was a further sign of how Syria's two-year conflict is spilling over its borders and aggravating sectarian tensions in adjacent countries.
        
    Exploiting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's receding territorial grip on the country, Syrian Kurds have carved out de facto autonomy in the far northeast where their population is concentrated. But they have also clashed with Sunni Muslim jihadi fighters spearheading the insurgency against Assad.
        
    "If the reports are true, showing that citizens, women and the children of innocent Kurds are under threat from murder and terrorism, Iraq's Kurdistan region will make use of all of its capabilities to defend women and children and innocent citizens," Barzani's statement said. He did not elaborate on the nature or extent of possible intervention from Kurdistan.
        
    Barzani's letter was sent on Thursday to the preparatory committee for a Kurdish National Conference to be held in the northern Kurdistan city of Arbil later this month. The panel includes envoys from Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. Barzani asked this committee to form another panel that would go into Syria.
        
    Posted on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) website, Barzani's statement referred to areas in Syria as "Western Kurdistan." Spread over large, adjoining tracts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, the Kurdish people are often described as the largest ethnic group without their own state.
        
    The northern Iraqi region of Kurdistan, which has its own government and armed forces, is pursuing increasingly independent energy and foreign policies, infuriating the Shi'ite Muslim-dominated central government in Baghdad.
        
    Iraqi Kurds have sent fuel, food and medical aid to their ethnic kin over the border in Syria, extending Barzani's influence, but Saturday's statement appeared to be the first time that he had suggested intervention.
        
    In Syria, where they make up about 10 percent of the population, Kurds have been widely discriminated against under Assad and his late father before him, who stripped more than 100,000 of their citizenship.
        
    For some Syrian Kurds, the insurrection against Assad presents an opportunity to win the kind of rights enjoyed by their neighbors in Iraqi Kurdistan.
        
    Kurdistan's approach to Syria contrasts with that of the Baghdad government. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, a Shi'ite, has said Iraq will not interfere in the conflict. His interests are aligned with those of Shi'ite Iran, which backs Assad.

    You May Like

    Republicans Struggle With Reality of Trump Nomination

    Despite calls for unity by presumptive presidential nominee, analysts see inevitable fragmentation of party ahead of November election and beyond

    Despite Cease-fire, Myanmar Landmine Scourge Goes Unaddressed

    Myanmar has third-highest mine casualty rate in the world, according to Landmine and Cluster Munition Monitor, which says between 1999 to 2014 it recorded 3,745 casualties, 396 of whom died

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha?

    From meat and potatoes to avocados, how immigrants transform American cuisine

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Jim from: san jose
    August 11, 2013 5:14 PM
    Since USA/Israel are arming and supporting Al Qaeda, it would be nice to see how Kurds will respond in Syria and Iraq. The war on terror is a non sense and USA and Israel are the #1 supporter of terrorism.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora