Tag Archives: Kurdistan

ISIS capital Raqqa falls to U.S. backed forces

Raqqa, the last major urban stronghold held by ISIS, has fallen today to U.S. backed Kurdish forces in Syria.

There remain a lot of mopping up to do, but this victory signals the end of at least one brutal Islamic regime. Meanwhile, the Syrian civil war continues, and the conflict between the Kurds and all of its surrounding neighbors (Turkey, Syria, and Iraq) simmers.

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Iraq moves to take control of Kurdish area

The old world rolls on: With the defeat of ISIS almost complete in Iraq, Iraqi forces have now moved into Kirkuk, aiming to retake control of that region from Kurdish forces.

The overnight advance was the most decisive step Baghdad has taken yet to block the independence bid of the Kurds, who have governed an autonomous tract of northern Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and voted three weeks ago to secede.

Kirkuk, one of the most ethnically and religiously diverse cities in Iraq, is located just outside the autonomous Kurdish zone. Kurds consider it the heart of their homeland; they say it was cleansed of Kurds and settled with Arabs under Saddam to secure control of the oil that was the source of Iraq’s wealth.

As is usual in these typical old world waves of ethnic conflict, there are now thousands of Kurdish refugees fleeing Kirkuk.

The problem here is the desire of the Kurds to create a country based solely on ethnicity. Such a nation by definition, in the end, must be bigoted and must oppress everyone of the wrong ethnicity. Nor are the Iraqis innocent, as there is ample evidence that they have responded in the past in kind, trying to wipe out the Kurdish population because of its ethnicity. Thus, the Kurdish refugees now.

Once again, the real solution is to not define people by their race, ethnicity, gender, or religion, but by what each person does individually. Build a nation where each person can live and follow his or her dreams, irrelevant of these issues, and you will have justice, freedom, and prosperity. Build a nation based on these racist issues, and you will instead have war, bigotry, and hate. History has shown this repeatedly. It is tragic that we imperfect humans have trouble seeing it.

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Are thousands of Kurds abandoning Islam?

The article, published by a Kurdish news source, describes what appears to be a growing disenchantment with Islam in that region as a result of the violence and destruction of the Islamic State.

Many Muslims are confronted by the violent extremism of the Islamic State (ISIS) and wonder how to reconcile their personal beliefs with the actions of the extremist group. The Kurdish population is approximately 94% nominally Muslim. Recently, however, there have been many reports of Kurds leaving Islam or converting to other religions. The Zoroastrian movement claims to have as many as 100,000 followers in Iraqi Kurdistan. Christian organizations assert that thousands in the region have been seeking out Christianity as they reject ISIS’ interpretation of Islam. There are also reports of growing numbers of atheists and agnostics.

This quote however by an ordinary citizen I think is more significant:

[Sanger Najim, a young man living in Erbil] points the finger of blame at religious leaders for the rise of extremism and growing number of people turning away from Islam. “We don’t have [a] response when people from [the] West [are] telling us that Islam is cruel, Islam is Daesh. We don’t have a response for this. Why? The Mullahs never tell us what real Islam is. They are just reading us some history facts. They are just telling us some history… from old times. They are not able to link it with present society… They have to link Quran with the real life.”

He is horrified by the actions of the Islamic State, but cannot get a satisfactory answer about why this is not Islam from his own Islamic Mullahs.

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ISIS in retreat?

This story is one of several published the last few days that have described the retreat of ISIS from several Kurdish and Iraqi villages.

I hadn’t posted any of the previous stories because I was unsure of their reliability. The number, however, keeps increasing and the sources are becoming more trustworthy. If true, it is mostly good news, though one should always be hesitant about the leadership of any faction in the Islamic Middle East. They might start out sounding good, but too often they end up being either incompetent or as evil as can be imagined.

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Maps showing the territories of the Kurds and the Islamic State

Since I think it useful to have a rough geographical understanding of the situation, I have been digging around to find some maps that will outline the territories controlled by the both the Kurds and the Islamic State (also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria [ISIS]), including the areas of dispute. This link provides the best selection I’ve found so far.

Based on these maps, I wonder when ISIS will start moving into next door Iran, as its western regions are adjacent to their present holdings.

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