The Kurdish news agency Rudaw reports Aug. 28 that the First Kakai Battalion of the Peshmerga, a 630-strong force made up entirely of members of the Kakai religious minority, is preparing to go into battle against ISIS along the frontline near Daquq—and protests that they are being denied the weaponry they need. When ISIS swept into northern Iraq last year, commander Farhad Nezar Kakai urged the Kurdistan Regional Government to establish the Kakai force to defend the minority's nine villages near the frontline in Kirkuk governorate. "After the catastrophe of Shingal, we felt that same thing could happen to Kakais," Nezar told Rudaw, referring to the massacre of thousands of Yazidis at Mount Sinjar (as it is more commonly rendered). The Kakai, like the Yazidis, are followers of a pre-Islamic faith, and targeted for extremination by ISIS.
Israel's YNet reports Aug. 31 that Russian fighter pilots are expected to begin arriving in Syria in the coming days, to begin sorties against ISIS and rebel forces. The report cites diplomatic sources to the effect that "a Russian expeditionary force has already arrived in Syria and set up camp in an Assad-controlled airbase. The base is said to be in area surrounding Damascus, and will serve, for all intents and purposes, as a Russian forward operating base. In the coming weeks thousands of Russian military personnel are set to touch down in Syria, including advisors, instructors, logistics personnel, technical personnel, members of the aerial protection division, and the pilots who will operate the aircraft."
Working-class districts of Istanbul, following the lead of rebel Kurds in Turkey's east, are declaring their own "autonomy" from the state—amid ongoing street clashes with security forces. The center of the urban rebellion is the Gazi neighborhood, where the Gazi People's Initiative has proclaimed self-government, pledging to resist all police operations in the district. Upon the declaration Aug. 15, residents marched through the district with a banner calling for freedom for imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan. On Aug. 19, a 17-year-old youth was killed in nearby Esenler district, when police opened fire on an "unauthorized" demonstration by the PKK-aligned Revolutionary Patriotic Youth Movement (YDG-H). Police said they were fired on by masked YDG-H militants. On Aug. 24, masked militants reportedly torched a public bus with Molotov cocktails after stopping it at a street barricade in Okmeydanı district. In July 26 street-fighting in Gazi, a police officer was killed, allegedly by a sniper who fired from a building. Gazi district is a stronghold of Turkey's Alevi minority. (Daily Sabah, Aug. 24; AFP, Aug. 19; JINHA, Aug. 16; BGN, AFP, July 26)
We finally took the plunge and removed the damn Google Ads from the World War 4 Report website. We were encouraged by the fact that one reader signed up to sponsor us on Patreon. We now have one Patreon sponsor, and one monthly subscriber on PayPal. Both are paying around $10 per month. The Patreon sponsor pays $1.50 per "paid" post from World War 4 Report. We pledge to keep "paid" posts to Patreon within the range five-to-ten a month. We hope we can gain more subscribers and make up for the modest earnings we got from Google Ads. Will you help our ultra-dissident voice survive?
In response to the new offensive by the Turkish government, Kurds in the country's east are declaring their own regional autonomy. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) announced a "democratic autonomous region" in Dersim (Tunceli) province, and established checkpoints on the main road ithrough the region on Aug. 18. "We as guerrillas, under the right of self-defense for ourselves and our nation, declare democratic autonomy in Dersim," said a fighter in a video released by the group, showing their militants controlling the road and searching vehicles. Villages in Dogubeyazit district (Ağrı province) likewise issued an autonomy declaration. Local PKK militant Muhsin Kula said: "We will not recognize state institutions in this region. We hereby declared that we manage ourselves." Fighting between the PKK and government forces has left several dead this month, especially in Hakkari province, although accounts of the death toll widely vary. The government is denying PKK claims of 30 soldiers killed, claimg to have lost only one. Kurdish anger has been enflamed by reports that a female PKK fighter named Ekin Van was allegedly raped and killed before her naked body was dragged through the streets in Varto (Muş province). (Rudaw, Aug. 18) (See map)
Reports from the PKK-aligned Kurdistan National Congress indicate an internal war by the Turkish state against the Kurds in the country's east, approaching levels of violence not seen in 20 years. Several villages in Diyarbakir province are said to be under heavy shelling by the Turkish army. Many of these villages are reported to be currently burning, with many injured, and an unknown number killed. After hours of shelling, Turkish soldiers reportedly entered the village of Kocakoy, Lice-Hani district, putting homes to the torch—sometimes with families still inside, resulting in further loss of life. Troops then proceeded to force an evacuation of the villages. It is not said where the survivors fled to. A similar attack is reported from Şapatan (Turkish: Altınsu) village in Şemdinli district, Hakkari province, where the blaze has spread to surrounding forest areas. (KNC, KNC, Aug. 18)
An Aug. 12 Public Radio International interview with Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute, notes that Iran in 2009 quietly appealed for help from the US in managing a severe water crisis—and suggests that the need for assistance from American hydrologists was the secret lubricants behind the US-Iran nuclear agreement. "The conversation between Iran and the United States over water has extended back more than a decade before 2009," Gleick said. "There have always been contacts at the university level, and at the level of the National Academy of Sciences, between the countries about water efficiency, water conservation, water technologies and how to manage droughts. As the water situation in the Middle East has gotten worse, the interest has gotten higher." Growing usage and an ongoing drought have meant a severe and worsening water crisis for Iran over the past 15 years. Two years ago, a study by the World Resources Institute ranked Iran as the world's 24th most water-stressed nation. (This timeline from The Guardian shows the trajectory of the nuclear talks, which began secretly in early 2013, and were formalized later that year.)
An unusual two-day ceasefire is about to take effect in three Syrian towns, brokered by regional enemies Turkey and Iran—the former a patron of the Syrian rebels and the later a sponsor of the Damascus regime. The two groups that have agreed to the truce are the Turkish-backed Ahrar al-Sham rebel faction and Iran-backed Hezbollah. The truce was ostensibly organized to allow delivery of humanitarian supplies to rebel-held Zabadani (heavily damaged by regime barrel bombs), and government-held Fou'a and Kafraya. All three are in Idlib governorate, near the border of the Alawite heartland of Latakia, traditionally a bastion of support for the regime. (Syria Deeply, Haaretz, BBC News, Reuters)