- The People’s Democratic Party (HDP) denounced the deadly attack on police in Istanbul by the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK). The imprisoned HDP Co-Chair Selahattin Demirtash released a statement saying: “I condemn in the strongest terms the atrocious massacre that took place in Istanbul Saturday.” Demirtash also said: “However difficult our circumstances, we should not abandon our claim for peace.” Following the statement, HDP spokesperson Ayhan Bilgen announced that Demirtash had a heart spasm in prison and called upon the authorities to provide a “medical exam in a fully equipped hospital by unbiased doctors.” In addition to the ten HDP deputies that the government of Turkey is keeping imprisoned, over 300 more HDP and Democratic Regions Party (DBP) Kurdish politicians and activists were recently arrested since then. Since July 15th, the Turkish government has arrested more than 6000 Pro-Kurdish party members. Following the arrest of two more Kurdish Co-Mayors from the Kayapinar district in Diyarbakir (Amed), the ruling party of Justice and Development (AKP) replaced them with pro-AKP trustees.
- Turkey’s government ordered the closure of the Kurdish JINHA Women’s News Agency as well as the detention of two of the media outlet’s editors. The editors, Kader Gozuoglu and Aycan Chakir, have been detained since December 10th.
- In the second phase of the “Wrath of Euphrates” (the Raqqa liberation operation), the Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) are planning to liberate the west side of Raqqa city from ISIS. Currently, ISIS is using the city as its de facto capital. During a press conference, Jihan Sheikh Ahmad, the spokesperson for the liberation campaign, said its people would administer Raqqa after the liberation. According to Ahmad’s statement, 1,500 Arab fighters from Raqqa, trained by the U.S.-led coalition, are taking part in the campaign. Since the launch of phase two of the operation, six villages have been liberated, and a number of ammunition was seized from ISIS terrorists.
- During the Kurdish conference in the European Parliament, the Co-leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) Salih Muslim said: “The Kurdish people are fighting today for all the peoples of the region.” On relations with the United States, Muslim said: “We want to develop our relationship further.” On the Raqqa liberation operations, Muslim stressed the geostrategic, security-related importance of Raqqa’s liberation, citing the city’s close proximity to the PYD-controlled region of Rojava.
- After disagreement among the Kurdish factions within the Iraqi Parliament over the country’s budget for the fiscal year 2017, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) called for the Kurdish blocs to meet with the cabinet and discuss the matter. Under the 2017 budget law, the KRG would be required to provide 550 thousand barrels of oil a day to Baghdad in return for salaries and other payments to the Kurdistan region’s employees and military personnel (Peshmerga).
- During his trip to the Kurdistan region, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter awarded four Peshmerga members with bravery medals. The Peshmerga fighters were able to destroy many ISIS car bombs and stop suicide bombers during their fight against ISIS. Secretary Carter also held a meeting with KRG President, Massoud Barzani and talked about the ongoing campaign against ISIS as well as the continued cooperation between the governments in Baghdad and Arbil.
- Kirkuk Governor Dr. Najmaldin Karim emphasized the frustration of Kirkuk’s administration due to delaying the liberation of Haweja by Baghdad. He said: “there isn’t a clear plan to liberate Haweja and its surrounding areas. Delaying Haweja liberation exacerbates thesStruggles of its Citizens in the occupied areas every day.” Dr. Karim stressed the daily struggle that the Internally Displaced People (IDP) from Haweja living through due to the weather conditions while trying to flee and come to Kirkuk. He said:”there are daily incidents from their [IDP] exposure to ISIS fire and IEDs to prevent them from fleeing to Kirkuk.”
- Amnesty International called on the Iranian regime to allow for urgent medical care for the Kurdish political prisoner Zeynab Jalalian. Jalalian was a political activist working to empower Iran’s ethnic minority Kurds, particularly women. She was arrested in 2008 for affiliation with a Kurdish opposition Like Jalalian, hundreds of other Kurdish political activists and politician remain in Iran’s prisons.