- Saeed Shirzad, a jailed Kurdish activist, has been on a hunger strike for over a month now. As Iran’s regime continues to jail hundreds of political activists, Shirzad announced a hunger strike which has resulted in the grave deterioration of his health. Meanwhile, in the first week of 2017, the Iranian regime executed 8 people.
- Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim headed a delegation to Iraq. During his visit, Yildirim visited Arbil and held meetings with Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Massusd Barzani. The two discussed “in detail the current war against the terrorists of the Islamic State and specifically [talked] about the Mosul operation” according to a statement released by the KRG Presidency.
- Following the recent attempts to end the political crises in the region, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) political bureau representatives will hold a new round of talks with the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) on January 11, 2017. The meeting between the two sides will be in Arbil. Because of the lack of progress between the PUK and Gorran in developing an agreement, members of the latter organization demanded clarification from their leadership regarding the potential agreement and whether or not the PUK would be ready to fulfill such an agreement.
- A recent joint special operation by U.S forces and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) resulted in the death of the self-titled Islamic State’s (ISIS) “Minister of the Economy” in the town of Kibir between al-Raqah and Deir ez-Zur. Meanwhile the SDF repelled 3 day-long ISIS attacks to retake west Swede village in Raqqa Province. The village is considered strategic for ISIS’s logistical movements. Kibir was liberated by the SDF in December 2016. The SDF continues their advance toward the ISIS capital, Raqqa city.
- At least 200 Iraqi refugee families reached the Syrian town of Al-Hol after fleeing from ISIS. The Mosul liberation operations have resulted in families from the west side of Mosul city to continue fleeing to Syrian areas that are controlled by the Northern Federal region.
- The pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (HDP) opposed a constitutional amendment to grant more power to Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan. Imprisoned HDP Co-chair Selahattin Demirtash wrote a letter from his jail cell regarding the amendment. Deputy Ahmed Yildirim read Demirtash’s letter for the public. In the letter, Demirtash urged the deputies of “necessary precautions for their right to secret the ballot in the constitutional amendment.” He described the 11 jailed HDP deputies as being “taken hostage” to prevent them from voting against the amendment. The proposed amendment, which was introduced by the ruling party of Justice and Development (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), is currently sitting in draft form.
- Turkish authorities released HDP parliamentarian Layla Birlik from prison after being imprisoned for two months. Layla Birlik is an HDP deputy for the Kurdish Shirnak Province. In the Chatak district of Van Province, the Turkish authorities referred 5 Kurdish politicians (out of the 18 arrested earlier) to the prosecutor’s office. In Viranshehir, Urfa province, 21 Kurdish officials were referred to court after their arrest. Similar to other arrested officials, Turkish police accuse the Kurdish elected officials of aiding “terror”. The government continues to replace arrested Kurdish officials with trustee appointments. Van Governor Ibrahim Tashyapan, the trustee appointed earlier to replace a Kurdish Mayor, appointed a man to replace a Kurdish woman as head of the Women’s Local Council.
- The Governor of Diyarbakir (Amed) announced a new set of curfews in ten villages in Lice district. The curfews were ostensibly put in place because of the ongoing military operations throughout the aforementioned villages.