Thursday, October 25, 2007

As Turkey-Iraq crisis escalates, US plans military strikes on PKK bases

With the Turkish military poised to strike the guerrilla bases of the separatist Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in northern Iraq, Washington and London are engaged in frantic diplomatic activity to prevent a Turkish intervention that would further destabilise the US occupation of Iraq. However, as the Chicago Tribune reported yesterday, the Bush administration is also drawing up plans for military attacks on the PKK, either by US forces or jointly with the Turkish army.
The Turkish government has seized on recent PKK attacks inside Turkey to justify a huge military buildup along the border with Iraq. At least 60,000 heavily-armed soldiers, backed by tanks, artillery, warplanes and helicopter gunships, have been assembled to hit PKK camps in the rugged Qandil Mountains bordering Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Last week, the Turkish parliament voted overwhelmingly to authorise the government to order cross-border operations.
On Sunday, tensions reached boiling point after some 200 PKK rebels attacked a Turkish army post, killing at least 12 soldiers and capturing eight others. The Turkish military counterattacked, pursuing the guerrillas over the border into Iraq. According to the Turkish press, combat aircraft hit more than 60 targets inside Iraq. However, Turkey held back from launching a large-scale invasion into Iraq’s Kurdish north.
The Turkish government is insisting that the US and Iraq take action to destroy the PKK’s bases, capture the PKK leaders and hand them over to Ankara. In response, the US and Britain pressed the Iraqi government and the Kurdish regional government to deal with the PKK. A series of meetings over the past two days in Washington, London and Baghdad has failed to the resolve the issue.
After speaking to Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ominously warned: “We cannot wait forever... We have to make our own decision.” In Baghdad, Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan, while calling for a diplomatic solution, rejected out-of-hand the suggestion of a ceasefire with the PKK, which he insisted was a “terrorist organisation”.
US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack described the frenzy of diplomatic activity as a “full-court press” by Bush administration officials to prevent a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq. The basketball analogy, however, implies a planned strategy. It would be more appropriate to describe the US response as one of sheer panic as the consequences of the Bush administration’s criminal invasion of Iraq and its reckless preparations for a new war on Iran come home to roost.
The Kurdish north of Iraq is routinely hailed as the great success story of the US occupation. In reality, it is a highly unstable house of cards. As the pay off for their backing of the US invasion in 2003, the Bush administration allowed the two major Kurdish nationalist parties—the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)—to establish an autonomous region in three northern provinces. From the outset, Turkish leaders regarded the regional government as a threat that would encourage broader Kurdish separatist sentiment. They were particularly hostile to its demands for control of the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, which has a sizeable Turkmen population, and the surrounding oil fields.
The failure of the US to take any action against PKK guerrillas entrenched in the Qandil Mountains has only heightened tensions with Turkey. The PKK and its sister organisation, the Party for Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK), which operates inside Iran, have been allowed to function freely in Iraq’s northern provinces, obtaining supplies and finance through its major cities. Despite denials, there is ample evidence that the US and Israel have been covertly arming and training PJAK guerrillas as a means of gathering intelligence inside Iran and destabilising the Iranian regime. The New York Times, for instance, published a lengthy story yesterday citing a PJAK leader as saying there was “normal dialogue” with American officials.
The lack of any clear cut dividing line between the PJAK and PKK—both groups operate from the same mountainous areas, share a similar Kurdish separatist program and common origins—only underscores the Bush administration’s hypocrisy and cynicism. To keep US ally Turkey on side, the US has branded the PKK as a terrorist organisation, but not the PJAK.
Any Turkish attack on the PKK/PJAK bases and Kurdish villages in Iraq would inevitably provoke an angry reaction among Iraqi Kurds and threaten to draw in Kurdish peshmerga militia units and the Iraqi army. Such a move would be deeply destabilising, not only for the Kurdish regional government, but also the Iraqi government in Baghdad, which relies heavily on PUK/KDP support.
US military preparations
Washington is clearly desperate to prevent a Turkish military intervention in Iraq or a breach in the US/Turkish alliance. Quite apart from long-term strategic considerations, the US military funnels around 70 percent of its air cargo to Iraq via a major US air base in southern Turkey. At the same time, more than 1,000 Turkish troops are in Afghanistan as part of NATO forces, helping to prop up the US-led occupation of that country.
While publicly calling for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, the Bush administration is also making preparations for a military assault on PKK bases. President Bush spoke to Turkish President Abdullah Gul on Monday via telephone. According to White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe, Bush offered reassurances to Gul that the US would work with Turkey and Iraq “to combat PKK terrorists operating out of northern Iraq”.
The Chicago Tribune yesterday reported that military action was discussed. An unnamed US official familiar with the Bush/Gul conversation told the newspaper that the US was seriously looking into options beyond diplomacy to deal with the PKK. “It’s not ‘Kumbaya’ time anymore—just talking about trilateral talks is not going to be enough. Something has to be done,” the official said.
A range of military options were being considered, including air strikes and the use of cruise missiles against PKK bases. Another option discussed was to persuade the Kurdish regional government to use its militia forces to establish a cordon around the mountains where the PKK is entrenched, in order to choke off its supply routes. The deployment of US troops to hit the PKK was considered to be a final resort.
Highlighting the fears in Washington, the US official told the Chicago Tribune: “In the past, there has been reluctance to engage in direct US military action against the PKK, either through air strikes or some kind of Special Forces action. But the red line was always, if the Turks were going to come over the border, it could be so destabilising that it might be less risky for us to do something ourselves. Now the Turks are at the end of their rope, and our risk calculus is changing.”
Bush’s discussion with Gul followed an urgent telephone call on Sunday by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, urging him to hold back from an immediate military attack inside northern Iraq. Chicago Tribune reported that Erdogan had given a 72-hour reprieve on any cross-border attack. The Turkish government is under pressure from the military and opposition parties, particularly extreme right-wing nationalists, to launch a military operation. At the same time, however, it is deeply concerned about an open breach with the US and the consequences of war that threatens to be inconclusive and could become a broader regional conflict.
An article posted on the Thomson Financial web site indicated that the US and Turkey may be planning a combined military operation against the PKK. As he flew to London on Monday, Erdogan told reporters: “We may conduct a joint operation with the United States against the PKK in northern Iraq... We expect to work jointly, just as we do in Afghanistan.” Speaking of his conversation with Rice the previous day, he added: “She was worried. I saw she was in favour of a joint operation. She asked for a few days time and said she would come back to us.”
The Iraqi Kurdish nationalist parties are obviously alarmed. By slavishly supporting the US occupation of Iraq, the PUK and KDP calculated that they would have American backing to establish their own small political and business empire in northern Iraq that would eventually include the oil-rich region around Kirkuk. Having declared that it would resist any Turkish invasion, the regional government is now under pressure from its American sponsors to take action itself against the PKK. Its jealously guarded “autonomy” is rapidly crumbling under the pressure of demands from Ankara and Washington.
After discussions at the White House, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a member of the PUK, told the Brookings Institute on Monday: “My worry is that there are demands of the KRG and the Iraqi government to ‘fight the PKK’. That could well be a recipe for an open-ended conflict in which we will not win and will basically destabilise the only stable part of Iraq.”
There is a long history of the sordid manoeuvres by various Kurdish nationalist politicians with the major powers ending in disaster for the Kurdish people. The present situation is no different. The “stable” north of Iraq may well become the new battleground for “an open-ended conflict”. Those immediately responsible are the PUK and KDP leaders who tied the fate of Iraqi Kurds to the Bush administration and its criminal occupation of Iraq.
See Also:Conflict between Turkey and the US intensifies[17 October 2007]Turkish government gives green light for military intervention in northern Iraq[15 October 2007]Bush condemns House vote on Armenian genocide[12 October 2007]Washington's proxy war inside Kurdish Iran[20 September 2007]

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Turkmens get ahead in Kirkuk talks through US push on Kurds

Ahmet Muratlı, the Iraqi Turkmen Front's (ITC) representative in Ankara, sounded hopeful on Tuesday regarding progress in ongoing negotiations between the Turkmen and Arab blocs and the Kurds in the strategically vital northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk. He stressed that a recent attitude of compromise on the part of the Kurdish side was the fruit of the Turkmen and Arab blocs' tough bargaining as well as US officials' pressure on the Kurds.

Ahmet Muratlı
At the moment Kurds hold 26 seats in Kirkuk's 41-member provincial council. There are nine Turkmen and six Arab members, all of whom have been boycotting meetings for months in support of their demands for a fair distribution of the government posts.
"Particularly following recent remarks by US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, who earlier this month said a referendum that will determine the future status of Kirkuk is unlikely to proceed as planned, the Iraqi Kurds' attitude has become more compromising than earlier as they have understood they can no longer pretend as if everything is on track in Kirkuk," Muratlı said in a brief interview with Today's Zaman on Tuesday. In June a Turkmen delegation led by ITC head Saadettin Ergeç had talks with senior officials in the US capital and voiced uneasiness with the fact that the normalization of security sought by the Iraqi constitution, which is a must for holding the planned referendum, hasn't occurred in the city. In the last 10 days, US government and military officials held secret talks in Kirkuk with both Iraqi Kurds and the Turkmen and Arab blocs, Muratlı explained.
"The US officials have been pressuring the Kurds because they want to see concrete progress in the city that they can promote by taking note of it on a report that will be represented to the president next month," Muratlı said, referring to the fact that Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander in Iraq, and Crocker will represent their views on Iraq to US President George W. Bush and Congress in a report during the first half of September.
Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution stipulates a Dec. 31 deadline this year for the Kirkuk referendum. A process of "normalization" is continuing now for reversing the effects of former leader Saddam Hussein's policy of driving the Kurds out of a string of northern cities and replacing them with Arabs. The constitutional timetable also stipulated a census be completed by the end of July, but neither this nor "normalization" have been implemented.
In a letter dated Aug.13 and sent to both Arab and Turkmen members of the city council in an effort to persuade them to end their boycott of the council, Iraqi Kurds offered two deputy governorships -- one to each of the two groups. Yet, according to the local administration law adopted following the US-led invasion of the country in 2003, every province has a governing council, and the council's head can only have one deputy. Additionally there is one governor and one deputy governor.
Muratlı said their hard bargaining would continue and that they wanted the governorship of Kirkuk. Turkmens also want their language to be used as an official language in addition to Arabic and Kurdish in the city. "We want our language to be used in official plates at schools, hospitals and the like," he said.
Another important bargaining issue for Turkmens and Arabs is a fair allocation of the crucial posts in the province, including the chief of police, the municipality, the land registry and the census office, which were seized by the Kurds once they secured a majority on the council.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Turkoman Movement Sues Iraqi Kurdistan President, Urges Article 140 Delay

BBC Monitoring Middle East, 2007-08-20
Text of report from Arbil by Bizhar Shwani entitled: "The Independent Turkoman Movement calls for the delay of Article 140, prefers protection of Kirkuk to be handed over to the Iraqi government, not to peshmerga"; published by Iraqi Pro-Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) weekly newspaper Chawder on 20 August
The chairman of the Independent Turkoman Movement, Kan'an Shakir, has told Chawder that they called for the postponement of [the implementation of constitutional] Article 140 for the normalization of Kirkuk. He added: "It would be better to hand over the mission of protecting Kirkuk to the Iraqi government, not to the peshmerga, because if Kirkuk is under the control of one side it would become uneven."
Shakir said that they had lodged a lawsuit against Kurdistan Region President Mas'ud Barzani over the events of August 1996. [In August 1996 the Kurdistan Democratic Party sought the help of Saddam Husain's army in order to take over the city of Arbil from the then rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; Turkomans claim that many of them were captured by Iraqi forces during the event]
The aforementioned person said: "Democracy is not valued in Kurdistan Region, and the Turkomans' rights have been undermined in the interests of others."
He said that the Kurdish authorities have not supported Turkomans.
Originally published by Chawder, Sulaymaniyah, in Sorani Kurdish 20 Aug 07 p2.
(c) 2007 BBC Monitoring Middle East. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

ITC'den Barzaniye Terörizm Yasası

Iraqi Turkoman Front Calls on Government to Use Anti-Terror Law Against Barzani
BBC Monitoring Middle East, 2007-08-03
Text of report by Frman Abd-al-Rahman entitled "Turkoman Front calls on Iraqi government to treat Barzani according to anti-terror law", carried by Sbay media website of former PUK deputy leader Nawshirwan Mustafa's Wisha Company on 3 August
The Turkoman Front has called on the Iraqi government to take a stance on Kurdistan Region President Mas'ud Barzani's statement, described by the Front as "threats against all political components of Iraq and the neighbouring countries". The front also called on all Iraqi forces to take a clear stance on those threats.

Iraqi Turkoman Front Calls on Government to Use Anti-Terror Law Against Barzani

BBC Monitoring Middle East, 2007-08-03
Text of report by Frman Abd-al-Rahman entitled "Turkoman Front calls on Iraqi government to treat Barzani according to anti-terror law", carried by Sbay media website of former PUK deputy leader Nawshirwan Mustafa's Wisha Company on 3 August
The Turkoman Front has called on the Iraqi government to take a stance on Kurdistan Region President Mas'ud Barzani's statement, described by the Front as "threats against all political components of Iraq and the neighbouring countries". The front also called on all Iraqi forces to take a clear stance on those threats.
In a statement published on Thursday [2 August], a copy of which was obtained by the Sbay website, the Turkoman Front described the Kurdistan Region president's statement as "political bankruptcy".
The statement said: "We call on the Iraqi government to adopt legal measures within the anti-terror law against Barzani's statements, which smells of terrorism."
In an exclusive statement for Sbay, Turkoman Front Executive Council member Jamal Shan described Barzani's statement as "a harsh and dangerous statement on Iraq and Kirkuk". Shan added: "Barzani's statement was a political adventure towards the political achievements of the Kurds in the new Iraqi government. For if a civil war, as he says breaks out, the whole of Iraq, not only Kirkuk, will suffer disaster and destruction."
The Turkoman Front official added: "We will not adopt military procedures, but we called on the Iraqi government to take an appropriate action and take a stance in this regard."
Shan said that such statements was not in anyone's interest and that the presence of the Americans would prevent the eruption of another war in the region, adding that those who attacked would always suffer more casualties than those who defend.
Shan said: "The Kirkuk problem is like the Darfur and Kosovo problem and should be resolved through the UN."
It is worth noting that Barzani said in an interview with Al- Hurrah TV: "If Article 140 is not implemented, then a real civil war will break out."
[Article 140 calls for the normalization of the status of Kirkuk by the end of 2007].
In the same context, head of the Kurdistan Region Presidency Office Fuad Husayn told Sbay: "We are not aware of the Turkoman Front's statement. President Barzani has a steady and clear policy regarding the general issues in Iraq and Kurdistan. He will not give up his policies for anyone's sake." Husayn added: "We cannot react to each and every statement of the Turkoman Front or others or deny all their statements."
(c) 2007 BBC Monitoring Middle East. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Barzani Threatens Bush With War

August 02, 2007 12:00 PM EST
by Scott Sullivan
Not only is Nazi Iran’s ally Massoud Barzani refusing to speak out against the PKK as the US had hoped, he is now issuing threats against the US. This latest Barzani threat to President Bush comes as the Baghdad government appears near to collapse. A collapse of central authority in Baghdad would dramatically escalate Iraq’s civil war, which in turn would tempt Iraq’s neighbors, beginning with Turkey, to intervene.
Barzani is quoted in today’s Washington Times that if Baghdad fails to implement the promised referendum on Kirkuk, a referendum which would provide a quasi-legal basis for Barzani to annex Kirkuk and its vast oil wealth, Baghdad would precipitate a “real civil war” in Iraq.
Let’s take a moment to analyze Barzani’s words. What Barzani is really saying is that he can make things far worse for the US in Iraq. Barzani controls a combined force of 80,000 troops including Kurdish peshmerga militia and 5,000 PKK terrorists already in Iraq. This Iraqi Kurdish force, most likely reinforced with thousands of PKK “volunteers” from Turkey, will wage war at Barzani’s command on Iraqi Kurdistan’s ethnic and religious minorities. Barzani, in other words, will attack the tens of thousands of innocent and unprotected Arabs, Turkmen, and Christians who reside in Kurdistan.
Barzani’s pogrom (for there is no other word) will begin with the peshmerga/PKK ethnic cleansing of Kirkuk, after which Barzani will simply annex Kirkuk, referendum or no referendum. Barzani no doubt will next move on Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city, and, like Kirkuk, the locale for substantial Iraqi oil reserves.
In addition to his pogrom, Barzani is also saying that he will withdraw all Kurdish peshmerga units who are serving with the Iraqi army in Baghdad, which would disrupt operations by Coalition forces and create new political and military turbulence as these Kurdish forces are pulled back.
To say Barzani’s threat comes at a bad time for the Baghdad government is an understatement. Iraq’s parliament has gone in recess the entire month of August without acting on major legislation, in defiance of Congress and President Bush, while the Sunnis appear willing to withdraw from the national government altogether.
In fact, Barzani’s immediate goal, backed by Nazi Iran, could be to collapse what little is left of Iraq’s central government. Barzani could calculate that if Washington and Baghdad are having second thoughts about the Kirkuk referendum, he will test Bush’s resolve and deprive him of the last possible fig leaf for the US presence in Iraq. If so, Barzani has suddenly emerged to become a mortal danger for Bush and the entire US deployment in Iraq.
This scenario of Barzani aligning with Iran and the PKK against Bush would explain the Robert Novak op-ed last week describing a purported US plan of covert assassination against the PKK leadership in northern Iraq, described by Under Secretary of Defense Eric Edelman in closed testimony before Congress. A first question to ask is if Edelman is sending a warning shot in Barzani’s direction? Is Edelman -- former ambassador Turkey but no friend of Turkey -- now demanding that Barzani cooperate with Ankara against the PKK?
Even more important, does Barzani suspect that Edelman is bluffing about US interest in restraining the Kurds? This is most plausible, given Edelman’s own past contempt for Ankara, in which case Barzani is right that in saying that Iraq’s real civil war is about to begin. Barzani himself will light the fuse. Is Edelman now prepared to defend Kirkuk and Mosul? Would Edelman ask Turkish peacekeepers to assist in the defense of Kirkuk and Mosul?
Finally, how can the Bush administration with a straight face ask the Arab states to cooperate in containing Iran when the US is backpedaling before a Kurdish-PKK-Iranian coalition in Iraq, where the US has 140,000 troops?

Monday, July 30, 2007

Attack on the house of a Turkmen leader in Iraq's Salah el-Din province

Gunmen kill 7 people in Iraq
Sun, 29 Jul 2007 17:16:40 Source: DPA

Unidentified gunmen have killed 7 people and injured 5 others in a predominantly Turkmen area in Iraq.
Seven people have been killed and 5 others wounded in an attack on the house of a Turkmen leader in Iraq's Salah el-Din province, police say. "Unidentified gunmen attacked early Sunday a predominantly Turkmen area, 85 kilometers south-west of Kirkuk, killing six and wounding six others," the city's police chief Abbas Mahmoud Amin said. "One of the six wounded died shortly after the attack, raising death toll to seven. The (five) other wounded are being treated in Kirkuk and Touz hospitals, but they are in a very critical condition," Amin added. A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told the independent Voices of Iraq (VOI) news agency that the gunmen stormed into the house of the Turkman leader, shooting those present and killing six people, including two sons of the leader and four of his bodyguards. The source did not reveal the name of the Turkman leader. "Eight gunmen were able to infiltrate security barricades manned by Kurdish Peshmerga, and fled the scene unharmed," he said. The attack happened close to Amirli, site of a truck bombing earlier this month, which left dozens of Turkman residents of the area killed and wounded. DT/RE

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Iraq: Kurdistan Security Forces Torture Detainees

Regional Government Must End Detainee Abuse and Violations of Due Process
(New York, July 3, 2007) –
Kurdistan security forces in northern Iraq routinely torture and deny basic due-process rights to detainees, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

Human Rights Watch urges the Kurdistan Regional Government to end torture and ill-treatment of detainees in the custody of the security services. The Kurdish authorities should treat all detainees according to international standards and ensure their right to due process and fair trials. The 58-page report, “Caught in the Whirlwind: Torture and Denial of Due Process by the Kurdistan Security Forces,” documents widespread and systematic mistreatment and violations of due process rights of detainees at detention facilities by Kurdistan security forces. The report is based on research conducted in Iraq’s Kurdistan region from April to October 2006, including interviews with more than 150 detainees. Human Rights Watch raised its concerns with leaders of the Kurdistan government, including President Mas`ud Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government, who created a government committee to carry out inspection visits to several detention facilities in early October 2006. “Kurdistan security forces routinely subject detainees to torture and other mistreatment,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director for Human Rights Watch. “Although Kurdish authorities have taken serious steps to improve conditions at detention facilities, they must do more to end the practice of torture. The government must punish prison officials and interrogators found responsible for abuse.” The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are the two principal parties in the Kurdistan region, and each maintains its own security forces, known as Asayish. Both the KDP Asayish and the PUK Asayish operate outside the control of the regional government’s Ministry of Interior, maintain their own detention facilities, and have held hundreds of detainees, particularly those arrested on suspicion of terrorism-related offenses. During interviews at Asayish detention facilities, detainees told Human Rights Watch that Asayish agents had beat them with metal rods and other implements, put them in stress positions for prolonged periods, and kept them blindfolded and handcuffed continuously for several days at a time. The vast majority of detainees with whom Human Rights Watch spoke also reported that they were held in solitary confinement for extended periods. With some exceptions, Human Rights Watch found that conditions of detention at Asayish facilities were severely overcrowded and unhygienic. Human Rights Watch also found that the Asayish are holding hundreds of detainees in legal limbo without basic due-process rights, including the right to challenge their detention. In the vast majority of Asayish detainee cases that Human Rights Watch investigated, the Kurdistan authorities have not charged detainees with offenses, allowed them access to their relatives or a lawyer, brought them before an investigative judge, provided a mechanism by which they could appeal their detentions, or brought them to trial within a reasonable time period. Human Rights Watch also investigated several cases in which Kurdish authorities had apparently held hostage relatives of individuals sought for terror-related offenses. In other cases, convicted prisoners had already served their sentences but remained in prison, and detainees who had been tried and acquitted continued to be held. Most had no knowledge of their legal status, how long they would continue to be held, or what was to become of them. “The Kurdistan authorities must charge detainees with criminal offenses or else release them,” said Whitson. “Detainees must be able to challenge the legal basis for their detention and receive a prompt, fair trial on the charges against them.” In July 2006, the Kurdistan National Assembly adopted the Law on the Combat of Terrorism in the Iraq Kurdistan Region (Anti-Terrorism Law), which criminalizes a wide range of offenses deemed to constitute terrorism. This law has not clarified the legal status of those terrorism suspects who were arrested prior to its enactment. This includes several suspects arrested in joint sweeps involving Iraqi and US military forces, and subsequently transferred to the custody of Kurdistan authorities. “The Kurdish authorities must establish clear criteria to assess the legal status of terrorism suspects arrested prior to the Anti-Terrorism Law,” Whitson said. “And they need to appoint an independent judicial committee to conduct a thorough review of all detainee cases.” During the months that Human Rights Watch conducted research for this report, it held regular discussions with the Kurdistan authorities, and acknowledges the cooperation it received from officials of both the KDP and the PUK. The KDP and PUK both gave Human Rights Watch access to all Asayish detention facilities and facilitated interviews with Asayish officials, prison directors, legal advisers and other relevant actors. Human Rights Watch also acknowledges the seriousness with which the Kurdistan authorities responded to the concerns now highlighted in this report. Over the course of the last year, Asayish officials have initiated partial reviews of detainee cases and released several groups of detainees, most of whom they had held without due process. While Human Rights Watch recognizes and welcomes the cooperation of the Kurdistan authorities, this cooperation has yet to translate into any discernible improvement for most detainees in Asayish detention facilities and falls well short of the independent and impartial judicial review of the legal status of detainees that Human Rights Watch has recommended as a matter of urgency.