Comments: 70 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

_gilb_12 karma

What can those of us in 'Western Countries' do to help deal with the humanitarian crisis?

bricks8715 karma

It's very good Obama authorized airstrikes in the region. Honestly so far it has not been enough but I understand the reasoning behind not getting fully involved again. But it really is needed. The KRG is a completely different area in Iraq supporting western values and is moving towards being a full democracy, it needs to be supported. To help in the humanitarian crisis donate to international agencies like the UN, NRC, DRC, and others, who are operating in the region. The humanitarian situation is a disaster. There are now 1.5 million refugees in the region, out of a total population of 5 million Kurds.

Also check out the RISE foundation http://rise-foundation.org/ who are very effective at short term intervention. They'll take your money and spend it that month and you can see the difference it has made. Larger organizations sustain a very large administration presence and its hard to see the direct difference your money makes.

Dexadrine-22 karma


bricks875 karma

Sorry I don't really understand your question and also I'm not talking about the situation with kids crossing into the US from affected regions in Latin America.

ehtork887 karma

What about your experience vs. the other guys makes your perspective better (serious question)?

Be safe.

bricks8710 karma

No, honestly I just was looking at the AMA and that guy and he was incapable of answering many questions, also he fled from Erbil during the 'panic', which was just a panic and Erbil was never going to fall.

ehtork882 karma

Fair enough, I was just curious.

Also, took a peek at some of your pictures from the kayaking trips--- looks beautiful.

All the best.

bricks876 karma

Thanks man. Kurdistan is beautiful and tourists were starting to trickle in. Hopefully things will change quickly with the ISIS situation and it can go back to normal. The region was doing very well, the recent Economist Intelligence Unit report put the KRG well above many countries internationally in terms of the economic, cultural, political and security situation. Now it's changed. But the mountains are amazing. Also through my Twitter feed you can find my website and also my FB page which has photos of the area, check it out!

bricks877 karma

I have good connections in government, I've worked for projects around here collecting information from past atrocities against the Kurds. I'm well read and also I'm monitoring the situation closely via many sources on the ground.

Ricky-steamboat7 karma

How Radical is ISIS?

bricks879 karma

They're the most dangerous group in the world at the moment. I'd suggest watching this VICE doc: https://news.vice.com/video/the-islamic-state-part-1

I'm not a full VICE supporter but they have the first journalist ever to have embedded with ISIS.

Reportedly Al-Qaeda has even distanced themselves from ISIS.

They control a vast amount of land from Syria to Iraq.

tallandlanky7 karma

How much worse do you think things are going to get before they start getting better? Do you see regional stability as a possibility within the next decade?

bricks8712 karma

Right now as of the past few hours things are looking a bit better in the KRG (very short term), as the Peshmerga have taken back Makhmour, Gwer, which are cities 30km south of Erbil. The last cities before the city. But long term its a disaster. The international community needs to provide weapons, humanitarian aid and logistical support to the Kurds in Iraq, the idea that the Kurds shouldn't be provided these weapons because it affects the unity of Iraq is invalid. ISIS has established themselves and they're indoctrinating the next generation of children towards their fucked up ideology. Watch the latest vice news documentary, it is terrifying.

In terms of regional stability its going to be tough, the Arab spring has been taken advantage of by radical Islamist groups, who were suppressed during the dictatorships, to build a presence in the region and they have been successful in doing so. It will take a long time to stabilize the region.

Also democracies aren't created easily. Even the 11 years Iraq has been 'democratic' is nothing compared to the hundreds of years it took European and North American democracies to be established. It will take a long time here, we are going through the struggles those countries went through and its not pretty, but hopefully it'll come through.

Calmguy4 karma

Do you think once the area has some level of stability it will become a popular tourist destination? I've been and it really is a beautiful country and the kurds are so friendly. Not to mention the food!

"Biji Kurdistan azad! Roja Kurdistane, rohan, rohan xurt! Berxwedan Jiyane!"

Something I learnt on my travels

bricks873 karma

Kurdistan was already a tourist destination before this happened. There was a trickle of western tourists entering the region with organized tours and without. It is an incredible region with huge mountains, rivers, waterfalls, wonderful and hospitable people. Please check out my FB page, which has photos of the region (not a shameless plug) www.facebook.com/miranimaging. Everywhere you go people ask you to come into their homes for tea, lunch, dinner and to stay the night. They are very friendly.

seewolfmdk4 karma

Would the Kurds want to have their own state after the war against IS is over? They would be in a pretty good position for that.

bricks873 karma

Definitely. It'll be really interesting to see what the political situation is after this. Masoud Barzani (President in the Kurdistan Region) has had a very interesting policy after the fall of Mosul of continuing engagement with Baghdad but also priming the gears of independence. Maliki then accused the KRG of harboring and supporting the ISIS advance which was ridiculous.

The Kurds, in all countries they reside in actually, are totally cool with remaining in their respective countries, as long as they have rights and some autonomous control of their regions. This has not been the case at all. The Iraqi constitution is one that is supposed to provide rights for all groups, and security, energy, and decision making in resources in their regions. Iraq has done none of this, Maliki hasn't done any of this. So we do want to cede away from Iraq. This will be difficult, there are questions of whether the Kurds are ready, but when would they be ready? When is a country ready to be independent?

seewolfmdk3 karma

Thank you for your answer! Be safe! I hope the Peshmerga will stop the IS.

bricks875 karma

Thanks! Inshallah they do.

I'm not religious, just like to use Inshallah :P

oreng6 karma

I'm a Jewish Israeli and even we use it all the time :)

bricks873 karma

Haha thats interesting.

TeeManyMartoonies4 karma

Do you have the same opinion as The Other Guy that said Saudi Arabia is funding ISIS?

bricks8710 karma

It's not the Saudi government directly funding these groups. It's powerful tribes and young rich people who have the means and the ideological affiliation (which is allowed in Saudi) to support these groups. They have funded and supported them, but now due to the calamity that ISIS is, have started pulling back on funding. Saudi just the other day put many forces on their borders with Iraq to stop ISIS advances. Frankenstein?

escherbach4 karma

Where are ISIS getting their weapons from? Why do the Kurds need outside help - surely you have some kind of intelligence operations to predict and prepare for this sort of development? Were you completely taken by surprise?

bricks878 karma

We were waiting for this kind of advance and the Kurds were telling the international community after the taking of Mosul that we need weapons and resources to deal with this 1000 KM border with the Islamic State. When ISIS took Mosul they took all weapons that the Iraqi military had bought and been provided by the Americans. Humvees, artillary, heavy weapons. Even helicopters. ISIS was going towards Baghdad when they took Mosul and were not focused on the Kurdistan Region but it seems since they are unable to advance to Baghdad they've refocused efforts towards us. And the Pesh were spread out, and the attacks took territory we were not expecting them to take but honestly not surprised. The intelligence is like what I said above, we knew they were here, we knew what weapons they possessed, but we needed more weapons to deal with an attack from them, we didn't receive those weapons and this is what has happened. We need outside help to push ISIS back. This is a region of tolerance and democracy, one of the only people in the Middle East who are secular, and support Western Values. It should be protected. There is a lot of history I can go into but it would be better for you to do some research about the Kurds and their plight. Thanks for the question!

escherbach5 karma

You're right, you can answer better than the other thread. Thanks

bricks876 karma

Also forgot to post this, Masoud Barzani and the Kurdish security forces had been warning Maliki of the ISIS advance for at least six months before they took Mosul. They said they can provide support to stop this advance, and Maliki did not allow them to help, thus these areas were taken.

bricks875 karma

Thanks man, was just making a kind of sensational title to get attention, I'm sure that guy is cool! :D

Creeded3 karma

How are Christians viewed in Kurdistan?

bricks875 karma

Also logistically the Christians are very well organized. The Christians from Qaraqosh fled a few weeks ago, and went back, so this is the second time they've fled. The support system the Christian have in place in Ainkawa and around the KRG is very good, they let these people stay in their churches, have church staff who assess needs and get what they need. The situation could be a lot worse for Christians who flee. I filled up my car with water the other day and took it over to Mar Yousif church in Ainkawa and was told they have enough water. so I drove around and found around 200 arab refugees on a road close to a road that heads to mosul in erbil and they had nothing. My car was emptied within 30 seconds.

bricks874 karma

Kurds view Christians as their brothers mostly. The KRG is a pluralistic, new democratic region in the ME, and they've been attempting to build this type of region for decades. There are Christian villages all over Kurdistan, in the mountains, on the Ninevah plains. And since Christian areas have been taken the Pesh have been trying to take them back, as they are Kurdish areas, and Kurds and other minority groups as well as local and international organizations are trying to take care of them while they are here. If their areas become stabilized by the Peshmerga in coordination with the US airforce, the Christians will go right back. Just like many of the groups who have left.

boblewo3 karma

Do you support the Palestine cause? Why y/n?

bricks878 karma

I support the Palestinians in their cause for sure. I'm not really on anybodys 'side' in that area. I don't support settlements in the region and also don't support Israels blockage of the Gaza strip. But in the past Palestinians have not supported the Kurdish cause despite being in a similar situation to the Kurds. They supported Saddam and Saddam supported them (obviously). Right now the two conflicts are completely different and the situation in both are dire. With the recent ISIS advance over 850,000 people have fled ISIS and are now residing in the Kurdistan region who have limited capacities to deal with the situation, yet they are still harboring them and building partnerships to deal with it.

We also have 220,000 Syrian refugees in the region prior to this due to the war in Syria.

boblewo3 karma

I see. Inside this subject, is there a lot of Kurdish that are anti-semitic?

bricks877 karma

Not really as Israel, indirectly, has been a supporter of the Kurdish cause since the 1960's. Also Kurdistan was home for many Jews up until the 1970's and 80's.

But I will admit that some, minimal amounts, are anti-Semitic, moreso due to Arab type ideologies that border the region.

bricks8710 karma

Honestly not trying to get into a Palestinian/Israeli argument. There is a lot of media advocating for both sides. Not very interested in reading it all. It's a historical fight and I can't give support to a side in that fight. Again it has no relation to what this AMA is about.

scooter20143 karma

Would it be just one major oil rig (or general complex of them) on fire and it's financial/political lights out for the Kurds?

Would not want to see this, I just want to hear you evaluate it for how outlandish that claim is.

Destroying the asset you can't have drives up the value of your own.

bricks871 karma

There are hundreds of oil rigs and dozens of wells pumping oil in the KRG at the moment. Oil is still pumping to the Turkish port in Ceyhan. This is a statement from the MNR about the current situation regarding oil: http://mnr.krg.org/index.php/en/press-releases/405-status-of-oil-operations-in-the-kurdistan-region

questofquest3 karma

Hello, are you possibly familiar with this sign? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey_Wolves#mediaviewer/File:Wolfsgru%C3%9F_Graue_Woelfe.jpg

Do they still use it?

bricks872 karma

I'm not familiar with it but I'm familiar with the MHP party and their ideology in Turkey. Mostly anti-Kurdish.

DeliberateConfusion3 karma

If you had to speculate, why do you think the Kurds have been able to keep away from Islamic fundamentalism to such a large degree? Or are there more problems than the average Westerner hears about?

bricks879 karma

I believe it's because the region has a long history with many different religions. Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks, Shias, Sunnis, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and many others, and they all live here and are tolerated. We have had some Islamic fundamentalist groups, like Ansar Al-Islam, but they were ostracized and crushed. It's a good question to ask. We are just a tolerant people, my village from Kurdish side of my family, is on the borders of Arab areas. My family visits their friends when there are Christian holidays, Yezidi holidays, when there are Islamic holidays these people visit my family. They don't really care about their religions they just live together fine.

DeliberateConfusion1 karma

Thanks for the reply!

bricks871 karma

Its a pleasure :)

dizzley3 karma

Someone told me today that "all Christians have left Erbil". Is that true? What do you know, and what do you think?

bricks874 karma

No Christians have left Erbil. There are thousands here, people who have lived here forever and the ones who left Qaraqosh and other regions recently. There are some literally across the street from me and they are still there right now. Completely untrue. NGO's and KRG providing assistance to them the best they can despite the situation.

dizzley5 karma

Thanks for the update. I feel for those people who have run to take shelter in Erbil.

bricks873 karma

Yeah its really disheartening to see all these people here running from their homes with just the clothes on their back. It's hard to see it all. We are taking care of them though.

dizzley3 karma

Also, I re-tweeted that photo of refugees at the church in Erbil. The bishop(?) was on BBC News asking for help.

bricks872 karma

Yeah I saw that. Thanks for re-tweeting. It's horrible what ISIS is doing and their advance. 1.5 million refugees are in the region. It's appalling.

lockd0wn2 karma

Whats some good Iraqi food I can make with food found in America?

bricks875 karma

Not sure of restaurants in the states, I'm sure you can do a Google search in the city your in and find some. Get some Maskouf, Dolma, Kufta, rice, the many soups they have like okra soup, bean soup, etc. Really really good food, and its really meat heavy if you're into meat.

Patq9112 karma

I don't know much about this region, so forgive me please if this is completely wrong.

I've heard that turkish kurds helped the turkish government commit the armenian genocide. Is there any defence for that, or was it just bad people who happened to be kurdish?

bricks871 karma

I'm sure there were a few Kurds involved in that genocide but it was a completely Turkish government push to kill the Armenians. Honestly I'm not versed enough in that genocide but I'll post something I've said in the past about the Turkish governments policy towards the Kurds (which can be used as a reflection of the Armenian genocide, maybe), which was a reply to people saying the PKK is a horrible terrorist group in Turkey with no reason to be doing what they do (which is a Kurdish group in Turkey who are fighting the Turkish government due to the treatment they receive from them):

The Kurds in Turkey have faced a number of atrocities by the Turkish state since its inception after WWI. Destruction of villages, torture and jailing of Kurdish politicians, journalists and any person who speaks out against the way Kurds are treated in Turkey. Banning the Kurdish language from being spoken, no Kurdish in schools, no Kurdish media, relocation of Kurds to cities to 'Turkify' them. Up until recently the Kurdish populations in Turkey were referred to as 'mountain Turks'.

This treatment lead to the creation of the PKK in the mid-80s and they have been fighting the Turkish government since then. Kurds want rights, and will live together with Turks in Turkey when given those rights through the constitution, but ultranationalists and Turks brainwashed by a racist curriculum and society leads to what exists today.

Turkey's most recent concession to the Kurds towards peace was allowing Kurds, a population of 22 million in Turkey, to speak Kurdish in court. ooooh.

Destruction of Villages


Justice for Kurds

Even more

"The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) has described the use of torture in Turkey as being "widespread"

"As many as 2,000 Kurdish villages, hamlets and residential areas of larger cities had been either evacuated, burned or destroyed by early 1995 (IPS 26 Apr. 1995; AI Feb. 1995a, 6; Freedom Review May-June 1995;"

"Turkey's human rights minister labelled the destruction of Kurdish villages "state terrorism". He was immediately forced to recant his statement (Freedom Review May-June 1995, 34-35; Jane's 1 Apr. 1995)."

Edit: I do not support the PKK in any way. But look at the damn facts, if the Kurds were given rights, under a pluralistic constitution, they would be happy to live in Turkey. Sadly, they are not. When you suppress a population, in many sadistic forms, this is the result, a terrorist organization willing (and able to justify to themselves) to use any form of violence to get the message across. If Ataturk (and now the super nationalist population of Turkey, ie, CHP, and its Kemalist entities) had not been such a nationalist, and such a non-inclusive person, Turkey would be much different than it is today.

wafflefordinner2 karma

I'm glad that the US has decided to help out Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS truly terrifies me.

However, the long-term prospect of the region terrifies me even more. Western military campaigns so far haven't been able to defeat Islamic Fundamentalism in the Middle East. In fact, extremism seems to get more severe with each war.

At this point what do you think will most effectively deal with religious extremism in the region?

bricks874 karma

It has gotten more severe with the Arab spring and US' continued support of Maliki, which has now stopped with this situation. It's hard to answer that question, ISIS is training kids and indoctrinating them towards their insane ideologies, that is creating a whole new generation of kids, and there are thousands of them, towards what these guys believe. Stamping it out is tough and the US will not stamp them out with limited airstrikes to get ISIS away from Kurdish positions. Obama also will not authorize airstrikes in Syria, where ISIS headquarters is located. It's not a very pretty picture IMO.

Concernedkid71 karma

This is mostly a selfish please appease me and make me feel better question. I have a parent living in Saudi Arabia so I find I have to limit my intake of Middle Eastern news because I need a certain level of distance so I don't freak out. I guess my question is how concerned should I be? I tell myself constantly that its safe and if it wasn't safe they wouldn't send people over there to work in the private sector. Should I be lobbying for them to come home in light of everything or should I just trust that these are isolated events like the isloated events of gun violence that we deal with stateside?

bricks871 karma

When things like this happen they are mostly isolated. I'm sitting in Erbil and 30 KM south things are fluid, but here is completely fine and business is as usual. I've been in these situations before and its the same as it is now. Things can be very different very close to you and you just go along as usual. It's like going to New York City. Most people would advise not to go to certain areas at 3 oclock in the morning at 3 AM with your expensive camera. No one is for sure going to do anything to you, but it it likely something will happen.

These areas are and always have been very difficult areas. And each area has a different security situation than the other. You really need to know someone on the ground to know what is really going on. If you watch international media, the entire area seems chaotic.