Iraqi Kurds boycott Turkish goods after Syria assault

Iraqi Kurds hold A candlelight vigil to express their opposition to the Turkish offensive in northeastern Syria, in Arbil, the capital of the northern Iraqi Kurdish autonomous region, on October 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 01 November 2019

Iraqi Kurds boycott Turkish goods after Syria assault

SULAIMANIYAH: Shopkeepers in Iraq’s Kurdish region have been responding to activists’ calls to boycott Turkish goods in protest at Ankara’s assault on Kurdish forces in neighboring Syria.
From pomegranates to plastic buckets, yoghurt and beauty products, Iraq imports more than $8 billion worth of Turkish goods a year through its autonomous Kurdish north.
But activists have set their sights on those imports in response to Turkey’s controversial two-week offensive against the Kurdish-run administration in northern Syria.
The assault has left dozens dead and displaced hundreds of thousands, including more than 12,000 who fled into the neighboring Kurdish-run part of northern Iraq.
“We can’t reach the front lines to fight the Turkish government with arms, so our weapon is a boycott of Turkish goods,” said Hamid Banyee, an Iraqi Kurdish singer and one of the boycott organizers.
“We’re looking to expand the campaign to include all parts of society, which will be a fatal blow to the Turkish economy,” he told AFP in Sulaimaniyah.
Activists in the northeastern city have distributed flyers in markets encouraging consumers to pass on Turkish products and are lobbying retailers to halt those imports altogether.
They have even explored a possible ban on Turkish movies and songs in the region.
Zana Ahmad, 28, gestured to well-stocked shelves of facial creams, gels and eyeliners in his shop, including Turkish, American and European brands.
“After the Turkish attack on Syria’s Kurds, we decided to stop importing Turkish goods and are trying to find alternatives,” he said.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which hold the territory attacked by Turkey, have backed boycotts.
“Each penny you spend on the Turkish goods, products and tourism turns into a bullet or into bombs that kill our children in northeastern Syria,” SDF spokesman Mustefa Bali said.
The Kurdish region spans most of Iraq’s north, including a 350 kilometer (220 mile) border with Turkey to the north and around 500 kilometers (310 miles) with Iran to the east.
Those two neighbors are Iraq’s top trade partners and their products mostly outpace locally produced goods in the market.
Karwan Jamal, a 45-year-old driver living in Sulaimaniyah, said he was now opting for Iranian goods even if they were more expensive.
“I’ve just bought a bottle of Iranian cooking oil, which costs 10,500 Iraqi dinars ($8) compared to 6,000 for a Turkish bottle,” he told AFP.
Jamal said swapping out foodstuffs was easy, but clothing was more complicated.
“Unfortunately, the Iranian-made clothes in the market are not as beautiful nor as widely available as Turkish ones,” he said.
Nasireddin Mahmud, who owns a dairy and biscuit retail company, said the boycott had meant that “demand for Turkish products has gone down by half.”
“Shop owners are refusing to buy Turkish goods and are asking for Iranian products or trying to swap them with local products,” Mahmud told AFP.
He said he wanted to see the boycott become official policy, so that large Turkish firms lose their right to import.

Sirwan Mohammad, who heads Sulaimaniyah’s chamber of commerce, said business owners were streaming into his office to ask how they may be affected.
“I believe continuing this campaign will hurt Turkish companies, as well as local businesses that bring those goods into the region,” he said.
Decreasing the amount of Turkish products in the markets “will not affect citizens because there are still goods from the Gulf, Iran and Europe — plus from the region and the rest of Iraq,” added Mohammad.
The autonomous region is split on Turkey, with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and its stronghold of Sulaimaniyah opposing Ankara.
The ruling Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), based in the region’s capital Irbil, has meanwhile built close economic and political ties with Turkey.
But even there, the boycott has been gaining traction.
Hogir Ali, 31, scoured the aisles of a supermarket, carefully inspecting the labels on plain biscuit packets.
The father of three used to buy a particular brand made in Turkey to enjoy with his family at tea time, but has joined the boycott since the assault on Syria began.
“I am doing my bit to take responsibility,” he said, ultimately settling on a brand made in Spain.
“From now on, I will refuse to support the Turkish economy by any way possible because Turkey not only does not believe in Kurdish rights, it does not even believe in Kurdish existence.”


LIVE: Middle East renews travel warnings as cases of coronavirus increase in Iran

Updated 10 min 30 sec ago

LIVE: Middle East renews travel warnings as cases of coronavirus increase in Iran

  • Kuwait has not registered any new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours
  • Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from Iran would be required to self-isolate for 14 days

DUBAI: Governments in the Middle East renewed warnings for citizens and residents against traveling to coronavirus-hit countries, including Iran, where hundreds were tested positive and the death toll hitting 43 on Saturday.

15:07 - A World Health Organization delegation visited Kuwait and commended the efforts of Gulf states in airports against the spread of coronavirus, despite the high number of travelers.

14:23 - Qatar’s health ministry reported on Saturday the first case of coronavirus infection in the country, the state-run Qatar News Agency said.

The man is a 36 year old Qatari citizen, who returned from a trip to Iran, the ministry added.

14:06 - UAE’s ministry of education suspended nursery classes starting March 1, the announcement said on twitter.

School activities and trips will be suspended to prevent coronavirus spread, the ministry added.

13:00 - Iran’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has reached 43, a health official told state TV on Saturday, adding that the number of infected people across the country has reached 593.
“Unfortunately nine people died of the virus in the last 24 hours. The death toll is 43 now. The new confirmed infected cases since yesterday is 205 that makes the total number of confirmed infected people 593,” Kianush Jahanpur told state TV.

12:48 - Oman announced the first case of coronavirus recovery, the state news agency ONA reported on Saturday.

The remaining cases continue to receive treatments and are reported to be stable.

12:39 - Iran’s government spokesman will hold his weekly news conference online due to the outbreak of coronavirus in the country, which has the highest death toll outside China, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported on Saturday.
Iran warned on Friday of a “difficult week ahead” after health authorities said the death toll had reached 34 and another 388 people were infected with the coronavirus.

Also, Iranian MP Mohammad Ali Ramazani Dastak, who was elected as the representative for Astaneh-ye Ashrafiyeh, died on Saturday morning.

He is believed to have been tested positive for coronavirus and died at the hospital due to “influenza and chemical injuries” receveid during the Iran-Iraq war, state-run news agency ISNA reported.

11:31 - Saudi Arabia called on citizens and residents to postpone unnecessary travel to Lebanon amid concerns over coronavirus.

The Saudi embassy in Lebanon also asked its citizens, located in the Levantine country, to take precautions, avoid crowded places and reach out to the embassy whenever they need help.

Lebanon confirmed its fourth case of the virus on Friday and announced that it was closing all schools until March 8.

10:16 - Kuwait also asked its citizens to avoid traveling over concerns of coronavirus contamination, a health ministry official said at a media conference on Saturday.
The Gulf state has not registered any new coronavirus infections over the past 24 hours, she said.
The total number of people infected with the disease in Kuwait is 45, the health ministry said on Friday, which has reported no deaths.

9:51 - Australia will deny entry to all foreign nationals traveling from Iran due to the escalating outbreak of coronavirus in the Islamic republic, the government said on Saturday.
Foreign nationals traveling from Iran to Australia would need to spend 14 days in another country from March 1, Health Minister Greg Hunt said.
“There is likely at this stage a high level of undetected cases and therefore those cases won’t be intercepted or identified on departure from Iran,” Hunt said.
Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from Iran would be required to self-isolate for 14 days and the travel advice for Australians traveling to Iran has been raised to “do not travel.”
Health authorities on Saturday confirmed the number of cases of coronavirus in Australia was 25 after a 63-year-old woman returning from Iran became ill.
Iran has the highest death toll from the flu-like virus outside of China at 34, although World Health Organization (WHO) experts say the outbreak in the country could be worse than is currently known.
The rapid spread of the coronavirus has fueled fears of a pandemic, with multiple countries reporting their first cases this week as the WHO raised its global risk alert to “very high.”