Displaying items by tag: Kurdistan
The police forces in Turkey’s Kurdish region resemble occupying armies. Government-appointed mayors, police brutality and armies of imams have altered society’s fabric. Allegations against Special Forces of rape and sexual harassment are ignored. If such accusations are publicised, officials will dismiss it as affairs between soldiers and girls who want to marry them. A former mayor commented, ‘It is better that they are involved in prostitution than protesting the government.’ A young Kurd who photographed a policeman killing an innocent Kurd in 2017 now faces twenty years in prison, while the policeman goes unpunished. Also recently hundreds of army officers, pilots and civilians were jailed for life for taking part in the 2016 attempted coup to overthrow President Erdoğan. The acquittal of the police officer and the hundreds jailed comes when Erdogan is trying to attract foreign investors. Even the simplest reforms would demand drastically altering the way Turkey polices, prosecutes, judges, and imprisons its residents. See
I R A N
Since December 28, tens of thousands of Iranians have taken to the streets in huge numbers of towns and cities to demand better economic conditions and freedom from their oppressive religious government and the bad. Prices of basic goods had, in the past year, increased by roughly 40 percent. The protests began over Iran's stagnant economy and the rising cost of living but quickly have developed into a broader outcry against the oppressive government.
These demonstrations have become the most powerful challenge to the Iranian government's authority since mass demonstrations in 2009.
At least 20 people have since been killed in clashes with security forces, and more than a thousand of mostly young people have been arrested.
The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said that the anti-government protests were over now as the government very violently cracked down on them.
K U R D I S T A N
We thank the Lord that we can continue to work in Kurdistan and for the family that will soon go there.
The Kurdish Pastor who was for nearly two years imprisoned in Kurdistan and has moved with his family to a neighbouring country, finally after about 5 years got residency for this country.
The strong tensions between the government of Iraq and Kurdistan has not been resolved. The tension is still there and the possibility of fighting breaking out between the Iraq and Kurdistan. Also it seems clear now that the Iraqi government will continue to ban direct flights into Kurdistan (Erbil & Sulaymaniyah).
PLEASE PRAY for
I R A N
• For this difficult situation in Iran. Only God can cause the leadership of this nation and their severe oppression of its people to change.
• That many of them would hear the Good news and that all these difficulties cause even more Iranians to accept the Lord.
• Protection of our brothers and sisters in the country and courage to reach out with wisdom and boldness to the Iranian people.
K U R D I S T A N
• For a good settlement between the Iraqi and Kurdistan governments and that the airports would soon open up again.
• That all the preparations for the couple that plans to move to Kurdistan would be completed soon and that they would be able to move there in the next few weeks and build up our work and ministry in the country.
• For the Kurdish church to grow throughout all the Kurdish regions.
• The Kurdish Kanal Hayat TV Programs to be watched by millions of Kurds! For more presenters for these programs.
Thank you for your prayers for these countries and the challenges they are facing and for believing with us that in the midst of these difficulties God expand His kingdom.
Your ElRock Team
The word ‘shelter’ literally means a house, a tent, or a refuge. It arises from the command of Jesus that we are to ‘love our neighbour.’ This additionally implies providing food, clothing and drinking water to the poor and needy as well as a roof over their heads. For over thirty years Shelter Now has assisted with humanitarian and developmental assistance in Pakistan and Afghanistan, providing emergency relief for war-affected refugees and for victims of earthquakes, floods, drought and other natural disasters. It provides reconstruction, rehabilitation and long term development co-operation. Recently the work in Pakistan was closed, to start helping refugees from IS in Kurdistan instead. In November a staff member, Udo Stolte, visited Yazidi refugees in Sulaimaniya in northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdistan region. You can read his report on Yazidi children going to school again by clicking on the ‘More’ button.
As we write, reports are still coming in of a large earthquake (7.3 on the Richter scale) which struck during the night on the border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iran. The quake, centered just southwest of the Kurdish town of Halabja, was felt throughout the Middle East, including Israel. News reports are predicting a large number of casualties, especially across the border in the heavily populated Iranian province of Kermanshah. This comes in the wake of other shakings which have been afflicting the Kurds in the region during the past few months.
The Kurds are an ancient people of Indo-European race, thought to be descended from the Biblical Medes. For thousands of years they have occupied an area centered in a crescent of land arching from eastern Turkey, around northern Syria, northeastern Iraq and northwestern Iran. An oft-persecuted race, they are the largest people group not to have held, for over 2000 years, personal sovereignty over the lands in which they have lived.
And they are the one large people-group in this part of the world who have a long history of friendliness towards the Jews. This dates back to the conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians in 722 BC, when Hebrew captives were dispersed as far away as “the cities of the Medes” (II Kings 17:6). Others were added following the Captivity of the Southern Kingdom by Babylon a century later. In the early 1950’s, most of the Jews in Iraq immigrated to the newly established nation of Israel; but warm relations have continued between these two peoples. During the 1980’s, the Iraqi government under Sadaam Hussein sought to exterminate the Kurds. In fact, on March 16, 1988, Hussein ordered a poison gas attack, releasing mustard gas and sarin on the Kurds living in Halabja (the epicenter of last night’s earthquake), killing more than 5,000 of them. At the end of the First Gulf War, the United States established a safe-zone in northeastern Iraq, to protect the Kurds from reprisals by the Iraqis. Since that time, with the death of Hussein following the Second Gulf War the region has flourished. Erbil the capital of this now “autonimous zone”, has become a modern city. The dream of the Kurds there to eventually become an independent nation has been seen as well on the way to reality.
They hold an ancient reputation for being a warlike people. In 2014, as ISIS began spreading its “Caliphate” through northwestern Iraq and headed behind retreating Iraqi soldiers towards Baghdad, it was the Kurds who stood firm along a 1000 kilometre front. And two years later it was their Peshmerga soldiers who were the vanguard for the US and Iraqi forces in taking back key areas, such as Mosul which had fallen to the Caliphate. Late last September, things took a different turn. The Kurdish leadership decided the time had come to hold a non-binding referendum to see if the Kurdish people of northern Iraq were ready for independence. Suddenly, the Kurds’ friends—including those with whom they had been battling a common enemy—began to distance themselves.
Dark threats came from Turkey and the Iraqi government about holding the referendum. The United States and other western nations strongly urged them to put it off. In fact, only Israel encouraged them to go forward with it. The referendum was overwhelmingly passed by the joyous Kurds. Unlike what happened in Israel in 1948, this was not a declaration of independence, just a vote towards a direction. Yet, just as happened with Israel in that year, enemies began to mobilize.
Turkey’s Erdogan began moving troops towards the northern border; issuing a sneering taunt, “See, no other nation is recognizing your referendum, only Israel. Will Israel save you?” The Iraqi government closed the Erbil airport, and mobilized troops—Shia militias led by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and backed up by Iraq’s 9th Armored Division.
In a short time, the Kurds had been driven out of the areas they had taken and held during the war with ISIS, including the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. At present this little nation (which could not become a nation) is in disarray—her dreams of independence once again dashed, feeling abandoned by her friends for and with whom she fought. For the moment there is a shaky truce…but for how long? And who will stand with her, if the circling armies began to again advance?
Presently Iraq and Iran, Syria and Turkey (abetted by Russia) appear to be resuming their old dream of a ‘crescent’ of Islamic power north of Israel. Saudi Arabia is aware of this, and is seeking to strengthen its alliance with the US, and perhaps even (in a hidden way) with Israel as it sees its ancient enemy Iran spreading westward. Wars and rumours of wars are roiling over the Middle East—and in the center are the Kurds.
Salvation and blessing are coming to Kurdistan. And an “independence” much deeper even than that which they have so desperately sought. Two years ago, the Lord released and repeatedly confirmed a prophetic word over this people—Springtime for the Kurds! There is a redemption at work in Kurdistan! God has promised that all nations (Genesis 22:18) will find blessing in the seed of Abraham; and that there will be a special blessing for all who show blessing to that seed! And Kurdistan, a land not under a curse for despising Israel, lies right in the middle of the region covered by the ancient kingdom of Assyria—a people and area which God promised would one day be called “the work of My hands”—bound together with Israel “My inheritance”—and Egypt “My people.” (Isaiah 19:24-25).
In recent years, seeds for the awakening of that holy blessing have been sown into Iraqi Kurdistan, and they are beginning to sprout. Shortly after the end of the First Gulf War, the Lord sent believers into land—aiding the decimated Kurds, digging wells which had been destroyed, helping with education, and in the process sharing the life-giving truth of the Good News of Issa—Yeshua—Jesus.
Perhaps it is because of the ancient teaching about a coming Messiah by the Jews who had lived among them for so long—but the veneer of Islam forcibly imposed upon the Kurds 1300 years ago seems much thinner today than that in other Islamic countries. They have begun coming to faith in the Saviour and being filled with the Spirit much more rapidly than has been the case in other Islamic societies.
Today there are Kurdish evangelists working among their own people; there are Kurdish songs of praise and worship being sung. It is a small light—but it has kept shining and is growing brighter. And as it comes into flame, it will shine out into the darkness of the surrounding nations.
We believe that the Kurds will have a crucial and holy role in the salvation of the Islamic nations surrounding them! Meanwhile, believers from the nations continue coming into the land to serve and to pray. Today there are is a strong House of Worship in Erbil, with visitors from abroad (including Jerusalem) visiting it often.
The present international turbulence is related to the borders of Kurdistan—its western and southern borders with Iraq, its northern borders with Syria and Turkey. The shakings last night were along the north-eastern border with Iran. It is the God of Heaven who “sets up the boundaries for peoples” (Deuteronomy 32:8-9). It is He who “makes peace in the borders of Jerusalem” (Psalm 147:14)—and in the borders of those who love her. We are reminded of several years ago, when, at the height of the advance of ISIS across Syria and north-western Iraq, our friend Rick Ridings received a vision regarding God’s “Re-drawing” of the maps of the region. Within that vision was the following regarding the Kurds—part of which has been fulfilled, and part of which we see continuing to be:
In the vision I received, I saw these “border angels” going forth in a focused way to the Kurdish autonomous area of present-day Iraq. They started pulling on and protecting borders. I saw an altar of prayer and worship to the Lord in the heart of this Kurdish region, where more and more stones were being added to it, causing the altar to be raised up higher and higher.
Next, I saw bulldozers and cranes carving a deep pool in this Kurdish region. I felt this was a reservoir being created to hold waters of the Holy Spirit…As things went from worse to worse in the ISIS-controlled areas of present-day Iraq and Syria, I saw in the vision that the Kurdish region was protected and that the rains of the Holy Spirit began to fall upon their area and started filling their “pool” with the water of Life.
- That God’s blessing of life, prosperity and hope would be renewed upon the Kurds in Northern Iraq; that He sustain them during a time of disappointment and loss; that the Father’s Kingdom Come! there.
- That God protect their borders, and at the right time establish them as a nation. Pray that He raise the Kurdish people up to the redemptive purposes He has reserved for them to walk in in the last days!
- That God raise up leadership there which will be led in His purposes and bring the people into unity. There are ancient party-divisions, which satan uses to awaken division whenever they find themselves no longer facing a common enemy.
- That Israel remain a strong friend of her only ally in that part of the world—among whom she herself was a sojourner for so many centuries. That this friendship will be strengthened in faithfulness, protection and provision. That our leaders will know how to act righteously and decisively in regard to Kurdistan during the coming days.
- That God remember the many other oppressed peoples whom the Kurds protect and succour within their midst such as the Yazidis, the Assyrian Christians.
- That President Trump become aware of the crucial importance of his nation maintaining faith—and protection with the Kurds in northern Iraq. That other nations who stand with Israel will also stand with the Kurds.
- That the seeds of Truth planted for centuries, and during the past few decades, come to fruition—that Believers from Israel and Egypt will be used of God to form a spiritual bond between their countries and Kurdistan in Assyria. Pray blessing, refreshing, insight and power over the House of Prayer in Irbil, Kurdistan.
- That the Kurdish people throughout the world would be drawn to the light of Salvation, and come as a people into their heritage.
Martin and Norma Sarvis
An independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan was held on 25 September 2017, with results showing approximately 93 percent of votes cast in favour of independence. The autonomous Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) claimed that this result triggered the start of state building and negotiations with Iraq about this. But the opposite happened: Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered his forces to retake the province of Kirkuk from the Kurdish Peshmerga’s control. Abadi had support from Iran, Turkey, the Persian Gulf countries and the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group. The Peshmerga, isolated and divided, withdrew.
Rather than establishing independence, the Kurds lost territory, including the economically strategic city of Kirkuk. Fighting continued in other areas of Kurdistan. The government in Bagdad announced also that they will control again all the borders of Iraq. Even though a ceasefire has been recently established between the Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga the tensions are still high.
In addition, on 29th October Masoud Barzani the leader of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq has announced his stepping down as president. This has added to the uncertainty about Kurdistan’s political future.
Pray: We ask you to earnestly pray for Kurdistan in this uncertain and dangerous situation.
Pray: for peace in Kurdistan and for a good agreement to be achieved between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government. The Kurds will not give up their autonomy and want to continue to control their borders. Without a miracle from God there could be more tension and even a war.
-After a few years of prayer for a team in Kurdistan we have now a family that has planned to move into Kurdistan in November. A house with an office for our organisation has been rented.
Pray: for wisdom for our leadership and the family to make the right decision when to move into Kurdistan. Please pray for the Lord’s guidance and strength, courage and that we can soon establish a team there.
Thank you very much for standing with us in the gap for this nation that is threatened by war, political instability and for praying with us that His kingdom will continue to expand, also through our work there.
With thanks and deep appreciation,
Your Prayer Update Team
Iraqi Christians are divided over whether their areas in northern Iraq should be a part of Kurdistan, the Iraqi central government, or an entirely new autonomous area. The Chaldean Catholic patriarch, in an interview on 16 October, expressed his concern that the Kurdish crisis would put the Christians’ presence in Iraq at risk . He said the current conflict in the disputed areas between Baghdad and Erbil would impede the Christians’ return to their areas, and prompt them to rush to leave their country for good. He said they should unite and engage in dialogue to preserve the Christian component in Iraq. Nevertheless, this appeal may not gain much traction because of great differences of opinion, particularly after the Kurdish independence referendum on 25 September - see the Prayer Alert article at