Open Letter to "Kurdish Question" Blog Post

Dear Sirs, with respect to your article at Rojava Political Structure Obscured by Headlines, I am writing for two reasons. Firstly, to request that you make a correction to a material factual inaccuracy in the article and secondly, to comment on the observations which you make within the article.

In the first instance I refer to the statement in the article as follows (paragraph 11, final sentence) which ends “… a claim flatly denied by Graham Penrose who helped the men secure positions with the PYG.[sic]”.

Throughout the last several weeks my firm and I have been consistent with respect to our role in this matter and we have repeatedly stated that for matters relating to the YPG, YPJ, Peshmerga or other Kurdish groups, organisations or political parties in the region that neither my firm nor I are recruiters or spokespersons or facilitators nor are we mandated to speak on behalf of any of these groups or organisations. 

When asked about assisting these groups we have publicly stated: “We respect that many people wish to assist the Kurdish nation in their struggle against evil and oppression, however TMG Corporate Services are simply not the correct point of contact with whom to progress these noble intentions. We would suggest that you make contact with the local Kurdish charity or group in your region to discuss these matters. Our firm is focussed on our own efforts to assist the Kurdish nation but we are not in a position to assist any third parties with respect to offers of a financial nature, contributions of goods and services or offers of skills and expertise. Additionally our firm is not in a position to advise on or offer assistance regarding entry to Kurdistan, Syria or Iraq.” 

After being pitched, I personally agreed to assist James Hughes and Jamie Read with advice, monies for travel and support for their recent trip based on a belief that they were two informed young men who had an objective similar to my own with respect to developing informed commentary and reports from the region that elevated the debate regarding the Kurdish Question and which were based on first hand experience and informed by direct contact and conversation with qualified Kurdish commentators, activists and volunteers. 

I also acted in this matter in a personal capacity passing messages between James Hughes and Jamie Read and their families, at their request, as communications were a factor and I was in a position to assist. I provided this favour to the associated parties to give some peace of mind to people who would have otherwise been in an information vacuum and who are not accustomed to such situations. 

My role is now complete (effective 1st December 2014). I no longer have any role as a liaison with the families of James Hughes and Jamie Read as per mutual agreement. Please also see below a statement from TCRC who are affiliated with James Hughes and Jamie Read confirming this “The Terrorism & Conflict Research Centre is no longer associated with Graham Penrose or TMG Corporate Services so if you have and questions message The Terrorism & Conflict Research Centre or James Hughes and Jamie Read” See Original Statement on TPG Group (TCRC) Facebook Page 

Throughout the heightened media interest that occurred between 20th November 2014 to date regarding James Hughes and Jamie Read, our firm and myself personally have been offered and continue to be offered deals from print media – news and magazines, radio stations, TV stations, documentary makers, investigative journalists, film makers and a long list of miscellaneous types. We have universally declined them all. Others have not. That is their prerogative. 

I have no interest in playing a role with the media and only did so previously in this matter out of necessity and request in order to issue a denial of an untrue allegation (the “mercenary” allegation). 

Recent statements by James Hughes and Jamie Read are inconsistent with what was to have been the objective of this exercise in my view. I wish to distance myself from statements they have made including “vengeance” and “IS killers” and descriptions of motivations based on the tragic murder of Mr. Alan Henning. I would therefore be most obliged if you would correct within your article the incorrect description regarding the basis of my involvement in this matter. 

Secondly, I concur with your observations that the real issues in play with regard to the Kurdish Question are being obscured by a sensationalist and largely uninformed series of articles and comments which have tended to centre around individuals and their personal stories rather than the fundamental issues such as the right to self determination, autonomy and independence which are the cornerstone of the Kurdish struggle. 

As part of my profession I hold opinions on what I believe the various Kurdish groups need to address with respect to information dissemination to battle a superior IS media machine and implement a more sophisticated outbound messaging strategy. It was my view that the YPG / Peshmerga / Kurdish groups in general required up-skilling in the short term with respect to messaging, immediate PR wins focussed on the fundamental issues not the personalities involved, develop a structured and consistent media campaign going forward, increase the production values in general of what is released for public consumption in order to garner greater visibility for the issues and to shepherd and influence public opinion and support regarding the strategic objective of bolstering the legitimacy of the Kurdish claim to nationhood post conflict while establishing a solid and sound foundation from which to lobby for same based on professional, structured and compelling argument.

I have experience of these matters, please see an article I published in July 2014 titled “Precision Guided Message – Radical Islam, Social Media, and Building a Sleeper Army” where I asserted that one of the contributing factors in the forward momentum of the Islamic State (IS) [formerly and variously the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham; and the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIL)] was the rapid and regimented dissemination of the organisation’s message.


I trust that you will oblige with respect to my request to make the correction within the body of your article and I wish you all the best for the future.

Graham Penrose.

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