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StWC Blind Spot on the Kurds.

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Western blind spot: the Kurds’ forgotten war in Syria.

A victory for the Kurds and their allies in Syria is a victory for all who want a future that is dictated neither by fundamentalists nor imperialists.

The current narrative from Cameron and Obama is simple: the head-chopping Islamic State is a threat to all of humanity, so western forces need to return to the Middle East. Yet this narrative is far from supported by the empirical evidence. Non-existent weapons of mass destruction and non-existent Islamic fundamentalist jihadists were used to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by George Bush and Tony Blair. Iraq was transformed from secular totalitarianism to chaos: in turn, chaos and opposition to occupation seeded a jihadist movement.

Western support for opponents of Assad in Syria gave the so-called ‘Islamic State’ an opportunity to take territory. ISIS was able to seize huge quantities of heavy weaponry supplied by the USA and its allies. Thus, if US intervention has created or at least massively accelerated the growth of a monster, critics argue that more intervention will no doubt provide the Islamic State with more weapons, more support and more chaos on which to thrive.

Another reason for doubting the narrative is the fact that the most successful opponents of ISIS are not only unsupported by the west but are effectively at war with a NATO ally. If the ‘war on terror’ was real, the words Kobane, Rojava and YPG would be on our TV screens more often than a marriage date with George Clooney. In fact, few of us have much knowledge of the forgotten war in the Middle East. This is a war that ISIS, up until a few days ago, was losing. But a NATO country has joined to help defeat not the jihadist beheaders, but their most feared opponents.

As I write, the city of Kobane in the mostly Kurdish city in northern Syria is under threat from ISIS, who have laid siege to the city for over a fortnight. ISIS forces from all over the region, equipped with tanks and missiles stolen from Iraqi forces supplied by Qatar and the USA, have sustained a huge attack on this city on the border of Turkey. You won’t hear about Kobane on much of the media and not so far in speeches from Obama and Cameron. These are the Kurds the west does not support, and mentioning their very existence is virtually an existential threat.

The Kurds, who are said to be the largest stateless nation and are spread across Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, have been fighting for autonomy for decades. The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey saw their leader Ocalan captured in 1999. He remains in prison. In Syria, as a result of the civil war, the Kurds have created an autonomous self-governing republic, made up of three cantons, one of which is Kobane. The three cantons are known collectively as Rojava [western Kurdistan]. For several years the Rojavans have been fighting and beating ISIS and other jihadists like the Al Nusra front. When ISIS threatened thousands of Yazidi in Iraq, killing many and forcing others into apparently slavery, this triggered international outrage. It is largely forgotten that the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the community self-defence force from Rojava, crossed to Mount Sinjar and rescued many Yazidis.

While Rojava is known as a Kurdish territory, political and religious pluralism is strongly promoted. Syriac Christian militias are allied with the YPG, which also draws in Arab and Armenian fighters. Most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, although others are Yazidis. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) is usually seen as a sister party of the PKK but there are many other Kurdish and non Kurdish political parties in Rojava. The PKK affiliated party advocates political diversity, feminism and self-governance. Originally a Marxist-Leninist organisation, remarkably the PKK sees itself as an anarchist political organisation inspired by the ideas of the American social ecologist and green anarchist, Murray Bookchin!

An anarchist from North London who visited Rojava noted that they are carrying out an almost unique democratic experiment: ‘We went to a meeting of one the communes based in the neighborhood of Cornish in the town of Qamishlo. There were 16 to 17 people in the meeting. The majority of them were young women. We engaged in a deep conversation about their activities and their tasks. They told us that in their neighborhood they have 10 Communes and the membership of each Commune is 16 people. They told us “We act in the same way as community workers including meeting people, attending the weekly meetings, checking any problems in the places we are based, protecting people in the community and sorting out their problems, collecting the rubbish in the area, protecting the environment and attending the biggest meeting to report back about what happened in the last week”. In response to one of my questions, they confirmed that nobody, including any of the political parties, intervenes in their decision making and that they make all the decisions collectively.’ Others have termed Rojava the Chiapas of the Middle East, in reference to the Zapatistas of Mexico.

The Rojava Charter, a kind of constitution, is a remarkable document. It states, “[w]e the peoples of the democratic self-administration areas; Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians (Assyrian Chaldeans, Arameans), Turkmen, Armenians, and Chechens, by our free will, announce this to ensure justice, freedom, democracy, and the rights of women and children in accordance with the principles of ecological balance, freedom of religions and beliefs, and equality without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, creed, doctrine or gender, to achieve the political and moral fabric of a democratic society in order to function with mutual understanding and coexistence within diversity and respect for the principle of self-determination and self-defense of the peoples….The autonomous areas of the democratic self-administration do not recognize the concept of the nation state and the state based on the grounds of military power, religion, and centralism”. The feminist part of their ideology reflects a strong commitment: in fact 30% of YPG members are women, all-woman fighting units (YPJ), are common, and women share the highest military rank with men.

Rojava offers the threat of a good example. A self-governing anarchist society with ecological aspirations may or may not be the utopia it sounds like, however the west has little time for alternatives to capitalism that might just work. The allies of the US and UK tell us all we need to know about their war on terror. These allies include Saudi Arabia, which beheads citizens on a regular basis, outlaws LGBT people, doesn’t allow women to drive and like ISIS, does not tolerate churches, Shia mosques or the advocacy of religions other than the most constrained form of Islam. Like Saudi Arabia, Qatar has funded jihadists, and then we come to Bahrain which has been heavily repressing their population.

The roll call of allies is a list of shame, which includes some of the most repressive states on our planet. It is an oil-soaked catalogue of monsters. The Kurds currently armed and supported by the US in Iraq belong to a rival political organisation to the PYD. The suspicion is that Islamic State attacks, which were moving in on the shopping malls and US centres in Iraqi Kurdistan, prompted the US intervention. For, however loud the calls are to oppose ISIS, the YPG who so far have been the most effective opponents of jihadism are largely ignored.

Turkey, another NATO ally, has been accused of supporting ISIS, as part of its longstanding conflict with the Kurds. Turkey has refused to fight ISIS, their border has been porous to jihadists wishing to join ISIS and the recent release of over 49 Turkish hostages by ISIS has been met with a suggestion of a deal between Turkey and the so-called Islamic State. Turkey has been strongly repressing the Kurds, and has argued for a buffer zone, which would essentially remove Rojava and replace it with Turkish troops. Turkey has also attempted to prevent thousands of Kurds from crossing the border to fight ISIS as they besiege Kobane. It has been alleged that $800 million of oil has been sold by ISIS in Turkey.  There is also evidence that Turkish troops have been training ISIS.

ISIS are currently concentrating their forces against their most effective opponents, the YPG and its independent democratic cause. In Kobane, the forces of ISIS terror, against which the west is supposedly at war, are at the door and massively outgun the besieged Kurds, thanks to the help of the west and its allies. The dark ironies of geopolitics cannot be made clearer: ISIS is armed with weapons captured from the US, who flooded the region with weapons, while Turkey, a NATO member, is further strengthening the terrorism against which NATO has declared war, by repressing a democratic movement fighting indigeounously against ISIS.

There have been reports of US attacks on ISIS positions near Kobane, but there is some debate as to whether these have been effective. Meryem Kobanê, Commander of the YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) in Kobane, noted on Saturday, September 27, that the strikes missed the ISIS forces.

The US and UK intervention has brought nothing but misery to the Middle East. The silence from Obama and Cameron regarding Turkey’s repression of the Kurds, shows that the ‘war on terror’ is more about the rhetoric than reality. All of us who want to see societies based on pluralism, self-governance, respect for minorities and empowerment of women, need to challenge our elected leaders over their failure to challenge Turkish opposition to Rojava. A victory for the Kurds and their allies in Rojava is a victory for all who want a future that is dictated neither by fundamentalists nor imperialists.

For more information on Rojava and the struggle against ISIS, see the following websites:

http://peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/news/

http://rojavareport.wordpress.com/

To this can be added this significant report,

Saturday, September 27, 2014 By I. Zekeriya Ayman

The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas, who won nearly 10% in the recent presidential election. The HDP is leading a big campaign of solidarity with Rojava against the IS assault.

With the US and allied nations, including Arab countries, carrying out air strikes in Syria, the Turkish government is trying to convince the West it does not support the Islamic State (IS) forces the US is targetting.

Newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the former prime minster) linked the adjective “terrorist” with “IS” for the very first time on September 23 during a US TV interview while attending the United Nations climate summit.

“Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to stop this terrorist organisation, militarily, and politically,” he said.

But the truth is that IS has received vital support from the Turkish government. It is known that IS has received crucial support from Turkey, which includes:

* Turkey positioning itself as an easy bridge for IS foreign militants to reach Syria, and Iraq;
* Trapped IS militants in Syria and Iraq escaping to Turkey to regroup and train;
* IS casualties being treated in Turkish hospitals and even having an hospital exclusively for their use;
* Turkey providing basic needs to IS under the guise of “humanitarian aid”;
* The Turkish government providing weapons and ammunitions directly to IS and provided safe passage for arms deliveries from elsewhere; and
*Turkey opening and closing its borders to suit IS.

The main reason the Turkish regime has supported IS, besides its interest in the toppling the Syrian regime, is the growing Kurdish resistance in Syria and the creation of a revolutionary “liberated zone” in the Kurdish territory of Rojava.

See more…..here.

The STWC is also silent on the Kurdish struggle.

Iraq demonstration

Parliament has voted for the third Iraq War. The last two have brought almost unimaginable suffering to the people of Iraq and have helped to create the current chaos, driving the country to the brink of break up.

They claim this is a humanitarian operation to defeat Isis. In fact, Isis is backed by various middle east powers and a new aerial bombardment will not defeat it. It will however, kill innocents, further fragment the country and inflame violence.

The record of the west’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show that as well as creating misery and mayhem, western military interventions make the world a more volatile, dangerous place.

Cameron’s new war has built-in mission creep. Discussions are already underway for Britain to join the bombing of Syria, and there are growing calls for boots on the ground.

The Stop the War Coalition is asking every one of its supporters to attend the demonstration against the insanity of another war on Iraq.

There is this by contrast,

 

Kurds began a hunger strike tonight London in solidarity with the city of #Kobane, under siege & attack from ISIS. 

Now, Back the Kurds!

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tatchell

Comrade Tatchell’s Call is the Right Response. 

Few will have much time for those who simply dismiss any action against the genociders of ISIL as “imperialism”.

It is unfortunate that those who wish to “stop the war” rely on arguments that conflate the murders of a totalitarian gang with all the other forces at play.

It is even more unfortunate that ‘Little Englander’ arguments are used against the war, about its expense, and the fear that killers may attack “us”.

But we should be extremely wary of getting enthusiastic for a bombing campaign without clear objectives, and without a real chance of a democratic outcome.

It would be misguided to jump on the bandwagon that looks as if it’s going to lead to moves for “regime change” in Syria – a recipe for more chaos, suffering and the growth of Islamist killer forces.

But there is one dimension in which we can support intervention.

Patrick Cockburn states

What the plans of President Obama and Mr Cameron lack is a diplomatic plan to bring the war between the non-Isis parties in Syria to an end. The two sides fear and hate each other too much for any political solution, but it may be possible for the foreign backers of the two sides to pressure them into agreeing a ceasefire. Neither is in a position to win against each other, but both are threatened by Isis, which inflicted stinging defeats on both Assad and anti-Assad forces in the summer.

Britain should press for such a truce even if it is only engaged militarily in Iraq, because it is the outcome of the war in Syria that will determine what happens in Iraq. It was the Syrian war beginning in 2011 that reignited Iraq’s civil war and not the misdeeds of Mr Maliki.

If Isis is to be combated effectively, then the US, Britain and their allies need to establish a closer relationship with those who are actually fighting Isis, which currently include the Syrian Army, the Syrian Kurds, Hezbollah of Lebanon, Iranian-backed militias and Iran itself. The necessity for this is being made tragically clear in the Syria Kurdish enclave of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, where Isis fighters have already driven 200,000 Kurds into Turkey.

Perhaps as the Stop the War Coalition has published Cockburn they might heed what comrade Peter Tatchell says,

The truth is that if the US and UK are serious about fighting ISIS they should start by aiding the people on the ground who know the region best, have local roots and who are already leading the fight against the jihadist menace – the peshmerga army of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq and guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and allied movements in Syria. This aid could include training, weapons, military intelligence, food and medical equipment. With extra assistance and supplies, they could be a powerful, effective counter-force to ISIS. The aim would be to empower them to liberate themselves.

Kurdish protesters made this call in London during the last week. They want international military aid to enable Kurdish fighters to roll back the ISIS advance.

Sadly, the UK Stop The War Coalition (STWC) has allowed its opposition to war to trump support for democracy and human rights. It is laudable to oppose western military attacks but a betrayal to show no solidarity with the democratic, secular, liberal and left forces in Iraq and Syria who are fighting ISIS and Assad’s blood-soaked tyranny.

Not backing military aid to these progressive forces, as an alternative to Western intervention, is a serious misjudgement. STWC’s failure to support those fighting an emerging genocide has a whiff of de facto acquiescence and collusion.

I hate war and see it as a last resort. But to stave off a bloodbath and enslavement, the progressive anti-ISIS fighters deserve assistance from the West and the whole international community. If military aid to partisans fighting Nazi fascism was the right thing to do in the 1940s, then surely support for those opposing ISIS clerical fascism is the right thing to do today.

We can discuss for hours the ultimate responsibility for the rise of Islamic State.

But there is one major problem that affects everything here and now:  the actions of the Turkish government, nominally a backer of the anti-ISIS coalition.

The Guardian today publishes this report, on the attitudes of the Kurds,

Like the majority of Kurds here he firmly believes that Ankara is actively supporting Isis with heavy weaponry, medical care and money – a charge that the Turkish government vehemently denies. Facebook pictures and YouTube videos that appear to back up their suspicions are eagerly shared among the picnickers, and continuous attacks by Turkish security forces on Kurdish activists gathering in border villages is proof enough for most that Turkey does not want the Kurds to prevail in Kobani.

“We arrived on Monday from Siirt,” explains Mehmet, 55. “We want to show support and be there for our brothers and sisters across the border. We want to show them and the world that we will not give up on them. We will stay as long as we have to.” Guardian.

Yesterday Le Monde reported complicity from Turkey towards the Islamic state in an on-the-spot (and lengthy) report, (A la frontière du dijhad).

So, how are we to back the Kurds?

George Galloway, after some distasteful rhetoric, and for all the distaste we have for him, had a brief moment of good sense in the House of Commons yesterday,

Galloway eventually outlined a plan when Rory Stewart, the Conservative chairman of the Commons defence select committee, challenged him to “please bring us towards his solution to this problem”. The MP for Bradford West called for a strengthening of forces already fighting Isis; arming the forces fighting Isis; and strengthening of Kurdish forces. Guardian.

If Galloway’s Moment of Clarity was not to last (he has since been raving in support of Assad and people’s right to set up states based on Islamic ‘law’) this is of rather more weight:

The Morning Star says (Editorial, Friday),

What’s needed instead is support for those anti-Isis forces in the region which are genuinely broad-based and secular.

The Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish authorities on the ground should set the terms for assistance in that struggle, endorsed by the United Nations, not the US president, his wire-pullers and their imagined allies in Turkey and the Gulf states.

With this consensus growing on the British left * (one that already exists on the largely pro-Kurd Continental left) – outside the depleted ranks of the SWP and other die-hard ‘anti-imperialists’ – we hope that others will voice their backing for the Kurdish fighters.

* See for example, (Socialist Resistance) STOP THE BRUTAL ATTACKS BY ISIS IN KOBANE, and the declarations by groups such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (see this important article, ISIS horror forces a culture shift on the left) and the general trend towards  backing the Kurds, amongst many other declarations.

The French bloc Ensemble (in the Front de Gauche) refuses to back “national union” behind the air-strikes but then adds a call for  “un engagement dans le soutien aux peuples en lutte contre l’Etat islamique, essentiellement de la force de la résistance kurde et syrienne, qui sont des acteurs essentiels pour l’avenir de la région et par le refus des interventions déstabilisatrices des grandes puissances.” A commitment to support the peoples in struggle against the Islamic state, principally the Kurdish and Syrian  resistance, who are the central actors in assuring the region’s future, against the destabilising effects of the great powers’ interventions.

Will Bombing Make the ISIS Problem Worse? First – Back the Kurdish Fighters!

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What Letter Does not Say: Kurdish Fighters need our Support.

Bombing will make the ISIS problem worse (Guardian 24.9.14.)

Along with most British people, we opposed an attack on Iraq in 2003. The brutal reality of the invasion and occupation confirmed our worst fears. At least half a million died and the country was devastated.

Now, less than three years after US troops were pulled out, the US is bombing again. The British government is considering joining military action, not just in Iraq but in Syria too.

All the experience of the varied military action taken by the west in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya shows that such interventions kill innocents, destroy infrastructure and fragment societies, and in the process spread bitterness and violence.

While we all reject the politics and methods of Isis, we have to recognise that it is in part a product of the last disastrous intervention, which helped foster sectarianism and regional division. It has also been funded and aided by some of the west’s allies, especially Saudi Arabia.

More bombing, let alone boots on the ground, will only exacerbate the situation. We urge the government to rule out any further military action in Iraq or Syria.

Caryl Churchill playwright
Brian Eno musician
Tariq Ali writer and broadcaster
Jeremy Corbyn MP
Lindsey German convenor of the Stop the War Coalition
Diane Abbott MP
Mark Rylance actor
Ken Loach film director
Michael Rosen author and broadcaster
Kate Hudson general secretary of CND
John McDonnell MP
Sami Ramadani Iraqi writer and campaigner
Len McCluskey general secretary of Unite
Amir Amarani film director
Mohammed Kozbar vice-president of the Muslim Association of Britain
Dr Anas Altikriti
Walter Wolfgang Labour CND
Andrew Murray chief of staff Unite

The great unanswered question is: will supplying arms to the Kurds,  the Peshmerga, and the PKK/YPG, make the ISIS problem worse?

Yesterday on Newsnight Geoffrey Robinson rightly underlined the genocidal threat posed by Islamic State/ISIS.

“IS are pirates of the desert & enemies of humankind-they can be attacked because they are genocidal”-Geoffrey Robertson QC tells

The signers of this letter advocate  standing aside from the crimes of the Islamists, and their European recruits.

The Stop the War Coalition are going to protest – again.

Emergency protest: Don’t bomb Iraq, Don’t bomb Syria. Lobby your MP

• PROTEST: Downing Street. 5.30pm Thursday 25th September

Isis is a reactionary force, but it is in part a product of the disastrous occupation of Iraq by Western powers. Isis is funded by some of our main allies in the region, including Saudi Arabia. Escalating Western military intervention will do nothing to stop them but will create more suffering and further destabilise the region.

Stop the War is calling on its London supporters to protest on Thursday 25 September evening outside Downing Street from 5.30pm till 7.30pm. (Nearest tubes: Westminster and Charing Cross)

There is no call whatsoever for ways to stop the genociders’ killings, to help  the Kurds, the oppressed religious minorities, Christians, Yazidis, and the masses under the murderers’ rule. 

By contrast many on the European Left, from the Danish   Red-Green Alliance, (Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne) to influential groups on the French left (Ensemble, Parti Communiste Français)  support  the Kurdish fighters.

The PCF has released this statement (23rd September): Contre la barbarie islamiste : solidarité avec les kurdes de Syrie.

They demand aid for the Kurdish refugees and that France and other countries….

….Elles doivent soutenir les forces kurdes du PYD et du PKK qui sont aux avant-postes de la défense des valeurs universelles des Droits de l’homme. Immédiatement, le PKK doit être retiré de la liste des organisations terroristes.

….must support the Kurdish forces of the YPD and PKK, who are in the front line of the defence of the universal values of human rights. The PKK must immediately be taken off the list of terrorist organisations.

There is now a call for them to be supplied with arms.

This seems a better reply than those who limit their opposition to the jihadists to a bald statement that they “reject the politics and methods of Isis.”

This is the present plight of our Kurdish sisters and brothers,

People of North Kurdistan will protect 160 km of border

The solidarity protest initiated in the Suruç district of Urfa in order to support the resistance of Kobanê against ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham) has been continuing for 5 days.

The people who have not left the area despite the heavy attacks of the Turkish troops, have moved the tent which was set up in the village of Etmanik to the village of Dewşan.
After the news that the Turkish state had conveyed ISIS gangs to the border with Rojava by trains, buses and other vehicles appeared in the media, the area of the vigil has been widened.

The vigil which was originally carried out at one point will from now on be maintained by activists at the Urfa-Kobanê border along a 160 km stretch.

After a decision taken by the Kurdistan People’s Initiative, thousands of the people spread out along the border.

Meanwhile, the DBP (Party of Democratic Regions) declared that all town and city organisations will be at the border today. It is expected that the people coming from different cities will keep vigil at different points of the border.

Thousands arrive in Suruç, then head for border

This morning thousands of people arrived in Suruç in response to the DBP appeal, before going by bus to the Kobanê border. Following the call by the DBP, thousands of people from many cities in North Kurdistan arrived in Suruç early this morning. From there they will spread out along the border.

The European left has a special responsibility to show solidarity to the Kurdish left: they are our kith and kin.

The letter against US bombing is distinguished by its deathly silence on this burning issue.

We can begin by signing this petition.

Deproscribe the PKK

Responsible department: Home Office

The Kurdish PKK and its Syrian sister group the YPG are at the forefront of the battle against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. PKK fighters are credited with opening a corridor allowing Yazidi refugees in the Sinjar Mountains free passage to safer regions in Iraq and Syria.

The politics of the PKK have changed since they were proscribed, from militant Marxism fighting the Turkish state, to an organisation pursuing a largely non-violent strategy aimed at greater regional autonomy. They have been engaged in peace talks with the Turkish state since July this year.

The UK should recognise the changes that have taken place and how the situation on the ground has changed and deproscribe the PKK.

Sign the Petition: Here.

And this Petition,

SIGN THE APPEAL

One year ago, Peace in Kurdistan Campaign sent out an appeal for the governments of the UK, EU and Turkey to remove the PKK from their list of terrorist organisations, and have been collecting signatures ever since. The list of the first signatories to this appeal includes prominent public figures such as Gareth Pierce and Michael Mansfield QC, as well as campaigners, journalists, and members of the British and European parliament.

Here

Moral Responsibility and the Genociders of Islamic State (Daʿesh).

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David Haines

The Islamic State group has released a video purporting to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines – an act described by the British prime minister as “pure evil”.

The video, released late on Saturday, shows Haines, 44, being killed in a desert location by a masked man. The father of two children, from Perth in Scotland, was abducted last year while working for the French aid agency Acted.

The video comes after the murder of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both American journalists, in similar settings and manners.

The masked man in the latest video states Haines was killed because the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, had promised to arm Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq against the Islamic State fighters.

“This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.”

Aljazeera.

You can see the Video here.

Read the Transcript here.

The Guardian states,

In the video, entitled A Message to the Allies of America, a masked man is shown carrying out the beheading of Haines, whose life had earlier been threatened in a film showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff. The video, which runs to two minutes and 28 seconds, ends with a warning that a second British hostage would be the next to die. He has been named in international media and on social media as Alan Henning, a British aid worker.

The killer, swathed in black, then makes a statement in which he makes a direct reference to the British government’s aid to Kurdish fighters.

He says: “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State. Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.

“Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam will only accelerate your destruction. And playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.”

The BBC adds, that the killer, “appears to have a British accent.”

This is a terrible event, and  we are deeply saddened.

But let us avoid rhetoric about an “‘an act of pure evil’ (David Cameron).

Some more precise points:

  • It is to be hoped that nobody from the Stop the War Coalition or elsewhere will blame this killing of an innocent aid worker on Western foreign policy. The murder is the responsibility of the person who carried it out, and the Islamic state leaders who directly ordered the beheading . The person killed, David Haines,  bears no collective responsibility for the actions of the West. He bore no responsibility for what the Royal Air Force is doing now. He was an aid worker. The butcher who decapitated him  had no right to take the right over his life to himself.
  • It is equally to be hoped that the StWC and others will not repeat the phrase about a “bloody and unwinnable war”. This is not a matter of Cameron “not saying no” to the Americans, a lapdog of the White House.  It may be wrong it may be right, but if the West did not arm the Peshmerga, the Islamic state will not stop religious cleansing, torture  and genocide.
  • The  murderer says, “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.” The killer is not an agent morally capable of making Haines “Pay” anything. You cannot transfer a debt – real or metaphorical – from one unrelated individual, the Prime Minister, to another person, particularly one who is independent of his field of action
  • Nobody can lay the Haines’ death directly at Cameron’s door: it is the decision of Islamic state, an act of their will, in order to further their aim of enforcing a Caliphate over the corpses of ‘heretics’ and ‘unbelievers’.
  • The individual who slaughtered Haines was, according to all accounts, British. Will he, and other foreign Jihadists,  continue these actions and try to kill other British people that he considers responsible for attacking the Islamic state?

 It would be appreciated as well if people would stop repeating that Islamic State/ISIS/Daʿesh has nothing to do with real Islam.

We are not in a position to know what ‘real’ Islam is.

Daʿesh claims to be Islamic: it is one form of actually existing Islamism. (1)

Fawaz A Gerges on Radio Four this morning underlined that it is marked by unrelenting sectarian hatred, above all of Shias.

This clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with Western foreign policy.

This is not to deny the complications at work in Iraq and Syria and few would be inclined to lay out the battle lines in black and white.

There remain plenty of contradictions at the heart of the US-led operations, ranging from the lack of fixidity in the roles of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab League, to the (sectarian) nature of much of the Baghdad government and the long-term goals of the Kurdish regional authority (see Rue89).

One aspect of Daʿesh, nevertheless,  does concern us here with absolute clarity: every European jihadist may be held accountable for their crimes, tortures and murders.

They should be brought before a War Crimes Tribunal. 

Update.

(1) By denouncing ISIS as ‘not Muslims’, moderate Muslims risk making things worse  James Brandon.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2014 at 10:57 am

French Appeal in Support of Kurds, Communist Party Backs Kurdish Fighters.

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The Parti Communiste Français (PCF) declared in July,

ISIL’s offensive force: solidarity with the Syrian Kurds

The Islamist terrorist organisation Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which decreed the creation of a Caliphate which straddles Iraq and Syria, has launched a military offensive against independent Syrian Kurdistan.

Taking advantage of the disintegration of Iraq and seizing heavy weapons, they have taken their fight  to Kurdish districts in Syria, areas in which the population has for months waged a heroic struggle against these obscurantist forces  – supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

The “West”, including the United States and France bear a huge responsibility in this regional disintegration and in the violence against civilians. Turkey has also shown a benevolent attitude towards this offensive, which fulfils their aim of breaking the democratic experience of the (autonomous Kurdish) town and surroundings of Rojava.  

With the Kurds threatened with new massacres indifference is shameful and inhuman.

The French Communist Party expresses its solidarity with the Syrian Kurds. It calls the French government and the European Union to use all their power to stop these crimes.

French Communist Party
Paris July 7, 2014 (adapted)

The PCF has since that date issued numerous appeals.

Iraq: Call for solidarity and political intervention by France and the UN (12th of August).

Support for the Kurds  is a priority. Anything that can help, such as the withdrawal of the PKK’s designation as a ‘terrorist organisation’, should be encouraged.  France could, as a member of the Security Council initiate a regional conference to help reconciliation, rebuild the Iraqi state and preserve the unity of the Middle East. There is still time to contain the conflagration sweeping the region.

The PCF  expresses its support and solidarity with the Kurdish forces and commits itself on the side of the democrats and Kurdish forces against the Iraqi ISIS.   In this terrible ordeal,  Communists will spare no efforts to ensure that peace and democracy can win out.

Stop the cruelty and persecution against the Kurdish people and minorities in Iraq (August 23rd) called for support for a demonstration in Marseille that day in support of minorities in Iraq.

 Marseille Demonstration.

The Kurdish News Agency RUDAW reports (Thursday 12th September)

PARIS, France – High-profile French politicians are urging greater international support for Iraqi Kurds in their fight against jihadists of the Islamic State (IS), saying the autonomous region is fighting for Western democratic values and should be helped in its protection of Christians and Yezidis.

“The Kurds are fighting also for our democratic values and for our safety,” said a petition published in the French newspaper Le Monde.

“Let’s help Kurdistan protect the Yezidis and the Christians. Our values depend on it,” said the appeal, an initiative of the Kurdish Institute of Paris.

It was signed by former Prime Minister Lionel Jospin and Michel Rocard, former ministers of foreign affairs Bernard Kouchner and Hubert Vedrine, the current mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and former ministers Cecile Duflot,  Francois Loncle and Pierre Lellouche, among other high profile academics and intellectuals.

……

Their statement referred to the grave situation faced by the Kurdistan Region, which has received hundreds of thousands of refugees escaping the war by Islamic jihdists.  Erbil also is having to protect over 1,000 kilometers of its border against the highly armed forces.

“Since June, Iraqi Kurdistan has been receiving hundreds of thousands of refugees and displaced people fleeing the massacres committed by the jihadists of the Islamic State. Among them are tens of thousands of Christians, Yezidis, Shabaks and members of other religious minorities,” the statement said.

“Coming after the first wave of 250.000 Syrian refugees, this massive flood far exceeds the Kurdistan Regional Government’s hosting capacities,” it noted. Kurdistan “does not have, on its own, the material means to provide for the accommodation of this additional population of over a million people,” it added.

It noted also that, as the KRG struggles against this deluge, Baghdad has cut monthly budget payments to Erbil over an oil row, cutting deeply into Kurdish finances.

The Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been the toughest line of defense against the jihadis, backed with air support by the US and Iraqi air force.

Erbil has also allowed refugees to cross into its borders, regardless of religion or ethnicity.

“Such a rare example of democracy in the Islamic world not only deserves encouragement but it also needs active and massive solidarity of the citizens and the governments of the Western Democracies,” the French appeal said.

The group called for the intensification of humanitarian aid by the UN agencies and the European Union, implementation of promised arms supplies and measures to enable the KRG to protect minorities in the frontlines. It also called for action to encourage oil-rich Gulf countries to finance the ongoing relief efforts in Kurdistan.

“An international air protection should be provided to Christian and Yezidi areas of the plain of Nineveh in order to enable the return of these vulnerable peoples,” it pointed out.

The petition also urged France, which took the initiative of mobilizing the European Union, to propose a resolution at the UN Security Council to force Baghdad into restarting the constitutional budget payments to Erbil.

Finally, the petition asked the European Union to appoint a special envoy to ease direct mediation, and re-establish dialogue among Iraq’s Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites.

Original, Le Monde 8.9.14. “Aidons le Kurdistan à protéger yézidis et chrétiens, nos valeurs en dépendent.”

A sceptical approach to arming the Kurdish Regional Government and others, which argues that they will use them, “pour affirmer l’autonomie grandissante de leur région, voire leur volonté d’indépendance, ce qui serait un pas décisif vers l’éclatement de l’Irak.” , Questions sur l’armement des Kurdes d’Irak. Alain Gresh. (Blogs, 18th August. Le Monde Diplomatique)

Should We Boycott Saudi Arabia?

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British Islamists earlier this year.

The brutal beheading of Scott Sotloff is fresh in people’s minds.

A couple of days ago Owen Jones wrote, ” Middle Eastern dictatorships that have played a pernicious role in the rise of Islamist fundamentalist terrorism.”

The article, published originally in the Guardian and posted on the Stop the War Coalition site, makes a refreshing change from one-sided denunciations of attempts to create an “American caliphate”.

He then says,

While there is no evidence to suggest Qatar’s regime is directly funding Isis, powerful private individuals within the state certainly are, and arms intended for other jihadi groups are likely to have fallen into their hands. According to a secret memo signed by Hillary Clinton, released by Wikileaks, Qatar has the worst record of counter-terrorism cooperationwith the US.

And yet, where are the western demands for Qatar to stop funding international terrorism or being complicit in the rise of jihadi groups? Instead, Britain arms Qatar’s dictatorship, selling it millions of pounds worth of weaponry including “crowd-control ammunition” and missile parts.

And further,

Then there’s Kuwait, slammed by Amnesty International for curtailing freedom of expression, beating and torturing demonstrators and discriminating against women. Hundreds of millions have been channelled by wealthy Kuwaitis to Syria, again ending up with groups like Jabhat al-Nusra.

But the worst example comes from Saudi Arabia,

And then, of course, there is the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia. Much of the world was rightly repulsed when Isis beheaded the courageous journalist James Foley. Note, then, that Saudi Arabia has beheaded 22 people since 4 August. Among the “crimes” that are punished with beheading are sorcery and drug trafficking.

Around 2,000 people have been killed since 1985, their decapitated corpses often left in public squares as a warning. According to Amnesty International, the death penalty “is so far removed from any kind of legal parameters that it is almost hard to believe”, with the use of torture to extract confessions commonplace. Shia Muslims are discriminated against and women are deprived of basic rights, having to seek permission from a man before they can even travel or take up paid work.

Even talking about atheism has been made a terrorist offence and in 2012, 25-year-old Hamza Kashgari was jailed for 20 months for tweeting about the prophet Muhammad. Here are the fruits of the pact between an opulent monarchy and a fanatical clergy.

This human rights abusing regime is deeply complicit in the rise of Islamist extremism too. Following the Soviet invasion, the export of the fundamentalist Saudi interpretation of Islam – Wahhabism – fused with Afghan Pashtun tribal code and helped to form the Taliban. The Saudi monarchy would end up suffering from blowback as al-Qaida eventually turned against the kingdom.

The regime is not just tolerated; it works in close cooperation with Western countries like the UK.

Owen notes that as a result,

So much rhetoric about terrorism; so many calls to act. Yet Britain’s foreign policy demonstrates how empty such words are. Our allies are up to their necks in complicity with terrorism, but as long as there is money to be made and weapons to sell, our rulers’ lips will remain stubbornly sealed.

One could add that Saudi Arabia has a regime of sexual apartheid, that it is riddled with racist discrimination against migrant workers, not to mention against non-Muslims of any stripe. And that it is utterly committed to the most vicious anti-Semitism imaginable.

What will the Stop the War Coalition do to change this position?

Will their lips remain sealed as well?

Here is an example of a movement to exert pressure on a state that they support.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement “against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights” encourages the following actions to fight for Palestinian rights.

Boycotts targeting products and companies (Israeli and international) that profit from the violation of Palestinian rights, as well as Israeli sporting, cultural and academic institutions. Anyone can boycott Israeli goods, simply by making sure that they don’t buy produce made in Israel or by Israeli companies. Campaigners and groups call on consumers not to buy Israeli goods and on businesses not to buy or sell them.

Israeli cultural and academic institutions directly contribute to maintaining, defending or whitewashing the oppression of Palestinians, as Israel deliberately tries to boost its image internationally through academic and cultural collaborations. As part of the boycott, academics, artists and consumers are campaigning against such collaboration and ‘rebranding’. A growing number of artists have refused to exhibit or play in Israel.

Divestment means targeting corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian rights and ensuring that the likes of university investment portfolios and pension funds are not used to finance such companies. These efforts raise awareness about the reality of Israel’s policies and encourage companies to use their economic influence to pressure Israel to end its systematic denial of Palestinian rights.

Sanctions are an essential part of demonstrating disapproval for a country’s actions. Israel’s membership of various diplomatic and economic forums provides both an unmerited veneer of respectability and material support for its crimes. By calling for sanctions against Israel, campaigners educate society about violations of international law and seek to end the complicity of other nations in these violations.

Of these strategies, the cultural and academic boycott is probably the most contested. It appears to make individuals pariahs, not institutions.

In the UK the Boycott Israel movement has targeted Sainsbury’s and has mounted protests at the shop and other outlets for Israeli goods which have also met with criticism.

Controversy has arisen about the Sainsbury’s campaign, which makes the claim (which looks rather small in comparison with what is happening in Iraq and Syria) that this is a protest against the “genocidal attacks on the Palestinians of Gaza.”

Perhaps these methods are not the best way of expressing opposition to Israeli killings and brutality in Gaza, as incidents have erupted during every protest, including one in which the shop in Holborn withdrew Kosher  products from the shelves.

Members of the public could be forgiven for thinking that this is a call to “not buy Jewish“.

Europe has, as is well known, a history of campaigns against “buying Jew.”

A better kind of campaign could be created to protest against the totalitarian regime in Saudi Arabia,. A programme for human rights, demanding that it tolerates all faiths, is democratic, respects women’s rights, allows people to express their own sexual preferences,  and ends its own racism, religious and ethnic, that responds to the demands of what exists of a democratic opposition, would be promoted.

We could begin by putting pressure on companies involved in the country to pull out and calls for international sanctions.

We await the Stop the War Coalition’s forthcoming initiatives to force the British government to act against the Kingdom.

 

 

More Religious Cleansing as Islamist Genociders Advance in Iraq.

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‘It's a good atmosphere, you know? You're not living under oppression. You're not living under rule,’ Abu Abdullah Al-Habashi of Britain says in the ISIS video.

“It’s a good atmosphere, you know? You’re not living under oppression. You’re not living under rule.” says British Jihadist.

Thousands of Christians are reported to be fleeing after Islamic militants seized the minority’s biggest town in Iraq.

The Islamic State (IS) group captured Qaraqosh in Nineveh province overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish forces.

An international Christian organisation said at least a quarter of Iraq’s Christians were leaving Qaraqosh and other surrounding towns.

IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria to create an Islamic caliphate.

Kurdish forces, known as the Peshmerga, have been fighting the Sunni militants’ advance in the north for weeks.

In a separate development, the United Nations says it has rescued some of the thousands of people trapped by IS militants in mountains near the town of Sinjar.

Up to 50,000 members of the Yazidi religious minority fled there after IS overran Sinjar at the weekend.

More on the BBC site.

The French journal L’Express carries this report, Irak: 100 000 chrétiens en fuite, les djihadistes enlèvent les croix des églises.

100, 000 Christians flee as Jihadists take Church crosses down.

On Sinjar,

40,000 Iraqis stranded on Sinjar mountain after Islamic State death threats

Tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minority groups are dying of heat and thirst on Mount Sinjar, human rights groups say, after death threats from Islamic State – formerly Isis.

Tens of thousands of members of Iraqi religious minority groups driven from their homes for fear of the jihadist group Islamic State are dying of thirst and heat on a desert mountainside in the north of the country, according to the United Nations and human rights groups.

Some 40 children have already died from the heat and dehydration, the UN children’s organisation Unicef says, while upwards of 40,000 more are sheltering in the bare mountains, without food or water or access to supplies. It says 25,000 children may be stranded.

Yesterday’s Newsnight broadcast a video of a British man fighting for ISIS (The Islamic State’s Syrian wing) next to a corpse.

Their recruitment video (which you can see in all its obscenity  here) of this gang features the following.

..men who claim to be from all over the world including Britain, Belgium, Morocco, Finland and Indonesia. They talk about how happy they are to be in a Muslim society and encourage others to join them.

It’s a good atmosphere, you know? You’re not living under oppression. You’re not living under rule,” Abu Abdullah Al-Habashi said, speaking in a British accent. “As Muslims, that’s what we want and that’s what we need. We don’t need any democracy, we don’t need any communism, we don’t need anything like that.”

The news above illustrates what this “atmosphere”  means for thousands of civilians.

Let us have no more of these apologies for the British volunteers going to support these genociders (21st July 2014),

Muslim leaders in the UK have warned against laws that automatically brand British fighters in Syria as terrorists.

It comes as Home Secretary Theresa May launches a campaign today to discourage young men from going to fight in Syria and Iraq. A short film will focus on the distress it can cause their families.

But some in the Muslim community have told Sky News the Government’s legal stance on fighting abroad could “increase the risk” to the UK.

Abdullah al Andalusi, a senior researcher at the Muslim Debate Initiative, said: “It’s hypocritical of the UK Government to expect Muslims not to go, if they feel they want to fight in a just war.

“Bertrand Russell, George Orwell – they went to the Spanish civil war, people were going to fight Gaddafi in Libya and that was all fine.

“So I worry that the British Government should dictate to us what is fine and what is not fine about where to go, when the situations could be arguably very similar in all those places.”

Written by Andrew Coates

August 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm