Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Turkey

Turkey: Black Sunday for Freedom.

leave a comment »

Turkey: Chuck Press that offends the Palace into the Bosphorus! 

Some time ago it was claimed that Turkey was an example of democratic, tolerant and pluralist  Islamism. That the Erdogan governments had established a more open country – at least in comparison to the nationalist Atatürk  parties and military regimes. Western leaders praised Erdogan’s pro-market policies. It was suggested that political Islam was evolving a home-grown democratic culture, with parallels to European Christian democracy.

How long ago this seems now!

The 2013 – 2014 protests in Taksim Gezi Park   indicated that not everybody in Turkey admired or accepted the politics of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The crack down on media outlets associated with the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen (whose politics have been critically examined on Tendance Coatesy, Gulen Movement, an Islamic Opus Dei?) perhaps marks the moment when Erdogan has passed beyond the threshold of authoritarianism towards – crazed –  dictatorship.

Turkey’s President has drawn ridicule internationally for claiming that Islamic explorers discovered the Americas three centuries before Columbus, and for his Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Işı’s assertion that it was Muslims who first found that the Earth is round.

Erdogan’s Palace has equally drawn attention to himself, “It is reportedly larger than the White House, the Kremlin and Buckingham Palace: Turkey’s new presidential palace spreads over some 50 acres of forest land, boasts 1,000 rooms, an underground tunnel system, state-of-the-art anti-espionage technology and a blend of modernist and medieval architecture. The ornate palace reportedly cost more than $350 million.”

A third bridge across the Bosphorous has been named after the 16th century Sultan Yavuz Sultan Selim  – responsible for massacring tens of thousands of members of the liberal religious group the Alevis.  Selim was in many ways a forerunner of today’s Islamist genociders (1)

Plans to teach the old Ottoman language (in a form of Arabic script) indicate that the country’s leader looks to its own imperial past, rather than to democracy.

Turkey has been accused of playing an ambiguous game in Syria, covertly supporting jihadists and other Islamist reactionaries.

Earlier this year the Turkish state restricted use of Twitter alleging it was “biased” and had been used for “systematic character assassination” of….Erdogan.

Now there is this.

The Justice and Development Party (AKP) shows no signs of reigning Erdogan back from his actions.

Turkish Press Review

Monday’s newspapers cover the government-orchestrated crackdown on local media figures and police officials across Turkey
 ISTANBUL

The Anadolu Agency does not verify these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

On Monday, Turkish media outlets largely covered the government-orchestrated crackdown on local media figures and police officials in 13 provinces across Turkey.

All the people detained are alleged to have links to the U.S.-based preacher Fethullah Gulen and his so-called “Gulen movement.”

MILLIYET headlines “December 14 Operation,” and says the operation has been on Turkey’s agenda for a while. The total number of people in custody has risen to 25 since the crackdown began.

The daily said police took Ekrem Dumanli, the editor-in-chief of Turkey’s Zaman daily, into custody. There were some formal difficulties with detaining Dumanli initially, due to the lack of a necessary document.

Dumanli, who is a staunch critic of the government, dismissed all the allegations against him, and protested his innocence in a speech at the daily, before he was taken away by the police.

ZAMAN runs with the headline “Black Day for Democracy,” changing its logo and the whole front page into black, and says December 14 marked the worst day in Turkey’s history for freedom of speech.

The daily said the detainees were taken into custody after Parliament passed a law that enabled prosecutors to detain the people based on reasonable suspicion.

Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor Hadi Salihoglu said he has ordered the detention of 31 people on charges of forgery, fabricating evidence and forming an alleged crime syndicate to overthrow the government. Earlier, it was reported that the prosecutor’s office had given the order for 32 detentions, but Salihoglu revised down the figure to 31.

Hidayet Karaca, chairman of the Samanyolu Media Group, is another senior media figure who was detained earlier in the day.

Producer Salih Aslan and Director Engin Koc of a Samanyolu TV series were also taken into custody in Eskisehir province and sent to Istanbul, police said.

The front page of Monday’s HURRIYET reads, “First the Headline, Later Detention,” referring to the ZAMAN daily’s editor-in-chief holding an editorial meeting for Monday’s paper at 3 a.m., and then being taken into custody at midday.

The Zaman newspaper is alleged to be close to the so-called “Gulen movement.”

Turkish newspapers also covered Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s remarks about the wave of arrests across the country on Sunday.

VATAN quoted Davutoglu on its front page: “Those who infiltrated state institutions and wiretapped the president and prime minister must know that their actions have consequences.”

In December 2013, an anti-graft probe targeted several high-profile figures, including the sons of three former government ministers and leading Turkish businessmen.

The government then denounced the December probe as a “dirty plot” constructed by a “parallel structure,” an alleged group of bureaucrats embedded in the country’s institutions, including in the judiciary and the police.

Since then, hundreds of police officers have been detained on charges of eavesdropping on Turkey’s top officials, disclosing highly-sensitive information, forming an organization to commit crimes, violating privacy, illegally seizing personal information and forgery of official documents.

(1) From Ottoman Persecution of the Alevis (Wikipedia).

Typical persecution methods

From the early 16th century the Ottoman administration was specialized in “chasing” Qizilbāshes. This century was perhaps the most harsh century for the Alevis (Qizilbāshes). They were persecuted for both sympathizing with the Safavid struggle, but also because of their “heretical” beliefs. In order to capture Qizilbāshes the Ottoman state used several methods.

Being “Qizilbāsh” was a crime on its own and Qizilbāshes were kept under constant surveillance. Some of the most frequently used surveillance and persecution methods in the Ottoman Empire were:

  • Persecution based on others’ reports / notifications.
  • Open or secret persecution.
  • By asking people who were regarded as more “credible” or “objective”, for example officials or Sunnis.

Typical punishment methods

The Ottomans also had different methods of punishment against Qizilbāshes. Most of the punishments took place by fabricating a reason to kill them.These false accusations were often led into the formal procedures to make them seem more realistic.In cases where the accused Qizilbāshes had many sympathizers or relatives, the Ottoman regime tried to avoid riots by not killing too many at a time.[16]

Some of the most common punishments were:

  • Expulsion: Many Qizilbāshs were expelled to Cyprus and cut off from their villages and families, but the Qizilbāshes who were halifes were executed immediately. The most typical displacement locations were Cyprus, Modon, Coroni, Budun(?) and Plovdiv.
  • Imprisonment: Some were also jailed and then usually expelled to Cyprus to cut them off from their families.[20]
  • Forced labour: A second method of punishment was to send Qizilbāshs for forced labor on galleys (Kürek mahkumiyeti) where they should work as oarsmen.
  • Drowning: Some Qizilbāshes was executed by being drowned in the Halys River (Kızılırmak)
  • others were executed “on the spot”.[23] Other times Qizilbāshswere executed with the sole purpose, to deter other Qizilbāshs and give them a “lesson”.
  • Execution: This method, often termed siyaset or hakkından gelme in the Ottoman archives, was perhaps the most widely used method of punishment of Qizilbāshes.
  • Stoning: Although stoning was normally only used against people who had committed adultery, this punishment method was also used on Qizilbāshes. There is an example of a Qizilbāsh named “Koyun Baba” who was stoned because of his faith.

Written by Andrew Coates

December 15, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Isis: ‘Manufactured” by US, says Counterpunch.

with 5 comments

From US ‘Tool Box’ Says Counterpunch. 

Counterpunch published over the weekend these latest wise-guy revelations…

ISIS: the Useful Enemy

by ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

The dark force of ISIS is apparently an invincible and unstoppable war juggernaut that is mercilessly killing and conquering in pursuit of establishing an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. In reality, however, it is not as out of control as it appears. It is, indeed, carefully controlled and managed by its creators and supporters, that is, by the United States and its allies in the regions—those who now pretend to have established a coalition to fight it! 

Plumbing the depths Hossein-Zadeh tries to make political capital out of Kobane and the brave Kurds fighting there,

While the Kurdish city of Kobani in Northern Syria is being attacked by the disproportionately better armed forces of ISIS, and thousands of its besieged residents face certain mass killings if it falls, the forces of the “coalition to fight ISIS” are watching—in effect, playing a game of hide-and-seek, or perhaps trick-or-treat, with ISIS—as the outgunned and outmanned Kurdish forces are valiantly fighting to death against the attackers. Only occasionally the coalition forces carry out bombing missions that seem to be essentially theatrical, or just for the record.

Further,

The inaction or half-hearted action of the United States in the face of the preventable slaughter of the Syrian Kurds, which makes it complicit in the carnage, can be explained by its political horse-trading with Turkey in exchange for the Turks’ collaboration with the pursuit of its imperialistic interests in the region.

It is self-evidently true that the Islamist government of Turkey is viscerally hostile to the PKK and those in Syria allied to it. But Hossein-Zadeh does not propose any measures to alleviate their plight, or indeed express any solidarity with the people of Kobane.

How one could help them – leaving aside the inconvenient truth that the Peshmerga are actually there – are not his concern. He simply wallows in it.

The ‘argument behind all of this?

That, the US and its tentacles are at work. If  you thought Seamus Milne’s Theory of why the USA is against the ‘multi-polar world’ is half-baked read this:

The U.S. approach to ISIS would be better understood when it is viewed in the context of its overall objectives in the region—and beyond. That overriding objective, shared and reinforced by its client states, is to undermine or eliminate “the axis of resistance,” consisting of Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and, to a lesser extent, Shia forces in Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Achievement of this goal would also be achievement of another, even broader, goal: undermining Russia’s influence and alliances in the region and, by extension, in other parts of the world—for example, its critically important role within both the Shanghai Cooperation Council (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) and the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa).

And one doubts if many would go as far as this

To intervene in order to achieve these goals, the U.S. and its allies need pretexts and/or enemies—even if it means inventing or manufacturing such enemies. Without ISIS, resumption of U.S. military operations in Iraq and extension of those operations into Syria would have been difficult to justify to the American people. A year or so ago, the Obama administration’s drive to attack Syria was thwarted by the opposition from the American people and, therefore, the U.S. congress. The rise of ISIS quickly turned that opposition to support.

Viewed in this light, ISIS can be seen as essentially another (newly manufactured) instrument in the tool-box of U.S. foreign policy, which includes “global terrorism,” the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, weapons of mass destruction, Iran’s nuclear technology, Al-Qaeda, and many other radical Islamic groupings—all by-products of, or blowbacks to, imperialistic U.S. foreign policies.

Let us, generously, assume that this article is not the famous Hope-Tipping (Hat-tip Rosie) famous for saying the opposite of what everybody else believes (accusing”D H Lawrence of showing  a neglect of “the consciousness of sexual relationship, the male and female element in life).

So it is not to strike a pose the author claims, “Just because everybody thinks that Isis is virulently anti-US means….that the US created it……”

No we will not claim this. Counterpunch has published extremely well-informed material on the origins of Isis in the Iraqi and Syrian Matrices.

Well, okay,l one that I can find quickly:  The Rise of ISIS and the Origins of the New Middle East War Tariq Ali talking to Patrick Cockburn.

…..they come most immediately from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which was at the height of its influence in 2006 [and] 2007 when it was an element–but not the only element–in the Sunni resistance to a Shia government and the American occupation. Ideologically, it comes out of the Jihadi movement and actually its religious beliefs are not that much different from Saudi Wahhabism, the variant of the Islam which is effectively the state religion of Saudi Arabia with its denigration of Shia as heretics, [along with] Christians and Jews.

It’s just carrying these beliefs to a higher and more violent level but it’s very much in the context of the Jihadi movement. …. ISIS has a number of different kinds of support. It has support of the alienated Sunni community in Iraq and also in Syria.

That at least their victors, after all these people have been defeated – they were defeated in ’91 by the Americans, they were defeated again in 2003, they were marginalised, persecuted – so victory is important to them. I think also they appeal to jobless young men, I mean sometimes referred to as the underclass, but actually just the poor, poor young men.

One could develop further from this that the group has an internal totalitarian dynamic,  a machine of “disciplining and punishing” grounded in Islamism, that represents,as Cockburn suggests,  not a radical break with other forms of Islamism, but an extreme exaggeration of their repressive efforts to shape human beings according to Divine Law. Or, failing that to cage them within it.

We can discuss for a long time the geopolitics, the Invasion of Iraq, and at present, the Syrian civil war, the stand of Turkey’s government, that have favoured these developments.

The contradictions within the Iraqi Kurdish power  and the various Kurdish  movements (including their own Islamists) and the complex issue of the Kurdish movements, the PKK’s inspiring programme of egalitarian social measures, decentralised power, secular freedom and sexual equality would fill pages.

But the point now is to mobilise support for the Kurdish fighters against Isis/Islamic State.

All this is blown to the winds by Hossein’s ramblings. – more than typical of the contributions on the site.

Is this deliberate?

That the real wish is to pile all the misery of the beloved peoples of the Middle East on the ‘West’s’ back?

Who can be certain?

Counterpunch – just when you thought unpleasant conspiracy theorists had had enough.

As International Solidarity with Kurds and Kobane Grows is Counterfire Splitting?

with 4 comments

Düsseldorf Kurden Demonstration Terror IS 11.10.2014

IS= Fascism. Arms to the PKK and YPG!

A word of introduction.

There is a great respect in the broad labour movement for Counterfire activists.

They have helped, indeed initiated, the People’s Assembly. They have acted with  selfless dedication to help create an important bloc of organisations that has brought together  people on the left, trade unionists, and campaigners. The People’s Assembly is effectively the only mass movement in the UK challenging austerity and acting for a wide range of left policies and causes.

In view of this, and (some might say) breaking with the habit of a lifetime, this is not a sectarian attack but expresses some genuine concerns.

Last Saturday John Rees, a leading member of Counterfire, spoke at the London Demonstration in support of Kobane.

This protest  was but one of the expressions of solidarity with Kobane that have been sweeping the world, from Turkey and  Europe to Australia (the comrades at Shiraz signal how a local group can help).

Rees noted the manoeuvres of the regional powers, the unhelpful impact of the US-led intervention, and,.above all,t eh disgraceful stand of Turkey – sitting and watching as the beloved people of Kobane face the genociders of Isis.

Rees stated, very clearly “arm the Kurds!” (1)

As if to back this declaration up Counterfire  published (October the 9th) this declaration by the Kurdish-Turkish Day-Mer centre,

Nato member Turkey is effectively allowing Isis to destroy the Kurdish city of Kobane. This press release by Turkish Kurdish organisation Day-Mer, calls for international solidarity and for Turkey to allow Kurdish heavy weapons through to defend the city

On the same site,  pointedly marked “Opinion” we had this, from  Lindsey German and Robin Beste (October the 12th), Ten reasons to oppose military intervention in Iraq and Syria. It concentrates on the reasons for the conflicts, blamed entirely on the ‘West’. Terrorism is apparently, the “product of the west’s disastrous foreign policies, endless wars and backing of barbaric regimes in the Middle East There is only one section dealing specifically with the Kurds . It reads.

The issue of the Kurds is central to countering Isis expansion in the region. The Iraqi Kurds are close allies of the west, but there is a very different attitude to the Kurds in Turkey and Syria. The PKK, which has been struggling for Kurdish self-determination for decades, is still listed as a terrorist organisation by the EU and the US. This is despite the PKK and its allies being prominent in the battle against Isis. Turkey has oppressed the Kurds for many years and will not help those in Kobane, now under imminent threat of seizue by Isis. Turkey could open its border to the Kurds, but refuses to do so, in contrast with its support for Isis in the past. Instead the Turkish parliament has voted to create a ‘buffer zone’ at the Syrian border which will involve the disarming of the Kurds.

Bombing (again no mention of US strikes near Kobane) will be “counter-productive” and not help anybody.

Their only practical demand is that,

Iraq and Syria should be flooded with humanitarian aid, particularly for the millions of refugees who have been fleeing the wars. The refugees should receive the aid and support they need, and not be treated as potential terrorists within Europe.

So, we are left in no doubt that some Kurds are “close allies of the West (bad), the PKK (good? it’s not explicitly said, ) and Kobane are threatened by Isis.

What the defenders of Kobane (and other Kurdish areas) should do (providing that is they are not “allies” of the West is left hanging in the air.

As are the Kurds facing the genociders of Isis.

It would seem that one part of Counterfire backs arming the Kurds and the other does not. 

Meanwhile German’s isolated Stop the War Coalition has published a disgraceful  morally corrupt article by a certain, Musa al-Gharbi.

One of its sections reads,

Finally, many Westerners have been horrified by ISIS’s persecution of religious minorities (especially crimes against Christians). However, the United States is complicit in this as well: US policies in Iraq helped spark this cycle of sectarian violence.

Meanwhile, its own armed forces were indoctrinated with anti-Muslim propaganda- complete with recommendations for servicemen to resort to “Hiroshima tactics,” in a “total war against Islam,” in which protections for civilians were “no longer relevant.”

Reflective of this mentality, the armed forces have been heavily infiltrated by white-supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups who believe and act as though they are engaged in a holy war to begin in the Middle East and then be carried back into America.

This institutionalized misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims probably played a significant role in the aforementioned atrocities.

Musa al-Gharbi tries to deflect blame from those culpable of gencodical crimes by whataboutery.

His specious rhetoric about ” misrepresentation of Islam and dehumanization of Muslims” is not accompanied by any concern for the fate of the directly dehumanised Kurds.

Al-Gharbi  is silent – there is no “Authentic Outrage” from this special pleader about the need for armed help for the beloved people of Kobane.

Well, he would be quiet, wouldn’t he? 

 (1) He also , hat-tip GH, “totally bizarrely called for Hamas, Venezuela, the ANC/SA, to arm the Kurds .. as if that could possibly happen!” But we let this pass.

Danish Left MP’s Collect Money for Defenders of Kobane as World Left Moves to Back Kurds.

with 7 comments

“If there is a parallel today to Franco’s superficially devout, murderous Falangists, who would it be but Isis? If there is a parallel to the Mujeres Libres of Spain, who could it be but the courageous women defending the barricades in Kobane? Is the world – and this time most scandalously of all, the international left – really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?

 Guardian 8th October.

“…any genuine and unfeigned demand that imperialist states “arm the Kurds” arises chiefly because of our weakness and incoherence.  Those raising it hope to at least verbally short-cut through the mountain of work and struggle that is necessary to get to a stage where we are relevant to such situations.  And this is the problem.  The British Left has always tended to assume that what it says and does about what should happen Over There is of tremendous significance.  Those former leftists who rallied behind Bush’s ‘war on terror’, on the assumption that it was their war fought in their interests, stood in this tradition.  This is a kind of chauvinism, an ideological artefact of imperialism.  In this situation, the role of a small, divided and weak Left is pedagogy.  The role of any slogan should be to stake out the discursive space in which a leftist, anti-imperialist analysis can be popularised – not just now but ongoingly.  The slogan, “arm the Kurds” is an own-goal.”

Connard of the Day. Richard Seymour. Arm the Kurds. 8th October.

Update, 

“If someone denies that they have the right to take arms from whomever, I will argue against them. And since they are asking for weapons, I can tell you I have no problem with this at all. But otherwise I’m very reluctant to put myself in a position of determining the rights and wrongs of the Kurds’ war against ISIS.

Richard Seymour. Lenin’s Tomb.

This is the response of the left:

The RGA against Danish fighter jets in Iraq

Thursday 9 October 2014, by Michael Voss

International Viewpoint.

On 1 October, the Danish parliament approved with a huge majority to send F16 fighter jets to Iraq to participate in the US-led bombing campaign against ISIL. Only the Red Green Alliance and one unaffiliated MP voted against Instead the RGA tabled a proposal that Denmark help to supply weapons and humanitarian aid to the beleaguered Kurdish/multi-ethnic areas in Northern Syria. A few days later the RGA itself started collecting money for weapons to the Kurds.

During the debate in Parliament, Nikolaj Villumsen, MP for the RGA said:

The government is proposing a bombing campaign that may last more than a year according to the prime minister. These bombings may very well lead to a strengthening of ISIL and of creating even more chaos. When civilians are killed and foreign military again is bombing Iraq, it may increase the recruitment of ISIL. Many hidden agendas are involved in this alliance that the government want Denmark to join. It is a 100 percent certain that Saudi Arabia and the Golf states do not want democracy in Iraq. Likewise, Turkey does not want Kurdish self-government anywhere inside or outside Turkish borders. I fear that Denmark just will be tail-ending the interests of big powers in the region.

“What we ought to have learned from the previous wars that Denmark participated in, is that we should rather support those local forces on the ground that fight for democracy and human rights. That is why the RGA proposes direct support for the Kurdish militias in Syria. They have defended themselves against Assad and ISIL for three years. But now ISIL have conquered heavy American produced weapons from the Iraqi army in Mosul, and they are launching an offensive against the Kurdish territory around the city of Kobane. The Kurds have real problems in resisting them.

“Turkey is a close ally of Denmark in NATO, and they are closing their borders for arms supplies to the Kurds, while they for years have accepted ISIL-soldiers to pass this border. Official Danish policy towards the Kurds is defined by the government in Ankara. Right now the victims are the people living in the Kurdish areas in Syria. Here, Kurds, Arabs and Christians need our support. We want Denmark to supply weapons to the secular Kurdish forces to make the able to defend themselves against ISIL – plus humanitarian aid so that the civilians can survive.

Of course, the proposal for arms to the Kurds was defeated with only the RGA voting for. Two days later, on 3 October, at a press conference the RGA handed over 40,000 DK (5,500 €) to Saleh Muslim, a representative of PYD, the party of Kurds in Syria that works closely together with the PKK of the Kurds in Turkey. The money is earmarked for weapons.

At the press conference, Nikolaj Villumsen said:

“Since the offensive of the jihadists against Kurdish areas in Syria began, we have tried to convince the government and the other parties to supply the Kurdish defence forces with weapons and humanitarian aid, with no effect at all. Now, ISIL is just outside Kobane, and 400.000 civilians are in danger.

That is why we have collected this amount of money among the local branches of the RGA at only a few days’ notice. It is only a symbolic amount, but we will continue collecting money. We call on all democratic and progressive forces in Europe and the rest of the word to support the fight against ISIL.”

Since then the RGA has repeated its call to the government for arms to be supplied to the Kurds several times and used all parliamentarian options for raising the question. As of 8 October the only result has been that the Socialist People’s Party (SF) now also supports the proposal.

This is what the comrades are rallying across the world to defend.

The most recent pictures of thousands of refugees fleeing from heavy attacks of ISIS and making their way from Syria across the border to Turkey, come from the area of Kobani – one of three cantons of the self- proclaimed Autonomy Region Rojava in Northern Syria.

Rojava-mapThis region –  which consists of three geographically disconnected enclaves along the Turkish border – strategically used the deteriorating situation to declare self-rule in July 2012 and has since been celebrated as the “Rojava Revolution”  within the Kurdish Movement associated around the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The population of Rojava, which has long been a stronghold of the PKK, is predominantly made up of Kurds – both Muslim and Yezidi[1] – as well as Arabs, Christian Assyrians, Armenians, Turkmen and Chechens. The desire for some form of self-determination especially among the Kurds was triggered through decades of denial of basic citizenship rights under the Assad-regime.

This quiet revolution is, however, not a question of independence. It is not the founding of yet another nation-state. Deliberately declaring itself an autonomy region instead of a state, derived from the critique of existing nation-states with their homogenising and exclusionary principals of citizenship, centralism of government and non-democratic structures under which the Kurds in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria have suffered on the one hand and the strategies of classic national liberation movements on the other. This critique along with an alternative model of “democratic autonomy” was brought forward by the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, and replaced the earlier struggle for independence. The concept of democratic autonomy is envisaged along the lines of libertarian thinker Murray Bookchin as a decentralised, radical democracy within or despite the given nation-states which abides by principals of equality between genders, religious- and ethnic affiliations as well as ecology[2]. In this sense, the PKK and its affiliated organisation PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Syria are promoting this model, whose fundamental principal is to achieve a unity of all different faiths and ethnic groups without assimilating them, for the whole of the Middle East.

StWC Blind Spot on the Kurds.

with one comment

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. 

Another French Left Group (Ensemble) Backs Arming Kurds.

with 2 comments

What is at Stake in the autonomous Struggle of progressive Forces against the Islamic State. (Extracts – Adapted)  

The announcement of an “international coalition” to fight the “Islamic state” is the latest act in a string of disasters caused by Western imperialist interventions in the Middle East. This – a reminder –  is not part of any genuine anti imperialism,  but allows us to understand the dynamics at work, which have been reshaped since  the US intervention in 2003,  in the current situation.  As with 2003, Western imperialism produce disasters, then intervenes to “fix” the consequences of these catastrophes, and then creates further disasters of an even greater magnitude – a succession of links in an endless chain.

Thus, we cannot admit that there are  “humanitarian” motives at work inside the US  administration or support the coalition that they seek to put in place in order to maintain their hold. Nevertheless, it is impossible to denounce, simply, American imperialism, and remain indifferent to the devastation caused by the Islamic State, IS (mass killings, persecution of religious minorities, Sunni disagreements, the tens of thousands of Yazidis left to die in the Sinjar). This would equally be to ignore the actions of the reactionary and authoritarian and regional powers. We need not simply to react to the massacres and repression perpetrated by the IS but also to stem the wave of disasters engulfing the region. Indeed, imperialism finds its strongest basis in  these religious confessional and national divisions..

Faced with these obstacles, it is necessary to defend movements of  local self-defence rather than increasing the stranglehold of imperialism. This implies, therefore  support (including weapons) for progressive forces in the region to combat the Islamic State.  That is, for the Popular Committees in Syria who have been abandoned to their fate, and for the broad movement around the Kurdish PKK.

…..

(There follows an analysis which lays the blame for ISIS’s rise in Syria on Assad’s willingness to foment divisions in his opposition, and on Turkey, which is charged with “complaisance” towards the rise of the Islamists.)

Kurdish forces and issues

The main armed resistance opposed to the Islamic State  is represented by various  Syrian opposition movements and the PKK, the main Kurdish political-military organization of Turkish forces.

The PKK was born in the social and political ferment of the 70s Turkey, created by Kurdish leftist students. Its historic leader, Abdullah Ocalan, is held in prison in Turkey but still leads the PKK and the movement that revolves around it.Following a tradition that can be termed “Stalinist” the PKK has managed to supplant other Kurdish organizations in Turkey and has a mass base in the bulk of Turkish Kurdistan. The  PKK “mouvance” (broad movement)  can often have a very opportunist line – but retains a  military capacity, is the political representative of the large Kurdish minority in Turkey. Note also that the whole movement around the PKK is highly feminised (both in recruitment and in access to positions of fighting and political-military leadership).

……

..an essential part of fighting is taking place in Syria where this movement already existed. However, it is true that the PKK stepped onto Iraqi territory in the mountains of Sinjar to fight IS and to rescue tens of thousands of Yezidi (a Zoroastrian religious minority from Kurdish-speaking areas).  In keeping with its normal practice, the PKK has sought to create a local sister organization, with the Yezidi, the Resistance Units Kirkuk-Mexmour. In northern Syria, the PYD unilaterally declared independence in the territories it controls (the Rojava, that is to say, the Western Kurdistan). It  has been criticised by other Kurdish organizations in Syria gathered in the Kurdish National Council. This tension between the PYD and CNK is only a reflection of the broader opposition among the Kurds between the PKK and the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) of Massoud Barzani, the “feudal” political leader who heads the autonomous Kurdish regional government Kurdish in northern Iraq (and which is bound by the CNK in Syria).

Briefly, the PKK reproach, rightly, to Barzani and the Kurdish autonomous regional government in northern Iraq with having links with the Turkish government, leaving the Islamic State free to continue their progress  progress in northern Iraq, and, as a  result of this alliance, to be so directly responsible for the progress of EI and the fall of Mosul. Conversely, Barzani accused the PKK-PYD of having links with the Assad regime. …

(There follows detailed analysis of these ties, claims and counterclaims.)

The important points of the Ensemble analysis are these: they back “active local defence “, that they regard this as a “medium-term challenge ” to ” imperialist logic” and believe that will contribute towards the “healing” (assainissement) of the Kurdish national question” which is one of  “the elements of division between the most important people of the region.” 

The Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  warns against US-led intervention in Iraq and Syria.

It has yet to offer any comment on demands for “support (including weapons) for progressive forces in the region.”

By contrast  Socialist Worker said in August, Arming the Kurds won’t stop Iraq’s brutal civil war.

More recently (September 16th) they found nothing to say on the Kurdish struggle against the Islamist genociders.

Instead they warned  US missiles will worsen Iraq crisis.

Apparently one of the main dangers is that, “This will be a green light for targeting Muslims and increasing Islamophobia as all Muslims are portrayed as a terrorist threat.”

Written by Andrew Coates

September 21, 2014 at 11:24 am

Turkey, Erdogan: Protestors are “Çapulcu” (Vandals) who attack Women with Headscarfs.

with 5 comments

Turkish protesters –  “Çapulcu”.

The right-wing Islamist Prime Minister of Turkey has launched a “counter-offensive” against protesters.

Le Monde reports that violent incidents broke out over the weekend between opponents and supporters of the ruling Islamist party, the AKP.

The Associated Press continues,

Recep Tayyip Erdogan made the most inflammatory of his speeches as he arrived in the capital of Ankara. Erdogan belittled the protesters, again calling them “capulcu,” the Turkish word for looters or vandals. He made his speech in Ankara on an open-top bus, which then drove into the city in a motorcade.

“If you look in the dictionary, you will see how right a description this is,” Erdogan said, speaking to thousands of supporters who greeted him at the airport. “Those who burn and destroy are calledcapulcu. Those who back them are of the same family.”

Erdogan said his patience was running out with the protesters, who have occupied Istanbul’s main Taksim Square for more than a week and have held hundreds of demonstrations in at least 78 cities across the country. The increasingly fiery tone could inflame tensions. On two occasions, including one in the southern city of Adana on Saturday night, clashes have been reported between Erdogan supporters and protesters.

“All they do is to break and destroy, to attack public buildings. … They didn’t stop at that,” Erdogan said. “They attacked daughters who wear headscarves. They entered Dolmabahce mosque with their beer bottles and their shoes.”

Some of the injured in the initial clashes in Istanbul’s Besiktas area were treated in Dolmabahce mosque. The mosque’s imam has denied reports that people entered with beer. In the initial days of the protests, some women said they were verbally harassed. The majority of protesters, however, have denounced those who did it and have been welcoming toward them. Erdogan’s comment about shoes refers to the Muslim taboo against wearing shoes inside a mosque.

Anti-government protesters have turned Erdogan’s label of them as capulcu* into a humorous retort, printing stickers with the word, scrawling it on their tents and uploading music videos onto social network sites.

* Babylon translation: “raider, depredator, freebooter, looter, marauder, plunderer, swag man.”

This morning the French public radio station France-Inter ran a special programme direct from Turkey,  FRANCE INTER À ISTANBUL.

Commentator Bernard  Guetta expressed the view that the Islamist Party may split into two: a hard-right populist group which emphasises religion and Turkish identity, and another, more centre-right and liberal organisation.

He suggested that the AKP and Erdogan represented a section of Turkish society that was bound to lose in the long-term as the country develops. Guetta noted that the Turkish protectors had more in common with other European liberal and left wing movements than with the past Erdogan represents.

Written by Andrew Coates

June 10, 2013 at 11:48 am