Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Letter from a young Peshmarga.

with 11 comments

Letter from a young Peshmarga


Reblogged from Peter Risdon


Huner Surchi asked me to help put his words into better English. This is what he said:


All my family are Peshmarga.

They are fighting and risking their lives for other people’s lives and honour. I want you to understand, honour means a lot to us. Two Yazidi sisters who had been raped and escaped went from refugee to refugee asking them to kill them. When nobody did, they threw themselves from the mountain they had fled to.

And I want you to understand that Peshmarga are not enough.

Oh, they are enough for fighting. They are fighting IS and they are fighting the Arabs who have betrayed us.

Yes, betrayed us, and that’s something I want you to understand. As the Islamic State advanced, and our fighters had to fall back because they were fighting tanks with rifles, some of the Arabs who had lived among us, had been our neighbours, drank coffee with us and smiled at our children – some of our Arab neighbours joined the barbarians. They joined in the killing. They joined in the raping. Because they were neighbours, they knew where the prettiest young women lived. Women who could be raped, and taken as slaves and sold for the price of a hamburger in a western country. Sold for the price of a quarter pound of chopped meat.

Now hatred of Arabs is felt by many Kurds. And you will say that is bad, that is racist. We will say we don’t know who we can trust and so we can’t trust any  Arabs. You have felt this too. You interned Germans and Japanese during the Second World War. Many of them were blameless. But war breeds hate. War is not something you can play with, it’s not something you can take chances with. And for us, in our history, our recent history and our far history, we have been massacred by Arabs countless times. And now Arab neighbours have turned against us. There were no Arabs among the refugees on Sinjar mountain.

There’s something else I want you to understand. You have given us many things. You are giving us weapons now, and air cover, and we are very grateful. But you gave us the arms embargo that meant we faced tanks with rifles. We have built the most tolerant society in Iraq. Women have been free. We have trades unions. We had Arab neighbours, living equally with us until this happened. We have been an example of what is possible. And you have favoured Iraqi governments, and Turkish governments, who have slaughtered us and denied us our rights. You have refused to recognise Kurdistan. And now we have been fighting your war for you. It is our war, but it is your war too.

Because you have given us something else. IS fighters here include Arabs, but they include men with British accents who discuss on Twitter how many Kurdish women they are each allowed as sex slaves. They include Australians who post pictures on social media of their sons holding up severed heads. They include men with American and Canadian accents, men speaking French and German, men from Belgium and Holland and Sweden and Norway. You have given us some of our enemies. How has this happened?

How have you let your universities and mosques become incubators for these people? There are things I want you to understand about us, but I want to understand this about you.

And I want to understand how you can support our fight, how you can talk about brave Peshmarga, and not fight too. Because this is also your fight. You gave us these people. Now fight them with us.



Written by Andrew Coates

August 20, 2014 at 1:45 pm

11 Responses

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  1. Andrew

    This comes from a pretty reactionary blog, the way Risdon is obsessed with lefties reeks of the neo liberal alter he appears to worship at. Is there any evidence of Yazidi women jumping off of mountain tops? I am hoping the Kurds have drawn a line in the sand which states clearly so far but no farther.

    They have always been light on their feet, but historically when small fry (no insult intended) get into bed with the USA they almost always end up burnt.

    Mick Hall

    August 20, 2014 at 2:09 pm

  2. Thanks for the link, Andrew.

    It’s spelt ‘altar’, Mick. And yes, he knows, we’ve argued. This is more important.

  3. This is one answer Mick,

    Protest against IS and the genocide of the Yazidis!
    Submitted by AWL on 19 August, 2014 – 16:47

    Come on the protest!
    Against the Genocide of the Yazidis
    Against the Bloodthirsty Forces of IS
    Against Fascism and Racism
    Take part in our rally outside Downing Street on Friday, 22nd August, 2014
    Time: 6PM to 8PM

    Support our demands:
    1. Immediate steps and actions must be taken to help all those who are displaced, regardless of their ethnic or religious background. The Yezidis, in particular, are most desperately in need of such help.
    2. The countries which have supported the IS financially and militarily should be condemned and held responsible.
    3. The ruling parties across Iraq propagate racist and ethnocentric sentiments among the people, causing tension between Arabs and Kurds, as well as Sunni and Shiites. This is catastrophic and has brought about high levels of ethno-sectarian hatred in Iraq and Kurdistan. Pressure should be exerted on the political parties to stop this.
    4. Any activities and demonstrations by IS supporters must be organised against by the trade unions, community groups and political organisations. What they do does not constitute freedom of political thought; they advocate hatred and killing. Tolerating these groups may create circumstances for other racist groups to flourish and spread hostility towards people from Muslim backgrounds.
    We hope that the EU will register our concern on the matter and act against any and all forms of racist and sectarian attacks and incitement.

    The rally is organised by Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan, UK organisation, in alliance with parties in Iraq, Iran and UK.

    Worker-communist Party of Iraq UK Organisation
    Worker-communist Party of Iran UK Organisation
    Worker-communist Party of Hekmatist UK Organisation
    Worker-communist Party of Iran Hekmatist UK Organisation
    International Federation of Iraqi Refugees-IFIR
    Kurdish and Middle Eastern Women’s Organisation in Britain-KMEWO
    Worker’s Liberty
    For more information please contact: 07577781626 or 07446135857 07894252708

    Andrew Coates

    August 20, 2014 at 2:36 pm

  4. ‘Letting our universities and mosques become incubators for these people’????

    I wasn’t aware that it was desirable for the state to control universities and mosques and root out those with repugnant views. I also don’t see how ‘we’ can be held responsible for them.

    Igor Belanov

    August 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

  5. Andrew

    It is the tone of the letter which I find disturbing, the writer makes a number of accusations but does not say who they are aimed at. In many ways it is very similar to those that groups like Isis put out to justify one of their atrocities, or those who perpetrated the crime on 7th July 2005 in London. He seems to be blaming the British people as a whole, he does not even mention the British government’s role in getting its proxies to arm and fund groups like Isis in Syria, which I find weird.

    If this were simply a cry of pain I could understand it, but in my judgement it is not, it is a carefully calculated post. The way he blamed all Arabs is not only plain wrong but damn right dangerous.


    Mick Hall

    August 21, 2014 at 6:36 pm

  6. MIck Hall wants this young Peshmerga to have a fully developed Marxist consciousness. On the one hand, he wants him/her to blame the British Government for any imperialist meddling whilst on the other hand to feel the love for his Arab neighbours, who he/she claims have participated in atrocities against Kurds. Even if they have not participated actively, they have not condemned it. Why is it dangerous to suggest that Arabs are less than united in solidarity with the Kurds? What dangers would it lead to? Are you suggesting that the Americans will use it as an excuse to intervene against ISIS? Is that the danger? Can Mick Hall enlighten us to what he thinks should happen about ISIS and the Islamic State? (When I hear that a girl phoned her father to tell him that she was going to be sold as a slave for $10 I react viscerally. It makes me feel sick. I am just reading an interesting book at the moment about the slave trade in Zanzibar. One of the commodies that made the Omani sultanate family so rich. I don’t suppose things have changed much since then.).

    Sue R

    August 27, 2014 at 9:17 pm

  7. Sue

    I will answer your question about isis more fully later, but the reason I find this ‘letter’ worrying has nothing to do with marxism or any ism come to that. When someone claims they have translated the words of a young kurd, I need to know a number of things before I take it as read. Who did the translating and where, and if the person who posted it on their blog in the first place is a neoliberal, I act with extreme caution, and that is not marxist but due to 66 years experience while living on this earth.

    Why did the translater need to help put these words into better English in the first place, why not just run the young persons words through google translate?

    I would also like to have been told more about the young Kurd, Where is he from and which peshmarga units he is affiliated with.

    The fact is if the young Kurd spoke from the heart I doubt he would have used the type of language in this ‘letter.’ For me it reeks of a middle class pen. It does not make its content untrue, but it does call into question the motives of the so called translater.

    I may be completely wrong, time will tell.

    As to why is it dangerous to suggest that Arabs are less than united in solidarity with the Kurds I will tell you, it has the potential to further inflame the deep divides which already exist and drive a wedge through any solidarity developing. Which is essential if Isis is to be defeated

    By the way, unless you have missed it the US military is already fighting Isis. That is for the US people not I, but what I do know the last thing the UK military should do is fight alongside them as it will undoubtedly make a bad situation worse.

    British forces were chased out of Basra for a reason, and they would not be welcomed back into Iraq. Besides there are military forces in the region who are capable of defeating isis but so far the USA refuses to work with them.

    Mick Hall

    August 27, 2014 at 10:52 pm

  8. As a socialist, I would liek to see ISIL defeated through class struggle methods. Strikes, explicitly revolutionary military action, ideological challenges to their religious obscurantism. Why aren’t we talking about that, instead of what the American army can do for us or the Kurds? Hasn’t it long been an article of faith among some people that Arabs and non-Europeans are teh vanguard of the revolution?

    Sue R

    August 29, 2014 at 9:48 pm

  9. Further to my above comment, I read a piece on the BBC website about the Kurdish fighters. I know that ‘truth is the first casualty of war’, so one has to take it all with a pinch of salt, but according to that article the Kurdish militias are very divided among themselves. They represent different political traditions and allegiances. There is also a class element in that officers receive much more pay than the men. Many men have to have two jobs to earn enough money to support their families. It reminds me of the situation in the Spanish Civil War with the different forces fighting. Sarah is rather glossing over the class dynamic among the Kurds. I would like to see someone raising the question of organising a militia on socialist lines, ie parity of pay, committees to discuss action and strategy. The Muslims love to compare this to the Spanish Civil War, well, maybe the Left should own that comparison and think about how a people should combine to defend itself and inspire resistance.

    Sue R

    August 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

  10. Sue

    I believe not only do the Kurds deserve their state but eventually they will get it, but I doubt forming a long term military alliance with the USA is the best way to go about it. You’re right the situation is very complex, as the Kurds live in Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran and all have their own militia, often as you point out more than one.

    I’m a great believer in its impossible to export socialism or bourgeoisie democracy come to that, on the end of a bayonet.

    Mick Hall

    August 31, 2014 at 4:16 pm

  11. To be honest, I find your response perplexing. No-one ‘deserves’ a state, what does that mean? Everyone ‘deserves a stae, on the other hand. It doesn’t tell us what the state is and how it should define its plity. As a socialist/communist, I believe the state should eventually wither away if there is a revolutinary transformation of society, which is what I believe socialists should aim for. The question of a long-term military alliance with the USA is nothing to do with my formulation. I was arguing for a democratic organisation of the Kurdish fighters, one that will serve to advance the struggle for independence. To reconstitute teh army/miltias would be a leap along the road to socialism. However, I cannot tell the Kurds what to do, I can only observe from the sidelines. The elephant in the room is the use of surperior European firepower and what advantages the Europeans/Americans will gain from it.

    Sue R

    August 31, 2014 at 6:30 pm

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