Tendance Coatesy

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Danish Leftists Back Military Aid to Iraq.

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Danish Revolutionary Socialists Says: Arm Kurdish Freedom Fighters!

Danish socialists voting for a parliamentary decision to send a military plane to Iraq under US command is not usual. Even more unusual is the fact that I – considering myself a revolutionary Marxist – voted to support that decision. Nevertheless, that is what happened a few weeks ago.

The parliamentary group of the Red-Green Alliance (RGA – Enhedslisten) voted together with all out parties for sending a Hercules airplane to Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government. The plane will transport weapons and ammunition to the Kurdish militias fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).”

Reports Michael Voss (of the Danish  Red-Green Alliance, Enhedslisten – De Rød-Grønne), known as Enhl, and SAP (Socialistisk Arbejderparti) in International Viewpoint (journal of the Fourth International).

The nightmare of some ‘anti-imperialist’ hipsters has had a real political impact…..

Why Danish leftists supported military aid to Iraq Monday 15 September 2014

Comrade Voss  made the honest point that,

In that way there is a temporary coincidence of interests between imperialism and socialists on the simple issue of fighting IS. We want to supply the Kurds with weapons, and US imperialism want to supply the Kurds with weapons – for the time being. Not supporting it, only because of the US command, would be as if Lenin had refused to travel in the sealed train supplied by German imperialism through imperialist Germany to Russia in the middle of the Russian revolution, as another NL-member said.

And that,

I don’t think that much argument is needed to back the fact that revolutionary socialists also want to fight and stop IS, a murderous, sectarian and deeply reactionary force. A victory for IS will set back any social, democratic, pro-women or anti-imperialist development that may have taken place in parts of Syria and Iraq.

But that their MPs made sure that,

  • that the Danish Hercules plane cannot be used for any other purpose than delivering arms to the forces fighting IS
  • that this decision does not allow any other Danish military activity in the region;
  • that whatever happens, a new parliament decision is necessary if the government wants to prolong the activity of the airplane after 1 January 2015

As a follow up to the decision the RGA have taken other initiatives to stop military and financial supply for IS, to popularise the fight for the Kurdish peoples’ right to self-determination and to have the PKK removed from the US and the EU list of so-called terror organisations. A special Danish aspect is the fact that the TV-station of Kurds for all Europe was based in Denmark until it was recently banned, and 10 people from the Kurdish community face trial for collecting money for organisations that – according to the police – transfer the money to PKK.

When the first shipment of weapons to the PKK/YPG by a Danish airplane under US command has taken place, it will be hard for the authorities to explain that they are supporting a terror organisation.

This decision took place in mid-August (reported in International Viewpoint on the 15th of Septmeber.

 Danish arms to support Kurds in Iraq

25. aug. 2014 13.14 

The Red-Green Party’s central committee has agreed that its parliamentary group may vote yes to send Danish arms to support Kurds fighting in Iraq.

However, final approval by parliament on Wednesday is needed before a Hercules transport aircraft containing a consignment of light weapons can be sent as Denmark’s contribution to the USA’s action in Northern Iraq, where Kurdish fighters are being hard-pressed by the militant Islamic State (IS).

“I’m pleased that the central committee has approved the parliamentary group’s proposal for Denmark to support the campaign by sending a transport aircraft with weapons and ammunition to the hard-pressed Kurdish fighters in Northern Iraq,” said Nikolaj Villumsen, spokesman on defence for the Red-Green Alliance.

Proposal today

The government received the final support of all parliamentary parties on Sunday after the remaining parties had acknowledged their approval at a meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee on Thursday.

Today, the government will present its proposal to send the aircraft to Iraq as soon as possible with a consignment of weapons and solders to protect the aircraft.

“The Islamic State is one of the most perfidious movements the world has seen for many years and must be forced back before it commits new crimes against humanity.

“It must be emphasised, however, that our support for this limited action will not entail any Danish military intervention in Iraq and is purely intended as support for the Kurds to help them defend themselves against the Islamic State. We are not entering into a new war in Iraq,” said Villumsen.

Put in their place in 2011

In March 2011, the Red-Green parliamentary group was quickly put in its place by the party when it wished to support the use of Danish F-16 fighter aircraft to support the Libyan Army.

At the party’s AGM, a procedure was established for how the parliamentary group could support Danish military action, when it was made contingent on approval by the central committee.

The authorities are indeed concerned,

Some Danish politicians, however, are sceptical that the Danish involvement could inadvertently support the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which the European Union (EU) labels a terrorist organization.

Since IS captured about a third of Iraq in June, the PKK, which is based in Iraqi Kurdistan, has become part of the war. The PKK’s affiliate, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria, are fighting IS alongside the KRG’s Peshmerga troops. Rudaw.

The Red-Greens are noted for their support for a foreign policy based on human rights.

Enhl initially backed plans for UN-led intervention in Libya but pulled back, after party protests, once the campaign got underway.

The Red-Green Alliance currently has 12 seats in the Danish Parliament (Folketinget) with 6,7 % of the vote.

Wider Backing for Military Action Against Islamic State/Daʿesh

Support for the Kurdish and other democratic fighters against Islamic state is widespread on the European left, a stand that contrasts with the isolationist Stop the War Coalition in Britain.

As the Guardian prints Richard Seymour’s hipster take on ISIS the StWC has just published the weighty reflections of Russell Brand: Will Obama’s bombs stop the ISIS beheadings?

By contrast over the weekend one of the Editors of the French Communist Party daily l’Humanité, and MEP, Patrick Le Hyaric, said of  the Islamic State, Da’esh, , “il faut briser les reins à ces égorgeurs.” – we must break the backs of these murderers.

He continued, “Nous avons, à cet instant, une pensée particulière pour nos frères et pour nos sœurs kurdes qui combattent en première ligne contre la cruauté sauvage de l’Etat islamique, en Irak comme en Syrie..” We have a special place in our thoughts for our brother and sister Kurds who are fighting in the front line against the savage cruelty of the Islamic State,in Iraq as in Syria.

Le Hyaric emphasised however that military action should be decided by Parliament and endorsed by the United Nations, and not take place through the channels of NATO.

The French Nouveau parti anticapitaliste, NPA,  (the largest group associated with the Fourth International) has yet to publicly take a position on their Danish comrades’ decision.

Other articles in International Viewpoint, such as one by David Finkel published on the same day as the above contribution, repeat the well-known refrain that, “the global terror of imperialism generates its ugly local and regional counterparts from Taliban to the “Islamic State.” The terrorist forces arising in shattered societies can’t be eradicated without uprooting the global system that inevitably breeds them.”

The British FI group, Socialist Resistance has shown deep sympathy for the Kurdish struggle and the fight against ISiS.


3 Responses

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  1. from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “The Danish military contribution is being made available based on request from the Iraqi and American governments. The Danish Parliament has authorized the deployment of a C-130J transport aircraft and personnel, up to approximately 55 people until the of 2014, consisting of a logistics detachment, liaison personnel, and an additional security detachment should that be deemed necessary.” http://um.dk/en/news/newsdisplaypage/?newsid=03254085-63a8-4df6-ab0f-d396b7c7ffba

    Jorge Martin

    September 17, 2014 at 1:29 pm

  2. Andrew,you need to sort out your photos.The picture is of a PYD/PKK rally.The one group you can be sure won’t benefit from any US or any other partner’s weapons-save may be Iran who has quietly supported the PKK to piss off Turkey- as did Assad pere et fil. The US has the PKK on it terrorist list so can’t arm them, and Turkey certainly won’t. The PKK are hard line secularist so Saudi and Qatar won’t touch them with a barge pole, all of which is a shame because they are one of the most effective anti Assad/ anti Is forces in Syria.

    The weapons will almost certainly go to the KDP aligned peshmergas. Traditionally lightly armed mountain fighters the pesh don’t have much experience of urban fighting so training as well as fire power is also urgently needed. Having a heavily armed experienced armed force behind him will almost certainly have an impact on Bazani’s post Is political agenda,assuming they win of course and winning in that area is always a relative term.

    Pete Shield

    September 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm

  3. The picture was deliebrate since support for the PKK (a group I am aware has its problems, as well as the good points you signal, but the main fact is that they are clearly on the left),

    This is what the Danish socialists say,

    “That still leaves the question if the most progressive Kurdish forces, Turkish PKK and its Iraqi counterpart, YPG, actually will receive the weapons, or if the regional Kurdish government in Iraq will monopolise them. This government traditionally is in conflict with the PKK/YPG, and it is pursuing a strict neo-liberal policy in the areas that it controls.

    There is really no telling exactly who will get how big a share of the weapons. But all the Kurdish forces have established a common military front to fight ISIS. There is evidence that they are actually sharing weapons, and the PKK/YPG is doing most of the effective fighting.”


    This is interesting:

    Leftist intellectuals and the Kurds: The cases of Edward Said, Hamid Dabashi and Tariq Ali

    One of the salient hallmarks of leftist intellectual’s rhetoric is blaming Western powers for being the source of many evils in the Middle East. These evils are often pronounced as imperialism, colonialism, neoliberalism, occupation, cultivation of sectarianism, war, economic exploitation and so on.

    This leftist stance becomes more evident in the context of the Middle East, where writers and scholars like Edward Said, Tariq Ali and Hamid Dabashi often and selectively have taken side with Palestinians against the US and Israel, but rarely addressed the political grievances of the large Kurdish population in the Middle East; which has been subjected to ethnic discrimination, genocide, linguicide and cultural assimilation.

    It’s of paramount importance to note that although colonial powers like Great Britain and France are primarily accountable for arbitrarily drawing the borders of the contemporary Middle East, the dominant others of the Kurds are nevertheless not British, French, Americans or Israelis, but the Turkish state, the Iranian state, the Syrian state and until recently the Iraqi state.

    These states have subjugated the Kurdish population culturally, politically and economically.

    While a large part of the leftist intellectuals and writers continue to enchant certain national movements like the Palestinian movement as an anti-imperialist/anti-racist/anti-colonial movement, some of them tend to marginalize and mute the Kurdish national movements in the Middle East as internal problems of certain states and fail to see the historically imposed fragmentation of the Kurdish identity.

    These intellectuals (e.g. Tariq Ali and Hamid Dabashi) are more in favour of sustaining the sovereignty of the current authoritarian states (that are in itself imperial and colonial constructs), rather than altering them or advocating for the national rights of the Kurds. ”

    More: http://rudaw.net/english/yourrudaw-26062013000624

    Andrew Coates

    September 17, 2014 at 3:52 pm

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