Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

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

with 15 comments

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,


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.


15 Responses

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    an innocent = any Muslim killed by a non-Muslim
    a martyr = any Muslim killed by a Muslim
    a corpse = any non Muslim killed by a Muslim

    Sue R

    September 24, 2014 at 4:10 pm

  2. Let’s be clear. The Danish Red-Green Alliance didn’t just vote to “support the Kurds”. They voted, by their own admission to “to send a military plane to Iraq under US command” – http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article3601
    So the solution to a country that has been devastated by western intervention for the last decade is, more bombing, led by the US and a coalition of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE – countries with little or no democracy, some of which are just as extreme and barbarous as ISIS and some of which have been a source of support for ISIS – as has the US indirectly.

    Mike Phipps

    September 24, 2014 at 7:41 pm

  3. I read one of your previous posts from last year about arming the Syrian opposition and now this one.
    I think the problem for the revolutionary left is that we are incredibly weak, both in the industrialised countries and in the West Asia.
    Nevertheless, what we are seeing is that all kinds of imperialist powers to reactionary and fundamentalist governments/organisations are intervening in West Asia to create their own side/militias and further their agenda.
    What is missing is an organised working class response, from where a revolutionary movement can grow out.
    So, while the current problem is that the left in West Asia is tiny, the real question for us, is what have we been doing to actively help in the growth of working class organisations in the region????
    I would be very interested to know of the many left groups in Europe, and also Turkey which has a strong labour movement, have sent comrades to the region on fact finding trips, organised solidarity visits, organised exchanges, developed training programs etc with activists in these countries.
    I think this is the real problem of the left, we are not doing enough to actively build a movement in West Asia which can then act as a partner and a fighter against the array of imperialist and reactionary forces that are already in the region.
    In solidarity

    Piergiorgio Moro

    September 25, 2014 at 1:51 am

  4. The Kurds want support, so are you going to deny them this Mike?

    Are you and the StWC going to decide on their behalf that they shouldn’t have it?

    Andrew Coates

    September 25, 2014 at 12:02 pm

  5. It is also rather tiresome to keep directly blaming the 2003 invasion as the sole cause of the rise of ISIS. There have been many intervening causes such as sectarian intervention by Malaki but more importantly the dreadful carnage in Syria. In fact one should be arguing that even if the 2003 invasion was a disaster it is incumbent on the West to reverse the ISIS genocide as a way of trying to improve what is a very dire position.
    I agree that arming the Kurds is a prerequisite but this will still need Western military support insofar as the provision of cover for weapons drops, training etc. Of course Start the War have just formulated the most bone headed analysis imaginable, which is basically arming anyone to counter the ISIS insurgency will make matters worse. Which is of course practically impossible.


    September 25, 2014 at 2:58 pm

  6. There is equally the fact that ISIS killers are responsible for their own acts.

    No tears should be shed for European jihadists killed by the US air strikes.

    These people should be hauled up before a War Crimes Tribunal.

    Andrew Coates

    September 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm

  7. Nobody is shedding any tears for dead jihadists – although if you know of a sure-fire way of killing only jihadists and not any civilians, women and children nearby, do please tell the US military as soon as you can. The question regarding airstrikes is simply this: are they likely to make the situation on the ground any better? If you believe that they are, please explain why you believe that. The evidence of the last few decades suggests that jihadism thrives in conditions of bloody chaos. Jihadists understand that perfectly well, which is why they do all they can to create – and provoke the Western powers into helping them create – those conditions.

    The question of whether Kurdish factions should receive arms – and if so, which factions, and how – is a separate question. It is quite possible to favour arming Kurdish groups to defend themselves and oppose airstrikes.


    September 25, 2014 at 6:19 pm

  8. No, Andrew, I’m not denying the Kurds help, but I am opposed to any “help” that is under the command of the US. Don’t believe it can’t get worse, it can. Don’t shed tears for killed jihadis, but don’t be under any illusion either that air strikes don’t also kill innocent civilians – they already have, although it’s little reported. DId US-led air strikes make things better of worse in Libya? And don’t fool yourself that ISIS or anyone else can be eradicated by air strikes alone, because they cannot. So it’s more war.

    Actually I don’t believe the US want to eliminate ISIS entirely: they want to contain them but also to have them as an ongoing justification for further regional intervention.

    There are other murderous states out there that commit atrocities, including beheadings. We’re not bombing them, nor should we. I doubt if there’s any purely military solution to this.

    Mike Phipps

    September 25, 2014 at 8:55 pm

  9. A wonderful new conspiracy theory worthy of Galloway or Milne:

    “Actually I don’t believe the US want to eliminate ISIS entirely: they want to contain them but also to have them as an ongoing justification for further regional intervention.”

    How on earth did the yanks manage to justify their interventions before ISIS, one wonders…

    Perhaps Mike also subscribes to the “theory” that claims ISIS was created by the US and/or Mossad?

    Classic Stop The War nonsense.

    Jim Denham

    September 25, 2014 at 11:25 pm

  10. PS: you think I’m joking about the conspiracy theories?

    RT: ISIS is the deliberate creation of the CIA and Mossad and the attacks on Syria are about oil, stopping socialism (Assad is a socialist) and threatening Russia.

    Al Baghdadi is a Jewish Mossad Agent born Simon Elliot in Tel Aviv


    Jim Denham

    September 26, 2014 at 12:23 am

  11. I don’t really wish to debate with Jim Denham because I don’t believe he knows how to. For anyone else reading this, they will understand of course that there is a world of difference between not wishing to eliminate ISIS entirely and saying the US created them. Incidentally, who did? We know they got funding from Gulf States and we know some of their fighters were originally trained by US agents in Syria, before they switched to ISIS. But the simple reason they’ve grown so fast is that they are the wealthiest militia in the region – they pay double everyone else, largely because they make a lot of money out of oil – who buys that? – and hostage taking? Who pays the ransoms?
    Of course, if the US really wanted to eliminate ISIS, it would mean boots on the ground. It may come to that when aerial bombardment fails as it surely will – but not before many more civilians have been killed. As if Iraq needed more bombs after the last ten years.

    Mike Phipps

    September 26, 2014 at 9:48 am

    • The claim that, ” I don’t believe the US want to eliminate ISIS entirely: they want to contain them but also to have them as an ongoing justification for further regional intervention.” reauires us to believe that “the Americans” have a unified stable policy on the region, for which there is yet to be evidence.

      Having looked at the policy-making process in Libya – detailed first hand in many books – it is even less probable that they have ‘one’ line in the Middle East.

      But they are in a cleft stick if Mike is to be believed; if they don’t send “boots on the ground” they will not defeat ISIS.

      If they do they will be accused of yet more killings.

      Andrew Coates

      September 26, 2014 at 11:41 am

  12. Mike Phipps “Actually I don’t believe the US want to eliminate ISIS entirely: they want to contain them but also to have them as an ongoing justification for further regional intervention”.

    Actually this statement is falsified by the simple fact that the US withdrew from Afghanistan and Iraq. Also there was no boots on the ground in Libya. It would be simpler for the US just to remain permanently in these countries as opposed to withdrawing then re-entering.

    I do question why some feel the need to jump to conspiratorial conjectures, whatever happened to Occams Razor?


    September 26, 2014 at 11:46 am

  13. Andrew,

    A very good point there is moral agency here, ISIS are totally responsible for each and every one of their heinous actions.


    September 26, 2014 at 11:48 am

  14. As, Dave, are the European jihadists who have committed war crimes.

    They should be judged for them, as should be those who have helped them.

    Andrew Coates

    September 26, 2014 at 12:17 pm

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