Now, Back the Kurds!
Comrade Tatchell’s Call is the Right Response.
Few will have much time for those who simply dismiss any action against the genociders of ISIL as “imperialism”.
It is unfortunate that those who wish to “stop the war” rely on arguments that conflate the murders of a totalitarian gang with all the other forces at play.
It is even more unfortunate that ‘Little Englander’ arguments are used against the war, about its expense, and the fear that killers may attack “us”.
But we should be extremely wary of getting enthusiastic for a bombing campaign without clear objectives, and without a real chance of a democratic outcome.
It would be misguided to jump on the bandwagon that looks as if it’s going to lead to moves for “regime change” in Syria – a recipe for more chaos, suffering and the growth of Islamist killer forces.
But there is one dimension in which we can support intervention.
Patrick Cockburn states
What the plans of President Obama and Mr Cameron lack is a diplomatic plan to bring the war between the non-Isis parties in Syria to an end. The two sides fear and hate each other too much for any political solution, but it may be possible for the foreign backers of the two sides to pressure them into agreeing a ceasefire. Neither is in a position to win against each other, but both are threatened by Isis, which inflicted stinging defeats on both Assad and anti-Assad forces in the summer.
Britain should press for such a truce even if it is only engaged militarily in Iraq, because it is the outcome of the war in Syria that will determine what happens in Iraq. It was the Syrian war beginning in 2011 that reignited Iraq’s civil war and not the misdeeds of Mr Maliki.
If Isis is to be combated effectively, then the US, Britain and their allies need to establish a closer relationship with those who are actually fighting Isis, which currently include the Syrian Army, the Syrian Kurds, Hezbollah of Lebanon, Iranian-backed militias and Iran itself. The necessity for this is being made tragically clear in the Syria Kurdish enclave of Kobane on the Syrian-Turkish border, where Isis fighters have already driven 200,000 Kurds into Turkey.
Perhaps as the Stop the War Coalition has published Cockburn they might heed what comrade Peter Tatchell says,
The truth is that if the US and UK are serious about fighting ISIS they should start by aiding the people on the ground who know the region best, have local roots and who are already leading the fight against the jihadist menace – the peshmerga army of the Kurdish regional government in Iraq and guerrillas from the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and allied movements in Syria. This aid could include training, weapons, military intelligence, food and medical equipment. With extra assistance and supplies, they could be a powerful, effective counter-force to ISIS. The aim would be to empower them to liberate themselves.
Kurdish protesters made this call in London during the last week. They want international military aid to enable Kurdish fighters to roll back the ISIS advance.
Sadly, the UK Stop The War Coalition (STWC) has allowed its opposition to war to trump support for democracy and human rights. It is laudable to oppose western military attacks but a betrayal to show no solidarity with the democratic, secular, liberal and left forces in Iraq and Syria who are fighting ISIS and Assad’s blood-soaked tyranny.
Not backing military aid to these progressive forces, as an alternative to Western intervention, is a serious misjudgement. STWC’s failure to support those fighting an emerging genocide has a whiff of de facto acquiescence and collusion.
I hate war and see it as a last resort. But to stave off a bloodbath and enslavement, the progressive anti-ISIS fighters deserve assistance from the West and the whole international community. If military aid to partisans fighting Nazi fascism was the right thing to do in the 1940s, then surely support for those opposing ISIS clerical fascism is the right thing to do today.
We can discuss for hours the ultimate responsibility for the rise of Islamic State.
But there is one major problem that affects everything here and now: the actions of the Turkish government, nominally a backer of the anti-ISIS coalition.
The Guardian today publishes this report, on the attitudes of the Kurds,
Like the majority of Kurds here he firmly believes that Ankara is actively supporting Isis with heavy weaponry, medical care and money – a charge that the Turkish government vehemently denies. Facebook pictures and YouTube videos that appear to back up their suspicions are eagerly shared among the picnickers, and continuous attacks by Turkish security forces on Kurdish activists gathering in border villages is proof enough for most that Turkey does not want the Kurds to prevail in Kobani.
“We arrived on Monday from Siirt,” explains Mehmet, 55. “We want to show support and be there for our brothers and sisters across the border. We want to show them and the world that we will not give up on them. We will stay as long as we have to.” Guardian.
So, how are we to back the Kurds?
George Galloway, after some distasteful rhetoric, and for all the distaste we have for him, had a brief moment of good sense in the House of Commons yesterday,
Galloway eventually outlined a plan when Rory Stewart, the Conservative chairman of the Commons defence select committee, challenged him to “please bring us towards his solution to this problem”. The MP for Bradford West called for a strengthening of forces already fighting Isis; arming the forces fighting Isis; and strengthening of Kurdish forces. Guardian.
If Galloway’s Moment of Clarity was not to last (he has since been raving in support of Assad and people’s right to set up states based on Islamic ‘law’) this is of rather more weight:
The Morning Star says (Editorial, Friday),
What’s needed instead is support for those anti-Isis forces in the region which are genuinely broad-based and secular.
The Syrian, Iraqi and Kurdish authorities on the ground should set the terms for assistance in that struggle, endorsed by the United Nations, not the US president, his wire-pullers and their imagined allies in Turkey and the Gulf states.
With this consensus growing on the British left * (one that already exists on the largely pro-Kurd Continental left) – outside the depleted ranks of the SWP and other die-hard ‘anti-imperialists’ – we hope that others will voice their backing for the Kurdish fighters.
* See for example, (Socialist Resistance) STOP THE BRUTAL ATTACKS BY ISIS IN KOBANE, and the declarations by groups such as the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (see this important article, ISIS horror forces a culture shift on the left) and the general trend towards backing the Kurds, amongst many other declarations.
The French bloc Ensemble (in the Front de Gauche) refuses to back “national union” behind the air-strikes but then adds a call for “un engagement dans le soutien aux peuples en lutte contre l’Etat islamique, essentiellement de la force de la résistance kurde et syrienne, qui sont des acteurs essentiels pour l’avenir de la région et par le refus des interventions déstabilisatrices des grandes puissances.” A commitment to support the peoples in struggle against the Islamic state, principally the Kurdish and Syrian resistance, who are the central actors in assuring the region’s future, against the destabilising effects of the great powers’ interventions.