Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

As American Help is Dropped to Kobane Kurds, Stop the War Coalition Enters New Crisis.

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US state department file photo.

US Drops Help to Kobane: Not in Our Name? 

“…the airstrikes by the US, Britain and their allies are not intended to save lives or to defeat ISIS, but to strengthen the west’s domination of the Middle East region strategically and control its resources, most notably its oil.”

Wrote Aaron Kiely (Socialist Action) on the Stop the War Coalition site on the 15th of October.

Why students should oppose bombing Iraq and Syria and whipping up of Islamophobia

Kiely does not mention any alternative way to aid the Kurds and others to defeat Isis.

His main concern apparently is that there is a “disgusting smear campaign against the Stop the War Coalition, CND, prominent NUS student leaders and others, accusing the anti-war movement of supporting the barbaric terrorist group Isis.

Speaking for “Muslim communities” he says they are “are strong opponents of terrorism”. He adds, “Young people and students want a future free from the scourge of war, terrorism and Islamophobia.”

Keiley is infamous for  Tweeting his opposition to an “Islamophobic”  motion at the NUS – that is one supporting the Kurds, drafted with the close help of/and by Kurds.

He may well “oppose” Isis, but if there was no evidence of supporting the Kurds then, there is none now.

Their right to freedom from Islamist racism and mass murder (Isis/Islamic State)  is not mentioned.

What, then,  does the Stop the War Coalition (StWC)  think of the Kurdish plight?

 Leading figures of the StWC, Lindsey German and Robin Beste, have argued (3rd October),

  • 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 will prove counter productive because it will do nothing to help the people already suffering, but will lead to far greater levels of death, injury and destruction. This has been the experience over the past 13 years, not only in Iraq, but in Afghanistan and Libya too.

Today we learn (BBC),

US military aircraft have dropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters battling Islamic State (IS) militants in the key Syrian town of Kobane.

US Central Command said C-130 transport aircraft made “multiple” drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq.

US air strikes have helped push back IS in the town near the Turkish border.

Correspondents say the airdrops are likely to anger key US ally Turkey.

The drops of supplies provided by Kurdish authorities in Iraq were “intended to enable continued resistance against Isil’s attempts to overtake Kobane,” Centcom said in a statement. IS is also referred to as Isil and Isis.

All the aircraft involved had returned safely, it added.

The US air drops represent a significant shift in Washington’s policy towards the Syrian Kurds.

Syrian Kurdish fighters confounded the bleak predictions about Kobane’s imminent fall, and the air drops are now taking place despite objections from the Turkish government: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said his country would not agree to any US arms transfers to Syrian Kurdish fighters.

Nevertheless, the US state department recently declared that it had held the first direct talks with the Syrian Kurdish Party – considered an ally of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fought a three-decade war against the Turkish army until 2013.

Reporting on this today the French left paper Libération states that the French government has put an ultimatum to Qatar to stop all support for the Islamic State/Isis.  Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian stated to the Emir of the country  that one does not have to “choose” between the Syrian dictatorship and Isis terrorism, but should oppose both.

The Kurdish News agency, Rudaw has stated,

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region—The Turkish government has agreed to give Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces passage to the besieged Kurdish town of Kobane, a well-placed source told Rudaw today.

The official source said that Turkey has responded positively to a request from Kurdish President Massoud Barzani to allow Peshmerga forces pass through Turkish territory to relieve Peoples Protection Units (YPG) fighters in their battle against the Islamic State (IS).

According to the source who didn’t want to be named, Barzani and Peshmerga Minister Mustafa Sayid Qader have coordinated the plan with Salih Muslim, leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and his YPG commanders.

Muslim met with Barzani in Duhok last week where the two discussed the fighting in Kobane between the YPG and IS militants who have besieged the town for more than a month.

There are good reasons to be very cautious about this report on Turkey’s change of attitude.

But nobody can contest that the US action has taken place.

It may well not stem the offensive of the Isis genociders.

But is the StWC right to claim that this bombing will prove to be “counter-productive”.

I don’t think so.


Written by Andrew Coates

October 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

4 Responses

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  1. On Saturday, 10 civilians were also reported killed by U.S. airstrikes in Syria. It was barely news in the U.K. or the U.S. – civilian victims of U.S. airstrikes rarely are these days – but surely this is not unproblematic? And there were reports a few weeks back from Human Rights Watch (who are non themselves reflexively anti-intervention) that the U.S. had committed potential war crimes in Kafr Deryan

    We know from other theatres, such as Afghanistan, that even in cases where there is good reason to believe that civilians have been killed unlawfully via airstrikes, there will be no credible investigation, and the perpetrators will get away scot-free. There will be impunity for war crimes, essentially. This has been comprehensively documented by Amnesty International.

    The U.S. are now firmly ensconced within Syria’s borders, and are openly saying they expect to be there for years. In that time, it’s reasonable to expect that the bodies will continue to pile up, war crimes will continue to be committed with impunity, and the Western media – and even some on the Western left to an extent – will evince little concern about it all.

    If Stop The War decide they want to kick up a stink about it, I don’t really see a problem, because hardly anyone else will.


    October 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

  2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with kicking up a stink faced with US and their allies’ crimes.

    As you rightly say, this is the role of groups like the StWC.

    But this is a crucial issue: defend Kobane.

    It’s become a touchstone, the cause of the people of Koabane, of the Kurds, of the PKK, YPG has entered our hearts and minds even our very bones.

    Read this report,

    “During Saturday’s ‘Britain Needs A Payrise’ demonstration, organised by the TUC in London, a group of Kurdish women met with actor and comedian Russell Brand.

    The women approached Russell to talk with him about the developments in Kobane, where Kurdish fighters have been resisting the ISIS onslaught for 35 days.

    Russell Brand told the women that he had been following the situation in Kobane very closely. He said, “I salute the fighters in Kobane who are fighting on behalf of humanity“, after which he picked up a money box and went around campaigning and collecting donations for Kobane.”

    They are our beloved comrades and that’s that.

    Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2014 at 12:17 pm

  3. Turkey will allow Iraqi Kurdish fighters to cross the Syrian border to fight Islamic State (IS) militants in Kobane, its foreign minister says.

    Mevlut Cavusoglu added that talks on the subject were continuing, but gave no further details.

    Tens of thousands of people have fled months of fighting in Kobane between IS forces and Syrian Kurd defenders.

    Until now Turkey has refused to allow Kurdish fighters to cross into Syria, fearful of a reaction among its Kurds.

    The government in Ankara fought a decades-long conflict with the PKK, which it brands as a terrorist organisation. The PKK campaigns for greater autonomy in Turkey and has links with the Syrian Kurds defending Kobane.

    But Turkey has come under pressure from its own Kurdish population, and more widely, to allow fighters in to help push IS out of Kobane, a town that has become highly symbolic of the wider battle against IS.

    “Turkey has no wish see Kobane fall,” Mr Cavusoglu added.

    BBC Just now: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29685830

    La Turquie ouvre sa frontière aux Kurdes voulant défendre Kobané

    La Turquie a annoncé lundi une première mesure concrète pour aider les combattants kurdes qui défendent la ville syrienne de Kobané en révélant qu’elle autorisait les peshmergas irakiens à rejoindre la ville assiégée via son territoire. «Nous aidons les forces des peshmergas kurdes à franchir la frontière pour aller à Kobané», a déclaré le ministre turc des Affaires étrangères Mevlut Cavusoglu. «Nous n’avons jamais voulu que Kobané tombe. La Turquie a mené différentes initiatives pour l’empêcher», a expliqué Cavusoglu lors d’une conférence de presse à Ankara avec son homologue tunisien Mongi Hamdi.


    Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2014 at 12:39 pm

  4. It’s great news Andrew, and really heartening to read of.

    “But is the StWC right to claim that this bombing will prove to be “counter-productive”.”

    It will be counter-productive for STWC and co, because they have to face the embarrassing reality: that the only people who are really fighting ISIS on the ground, a bunch of mostly leftist secularists, are doing so with the aid of the US, which in this case has ended up doing the right thing. Cue traumatised denial on wide parts the supposed British left. The bitterness on CiF is palpable.


    October 20, 2014 at 4:06 pm

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