Workers Vanguard No. 1055
31 October 2014
Kurdish Leaders Join Imperialist Onslaught
Down With U.S. War Against ISIS!
The U.S. bombing of reactionary ISIS forces in Syria is the latest episode in the imperialist wars and occupations that have laid waste to Iraq and other parts of the Near East and touched off spiraling communal and ethnic bloodletting. Since the start of U.S. operations against ISIS in northern Iraq on August 8, scores of civilians as well as hundreds of fighters have been killed. Cynically launched in the name of “humanitarian” assistance to Shiites, Kurds, Christians, Yazidis and others threatened by the ISIS cutthroats, the imperialist onslaught is aimed at reinforcing the U.S. hold over the Near East, with the Obama administration offering the prospect of many more years of war. It is the duty of class-conscious workers everywhere, particularly in the U.S., to oppose the bombing campaign and all other wars and occupations carried out by the imperialists. Hands off Iraq and Syria! All U.S. forces out of the Near East!
After the initial airstrikes by the U.S. in northern Iraq, we declared: “Any force, however unsavory, that attacks, repels or otherwise impedes U.S. forces strikes a blow in the interests of the exploited and the oppressed” (“U.S. Out of Iraq! No Intervention in Syria!” WV No. 1051, 5 September). However, in the reactionary, mainly Sunni-Shi’ite communal conflicts in Iraq and Syria, the world’s toilers had no side.
Since then, Iraqi government forces and Kurdish pesh merga in Iraq are again conducting joint military operations with the U.S., as they did for years under the occupation. More recently, Syrian Kurdish nationalists have also sealed a treacherous alliance with the U.S. in the battle over Kobani in northern Syria, acting as the imperialists’ bomb spotters and otherwise coordinating military movements. The fact that all these forces are “boots on the ground” for imperialist intervention means that revolutionary Marxists have a military side with ISIS when it targets the imperialists and their proxies, including the Syrian Kurdish nationalists, the pesh merga, the Baghdad government and its Shi’ite militias.
In the case of Kobani, on September 16 its predominantly Kurdish population came under siege by ISIS, forcing more than 200,000 people to flee across the border to Turkey. Pitted against ISIS were the Kurdish Democratic Union Party and its military wing, the People’s Protection Committees (YPG), which are affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) based in Turkey. Then in early October Washington decided to make a stand in Kobani, with the YPG offering its services. The Wall Street Journal (October 21) reported: “A Syrian Kurdish general in a joint operations center in northern Iraq delivered daily battlefield intelligence reports to U.S. military planners.” According to a YPG spokesman, several Americans and dozens of Europeans are fighting alongside them in Kobani.
It goes without saying that we internationalist communists are die-hard enemies of the ultra-reactionary social and political program of ISIS, whose methods of rooting out “apostates” amount to mass slaughter. We condemn communal atrocities on all sides. ISIS is itself the imperialists’ creation, having emerged out of the intercommunal slaughter triggered by the U.S. occupation. It counts as precursors those who cut their teeth as jihadis in the CIA-backed war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Washington could very well switch to supporting ISIS under certain conditions—for example, against the Assad regime in Syria, which is decidedly not a part of the U.S. military alliance despite its best efforts.
But ISIS today is in battle against the local tools of U.S. imperialism, the main enemy of the world’s working people. A setback for the U.S. in Syria might give pause to Washington in its military adventures, including by encouraging opposition at home. Such opposition adds to the tinder that must be ignited in class struggle against the capitalist rulers who, in their quest for ever greater profits, beat down the workers, black people and immigrants.
We uphold the right of national self-determination for the Kurdish people, who are oppressed by the bourgeois regimes in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. However, in Iraq and Syria today as in Iraq after 2003, when the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan enrolled as adjuncts of the U.S. occupation, the nationalist parties have subordinated the struggle for Kurdish national rights to their role as imperialist proxies. Championing the Kurds in the current conflict can only mean lending support to imperialist plunder. And their collaboration with the imperialists is antithetical to the cause of Kurdish national liberation, which can only be achieved through the proletarian overthrow of the four capitalist states in the region and the forging of a Socialist Republic of United Kurdistan.
Protests called by Kurdish nationalist groups in Germany, Australia and elsewhere have backed U.S. airstrikes in Syria and demanded that the imperialists supply the Syrian Kurds with arms. These calls have been echoed by many reformist leftists around the world, giving credence to the “humanitarian” cover for the imperialist onslaught. Thus, the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France and some leaders of the Left Party in Germany (not to mention the bourgeois German Greens) have called on their respective capitalist governments to arm the Kurds in Kobani.
Thousands have also demonstrated at the PKK’s call in Istanbul and other cities in Turkey to pressure the Erdogan regime to militarily support the struggle in Kobani. More than 30 protesters have been killed by cops and Islamist thugs. To date, Erdogan has refrained from joining the fragile U.S.-led coalition that includes Britain, France and Australia as well as Saudi Arabia and other Near Eastern countries. For the Turkish government, the main enemies in Syria are the Assad regime and the Kurds. Strong-armed by the Obama White House, Ankara is letting Iraqi pesh merga transit Turkey into Kobani, where Erdogan hopes they will help police the groups aligned with the PKK.
By selling their souls to the imperialists as well as to various regional bourgeois regimes, Kurdish leaders help perpetuate the divide-and-rule stratagems that inevitably inflame communal, national and religious tensions and serve to reinforce the oppression of the Kurdish masses. A glaring example was the murderous U.S. military assault on the Iraqi city of Falluja in 2004, in which Kurdish fighters played a prominent role. Aimed at a largely Sunni population, the siege of Falluja helped fuel the rise of the Sunni-based ISIS insurgency. Inevitably, the Kurdish people will again pay for the crimes of their leaders.
The perpetual cycle of wars, occupations and communal bloodletting in the Near East, with its promise of more years of slaughter and devastation, is a glaring demonstration of the barbarity of the capitalist world order in which the U.S. rulers hold predominant power. The goal of Marxists in the belly of the imperialist beast is to instill in the U.S. proletariat the understanding that it has the social power and historic interest to destroy capitalist-imperialist rule from within, through socialist revolution. To realize this task requires forging a revolutionary workers party committed to the struggle for workers rule over the entire planet.