Semih Idiz | Aug 15, 2018 | 0
Are the Kurds Footmen to US Interests?
The relationship between theory and practice has always been problematic.
This problem has risen from time to time as social sciences, unlike positive sciences, lack the ability to be tested in laboratory conditions.
To be an anti-imperialist and an anti-fascist, at least on the theoretical level, dictates not to stand alongside the political entities that preach them. However, the practicalities of life sometimes pop up in very different ways, and theoretical solutions are left insufficient. For example, imagine your nation under attack by an imperial power: would it be okay to team up with potentially national and fascist forces to stand against the occupation? If we look at it from a purely theoretical point of view, it would never be appropriate to be in the same camp as a fascist power, but the logical matter of fact is in direct opposition to the theoretical. We are faced with the inevitability dictated by practical life that all powers that we stand united against the main adversary. During the Second World War, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) headed by Mao Ching Tung cooperated with the imperialist USA against Japan’s occupation of Mainland China. CCP further went into alliance with Chinese Nationalist Party headed by Chiang Kai Shek, with whom they were in an open war against until the Japanese invasion. Can we seriously propose that CCP is not anti-imperialist and/or anti-fascist?
No doubt, we can’t. The CCP reconciles with neither imperialism nor fascism, they simply formed alliances that were imposed by external conditions.
As a side note; it is useful to state that not every nationalist is a fascist but every fascist uses nationalism.
Similarly, we may ask whether Lenin compromised his anti-imperialist views when he worked with Standard Oil owned by the Rockefellers for oil exploration in the Soviet Union. He, in his practicality, saw that it was imperative to form this alliance so the Soviet Union, who was less than competent when it came to finance and technology, could advance.
Today, the cooperation between the Syrian Kurds led by the PYD-PKK who are at the forefront of the struggle against ISIS monsters, and the US is not ideological, political or economic. It is simply a military allegiance against ISIS. USA is not a party to the Kurds’ federal organization or the economic requirements of this organization.
One of the antagonistic fundamental conflicts in the world today is, without a doubt, the incongruity between imperialism and the people. However, that is not to say that, this main conflict is inevitably the only and most important one we might face. It is possible for other struggles to take center stage from time to time. Like what happened with the Soviet Union acting together with the imperialist USA, Great Britain and France against a common foe during World War Two. The Soviets’ struggle against the imperialist powers was still there, but the main conflict for them was the fascist axis of the time. This axis had become the main conflict for all the three imperialist powers as well, which made it a necessity to walk into an alliance against it.
There continues to be a conflict between the US and the Kurdish people in the “fundamental” sense, but the US is not the immediate main conflict for the Kurdish people; the damage they took from ISIS is, and thus, the inevitable cooperation that we see today.
Islamic State of Iraq, led by Zarqawi who is effectively the Iraqi representative of Al-Qaeda, kept an anti-American tone following the US invasion of Iraq, gathered military support from regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar who had their own ulterior motives.
Thanks to the direct and indirect support from these states, this army of killers who later added Syria to their namesake to become ISIS, concentrated on American and Kurdish targets. They attacked IKBY and drew near Erbil as close as 10 kilometers. They were eventually stopped by the HPG. They went on to strike Kurdish towns under special status such as Mosul and Kirkuk, as well as Sinjar, which is the homeland of Yezidi Kurds and Mahmur Camp which is set up by Kurdish migrants.
Following these Kurdish targets in Iraq, they next took on Kobani, a Kurdish city in Syria, using high-tech USA weapons, which they captured from the Iraqi Army in Mosul. When faced with great resistance here, ISIS turned towards the direction of towns controlled by Syrian opposition forces. And they swiftly moved through these areas without much resistance. They weren’t met with any major conflicts until Assad forces and the Russians arrived.
As evidenced here, ISIS mainly targeted the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, and even in Turkey (the attack on Diyarbakir rally on June 5, Suruc and the deadly Ankara train station attack).
Iraq and Syria, just like Turkey, had an unresolved Kurdish problem. The conservative-nationalist-chauvinist outlook of the regional forces there had an overlapping ideology in that regard with ISIS. This was one of the main parameters of these attacks on Kurds.
What were the Kurds supposed to do? Were they supposed to wage war against the imperialist American and Russian forces that had caused no harm to them, or would it make more sense to go after ISIS killers, supplanted by the poor masses in Iraq and Syria, who was dead set on destroying them?
Without getting rid of the ISIS problem, the Kurds cannot combat imperialism, ISIS collaborators in the region, or the domestic supporters of the regional powers.
The main enemy, or the “main conflict” for the Kurds, was ISIS, and it is both ideologically and politically the right thing to do to cooperate with every force that also fights against them and contributes to their destruction.
USA may have ignored, or even indirectly supported ISIS until they turned their fury against her, but the fault also lies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and UAE for not acting as responsible parties in the regional coalition against ISIS set up by the Americans. The Saudi princes went to ISIS hunting escapades, were captured and later released after huge sums were paid in ransom as if they weren’t part of the coalition. Turkey, similarly sent out paramilitary forces trained by the Americans to Syria, but she watched as these forces first joined anti-regime forces like Ahrar-ü Şam, and then ISIS. The unreliability of other coalition forces in the region had proved to the US that, Kurds who are detached from Islamic extremism, and favor a secular lifestyle thus providing a safe haven for the Christians in the region are the only dependable ally they can take seriously.
Sometimes adversaries and opposing poles may come side by side, to form alliances. What is decisive, at the end of the day, is not assurance and ideology but the ordinary course of life.