No Friends But The Mountains

Anarchist Communist Group

The Kurds have entered into alliances with local States and imperialist powers, always to be betrayed. After World War One, they were promised their own state by the victorious imperialist forces of Britain, France and the USA. These promises, enshrined in the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, proved to be worthless, and anyway it was always about how the great powers would carve up the old Ottoman Empire.

The Kurdistan depicted in the Treaty of Sevres would have been under British control. Some Kurdish nationalists supported this, but others sided with the Turkish nationalist military leader Kemal Ataturk to fight the Allied powers. These Muslim Kurds preferred Ottoman or Turkish nationalist control to domination by a Christian power. Others feared that the British would re-introduce Armenians – who had fled after the genocidal attacks on them by the Turks – would be re-introduced to the region. This was a decision to be regretted by the Kurds as they experienced the reality of life under the Ataturk regime.

The British had occupied the oil-rich province of Mosul, where many Kurds lived, in 1918. The following year Mosul was incorporated into the newly created Iraq. The Treaty of Sevres promised the Iraqi Kurds the chance to be part of this projected Kurdistan, a promise never to be fulfilled.

In 1920 Shaykh Mahmud Barzanji led an uprising of the Iraqi Kurds against British rule and declared a Kurdish kingdom in northern Iraq. At first the British had backed Barzanji, who they saw as offering a convenient buffer territory between their interests in Iraq and the Turkish state. He had become increasingly resentful about the failure of the British to keep their promises. He was wounded, captured and imprisoned in India until 1922.

However, the British now decided to bring him back to stabilise the area against the Turkish nationalists and he was installed as governor of south Kurdistan, but after his return he proclaimed himself King of Kurdistan, turned down the British deal and allied with Turkey. Barzanji was defeated and captured again in 1932. He sued for peace and was exiled to southern Iraq. During the series of uprisings against the British, the RAF used bombs and chemical weapons against Kurdish insurgents.

In 1968 the USA supported the coming to power in Iraq of the Ba’athist Party, which promptly began to attack the Kurds in that country. In the 1970s it supported the Shah of Iran as its ally in the region, and gave support to the Kurds against Iraq. When war between Iran and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq ended suddenly in 1975, Iran dropped its Kurdish allies and the Americans stopped supplying them with military aid. The Kurds then were at the mercy of Saddam.

In the 1980s The USA saw Saddam as a useful regional ally, particularly with the fall of the Shah and the Islamic Revolution in 1979 in Iran. The Americans turned a blind eye to Saddam’s atrocities against the Kurds. This changed again in 1990 with Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait. He was now the enemy of the USA and American support was given to Kurdish and Shiite revolts in Iraq. However with the declaration of a Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq, the USA failed to provide assistance and the revolt was crushed.

With the Syrian civil war, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) of Turkey, who had been waging a war against the Turkish State, in alliance with its proxy, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) took over parts of Syria from the Assad regime. They defended themselves against attacks from the Islamic State. The Americans, seeking an ally in the region, at first supported the Kurds against ISIS with air attacks, and then later with financial and military aid. The Kurds had once again become a proxy of the USA.

All of this changed with Trump’s abrupt decision to desert the Kurds and to allow the Turkish state to attack the Kurdish area in Syria. But, once again, Trump has reversed his position of pulling US troops out of Syria, under pressure from both Democrats and Republicans, and the criticisms of many retired military leaders. What this means for the Kurds in Syria remains to be seen.

As for Russia, it initially gave support to the PYD and its military units, the YPG. Now, however, Russia’s uneasy alliance with the Erdogan regime in Turkey means that Putin has given the green light for YPG forces to be pushed back from the Turkish/Syrian border. Putin met with Erdogan at the Black Sea resort of Sochi last week, and there it was agreed that Russian troops in Syria would not intervene to stop the advance of the Turkish forces. For its part, the PYD has agreed for the return of control of north east Syria to Assad and his forces. The PYD might switch allegiances and go into alliance with Russia, which will cynically play them off against the Turkish State, and then in time-honoured fashion, drop the Kurds when they are no longer deemed useful. Putin’s support of the Assad regime is still a priority and comes before any support for the Kurds.

We should also be aware of the demands by the German Defence Minister, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to set up a security zone in the area and send thousands of troops there. This represents a move by the Franco-German bloc in Europe to intervene for its own interests.

Meanwhile, across the border in northern Iraq, the USA still supports the Kurdish autonomous region ruled by the Barzani family. However, this support has its limits. After an independence referendum with a 93% vote of Yes, in 2017, the USA used its troops to support Iraqi forces to push the Kurds back into their enclave and the areas taken by the Kurds in 2014, including Kirkuk and its oilfields, were retaken by the Iraqi government. This is in spite of the role that Kurdish forces had played in driving out ISIS from most of Iraq.

There is an old Kurdish saying that the Kurds have no friends but the mountains. Any attempt by the Kurds to ally with world imperialist powers as well as regional imperialist powers like Iran, have proven time and again to be disastrous. The Kurds are used as proxies, as cannon fodder for the interests of these powers in a danger zone where the USA and its British and European allies, and Russia and its allies of Syria and Iran, are in confrontation.

Only a revolutionary movement that unites Kurdish, Turkish, and Arab workers and sweeps away the ruling class in the Middle East, whether it be the Barzani family, the theocratic regime in Iran, the Assad regime in Syria and Erdogan in Turkey, can offer any real solution to the situation.

Forthcoming events from the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Southampton Branch.

A Celebration of May Day – 7th May

Palmerston Park 11am – 4pm. March around 2pm.

Music and food, including the Red Stars Choir. PSC will have a stall at this event. Help would be welcome, get in touch if you can help for an hour or just come along and say Hello.

Tell HSBC to Stop Arming Israel – 20th April

HSBC City Centre 11am

HSBC owns £180m shares in BAE and £69m shares in Raytheon. Both of these companies trade arms to Israel. HSBC claims to be committed to Human Rights, if this is true it should end its business relationship with companies that arm Israel’s military Repression of Palestine. We will be leafleting and demonstrating outside HSBC in Above Bar, in the city centre on 20th April at 11am. This is to coincide with the company AGM in London where a larger demonstration is also being held. Come and wave a flag or hold a placard . We will be giving out action cards which members of the public can fill in and deliver to HSBC. We plan a peaceful presence outside HSBC. We plan to raise awareness and to engage with members of the public. I would be grateful if you would let me know by e-mail if you plan to join us.

Remember Nakba 70 years. – Sunday 13th May

Cultural Square 11am – 1pm

Come and join us for a Nakba Vigil. Palestinian Music . Information about all PSC Campaigns .Please come and join us. Let’s Stand with Palestinians in the injustice they face each day. 70 Years of Occupation and the injustice continues.

Palestine Solidarity Southampton is an organisation campaigning for justice for Palestine. We welcome people of all races and  faiths and people who hold diverse beliefs. We believe in non-violence and value diversity. We recognise the courage of many Jews who stand up for the political rights and freedoms of Palestinians. We are opposed to the repressive actions of the state of Israel in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.

e-mail

Website

Blog

 

STOP TURKEY’S WAR CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

#DefendAfrin #NoFlyZone4Afrin

Download 2-sided pdf A5 Leaflet

On 20 January, the Turkish state together with Salafist groups (Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra, FSA, Heyet Tahrir El Şam and former IS terrorists) launched a military assault against the Kurdish region of Afrin/North-Syria.

This invasion of another country is a blunt violation of international law.

  • Crimes against humanity; Serious violations of international law; Aggression
  • It is an action of genocide – the attacks are aimed at an ethnic group as such

Erdogan’s current attack on Afrin is to be put into the context of Turkey’s longstanding racist hostility towards any prospect of Kurdish self-determination, including democratic rights within existing states.

The US, the EU and their allies tacitly approved the operation by claiming that it is Turkey’s right to defend its borders. Russia, meanwhile, consented to the assault by allowing Turkey to use the Syrian airspace. They are the same powers whom have not managed to organize peace talks for Syria over the last seven years. Since the war in Syria started in 2011, Afrin has been among the safest areas of the devastated country. Afrin has been a shelter for Yezidis, Christians, Alevis, as well as Muslims from all ethnic backgrounds.

And now; Turkey is killing civilians, committing a war crime and genocide in Afrin

  • Until now tens of civilians have been killed, most of which are women and children, and hundreds have been injured.
  • Turkey, not satisfied with only killing civilians, has now started erasing what is left of the history in Northern Syria. Turkish war-jets destroyed a 3.000-year-old temple – the Ain Dara Hittite temple complex.
  • Turkey is using weapons such as NAPALM and cluster bombs on civilians which were

banned internationally by the United Nations’ Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.

Stop Turkey`s war against Kurds

  • The people of Afrin are facing genocide. The situation is sensitive and urgent. We call upon all people with a conscience to support Afrin and to stand in solidarity.
  • We call upon the US, EU, UN to understand the reality on the ground and take a clear stand against the Turkish state’s attacks.

DEFEND THE PEOPLE OF AFRIN PLATFORM
defendafrinplatform@gmail.com