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No to the bombing of Syria and Iraq – solidarity with Kobane!

By Marcus Halaby

As the Western powers bomb Iraq and Syria under the pretext of fighting the Islamic State, attention has been drawn to the struggle of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) to defend the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Kobane. On the border with Turkey, Kobane has been besieged by the ultra-reactionary IS for months, with most of its population now displaced.

Our German section Gruppe Arbeitermacht is taking part in a movement demanding arms for the Kurdish resistance and the lifting of the EU-wide “anti-terrorist” ban on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Kurdish movement in Turkey and its allies on the Turkish left have tried repeatedly to break the Turkish state’s blockade on aid to Kobane. The PKK has suspended its participation in the “peace process” in response. They have sent volunteers and held demonstrations in many cities, which have met with violent repression from the Turkish police, leading to several deaths.

Kobane’s struggle deserves the support of the labour movement in Britain and across Europe. It is no less justified because it has benefited, in the very short term, from the imperialist airstrikes. We should demand material and military assistance to the Kurds and other progressive forces in Syria and Iraq without any political preconditions, and that the EU open its borders to refugees.

A victory for IS in Kobane would be a catastrophe, not just for the thousands of its remaining residents and fighters facing a massacre, but also for the self-government structures that they have built in Rojava, the Kurdish region in Syria. Their subjugation would mean a totalitarian theocratic dictatorship for those who remain and would be a blow to the Syrian revolution, and to what is left of the “Arab Spring”.

The heroism of their popular defence demonstrates that the liberation struggle of oppressed peoples is still alive even in most unfavourable conditions: the superior forces of the IS pogromists, and the cynical politics of the regional and global powers.

Anti-imperialism

Even so, for anti-imperialists in the West to give any endorsement or support to the war being waged by their governments in the region would be criminal. While the Kurds have every right to take whatever aid they can from where it is most readily available, to combat their most immediately deadly enemies, the Western imperialists are not their friends, and we oppose their intervention.

The USA and its allies are not legitimate global policemen or firefighters, but the biggest housebreakers and arsonists on the planet, as events in the Balkans, Afghanistan, Somalia and Iraq have repeatedly shown. Their bombings and invasions have killed far more civilians than IS could ever hope to achieve.

Their intervention, strategically, is aimed at stabilising a Shia sectarian Iraqi state whose own atrocities and discrimination against its Sunni citizens have encouraged the rise of Sunni sectarian forces like IS. It is also strengthening the blood-soaked Assad regime, whose slaughter of hundreds of thousands and displacement of millions of its own people has created the conditions that allowed IS to consolidate. Our opposition both to IS and to the imperialist intervention against it should not in the least lead us to grant Assad any spurious “secular” or “anti-imperialist” credentials.

The USA’s allies, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the other Gulf states, for years fomented a bitter and destructive sectarian civil war in Iraq, one that the US tolerated, fostered even, to divide and rule the country. They have done all in their power to divert the Syrian people’s legitimate uprising for democracy in a religious and sectarian direction, using their money and arms to promote the most reactionary forces among the anti-Assad Syrian factions.

And of course the Turkish state under President Tayyip Erdogan and his predecessors, whether Islamist or nationalist, has been the mortal enemy of its own Kurdish citizens’ right to self-determination. Its obstruction of aid to the Syrian Kurds testifies to this, as does the covert support that Erdogan previously gave to the growth of IS.

Turkey allowed Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters to enter Kobane only because it has reassurances from Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government that they will not support the Syrian Kurds’ right to self-determination. If either Turkish or Western troops were to enter and occupy Rojava, then it would only be to disarm the Syrian Kurds and put them back in their place once the IS danger is removed.

We believe that there is a progressive alternative to the imperialist intervention: solidarity with the Kurdish popular defence and the Syrian revolution, and the lifting of the embargos that have allowed Western governments to deny them access to arms and supplies.

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