(reprinted from the October 2019 issue of The Organizer newspaper)
IN THIS DOSSIER:
(1) What Road to Peace for the Kurdish People? — by Daniel Gluckstein (with an introduction by the Editorial Board of The Organizer)
(2) The Drama of the Kurdish People — by Jean Allain
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(1) What Road to Peace for the Kurdish People?
The article below by Daniel Gluckstein was run as the editorial in Issue No. 210 (October 16, 2019) of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the Democratic Independent Workers Party of France (POID). The article takes issue with French political leaders and activists who in France are calling for keeping imperialist troops in Syria in the name of protecting the Kurdish people living in Northeastern Syria — the Rojava region.
In the United States, similar voices, including from veteran antiwar activists, have been heard. Noam Chomsky, for example, wrote the following in relation to the U.S. troops stationed in Syria:
”We should not be deluded by abstract formulas that are divorced from real world conditions. No issue of ‘anti-imperialism’ arises if the U.S. leaves a small contingent in Rojava [Northeastern Syria — Ed.] with the mission of deterring further Turkish aggression and providing mostly air support for the Kurdish-led struggle against the Islamic state.” (Source: Washington Kurdish Institute website, Oct. 13, 2019 )
We disagree. Leaving a “small [U.S. troops] contingent in Rojava” is a fundamental violation of an “anti-imperialist” stance, no matter how much you couch it in “real world conditions.” U.S. intervention abroad always has been justified on humanitarian and defensive grounds, and it always has been the vehicle for mass killings and devastation in the interest of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. government has no right to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations, whatever the justification.
• Bring the Troops Home Now!
• U.S. Out of the Middle East Now!”
— The Editors of The Organizer
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What Road to Peace?
By Daniel Gluckstein
Once again, the Kurdish people have been delivered a lethal blow. Once again, they been forced to abandon their homes and communities, having been targeted by bombings, massacres, and civilian executions ordered by Turkish President Recep Erdogan.
All over the world, workers and young people are demonstrating in the streets to demand the immediate withdrawal of Turkish troops from Syria and an end to the bombing.
These demands are important, but two more need to be added: (1) the recognition of the right of the Kurdish people, in the various countries where they have been dispersed, to self-determination, and (2) the withdrawal of all foreign troops that have been intervening in the region, beginning with French and U.S. troops.
In Defense of “Out Now!”
There are different points of view on this subject.
In the French newspaper L’Humanité (October 14), under the title “It’s Time to Take Up Arms!”, Jean-Luc Mélenchon writes: “Turkey has fired upon a French military contingent in Syria. The French presence in Syria is none of their business. In such circumstances, our duty is to respond to the Turkish attack.”
A similar stance has been taken by U.S. veteran antiwar activist Noam Chomsky in relation to the U.S. troops stationed in Syria. Chomsky writes:
”We should not be deluded by abstract formulas that are divorced from real world conditions. No issue of ‘anti-imperialism’ arises if the U.S. leaves a small contingent in Rojava [*] with the mission of deterring further Turkish aggression and providing mostly air support for the Kurdish-led struggle against the Islamic state.” (Washington Kurdish Institute website, Oct. 13, 2019 )
No, Mr. Mélenchon, the “French presence in Syria” is no more legitimate than the presence of U.S. troops or Turkish troops! To call on French President Macron to “retaliate” militarily is to propose sinking even deeper into the abyss of imperialist occupations and interventions which, for nearly ten years, have destroyed the people in Syria, after having dislocated Iraq and ravaged Afghanistan.
No, Mr. Chomsky, leaving a “small [U.S. troops] contingent in Rojava” is a fundamental violation of an “anti-imperialist” stance, no matter how much you couch it in “real world conditions.” U.S. intervention abroad has always been justified on humanitarian grounds, and it has always been the vehicle for mass killings and devastation in the interest of U.S. imperialism. The U.S. government has no right to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations, whatever the justification: “Bring the Troops Home Now! U.S. Out Now!”
The Emancipation of Oppressed Peoples
Today, Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemn the Turkish intervention that Trump encouraged. But Macron’s and Trump’s only aims are to promote the interests of the capitalists of their respective countries. Neither of them cares about the fate of the Kurds.
U.S. imperialism has, for years, taken advantage of the agreement it reached with the leaders of the Kurdish people in Rajova to use the Kurds as cannon fodder in “its” dirty war in Syria. Then, when U.S. imperialism no longer needs the Kurds, it cynically hands them over to Erdogan to be massacred. Macron will do the same tomorrow, if the interests of French finance capital and the stability of its institutions so demanded.
No, the road to peace, just as the road to Kurdish self-determination, will not be advanced through an alliance with Macron or with a wing of U.S. imperialism.
What about the United Nations, does it offer a road to peace?
This is the stance taken in the same issue of L’Humanité by Fabien Roussel, national secretary of the French Communist Party, for whom “the UN must place Rojava under international protection … and guarantee its democratic autonomy.”
Was it not, however, the UN that, in the days preceding the Turkish intervention, excluded the Kurdish representatives from the commission charged with figuring out the future of the region? Is it not the UN which, from Haiti to the Congo, Somalia, Bosnia, Mali, Liberia and so many other countries, has decided the military interventions that have led peoples to ruin and desolation?
The emancipation of oppressed peoples — like that of the working class — will be the task of the oppressed peoples themselves.
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(2) The Drama of the Kurdish People
By Jean Allain
(reprinted from Issue No. 210 — Oct. 16, 2019 — of Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, the weekly newspaper of the POID of France)
On Wednesday, October 9, the Turkish army crossed the Syrian border and launched a bloody offensive against the territories of northern Syria. These territories, known as the “Rojava,” are controlled by the YPG and YPD Kurdish militias, which are linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
The sympathy of the workers and oppressed peoples, in Turkey and throughout the world, goes out to the Kurdish people who, once again, are threatened with a bloodbath. For his part, the “Sultan” Erdogan, crisis-ridden in his own country on account of his anti-worker policies, is wielding this military offensive against the Kurds to promote “national unity” around him — from the fascistic far right wing to the Kemalist Republican Party (CHP).
No one can claim to be a supporter of democracy and of the right of peoples to self-determination if they don’t support the right of the oppressed Kurdish people to forge their own nation. It should be recalled that the great imperialist powers — starting with France and Great Britain with their Treaty of Lausanne (1923), and the United States, which drew the borders of the Middle East and carved out the various spheres of influence — are the ones responsible primarily for the denial of the national rights of the Kurdish people.
This rejection of Kurdish national rights is shared by all the regimes in the region, without exception. No trust can be placed, of course, in Donald Trump when he declares that he will impose “sanctions” on Erdogan if the latter “conducts his offensive in an inhumane manner” (as if he could do otherwise). After all, what influence do the Kurds have with U.S. imperialism as compared to Turkey, NATO’s pillar in the Middle East?
The Kurdish people cannot rely any more on the European Union, Macron or Merkel than on the United Nations, all of which continuously trample on the rights of oppressed peoples.
It was when Trump announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria that Erdogan took the opportunity to launch his offensive. Why? It’s because, in recent years, the leadership of the Kurdish YPG and YPD militias (and therefore the PKK) had chosen to enter into an agreement with the United States. The U.S. administration relied on the Kurdish militias, armed them, used them … and then turned its back on them.
The strategy of alliance with the major powers, as well as with the regional powers — a strategy repeated for more than a century by all components of the Kurdish movement — has always led to the same results, that is, to the detriment of the Kurdish people. That is its tragedy.
Finally, it should not be forgotten that if Syria is now the scene of a new massacre in the making, this is the result of the continuous intervention in the region by the United States, France, and Great Britain, as well as their Turkish, Qatari and Saudi allies, all of which since 2011 have fueled a war of decomposition that has caused 500,000 deaths and millions of displaced people throughout the region. This, as we know, has been the breeding ground for ISIS.
All over the world, oppressed peoples, just as the workers, can only rely on themselves if they are to secure their rights.
 In 24 hours, two journalists and 21 Internet users were arrested in Turkey on charges of “terrorist propaganda” and “incitement to hatred” because they opposed Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds.
 This has not prevented the very real contradictions among imperialist powers from coming to the fore. Thus, for Macron and his Foreign Minister LeDrian, the Turkish offensive threatens to “release into the wild” thousands of ISIS fighters who, until now, were prisoners of the YPG and YPD, thus “risking to undermine the security of Europeans.” But Trump, once again, has imposed his iron fist upon the Europeans: America First!
 Explaining these facts does not mean providing political support for the Syrian regime, which, it should be recalled, allied itself with the United States in a “spirit of peace” during the war against Iraq in 1991, to give but one example.