The Turkish state is bombarding Kurds in Afrin, using bombing and a ground invasion. This follows devastating attacks on Kurdish areas in Turkey in 2016, when President Erdogan ended a ‘peace process’ and started a war, stirring up anti-Kurdish nationalism in Turkey.
Stop the war on the Kurds!
For mass resistance
In 2016 Turkish planes bombed ISIS bases in Syria for the first time. But using the excuse provided by the west’s so-called ‘war on terror’, it used these attacks as cover for a bombardment of Kurdish areas.
These are the same Kurdish forces that were fighting ISIS on the ground! The Turkish state would rather have seen ISIS win out than a Kurdish victory.
The Kurds are a stateless nation, divided across Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey since the post first world war agreement between imperialist powers to carve up the region.
But in the instability created since the 2003 Iraq War they have developed autonomous areas in Iraq and Syria. The fight against ISIS has raised the possibility of breaking down imperialism’s borders. As a result of advances made by the Kurdish People’s Defence Force (YPG) in Syria (the fighting forces of the left-wing PYD – Democratic Union Party), a big conjoining area in both northern Syria and Iraq is under Kurdish control.
The Turkish regime fears what this might mean for Turkey itself.
In the fight against ISIS Kurdish fighters have been heroic. But many of their gains have been made alongside airstrikes from Russia and the US.
But as the Socialist Party and the CWI warned many times, the US and Russia are no friends of the Kurdish people. They will use Kurdish fighters when it suits their interests, and then just as readily abandon them.
As soon as ISIS has been set back, the US and Russia have allowed Turkey to unleash its war machine, in the hope of steadying their relationship with the Turkish regime.
The different imperialist powers, including the US and Russia, have never had the interests of Kurdish people at heart. But they are purely interested in their own power and economic interests, and support Kurdish forces only insofar as they do not conflict with that.
This happened most starkly in 1991, when George Bush encouraged an uprising against Saddam Hussein and then left the Kurds to be massacred.
Neither western powers nor repressive regimes in the region want the determination of Kurds to fight for independence in other areas to increase further, because of the deeper instability that would create, including the potential break-up of Turkey.
The regional capitalist powers are all prepared to whip up ethnic and national division and set people against each other, eg Arab against Kurd, in order to serve themselves.
For mass resistance
Of course the Kurds have the right to defend themselves. The Socialist Party calls for democratic, non-sectarian, multi-ethnic defence committees, giving the population an active role.
The territories now under Kurdish control are populated by Arabs and Turkmen as well as Kurds. It is vital to appeal to the mass of the population to organise together.
By championing the rights of self-determination, a movement could be built that would withstand the Turkish onslaught and reach out to workers and the poor across the whole region.
It is also important to make an appeal to working class people in Turkey. In such a terrible situation this might seem remote. But such an appeal, with a programme to defend democratic rights, for jobs and homes, for the region’s vast resources to be owned and controlled democratically for the benefit of all, could break through the fear and hate. Workers and the poor in Turkey have nothing to gain from the Kurds continued oppression, which only strengthens the government and bosses that also exploit and oppresses them.
The greatest fear of the rich, big bosses and landowners, and their political representatives, would be the coming together of Kurdish, Iraqi, Turkish, Syrian and Iranian workers in a movement that could challenge local and imperialist governments, and capitalism itself.
We support the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination including, if they so wish, full autonomous democratic rights, the establishment of independent states, or a common state of all Kurds.
A voluntary socialist confederation of the Middle East would enable all people to freely and democratically decide their own fates.
Socialists and workers organisations in Britain need to build movements against the war on the Kurds and against imperialist intervention, and demand rights and decent conditions for refugees.