Was anyone really surprised that Donald Trump, the current President of the USA removed military assets from North Syria, whilst sending more to Saudi Arabia? I wasn’t, because I didn’t buy President Trumps assertion that he wanted to disengage from costly foreign deployments. I reasoned that his assertion was a fig-leaf to cover his naked support for Turkey’s right-wing Islamic government. Mr Trump knew from his phone call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the intent was to invade and colonise a section of northern Syria. So taking away US troops was giving the green light to Erdogan’s invasion. Does this make way for possible Trump Tower in Turkey, instead of Russia?
If you really want to cut military expenditure and reduce military casualties to a minimum then taking them out of all foreign countries and wars, not just some is how to do it. I was also sceptical when the President of Turkey announced he wanted to invade Kurdish held territory so as to provide a save haven for displaced people currently in refugee camps. There was clearly more to the invasion than that. It should be reasonably well known by now that significant sections of the Kurdish people have created secular forms of communities with real equality for women in all economic and social levels of society – including in the armed forces. In addition they have adopted policies to support cooperative modes of production, rather than capitalist ones and have pledged to promote ecologically sustainable living.
Thus the Kurdish people are doing the very opposite of what Erdogan and his pro-capitalist Islamic supporters have forcibly established in Turkey and wish to spread elsewhere.
It’s not hard to understand that the democratic, egalitarian, pro-feminist Kurds therefore represent the threat of a very good example of what is possible in the middle east and elsewhere. Indeed, the Kurds went even further than the above in promoting humanist values in opposition to religious dogma. They took a leading role in the struggle against the Islamic State when it was established in Syria. In fact they did more than most of us in the west. Women soldiers, alongside their male comrades, operated on the front line and fought to a standstill the throat-slitting, women-raping, soldier-burning, Islamic patriarchs of ISIS. What a wonderful example these people are – not only for those struggling against patriarchal kingship and dictators in the middle-east, but to all struggling humanity.
As the feminist author, Mona Eltahawy points out there is a considerable problem developing throughout the middle east.
“….regime-appointed clerics lull the poor across the region with promises of justice in the next world, rather than a reckoning with the corruption and nepotism of the dictator in this life, so women are silenced by men who use women’s faith to imprison them.” (Mona Eltahawy. ‘Headscarves and Hymens.’ Chapter 1 page 6.)
No wonder then that most right-wing pro-capitalist, religious and otherwise, have been happy (or content) to have the democratic forces of Kurdistan labelled as terrorists. And it is no wonder that the regime in Turkey wishes to eliminate them. This also goes some way to explaining why pro-capitalist and patriarchal elites everywhere have stayed silent or have dammed with faint praise the Kurdish Hero’s and Heroines in their battle against Islamic Fundamentalism. Recall also that a few years ago, on the back of a feeble and probably deliberately engineered coup, Erdogan’s forces ruthlessly tortured, murdered and removed all secular leaning democratic citizens in Turkey. Teachers, lawyers, authors, reporters, army personnel, state officials etc., we’re evicted from their jobs, communities and life itself.
Now Erdogan intends to do it all over again in Northern Syria. Ece Temelkuran, in her excellent book, on the demise of Turkish democracy, echoed the banality of evil characterisation of the fascist mentality. She reminds us that what happened in Turkey didn’t happen all at once but unfolded as a succession of stages each of which was regretted but not seriously opposed. She wrote;
“How and why Turkish democracy was finally done away with by a ruthless populist and his growing band of supporters on the night of 15th July 2016 is a long and complicated story………This is a historic trend and it is turning the banality of evil into the evil of banality.” (“Ece Temelkuran. ‘How to lose a country: The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship’. Introduction.)
So now instead of the ‘Me Too’ and Women’s Rights Movements, spreading across the East, we have hard-line religious patriarchy being rolled out across the region armed by the west’s arms suppliers. And this is being done with the active or passive assistance of economic and political elites in western capitalist countries. Moreover, this assistance is not only being implemented by the right-wing in these countries. Even liberal and democratic elites in Europe and the US do not want the example of an anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal (such as the Kurds have introduced) to exist and flourish in Middle-Eastern countries. Hence their silence or crocodile tears over Turkeys new killing spree against Kurdish communities and their defenders.
It is important that elite manipulation and distortion of news and propaganda for Kurdish Independence and Self-Determination, to make out that it amounts to terrorism, does not go unchallenged. All those who are against patriarchy, capitalism and ecological destruction should speak out for the Kurds and demonstrate against the infringement of their human rights. The Kurds are not terrorists. In fact they are a brave section of humanity who are proving that another world is possible not only in words but in their day to day actions. They are at the forefront of the struggle for a revolutionary-humanist alternative to the capitalist mode of production and deserve our support.
Roy Ratcliffe (October 2019)
Recommended further reading:
Ece Temelkuran ‘How to lose a Country: The Seven Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship.
Mona Eltahawy ‘Headscarves and Hymens’
Abdullah Ocalan ‘Liberating Life: Women’s Revolution’.
PS. Below is a statement by the Kurdish fighters against ISIS. (RR)