Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Kurds of northern Iraq – another betrayal is being prepared

By Fred Weston
Wednesday, 24 October 2007

On October 17 the Turkish parliament voted by a huge majority, 507 votes to 19, to grant the army permission to take military action inside northern Iraq, in the Kurdish territories. Since then we have had contradictory statements coming out of Turkey, combined with a frenetic flurry of diplomatic pressures. Meanwhile the Turkish army keeps amassing more troops on its southeastern border. This scenario promises to make the situation inside Iraq even more unstable.

The US-sponsored invasion of Iraq has proven to be an absolute failure. When the US troops first went in we were fed a mass of media hype about it being a short, sharp war that would establish a "modern" bourgeois parliamentary democracy, that would usher in stability and prosperity across the whole region. But that was all it was: media hype.

Almost four years ago, in November 2003 we wrote:

"What is happening in Iraq is that the US and its allies are beginning to get bogged down. The US military machine proved very good at occupying Iraq. In terms of conventional war they have an unbeatable army. But that is not the end of the story. It is one thing to win a war; it is another to hold down a whole people. Opposition to the presence of foreign troops in their country is growing among the Iraqi people. The official version is that the attacks are carried out by ‘pockets' of Saddam supporters. This is a lie to appease the consciences of people back home. And it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell this version of ‘the facts'. It is becomingly increasingly evident that the resistance movement is growing and getting ever more confident." (The Iraqi quagmire, By Fred Weston, November 18, 2003).

Since then an increasingly desperate US administration has tried to make up for its own inability to hold down Iraq by using the ethnic card. They have whipped up Shias against Sunnis in the hope of being able to "divide and rule". Instead of achieving their aims this has made things worse. Initially it was not the intention of US imperialism to break up Iraq along ethnic lines. They wanted a strong Iraq as an ally of US imperialism. Instead they have weakened it and allowed other states to emerge as strong regional powers. This is the case of Iran for example.

But in all this mess, there was one part of Iraq that was considered stable: the northern Kurdish area. In the US invasion of Iraq the leaders of the Iraqi Kurds had backed the US and provided help to the troops. While the US troops got on with taking over the rest of the country they could at least rest assured that the North would look after itself. In order to achieve this they had assured the Kurds some form of regional autonomy. And the Kurdish area has become a de facto autonomous region.

The problem is that the US, although Bush may think it is all-powerful and can decide the fate of all peoples in the world, is in reality very fragile. It has overstretched itself and this is not helped by having a particularly unintelligent president at its helm, who has made all the possible mistakes one could imagine.

Back in February 2003, In The In Defence of Marxism Manifesto on the imperialist war against Iraq, (By Alan Woods and Ted Grant) we warned the Kurdish people:

"Let us be clear about this: it is an act of betrayal to present this war of aggression as a means of attaining Kurdish self-determination. Turkey, the main US ally in the region, would never allow it. The Turkish bourgeoisie is not contemplating joining this war for the sake of democracy, and certainly not for the sake of the Kurds! It has its eyes on the oilfields of Kirkuk and Mosul, which the Kurds also claim. Ankara has made it plain that if the Kurds try to take the oilfields, the Turkish army will invade and crush them, with the Americans looking on."

At the time we were criticised for adopting this position. But it is the duty of Marxists to always state the truth. We support the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination, but we must also explain how this is to be achieved. In the same article we explained:

"We defend the right of the Kurdish people to have their own homeland, but point out that this is only possible through the revolutionary overthrow of the reactionary regimes in Baghdad, Teheran and Ankara. On a capitalist basis there can be no real solution to the Kurdish problem. The Kurds must unite with the working people of Turkey, Iraq and Iran in the fight for workers' and peasants' power. On the basis of a socialist federation, it would be possible to achieve an autonomous Kurdish Socialist Republic, with the fullest democratic and national rights - including the right to secede, if they so wished.

"Those who argue that the only way to achieve national self-determination is by supporting imperialism against Baghdad are deceiving the people. This is a criminal and reactionary policy that will lead the Kurds and Shiites once more into a blind alley. There is no way out for the Kurds, Shiites and other peoples of the region on this basis."

What is happening now confirms everything we said on this question. The overwhelming vote of the Turkish parliament to allow its army to enter Northern Iraq is a clear indication that Turkey will not allow the Kurds to have any form of autonomy, let alone an independent state. If the Kurds in Iraq were to achieve this, it would create a serious problem inside Turkey where a large Kurdish population lives. It would encourage them to move in the same direction.

The latest headlines now read "Diplomacy staves off Turkish incursion". Condoleezza Rice and Gordon Brown have been adding their pressures to hold the Turkish army back. But while all this goes on the Turkish army keeps amassing troops on the Iraqi border. Turkey's Prime Minister, Erdogan is under huge pressure at home to send the troops in, but he makes the right noises for western consumption. He has declared that Turkey has no territorial designs on Iraq. That is like a lion saying it has lost its appetite for meat.

It is a fact that a Turkish invasion of Northern Iraq, far from helping to stabilise the area, would further exacerbate tensions. In the long run it would also create serious problems for Turkey. It is one thing to carry out sporadic raids into Iraq; a full-fledged invasion and occupation would be a different matter. But the Turkish ruling class are not looking at that at this stage.

There are two factors pushing them. One is that they are concerned about the stability of Turkey that would be put at risk by an autonomous or independent Iraqi Kurdistan. The other is that Turkey also has its own imperialist ambitions. They have their eyes on Iraq's northern oilfields that are within the Kurdish territories. As a result of the war in Iraq, Turkey has been strengthened. A huge amount of US military hardware is transported through Turkey across the border into Iraq. Turkey is also a key NATO ally of US imperialism and if it raises the stakes US imperialism is forced to listen.

We should add another, equally important factor: the situation inside Turkey. The social and economic conditions in Turkey are preparing a new wave of class struggle. Economic growth has been significant in recent years, exceeding 6%. However, inflation is high, standing at 9.8% in 2006. Under pressure from the European Union, the IMF and the World Bank, Turkey is being pushed to carry out widespread privatisations and attacks on welfare. Unemployment officially stands at over 10%, with underemployment calculated at around 4%. The real level of unemployment is most likely much higher and the overall level of poverty can be seen by the fact that according to official figures 20% of the population lives below the poverty line. On top of this there is huge social and economic polarisation, with the poorest 10% of the population consuming only 2.3% of national wealth, and the richest 10% consuming 30%.

In these conditions concentrating attention on the southeastern border is a very useful way of diverting attention away from the real social issues that affect Turkish society.

The Turkish army also should not be seen as any regular army. It has played a key role in the development of the Turkish state over decades. For years it was in direct control of the state, ruling through military dictatorships. Their power however was not purely military. They owned, and still own to a degree, important sectors of the economy directly.

The European Union in particular has been pressurising Turkey to change all this ‑ particularly through privatisation ‑ and open their economy. This has created conflicts within the Turkish state itself. One wing of the Turkish bourgeoisie has been pushing for entry into the European Union, listing all the advantages that this would present in terms of markets and investment.

But the European Union, in particular the French and the Germans, have been delaying Turkey's admission and it may be many years before it is allowed in. Partly this is due to concerns about Turkey's unemployed flooding into the more developed EU countries, in a similar manner to what we have seen with Poland, Bulgaria, Romania and so on.

Another reason for delay is that Turkey is viewed as a stooge of US imperialism and therefore is seen as being potentially a lever for US imperialism to impose its policies inside Europe.

All this has pushed a wing of the Turkish ruling class in drawing the conclusion that its interests lie elsewhere, not to the West but to the East. The present move in regards to Iraq fits well with this outlook. The Turkish army in particular is sending a clear message to all who want to hear that they are a powerful nation, with a powerful military machine, and they are a force that needs to be taken seriously. That is why they have pressurised parliament into voting the way it did last week.

Now, in an attempt to hold back Turkey from going into Iraq, the toothless Prime Minister of Iraq Nouri Maliki has promised that his government would work on limiting the PKK's "terrorist activities which are threatening Iraq and Turkey". The Turks have in fact been demanding that both the Iraqi government and the US army do something to remove the PKK bases from northern Iraq. In an attempt to stave off a Turkish invasion, the Iraqi government has now called on the PKK to leave Iraq.

The question is: how can the Iraqi government police the northern border if it cannot even hold whole areas of the rest of the country, and how can the US troops dedicate forces to the north when they are bogged down elsewhere? In fact, General David Petraeus, the US military commander in Iraq has stated quite openly that it would be very difficult for anyone to police the northern border. Therefore his only proposal is that "pressure" should be put on the PKK to stop its attacks on Turkish military.

The PKK is said to have between 3000 and 3500 guerrillas based in northern Iraq. From here they have intensified their attacks on the Turkish army. How is this force supposed to be "pressurised" into halting its armed operations, by words alone?

An advisor to the Iraqi government, Sami al-Askari has stated openly that, "The Kurdistan regional government should not allow PKK fighters to infiltrate in to Turkey from northern Iraq," but he added that, "The Iraqi government will not use its army and police to stand in front of the Turkish army because security in that region is the responsibility of the multinational forces and the peshmerga."

Thus the only real way of removing the PKK bases would be to get the Kurdish peshmerga forces to move against their Kurdish brothers. Turkey is in fact demanding that the PKK camps inside Iraq be closed down and that the group's leaders should be arrested and extradited to Turkey. Massoud Barzani, the regional president of Iraqi Kurdistan has no love for the PKK, nor does Jalal Talabani, Iraq's president, who is also a Kurd. They would betray the Turkish Kurds if they could, in order to defend their own greedy local interests.

That, however, is easier said than done. The Turks are in fact posing demands that they know cannot be met. Turkey's foreign minister, Ali Babacan has stated that a military option would be "the last resort" and added that, "We will continue these diplomatic efforts with all good intentions to solve this problem caused by a terrorist organisation." But after having reassured his imperialist friends with these sweet words he added that, "If we do not reach any results, there are other means we might have to use." Prime Minister, Erdogan made the same point to Gordon Brown during his recent visit to Britain, stating that the Turkish military could use force "at any time" if the Iraqi government failed to act.

This is all diplomatic talk to prepare public opinion for a Turkish military operation inside Iraq. The killing of several Turkish soldiers and the disappearance of eight, who may have been captured by the PKK, is being used by the Turkish government to justify its stance. The situation reminds us somewhat of Israel's invasion of Lebanon last year. It is common knowledge now that the Israeli military placed their own soldiers in danger of being kidnapped, so as to have the excuse to go into Lebanon. Here a number of deaths among Turkey's soldiers and a few gone missing is a very good excuse for the Turkish army to go in.

Marxists never base themselves on the simplistic concept of "who started it". It is always possible to fabricate an excuse. The point is that Turkey has always had imperialist aspirations in the region. The fact that the PKK has bases in northern Iraq, is merely an excuse to interfere in the affairs of Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurds in northern Iraq have de facto achieved an element of regional self-rule, although still as part of Iraq.

The problem is that now there is the serious risk of Iraq breaking up. Should the US troops pull out now Iraq could break up into its component parts. It was never a "natural" state made up of a homogenous people. Like most of the states in the region, its borders were drawn up by the imperialist before they left after direct colonial rule was no longer possible. For a period, however, there was a genuine Iraqi identity that had been established. That has now been torn in pieces, precisely by the blunders of US imperialism.

Should Iraq break up, the northern Kurdish region could break away as a separate entity. That is never going to be allowed to happen by Turkey. As we explained in July 2004, (The war in Iraq and the impending collapse of the Saudi Arabian monarchy By Greg Oxley and Layla Al Koureychi):

"Turkey has made it quite clear that it will never accept autonomy for the Kurds in northern Iraq. This is because Kurdish autonomy would act as a stimulus to the struggle of the Kurds within Turkey itself. The Bush administration has been playing for time, trying to reassure both the Kurds in Iraq and the Turkish government. But this double game cannot go on forever. Ultimately, the only way for Washington to prevent a Turkish intervention would be to move in the direction of disarming the Kurds. This would inevitably lead to armed conflict."

As the US army is not really in a position to this now, it opens the prospect of the Turkish army going in to do the job. In the next few days we will see how far Turkey will go. Their hand may be held back temporarily through a combination of heavy US pressure on Turkey and measures inside Iraqi Kurdistan against the PKK. The problem is that there are no real forces that can seriously deal with the PKK. That would indicate that the situation will eventually lead to a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq.

Inside Turkey the nationalist are whipping up the anger of a layer of the population, organising rallies calling for the troops to go in. The other side to this is the growing protest inside Iraqi Kurdistan. Last week thousands of Kurds in Iraq protested in Irbil and Dahuk against the decision of the Turkish parliament. Some of the banners read, "We will resist the Turkish". The Kurds know only too well what the Turkish army is capable of, as it has killed thousands of Kurds in Turkey, razing whole villages in the process.

The fact is that Turkish troops have already been operating inside Iraq, with the consent of the Iraqi government. In September the Turkish and Iraqi governments had struck a deal that allows the Turkish army to cross the border in pursuit of PKK guerrillas. This is merely a continuation of a de facto deal during the Saddam Hussein era that allowed such operations. The leaders of the Iraqi Kurds also tacitly consented to these operations, before the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

When this recent deal was struck, the Iraqi Minister of the Interior stated that, "An enemy of the Turkish people and democracy in Turkey is an enemy of the Iraqi people and democracy in Iraq." This gentleman ignores the fact that there is no true democracy either in Turkey or Iraq and that in both countries a part of the "people" are Kurdish.

Even Bush has admitted that Turkish troops have been operating in Iraq for some time. But these have been limited incursions "chasing" the PKK guerrillas across the border, as they put it. What is being posed now is an invasion that would possibly end up with Turkey creating a buffer zone inside Iraq along the whole of its border, a de facto occupation of a part of the country. This is what the Turkish army in fact is demanding.

The patience of the Turkish military must be wearing thin. Back in 2003 the Turkish parliament passed two motions authorising the army to enter Iraq. Then it would have been part of the general attack on Iraq, with Turkey taking responsibility for the north. This, however, far from guaranteeing stability, would have provoked the Iraqi Kurds into revolt. The Americans gained the collaboration of the leaders of the Iraqi Kurds by promising some kind of autonomy. This would have been impossible under Turkish bayonets! In this we see how the Kurds are being used as mere pawns.

If the US has to choose between the Kurds in the north of Iraq and its Turkish allies, we know what choice they will make. They will betray the Kurds as the imperialists have done many times in the past.

We see their attitude clearly over the issue of the Armenian genocide. Just before the Turkish parliament voted massively for military operations inside Iraq, the US Congress had been discussing whether to officially recognise that the Ottoman-era mass killings of Armenians was in fact genocide. It seemed that there would be a majority in favour of recognising this fact. But under pressure, many congressmen have started having second thoughts. Now it seems unlikely the motion will go through. This is clearly an attempt to appease the Turkish government.

This little incident shows how dear "principles" are to a man like Bush, and with him the whole of the US ruling class. Everyone knows that the Armenians were massacred in huge numbers. It is one of the many crimes of history, carried out by the various ruling classes of this world. But the US rulers are prepared to betray the Armenian people quite easily. Just as easily they will betray the Kurds, who until recently they referred to as "allies".

When the Turkish army goes in, the USA will not stand in its way. It will betray the Kurds as we have warned many times. They have used the Kurds and will discard them once they have no more use for them.

The Kurdish nation is one of the largest in the world without its own territory. Over the decades and centuries it has been used by this or that imperial power, without ever achieving anything. The Kurds have been gassed, bombed and massacred by different powers. This will continue so long as capitalism dominates the region.

If Iraqi Kurdistan were to move seriously in the direction of separation this would push the Kurds in Turkey to do likewise. The Kurds have a right to live in peace and govern themselves, but this will not be achieved under the present set up. As we have seen, Turkey is not going to relinquish control over its southeastern regions.

Therefore the road to genuine Kurdish self-determination lies in the overthrow of capitalism in Turkey, the overthrow of the rotten Islamic regime in Iran, the expulsion of US imperialism from the region and the establishment of a workers' state in Iraq, together with the overthrow of all the rotten despotic regimes in the region.

Thus, the Kurdish workers need to unite with their Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi brothers. On the basis of the class struggle in all these countries, that will inevitably develop in the coming period, the perspective must be posed of socialist revolution across the region that would allow for the formation of a Socialist Federation of the whole of the Middle East, within which not only the Kurds, but all the peoples would find room for a homeland and genuine self-determination. There is no other way!

Any other way, involves deals and manoeuvres involving the imperialists and the local ruling elites. On this basis we go back to square one and the whole bloody business starts up once more.RENEGADE EYE


sonia said...

the Kurdish workers need to unite with their Turkish, Iranian, Iraqi brothers

Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth....

Mizgîn said...

Unfortunately the idea of Kurds under Turkish-occupation uniting "with their Turkish, Iranian, [and] Iraqi brothers" was tried on the Turkish side in the late 1970s. Because it didn't work (Kurds were told to bear their suffering until the revolution was accomplished--easily said by those who are not the direct recipients of official Turkish state racism), PKK was founded.

PKK is still here and still fighting. It still had good relations with DHKP-C in the late 1990s, so there is a place for cooperation. However, to abandon legitimate armed self-defense while waiting for everyone else to accomplish their revolutions and then MAYBE the revolutionaries will hand a consolation prize to the Kurdish people, is not an option.

I should also point out that the majority of PKK fighters are deep in Turkey and are not making the so-called "cross-border" attacks that the reactionary Western media are so fond of propagandizing. Turkey knows this very well. Turkey also knows very well that an invasion of South Kurdistan will cause uprising by Kurds around the world, including the 20 million within Turkey itself.

As DTP's Hilmi Aydoğdu said at the beginning of the year, “The two sides in this war would be Turkey and the Kurds in Iraq. There are some 20 million Kurds in Turkey, and the 20 million Kurds would regard such a war as an attack against them."


(((Thought Criminal))) said...

If I were President of the United States, and leftists should thank their non-existent deity I'm not, I would tell our "ally" Turkey to only send the forces they want destroyed across the border.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

We can always move the border further northwest.

sonia said...


our "ally" Turkey

When Turkey refused US the passage for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, they ceased to be a reliable US ally.

At that point, US threw their lot with the Kurds, who became the most pro-American nation in the Middle East.

And now the Turks are fucked.


the majority of PKK fighters are deep in Turkey and are not making the so-called "cross-border" attacks that the reactionary Western media are so fond of propagandizing

Add "reactionary LEFTIST Western media" and you'll be correct...

(((Thought Criminal))) said...


Part of the reason the PKK is mostly in Turkey is because the areas in Northern Iraq controlled by the Kurds since they acheived quasi-autonomy in 1992 under the northern no-fly zone is that the largest players in the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga kicked them out. The division is ideological, not ethnic. The peshmerga in Iraq are just as likely to kill Kurdish Communist terrorists as they are to kill Kurdish Islamic terrorists as they are to kill Turkish soldiers.

A large part of the post-Baathist chaos in Iraq can be directly attributed to Turkey's refusal to allow the US 4th Infantry Division to create a northwestern front on Baghdad, allowing key Iraqi command officials and loyal Saddam Fedayeen terrorists ample time to melt into the general population and execute an insurgency strategy, something WE KNEW the Saddam Fedayeen was preparing for as an eventuality as far back as 1996.

The insurgency would have come regardless, but perhaps not so entrenched in the "Sunni Triangle" as it was allowed to be and become for over 3 years. (Turkey's not to blame for failure to adapt the strategy those 3 years though - another can of worms entirely)

Turkey was offered a last minute French and German carrot in 2003 - consideration for fast-tracked entrance into the European Union - if they refused to allow America to deploy from their soil. They took the carrot and found out just how empty the promise was. Admission of Turkey into the EU is not up for discussion, and won't be / can't be until 2018. Not "Turkey will become a member of the EU in 2018" but rather "We promise we'll start talking about Turkey becoming a member in 2018."

So, Turkey is out both the billions of dollars America was offering to let us jump on Iraq from there and out any realistic assumptions of Europe being a serious economic partner.

Pride goeth before a fall. Let's see if Turkey is smart enough to grovel.

Aaron A. said...

Thanks for a great article. My reading and knowledge base of Turkey is defiantly not what it should be...

If the US has to choose between the Kurds in the north of Iraq and its Turkish allies, we know what choice they will make.

I also found it interesting that Turkey--once, under Clinton, was the leading US arms recipient in the world (outside of Israel and Egypt of course)--has been part of the "war on terror" (and even was the first country to offer troops for Afghanistan) all for entirely its own reasons. They were greatful the US was able to help them carry out massive state terror and the US will continue to do so

Mizgîn said...

Sonia, the US threw in its lot with the Southern Kurds, or Kurds of Iraq. These have always been the "good" Kurds, as opposed to the "bad" Kurds in Northern Kurdistan or Southeast Turkey. Kevin McKiernan, as far as I know, was the first to use the term "good" Kurds, "bad" Kurds and made a documentary of the same name. Obviously the designation "good" or "bad" is applied in light of the usefulness of different Kurdish populations for US interests.

When it comes to "bad" Kurds, the US has thrown in its lot with Turkey. Of course, it's a lucrative decision for the MIC to do such a thing. Clinton sold more military hardware to Turkey than anyone else (Bingo! Aaron) and the Bush administration has played the same game by appointing Lockheed's Joseph Ralston as the "special envoy" to coordinate the PKK for Turkey. Not only did Ralston coordinate F-16's for Turkey, he also locked Turkey into the F-35 sale. The fact that Turkey and the US maintain the low-level conflict in SE Turkey is an indication of just how valuable Kurdish blood is for the war industry.

I find most Western media to be reactionary, whether it's coming from the Right or from the Left.

Renegade Eye, you commented on Rastî that some of the information available to me is not easily available in the US. I think the problem is that you don't know what to look for and this may simply be a question of learning the details of recent Kurdish history in Turkey. For that there are a number of books that provide a decent background. From there it's much easier to find information and to analyze it.

By the way, I don't have a lot of other criticism of the Weston article. In theory, I agree with it. I just thought I'd point out that we'd already been there and done that.

Oh, one other item . . . the unemployment in Amed (Diyarbakir), the world's largest Kurdish city, is at 70%. We knew this several years ago, but the information popped up on a "terrorism" analysis website recently, so even the fascists agree on the economic facts of the Kurdish people under Turkish occupation.

And this economic devastation really started in the 1950s with Turkey's industrialization of agriculture. The problem was intensified during the Dirty War of the 1990s and nothing has been restored since, in spite of the fact of a 5-year unilateral ceasefire by PKK.Rastî

Frank Partisan said...

Mizgin: Thank you for coming to this blog.

At your blog, you say that the PKK, is willing to negotiate autonomy, not interested in seperatism etc. I find it typical that a Maoist formation can vacilate between reformism as negotiating the national aspirations and ultra-leftism as guerillaism. Just like the former guerillas in Nepal, who are now not much more than critics of monarchy.

What do you think is the character of PKK? How does it relate to class struggle in Turkey?

I'm going to try to get the writer to comment.

Sonia: Nobody really is reporting that the PKK is not active at at the Iraq border, not only the left in abstract.

Graeme said...

Believe it or not, there was a Kurdish protest against Turkish aggression here in Fargo North Dakota.

Every Kurdish Iraqi I know has told me that Turkey (as well as Iran and Syria) isn't worried about the PKK near as much as they are about an autonomous Kurdish region with oil. This is the reason for the latest conflict.

Intrepidflame said...

Nicely said. Thanks for this article...

sonia said...


When it comes to "bad" Kurds, the US has thrown in its lot with Turkey.

Yes, but now, with Turkey threatening to invade "good Kurds", that distinction might quickly evaporate. If Turkey orders a full-scale invasion of Iraq, US will have no choice but to fight against the Turks.


Turkey (as well as Iran and Syria) isn't worried about the PKK near as much as they are about an autonomous Kurdish region with oil.

Exactly. PKK is just an excuse. With a powerful, oil-financed Kurdistan, Turkey will not be able to persecute its Kurdish minority with impunity anymore.

The question is, whose side will the Left take in that struggle, the Turkish side or the Kurdish side ? Knowing how instinctively anti-American the Left always is, I am expecting the Left to start demonizing the Kurds very soon (just like they started to demonize Jews in the 1960)....

Frank Partisan said...

Sonia: The question is, whose side will the Left take in that struggle, the Turkish side or the Kurdish side ? Knowing how instinctively anti-American the Left always is, I am expecting the Left to start demonizing the Kurds very soon (just like they started to demonize Jews in the 1960)....

Again with the "Left" in abstract. Do you wonder about anarchists? Or do you wonder if the NAACP will take a position? Are you wondering about
what position Hugo Chavez or Dennis Kucinich will take?

The US against Turkey is inter-imperialist rivalry for oil. On that issue I'd be neutral. I'm not convinced as you are that the US, will side with the Kurdish.

The other issue of Kurdish independence, I support the Kurdish right to self determination.

Demonize the Jews? Ann Coulter is trying to perfect them.

Intrepidflame: Welcome back. I was giving up on you, if you were ever going to leave a comment here.

Graeme: The "Hands Off Venezuela" movement, and the "Workers International League" started in East Dakota as well.

troutsky said...

By the time those oil fields are developed we'll be driving solar cars. Buy Venezuelan!

liberal white boy said...


If you get to be president in 08, I get to be Lee Harvey Oswald.

roman said...

They have whipped up Shias against Sunnis in the hope of being able to "divide and rule".

Like they needed more "whipping up"? Since when does anyone think we want to "RULE" Iraq? The Bush administration is praying that the Turks keep penetrating further and further south. In this way, we will have a responsible and stable democratic caretaker to replace the US forces and we can finally get the hell out of Iraq. Better a stable Turkey in a hegemonic role over Iraq than an unstable and religiously radicalized Iran. Maybe this was the plan all the time.

Anonymous said...

"...Therefore the road to genuine Kurdish self-determination lies in the overthrow of capitalism in Turkey, the overthrow of the rotten Islamic regime in Iran, the expulsion of US imperialism from the region and the establishment of a workers' state in Iraq, together with the overthrow of all the rotten despotic regimes in the region..."

By the way, haven’t you communists learned anything from history? YOU CANNOT MAKE A REVOLUTION IN THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES.
The Soviet experience clearly demonstrates the fact that socialism is a UTOPIA.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...


If you get to be president in 08, I get to be Lee Harvey Oswald.

That's fine, But remember, LHO was a communist, and as President, I won't be JFK (the son of the head of America's Hitler fan club standing in Berlin shaking his fist at Moscow while claiming to be a jelly doughnut.)

Naj said...

uhmm ... very interesting article, but you are conflating a few issues together, and from it draw a Marxist conclusion that overlooks important factors such as "ethnicity", "identity" and racism.

The Kurdish "struggle" has never been a "labor" struggle, it is in many ways a feudal one!

The Turkish "discordance" with the rest of EU is not only based on the version of "capitalism" practised in that country and the only concerns of France and Germany is not the hordes of job-seekers who would come to wester Europe, or fear of American interference via their stooge! A LOT of that opposition to Turkey is "cultural" opposition, racial opposition. Turkish workers, last time I visited, were kept in "special" camps in Germany; they are disliked across Europe, marginalized and dis-assimilated.

You cannot create a constructivist reality with nuts and bolts of a machinery, overlooking the valance of human "emotions" and the perils it creates in the name of faith or nationalism. We cannot also expect the human race to part with its passion ... the marxist's project of the new era, in my opinion, is to trace how capitalism is shifting it investing interest, from the machine, to human psych! And ask why in the age of "globalization" and unionification, teh world it turning into a more "emotional" and nationalistic place.

azgoddess said...

all i can say after reading this excellent and informative post and your comments is - when will we have peace? where can we find peace?

Frank Partisan said...

Naj: That is another aspect to the situation. Turkish workers do face discrimination in Europe, as they seek work.

The democratic demands as national autonomy, immigrants rights etc. can't be solved with a nationalist solution. The nationalists are unable to deliver.

I'm not denying national aspects, but I realize that neither Turkish or Kurds, can realize their aspirations, with nationalism.

Larry Gambone said...

I don't think the Turks will have an easy time if they move into what is for all intents and purposes an independent Kurdish state which exists in N. Iraq. Not only are they well armed but they also have all that oil. If the Turks could not deafeat 3000 PKK guerillas how will they defeat the rest of the Kurds. Going into Iraq may be a disaster for the Turkish state and may hasten its loss of legitimacy. Also Russia would be wise to aid the Kurds in any such event, just as they are aiding the Iranians against the US. Lets hear it for inter-imperialist rivalry!

sonia said...


Russia would be wise to aid the Kurds in any such event.

Russia would be wise to aid US allies in any event. But they are unlikely to do it.

just as they are aiding the Iranians against the US.

this "just as" doesn't logically fit between Iran and the Kurds. Iran is US's greatest enemy. The Kurds are US's greatest friends...

Larry Gambone said...

Sonia, if the US waffles on the Turks invading Kurdistan, the Kurds will no longer be friendly with the US. They will seek other allies. The Russians could then use the Kurdish resistence to the Turks to help destabalize Turkey. The US would then lose on both counts.

sonia said...


if the US waffles on the Turks invading Kurdistan

A big "if". Of course, if Dennis Kucinich is elected in 2008, you'll be absolutely right. But I rather doubt that even Hillary Clinton (much less Rudy Giuliani) will let the Turks get very far with their invasion.

They (the Kurds) will seek other allies.

The Kurds have no other allies except the USA. Same thing with Israel. It's called "divide e impera". That's how imperialism works since the time of the Roman Empire. You support the weaker side against the stronger side. Kurds against Turks and Saddam. Israelis against Arabs. Etc.

Tula 49 said...

The US is not going to do anything to stop the Turks from attacking the Kurds. They cannot afford to open another front, and can we honestly expect the US to attack a NATO country? There are no permanent allies for imperialists - they just cynically use others when it suites their interests. Take Saddam Hussein as a prime example of this.

Frank Partisan said...

Larry: Inter-imperialist rivalry is the main contradiction in the world today. Countless people are going to die because of it. Revolutions will occur as well.

Sonia: I agree with Tula 49. The whole point of the post, is that the Kurds are alone, if it means fighting Turkey.

The US can't get the country aboard to attack Iran, how will it rally political support for war with Turkey? The kurdish in Iraq were a tool against Saddam. If the US were really on its side, it would have resolved first thing after Saddam's overthrow, their independence.

sonia said...


The US can't get the country aboard to attack Iran, how will it rally political support for war with Turkey?

They don't need any political support for anything. They will simply continue to supply Kurds with weapons.

Kurds are alone, if it means fighting Turkey.

If the Kurds were as dumb as the Palestinians and trusted the Soviet Union and the leftist public opinion to defend them, that would be definitely true. But the Kurds made themselves irreplacable as US allies in Iraq. Now US has no choice but to support them, even against Turkey.

sonia said...

This being said, you MIGHT both be right. We don't know what will happen in the future. And the USA has been known to abandon its allies (like the South Vietnamese in 1975) before...

But times have changed. In 1974, US Congress was dominated by leftist pacifist traitors who made Nancy Pelosi look like Augusto Pinochet. Today, except for Kucinich, there isn't a single presidential candidate, in either party, who supports abandoning the Kurds. The debate between Dems and GOP is whether US troops should be withdrawn from Iraq in order to let Kurds and Shiites do a better job, not whether to cut off supplies of money and weapons to US allies (like US Congress did in 1974-75)...

Memet Çagatay said...


Thank you for presenting us with an article detailed enough to cover the historical, economical and social extents of the multifaceted situation of the region.

I want to raise a very speculative question, which I neither have investigated by any means of statistical data nor carefully contemplated on:

Following the recent debate in Marxmail about the question of contemporary imperialism, I developed a strange PARANOIA concerning the immediate role of the Turkish Army in the imperialistic expansion. As I stated before, Turkish bourgeoisie has been bolstered heavily by European finance capital. I can’t IMAGINE a notable Turkish company issuing an annual report that does not include liabilities to European creditors. We should also take direct investments and joint partnerships into the account. In other sense, one should reevaluate the gradually rising influence of European Union in the Turkish economy. I’m SUSPECTING the good old days that one could unhesitatingly count Turkey simply as a satellite of the U.S have remained in the past. Now the pie is bigger and prospects are more alluring.

Another thing to bear in mind is the up to date consequences of the power struggle in Turkey. The Turkish Army (i.e. its appendages in the political racetrack) waterlooed heavily by bourgeoisie in the recent election. But, this rivalry has to be maintained friendly as both teams need each other for the sake future organizations. Now it is time to regenerate the relations and establish brand new table-images which was spoiled by busted bluff attempts. A couple of showpiece triumphs against PKK might save reliability of the Army and the devotion of bourgeoisie to the political heritage.

Existence of PKK is a practical tool for Turkish ruling classes to prolong nationalistic sensibility. After the dissolution of Soviet Union and extermination of socialist movements, Turkey has been deprived of a “real enemy” excluding PKK, religious fundamentalism and those noisy Armenians and their persistent claims. Nationalistic consciousness is not a gift from god; you must strive relentlessly to constitute it by every tool. On the other hand, uncontrollable forces always represent a threat to “free trade”, which is an enormous risk to take for the small-minded justification of keeping the enemy in view. The one who jeopardize business affairs is a threat not only for Turkey also for all the participants.

We endeavored to a large extent to analyze the interests of American imperialism in the region. But we are bereft of a careful research about the position of Europe in the picture. How about an investigation to reveal the possible cooperation between Turkey and the usual suspects of European imperialism? Who knows what bargains are in process behind the curtains? Maybe accession of Turkey to the European Union will be a shorter process than predictions.

This is not an attempt to mystify the current debate with conspiracy theories. I just tried to throw out the question that is rambling in my mind. And I have no idea about the validity of my thoughts. Voicing it in front of the public was the only way to test it.

(((Thought Criminal))) said...

I think it has to be measured in the balance.

Turkey can not finance a meaningful war in northern Iraq that would serve to dislodge American backing of the Kurds and remove Kirkuk as a political "holy ground" for the Kurds. The oil fields in this region are to allegedly finance the nation of Iraq (Sunni, Shia, and Kurd alike) once ethnic reconciliation becomes more concrete.

Turkish exploits in Iraq might serve an Iraqi nationalist movement that unites, particularly if the left-oidal Bush "oil revenues for everyone in Iraq" profit-sharing plan actually becomes reality.

I'm thinking pigeons will shit gold nuggets in everyone's mouths first.

Memet Çagatay said...

Renegade Eye said...
Supporting the rights of Kurds to a homeland, is the acid test for someone calling themselves a Marxist in Turkey.

At the same time Kurds won't win a homeland until governments in Istanbul, Teheran, and Baghdad are workers governments.

29 October, 2007 00:13

Mehmet Çagatay said...
Hello Renegade Eye,

I read a comment on your site saying "Meanwhile, back on Planet Earth," regarding your invitation (just as above) to the ultimate solution of the question. You can't judge the validity of a proposition by its suitability with fashion.

Anyhow, speaking of fashion, I did not exhibit any cupidity which could lead me to propose "outworn" Marxist antics as a solution (!) I was modern enough to designate that even the liberal-democratic answers within the context of capitalism are more sustainable than the uncompimising posture of reactionary, nationalist, militarist, pro-coup, etc. elites.

Surprisingly, at the present time the whole debate on the Kurdish question is deprived of political solutions and it is reduced an ethical question of approving the landing operation to northern Iraq or not. If the origin of this question was Turkey’s centennial military ineffectiveness in the region, but not Turkey’s centennial political blunders, I would “gladly” espouse the Army to extirpate the problem. It is a foxy plot to equalize the Kurdish question with PKK. They are just consequences. Anyone who had a little bit contact with materialism might know that abolishing something amounts to abolishing its material conditions.

Now in Turkey, political struggle on the questions like “constitutional security” have been expelled from the table. If it is an acid test supporting the rights of Kurds, it is even acidier for someone who is calling himself a “Liberal-Democrat”.

Frank Partisan said...

This post was plugged at .

Mehmet: Despite the failed military putsch this year, and the left in Turkey's fondness for state solutions, I don't think it is hard to be a liberal democrat in Turkey. The military's cries of secularism, were like crying wolf.

What is at stake is a pogrom against the Kurdish. The PKK is the scapegoat.

The more I learn about the situation, the more correct I think is this post.

Memet Çagatay said...

The difficulty is to rationalize the inconsistency of your current posture with the promises and pretentious twaddle of the past. You can’t imagine how many of the faithful “democrats” of the past is throwing out various evasions to support the invasion. Everyone has own excuse. As a method of thinking, Marxism at least provides a degree of consistency to evaluate social events.

Think about their mental trouble at this moment. Id-ego-superego must be completely messed up.

sonia said...

As a method of thinking, Marxism at least provides a degree of consistency to evaluate social events.

That's precisely the problem. I wish Marxism was less "consistent" and more logical. All "consistence" and no logic makes for a deadly combination.

This is where the Marxist "consistency" will inevitably lead you: since all people are different in intelligence, wealth and practical abilities, but (according to Marxists) they all should be as equal as possible, the only "consistent" way to make them all "equal" is to punish the smart, the rich and the capable, and to reward the stupid, the poor and the incompetent.

It's very "consistent" all right.

Frank Partisan said...

Sonia: When the term "equality" is used, it comes from a bourgeoise democratic tradition, as the demands of the French Revolution or the civil rights movement.

sonia said...


When the term "equality" is used, it comes from a bourgeoise democratic tradition

"Equality" comes from the Marxist tradition as well. The cornerstone of Marxism is "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs" - a surfire way of making sure that everybody will work as little as possible (unless forced to by a Stalinist secret police)...

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Memet Çagatay said...

Hello Sonia,

"In the state of nature...all men are born equal, but they cannot continue in this equality. Society makes them lose it, and they recover it only by the protection of the law." Charles de Montesquieu

In fact, men are not born equal. Society makes them to lose it. Communism is the re-establishment of the genuine inequality by abolishing a common denominator, i.e. the exchange value of labor power which equalizes the diversities of people that you mentioned.

sonia said...


Communism is the re-establishment of the genuine inequality by abolishing a common denominator, i.e. the exchange value of labor power which equalizes the diversities of people that you mentioned,

Obviously you never lived under Communism...

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