This statement was prepared for the public meeting on “Beyond Kobanê – Behind the revolution in Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan)”, which was held at Victorian Trades Hall on Wednesday 3 December by Australians for Kurdistan. Most of it was read at the meeting, but due to time constraints, the latter part was curtailed. The parts in italics were not able to be read. There has been minor editing for publication.
The Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group has decided not to participate any further in Australians for Kurdistan. We have decided this, despite our support for the right of the Kurdish people to national self-determination and despite our support for the Rojava Revolution. We also have our doubts about the depth of the social transformation that has occurred in West Kurdistan, though we definitely support the social transformation that has occurred and the direction it has taken. Because our reservations about the extent of the Rojava Revolution so far take the form of doubts rather than criticisms, I will not pursue them further in this meeting.
The reasons the MACG has decided to withdraw from AfK are concerned with its fundamental strategy – that of alliance with imperialism. While AfK see themselves as “Australians”, the MACG is proudly un-Australian. Appeals to the Australian government to support the Kurdish struggle in Rojava on the grounds of humanitarianism and “anti-terrorism”, and co-incidence with Australian foreign policy, are profoundly incorrect and will be counter-productive.
Even more serious is the orientation towards the United States. The PYD is appealing to Obama, to be his “boots on the ground” in West Asia, and AfK is appealing to Obama to arm the YPG-YPJ. The MACG fully supports the struggle of the YPG-YPJ against Da’esh (a.k.a. the “Islamic State”) and we recognise the YPG-YPJ’s right to get arms from wherever they may be obtained – even from the imperialists. This right, though, is conditional on no concessions being made to imperialism on points of principle. We believe, however, that public political agitation for imperialist States to arm the YPG-YPJ will only serve to build support for imperialist military intervention in West Asia and its political domination of the region.
The MACG’s opposition to imperialist intervention in West Asia is completely in harmony with our support for the struggle against Da’esh. In fact, imperialist intervention is the number one recruitment tool for Da’esh. In the first month of US air strikes in Syria and Iraq, they killed 500 Da’esh jihadis. Da’esh, however, recruited 10,000. In addition, many groups in Syria which had previously been fighting against Da’esh have now turned around and allied with it. Da’esh has become a hydra. Imperialist intervention in West Asia only strengthens it – to destroy Da’esh, the US would have to destroy the entire region and kill millions of people.
For the Kurds, only defeat can come from alliance with imperialism. The only way for the Rojava Revolution to triumph and for Da’esh to be defeated is for the Kurds to stand at the head of the struggle of the people of West Asia against imperialism, religious reaction and the corrupt and brutal States of the region. It is only through class struggle by the working class and its allies that this can be taken forward. Alliance with imperialism by the PYD will eventually see Da’esh strengthened until it overwhelms the YPG-YPJ, but a class struggle strategy gives the Rojava Revolution a fighting chance.
The MACG will continue to provide solidarity for the Rojava Revolution, but we will do so in a manner consistent with our libertarian communist principles. We will attempt to rally the working class, here and internationally, to the struggle against both Da’esh and imperialism and will will also try to hold the PYD to the social vision about which it speaks.
The following response to the MACG statement was received from a member of the Melbourne Kurdish Community. The MACG has decided to publish it, with the author’s permission, in the interests of open discussion and debate. A reply will be drawn up in due course.
I personally understand your concerns about the role of the imperialism in the region and the chaos they have created to be able to restructure the region according to their own interests. But there are 2 points I find problematic about your views towards to the current situation in the Middle East.
The first problem is your lack of understanding of the essence of the Kurdish struggle. Throughout the struggle of the PKK during last 36years when Kurds were resisting against Turks, Persians and Arabic authorities, The USA and all other western ally countries turned their backs on the Kurdish people and supported the colonialists to suppress Kurds in every possible way. Despite a complete lack of evidence to support that the PKK were a threat in any way towards them, the UE, USA and Australia all listed the PKK on their terrorist organisations lists. Many Kurdish organisations in Europe and even in Australia became targets of authorities and were raided many times. Hundreds of Kurds with alleged links to, or in support of the PKK, were arrested in Europe and spent many years in various European prison and many are still there.
I believe this show how USA and West see Kurdish movement, as PKK is an unwanted force and ideology in the region.
The second problem is your lack of analysis of the complexities of the current political situation in the Middle East. In general I find your approach sloganist and tokenistic which is far from understanding the reality of how to survive in such chaos that involves many states and forces in the region. To be able to survive such chaos in the region you need to know when to step forward or back, otherwise you cannot escape of suffocation by other forces or authorities. Kurds did not invite imperialists to the region, but the international forces have been in the region for more than 10 years. PYD did not request any ground forces but rather requested military and humanitarian aid from USA, Western allies, Turkey and other surrounding counties to prevent a genocide in Syria (should not forget Mt Sincar!!! where 5 thousands Yazidi men killed and between 5 to 7 thousands women have been enslaved and are sold in Mosul market in August 2014). Rojava is still under siege and local Kurds have been resisting for more than two months. The attack on Kobani is strategic which mainly supported by Turkey to destroy Rojava. If Kobani fall, the attacks will move towards other two cantons Arfin and Cezira.
PYD is not a strategic partner of US in the region but there is a tactical interaction which must happen for the interest of local people to prevent genocide. Kurds in Syria have chosen to remain in a defensive position since the beginning of the war, rather than cooperating with Assad, Free Syrian Army, USA or and Western countries who contributed to the current chaos.
The approaches of Melbourne Anarchist and Communist Group (MACG) are reminiscent of the shallow approaches that the Turkish Left (who did not support Kurds) used during the 1990s. During this period Kurds were fighting for their existence and cultural identity while the left were accusing the Kurdish of being a ‘nationalist movement’. The left did not understand the pain and suffering of Kurds whose identity was being denied and the Kurdish people being labelled by Turkish authorities as “Mountain Turks”.
It is crucial for all democratic forces around the world to stand with Kobane at this time, to protect the existence of the Kobane people, and the multicultural and democratic political system which is a glimmer hope for the devastated region.
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Slackbastard, I think you may have erroneously posted a communique from a reality-detached Trotskyist grouplet. Oh, wait, I apologise, it’s a revolutionary pronouncement from the Anarchist Communists. No wonder I was confused.
Futilitarian seems to have responded on the wrong blog. If she/he wishes to make a reasoned criticism, we would be happy to consider it. Unsupported name-calling, however, is just a childish insult.
If you want to get involved in other people’s struggles there are two ways you can do so. One, you can organise to send them money; two, you can request that they let you go over there and join in the fight. All else is pretty much a gratuitous wank.
XXXX, you’re suggesting that Anarchist Communists should take a nuanced and pragmatic approach to the matter. This is expecting too much. Real struggles do not comprise their area of expertise. Theoretical correctness is their raison d’etre.
Libertarian communism is our raison d’être. Theoretical clarity is, however, necessary in working out how to get there. Uncritical support to organisations which are struggling in flawed ways is a recipe for defeat.
I’m sure the Kurdish fighters are waiting with bated breath for the MACG to conclude its important theoretical deliberations.