Opinion: The Moral Necessity of Supporting the Kurds

Kurdish protestors rallied across the world, from Britain to Iran, demanding more support for the militias fighting against the Islamic State (ISIS). Particularly in the besieged city of Kobane, on the Turkey-Syria border, where ISIS has attacked for over three weeks. At least 500 people have died in the conflict, which has brought Jihadism right to the edge of Europe.

More than 200,000 citizens have fled into Turkey as fighting intensified in recent days and around 10-13,000 people are stuck in a dangerous border area between Kobane and Turkey. Perhaps as much as 700 people, mainly elderly, are still inside the city.

Staffan De Mistura, special UN envoy to Syria, warned they would all likely be butchered if Turkish and NATO inaction continues. He urged Turkey to let volunteers through to fight for “self-defence” purposes and compared the situation to the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, where 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed.

At a rally in Glasgow, Jiwan Nabi, who lived in Kobane, leaving in 2008 to claim asylum in Scotland, told me: “Turkey needs to stop blocking its border and allow supplies and weapons through to Kobane. That is the only hope for survival but Erdogan prefers ISIS to a Kurdish entity on the border and he is supporting them.”

“We don’t need British or American troops, we need food, supplies and weapons and volunteers to be able to get into the city.”

Turkey, a NATO member, has tanks, weapons and troops watching idly on a nearby hill. Ankara fears a more powerful self-governing Kurdish region in northern Syria could inflame the separatist fight back home. The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) waged an armed campaign against the Turkish state for self-determination and full rights for almost 30 years.

They are recognised as a ‘terrorist organisation’ by Turkey and the EU and the USA. President Erdogan even put the PKK and ISIS on seemingly even footing, saying: “It is wrong to consider them in different ways.”

In a week where a British specialist team has been sent to Irbil to train Peshmerga forces it seems incredible that similar assistance is not forthcoming in Kobane, which is in urgent need.

ISIS controls between 40-50% of the city at present, last week they took a large section of the city, which includes the town hall and main police station. Around 700 fighters from the YPG militia, backed by occasional US airstrikes, have been bravely defending the city against relentless and heavy ISIS attacks.

However, Kobane official, Idris Nassan, illustrated the main problem: “fighter’s coming without arms, without weaponry is not going to make a critical difference

“A few days ago IS attacked with Humvee vehicles, they used mortars, cannons, tanks. We don’t just need Kalashnikovs and bullets we need something more effective.”

Rami Abdelrahman, leader of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict, has warned: “[Islamic State] is getting supplies and men, while Turkey is preventing Kobani from getting ammunition. Even with the resistance, if things stay like this, the Kurdish forces will be like a car without fuel.”

In the midst of brutal civil war chaos and reactionary, violet Islamism surrounding them, the Kurdistani Rojava area is a place where religious and political pluralism are protected and is an example for the region.

The Rojava charter “ensures justice, freedom, democracy, and the rights of women and children in accordance with the principles of ecological balance, freedom of religions and beliefs, and equality without discrimination on the basis of race, religion, creed, doctrine or gender.”kobane1

The Kurds are the largest stateless group of people in the world and their largely secular nature is why ISIS regards them as infidels, fit for slaughter at any time. The history of the Kurdish people is replete with oppression and massacre, most horrifically in 1988, when Saddam Hussein’s’ Baathists killed over 150,000 Kurds with chemical weapons.

There is no principled way to be against supporting the Kurds who have been one of the most effective foes of Jihadism when the West thought it was a matter of indifference.

If the West doesn’t have any ‘interests’ in upholding this beacon of secular pluralism in the Middle East then it has little worth upholding.

MSP Bob Doris of the Scottish national party (SNP) said, addressing a rally: “ISIS is the latest in a long line of threats to the Kurdish people, there has been wave after wave of attritions against their national identity.”
He also urged: “We should be doing much more in Kobane, if international law can’t make provision for intervention in Syria, then it doesn’t cut the mustard.”

A basic human right is to defend your own peoples. Kurdish forces have been fighting for their very survival but are outgunned by the Islamic State’s superior equipment and manpower. They may not be able to hold the city for much longer, despite increased coalition airstrikes.

We all know what will happen if IS takes the city, no one can pretend they don’t. Addressing a rally in Glasgow on Saturday, speaker Aso Fotah beseeched: “Don’t wait for women, men and children to die in Kobane, don’t wait for thousands to die and then say ‘oops another genocide in Kurdistan’ Recognise what is happening, recognise it please!”

NATO and Western governments urgently need to put immense pressure on Turkey to open their border. They also need to send weapons, ammunition and supplies- or watch Kobane, and the values it represents, fall to the black-cowled fascists of the Islamic State.

By Thomas Hornall

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Categories: Middle East

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One Comment on “Opinion: The Moral Necessity of Supporting the Kurds”

  1. October 15, 2014 at 6:28 am #

    That a multinational army hasn’t already taken ISIS down is a disgrace for the international community leadership.

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