The city of Kobani, with a population predominantly Kurdish in northern Syria, had been controlled by the Kurdish people through the process of popular rebellion started in 2011 against the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad. And since then they have been exercising their self-government defended by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). For some weeks now Kobani is being attacked by the reactionary forces of the Islamic State (ISIS) with the complicity of the Turkish government, which has blocked the entry of humanitarian aid, weapons and Kurdish fighters of Turkey to fight alongside their Syrian brothers, who are exposed to a slaughter.
Turkey is part of the “international coalition” headed by the United States, with support from the European powers and the Arab monarchies, which has only militarily faced the Islamic State when this has threatened their interests. For two years ISIS has massacred the peoples of Syria as a fifth column of the revolution, with the blessing of al-Assad’s regime. It was not until its expansion into Iraq (see IWU-FI statement of 28 August 2014), when ISIS put in check the regime imposed by the US on its withdrawal, that this coalition was organized. Far from any humanitarian purpose, the imperialist intervention in Iraq, and later in Syria, only seeks to stabilize the hated regimes in Baghdad and Damascus. As we said in August, only the people of Syria and Iraq will get rid of the Islamic State and these regimes which have created the breeding ground for the expansion of the self-styled “caliphate”. We therefore condemn the imperialist intervention and affirm that it does nothing for those in Syria and Iraq fighting for peoples’ rights of and social justice.
Turkey has joined the coalition, but it is reluctant to intervene militarily in Syria, first because it is not willing to do the dirty work on land while Obama avoids sending more soldiers to die in the region. For years, the Turkish government has allowed the development of ISIS and has kept Kobani under a blockade to weaken the Kurdish movement.
When Obama named ISIS as enemy number one and began the bombings in Syria, it was clear that this benefited the genocidal al-Assad. Since then the pressure on Turkey to join in the bombings began. The Turkish government of Erdogan countered with a “buffer zone” with its troops in northern Syria, whose main objective would be to destroy Kurdish autonomy. The Turkish Prime Minister said clearly: the exclusion zone would allow to “continue fighting separatist terrorist organizations”. The situation of Kobani put all contradictions on the table. If the city fell massacred by the Islamic State under the impassive gaze of Turkish tanks, the whole policy of NATO was laid bare. But the Turkish government insisted on its project of liquidation.
The outcome of the disagreement between Erdogan and Obama materialized on 20 October, when the United States and Turkey gave entry to an ally that has always been true to their interests: Nechervan Barzani, head of the Kurdish government in northern Iraq. US aircraft had already released 24 tons of weapons and medicines directly to YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Units) in Kobani about a week before. On the other hand, Turkey announced that it would cross the border into Iraq to fight Kurdish peshmergas in the besieged city, but not the volunteers Kurds of Turkey. For years Barzani has been a declared enemy of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and also had not provided any significant assistance to Syrian Kurds, whose autonomy he did not recognize until a few days ago. The aim of imperialism, agreed with Erdogan, is trying to get Barzani to assume control of Kobani limiting a true Kurdish autonomy. Actually it was the pressure of the heroic resistance in Kobani and the solidarity it has awakened in the world, what forced imperialism to take this step.
The objectives of ISIS in Kobani
The purpose of ISIS is twofold. On one hand, to crush the autonomy and democratic achievements of the Kurdish people in Kobani and the recognition of the rights of the Kurdish people in the revolutionary process in Syria. Furthermore, to continue their brutal expansion with the conquest of Cizre, located on the eastern tip of Syria and which has an important oil field (Rimela), which would allow ISIS to have all the oil fields under their control and to meet their financing needs.
ISIS attack on Kobani is also the prelude to their advance on Aleppo, where continues the heroic resistance of the Syrian rebels cornered by jihadists of ISIS in the north and in the south by the criminal forces of the regime of Bashar al-Assad, who have not ceased even for a single day bombing neighbourhoods with barrels of dynamite. If ISIS achieves these goals, it would have captured every major city in northern Syria, getting an exit to the sea for landlocked Afrin. This scenario would allow a more efficient organizational structure, to continue increasing the fighters in its ranks and to consolidate its position by attacking the Syrian revolution by the rear-guard.
Support for the resistance of Kobani
Our duty as revolutionary socialists is to be unconditionally on the side of the Kurdish people and their organizations against this barbaric advance. This brings us to also repudiate the complicity of the Turkish government of Erdogan, who once again shows an absolute hypocrisy. While talking of continuing their “peace process” with the PKK, as a NATO member Turkey keeps the Kurdish organization on the blacklist of terrorists and has the nerve to assert that it faces “all terrorists”, identifying the Kurdish organizations in Syria, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Turkey’s PKK to the Islamic State. Erdogan does not conceal his hostility to the Kurds in Syria, who, like the Syrian rebels, are the ones militarily confronting the Islamic State. He even denied them refugee status.
The heroic resistance of Kobani shows the fighting capacity of the Kurdish people who, regrettably, do not have a leadership to provide an outlet for their national and social aspirations. The Kurds, split into four states by colonialism, have seen how their leaders, from the PKK, to the PYD and Barzani’s KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), abandoned their democratic right to self-determination and were merely limited to claim cultural rights in a quest to find an accommodation in each country and falling back into its territory rather than participate in the struggles to overthrow these hated regimes. It was against the sceptical positions of the PKK leadership that many Kurds participated individually in the fight against Erdogan in the mobilizations of Taksim Square. The Syrian Kurds, retracted in their cantons, were not involved in the revolt against al-Assad, who did not acknowledge them either.a liquidation strategy, or at least of control of the Kurdish national movement under the showcase of the peace process. This same approach is now being applied in Kobani. The Turkish state has adopted a hostile attitude towards the Kobani experience from the beginning; given this is a dangerous example for Kurds in Turkey. Hence the attempts to block Kobani with the closure of borders — which had been opened wide for ISIS.
All this showcases that the true liberation and freedom of the Kurdish people lies not in isolated projects of democracy with ambiguous class character and / or in diplomatic balance of power games. It is in the common struggle of the workers and the masses of the region against imperialism and the reactionary forces of the region, and against its own bourgeoisie.
Kobani’s defence has also led to the unity of action on the military front of the Kurdish organizations and Syrian rebels. The command of the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) announced in a press release (19 October) an agreement with units of the Free Syrian Army to fight together in Kobani and elsewhere in Syria. This is great news. This shows that the only way out for the masses is the unification of the Kurdish struggle for national liberation and of the Syrian masses who fight against al-Assad, in a heroic revolution that has been abandoned by most forces on the left.
The revolutionary socialists we call to condemn all imperialist interventions, whose sole purpose is to stabilize the regimes of oppression and liquidate the revolutionary dynamic in the Middle East: the popular revolt against al-Assad, the uprising against the sectarian Iraqi government and the struggle of the Kurdish masses for liberation. United States, France, Great Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel and their allies share with Iran and Russia the same ultimate goal, although sometimes appearing to be on opposite sides of the trench.
Part of the international solidarity with the resistance of Kobani is the so-named Global March which has been convened for 1 November, with the endorsement of various personalities, intellectuals, artists and organizations worldwide.
We call on the peoples of the world, and trade unions, students, democratic, anti-imperialist and left organizations to unitary action for the following points:
Long live Kobani’s resistance!
Weapons for Kurdish resistance in Aleppo and Syria against al-Assad!
Turkey to open the border to fighters who want to defend Kobani!
No to imperialist bombing: only the people of Syria and Iraq can defeat the ISIS and eliminate these hated regimes!
International Workers Unity–Fourth International (IWU–FI)
29 October, 2014