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Kurdish "Terrorists" Rescue Yezidis

category mashriq / arabia / iraq | imperialism / war | opinion / analysis author Friday August 15, 2014 21:55author by PaulB - WSM Report this post to the editors

That's embarrassing - PKK 'terrorists' rescue Yezidis before US Special forces arrive

PKK fighter in Makhmur, Erbil after retaking it from ISISThe US special forces finally sent to Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq to assess a mission to rescue the threatened Yezidis this morning [Thursday 14 August], reported that most of the displaced population had already been rescued in the previous days. What is not being widely reported is the identity of the Kurdish forces who secured the northern side of the mountain and opened a safe passage for the threatened Yezidi civilians, through the Syrian territory they control to Dohuk in the north of the Kurdish Autonomous region in Iraq.

Embarrassingly for the US, arriving on its white charger to save the day, only to discover they are far too late, the saviours of the Yezidis are the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and their Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) allies. The PKK are officially on the US and EU “terrorist” lists and the autonomous Syrian region defended by the YPG is subject to blockade by ISIS to the South and West, Turkey to the North and the corrupt Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) regime in Kurdish Northern Iraq to the East.


Kurdish "Terrorists" Rescue Yezidis

The US special forces finally sent to Mount Sinjar in Northern Iraq to assess a mission to rescue the threatened Yezidis this morning [Thursday 14 August], reported that most of the displaced population had already been rescued in the previous days. What is not being widely reported is the identity of the Kurdish forces who secured the northern side of the mountain and opened a safe passage for the threatened Yezidi civilians, through the Syrian territory they control to Dohuk in the north of the Kurdish Autonomous region in Iraq.

Embarrassingly for the US, arriving on its white charger to save the day, only to discover they are far too late, the saviours of the Yezidis are the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and their Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) allies. The PKK are officially on the US and EU “terrorist” lists and the autonomous Syrian region defended by the YPG is subject to blockade by ISIS to the South and West, Turkey to the North and the corrupt Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) regime in Kurdish Northern Iraq to the East. The PKK’s pariah status dates from the war which it fought in the 1980s and 90s against the Turkish state, first under the the dictatorship, then the civilian government, for independence for the mainly Kurdish region of South East Turkey. Since late 2012 peace talks began with the Turkish government and a ceasefire was declared in March 2013.

The Yezidis are an ancient, mostly Kurdish-speaking, religious minority living for centuries in the northern Mesopotamian land between the upper Tigris and Euphrates known as al Jazira (“the Island”). Subject to much suspicion by the adherents of the major religions of Islam and Christianity around them, unjustly accused of being “devil-worshippers”, the Yezidis have survived centuries of persecution by concentrating in small communities mostly in Nineveh in Northern Iraq, with smaller enclaves in Armenia, Georgia and Syria. The town of Sinjar in northern Nineveh, on the mountain of the same name near the Syrian border, has been a Yezidi centre for centuries.

Until 3 August Sinjar was under the protection of the KRG president Massoud Barzani’s Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) soldiers (known as the Peshmerga). What exactly happened on the morning of Sunday 3rd August is in dispute. The PKK allege that the Peshmerga basically did a runner and left the Yezidis defenceless, despite Barzani’s past guarantee of protection. Regardless of the actual details, it’s undisputed that the forces of the Islamic State (IS - previously known as the Islamic State of Iraq and ash Shams/Syria, ISIS) were able to advance into the town of Sinjar without a fight. The terrified population, fearing massacre at the hands of IS, reputedly holding the view that exterminating the “devil-worshippers” is a religious duty, fled up onto the mountain, where they have remained without food water or shelter until these last days, as has been widely reported in the media.

By last Friday 8 August, the plight of the Yezidis was not the priority of the KRG government in Erbil. IS forces had taken a number of border towns in the KRG, control of the Mosul dam and seemed poised to drive into Erbil itself. The much-hyped KRG Peshmerga (Kurdish: “those who face death”) had failed to hold back the IS advance, allegedly in many cases deserting in a similar fashion to earlier at Sinjar. Well-attested reports speak of a wave of panic seizing the KRG with the fear of the imminent fall of Erbil to the IS. It was at the height of this panic that Barzani begged his US patrons for air support and military intervention.

But despite the desultory 14 bombs since dropped by the US airforce, the main effort to stop the IS advance and put backbone back into the Kurdish defence came from PKK and YPG fighters declaring common cause with the Peshmerga in the defence of “Southern Kurdistan” (the common Kurdish name for Kurdistan in Northern Iraq) despite the serious repression they have faced at the hands of the KRG in the past.

The connection between the West’s support, until now, for al-Maliki, Barzani and beyond them the Saudi and Turkish policy that has produced the ISIS Frankenstein monster, is as reprehensible as it is simple. Consistently, for the last decades if not longer, the US and the previous imperialist powers of Western Europe, have chosen the most corrupt, most venal local leaders as a bulwark against other political forces in the region. This from the simple calculation that they could be easily bought off and expected to repress their local populations and deliver oil to Western petroleum corporations as cheaply as possible.

It is no accident that Nouri al-Maliki, who the US and even Iran are now agreed to try and oust, is the most corrupt of all possible Iraqi Shia leaders. He was chosen specifically for that very quality. Above all he was chosen to keep out the potential “loose cannon” Muqtada al-Sadr, who despite his undoubtedly sectarian Shia base, had called on Iraqis to resist the US occupation on a nationalist rather than sectarian basis.

Similarly Barzani and his KDP’s unique selling point to the West was their promise to keep the PKK out of Iraqi Kurdistan. While this was not entirely possible given the tens of thousands of refugees from the Turkish state’s war on the Kurds in refugee camps dotted around the KRG, Barzani has done his best to repress both the PKK and, since the emergence of a Kurdish liberated zone across the border in Syria, their YPG allies. To enforce the blockade on “Rojava” (Kurdish: “The West”, for Western Kurdistan, i.e. the part of Kurdistan in Syria) the Erbil regime even went so far as to dig a ditch along the very Sykes-Picot border that Kurds generally have always rejected.

In the last days, first, somewhat sheepishly, first the US, then France and now even Germany, have said they are ready to arm “the Kurds” in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. On past record the suspicion must be that those weapons will not be destined to the PKK and YPG forces that stopped the IS “barbarians at the gate”, preventing the collapse of the Erbil regime, but rather the KDP forces whose corruption led to the near-collapse in the first place. This because the KDP are seen as “reliable”, not in the sense of being any military use against the IS, but “reliably” anti-PKK.

Herein lies the contradiction at the heart of Western policy in the region. The continual policy of supporting only the most corruptible forces has lead to the current situation where the “official” Western-backed military forces of the region are completely incapable of holding back the relentless IS advance, and the only forces capable of resisting the Wahhabi-fascist war machine are officially designated as “terrorists” - enemies of the West. Unlike the source of the Wahhabi fascist ideology in the first place - our “ally” Saudi Arabia.

If internationalists or those who reject both the Sunni sectarian Wahhabite fascism of the Islamic State and the venal, corrupt Shia sectarianism of the al-Malikis and the faceless non-entity currently lined up as his replacement, were able to make demands of the governments of the EU and US then the first one would have to be for an end to the blockage of Rojava by both Turkey and the KRG. Secondly, an end to the proscription of the PKK and its Syrian ally the Democratic Union Party (PYD - the political wing of the YPG), and recognition of the Rojava autonomous region. It is an international scandal that the last line of defenders against genocide in Northern Iraq are officially castigated as terrorists by the international community.

Activists in Berlin are calling a demonstration demanding that the US arm the PKK instead of dropping the odd bomb. Obviously that’s not going to happen, but “why the hell not?” is still a good question rather than some clever-clever “transitional demand”. After all if all the weapons handed out to the private militias of corrupt local proxies end up being abandoned by troops who run away at the first sign of trouble. Isn’t arming these useless proxies just arming the Islamic State by the back door? The jihadis of the Islamic State are now cruising back and forth over the illusory Sykes-Picot line in brand new Humvees and Abrams tanks courtesy of the American taxpayer. Isn’t it time somebody asked why?

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