Kurdish Question Divides Independent Media

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed)  The Kurdish question is a polarizing topic within independent media circles. Some in alternative media support Kurdish independence while others appear to feel threatened by the proposition.

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The conflict is kicking off quite dramatically, and there are three main arguments that have been advanced against Kurdish independence.

The first argument is that Kurdish independence would benefit Israel and/or the United States, or, at least, the neoconservatives who run these two countries. The second argument is that the Kurdish militias are responsible for egregious human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law. The third major argument appears to be that the Kurds are proxy forces who have consistently destabilized the Middle East throughout history.

Benefit to Israel and/or the U.S. Neoconservative Agenda

This is a non-argument for a number of reasons. Never mind that the U.S. has been openly unsupportive of Kurdish independence, which should be enough to quash this argument in the first place. The fact of the matter is that if one were to frame all independent political movements for autonomy in relation to the countries that support and/or benefit from them, there would be virtually no movement on the planet worth supporting.

There is no state in the current global structure whose primary concern is human rights. Iran does not support the Kurdish independence movement, but it supports the rights of the Palestinians affected by Israel’s brutal policies. Similarly, Israel supports the Kurdish movement for political reasons but doesn’t recognize Palestine or its people’s right to self-determination.

To frame this argument in another way, one could easily argue that the 2003 invasion of Iraq actually posed a monumental nuisance for the United States as it has struggled to put down a radical insurgency for years, even though invading Iraq (for the second time) was the neoconservative dream. If anything, the major winner and benefactor of the 2003 invasion was Iran, as Iran was gifted a Shia-led government that aligned itself somewhat with Tehran. Some years later, Iran has set its sights on more or less taking control of Baghdad. The U.S. is not calling all the shots in Iraq as they envisioned. Instead, Iran has basically created a Shia-dominated bridge spanning from Iran through Iraq and Syria and into Lebanon. This has angered the United States and its allies.

Using this logic, does that mean alternative media opposed to U.S. militarism should retroactively support the invasion of Iraq because it affected U.S. interests negatively and bolstered the interests of its rival?

Of course not. In that context, it shouldn’t matter if the move would benefit Israel or the United States — or any of their allies for that matter — if the issue to be determined is the freedom of a people to self-rule. Even if Kurdish independence didn’t benefit the neoconservative agenda in any immediate and obvious way, you can be assured the U.S. would find a way to spin the story in favor of their own interests, anyway, as they have done so often in the past.

One day you’re an American ally, the next day you’re being sodomized by a bayonet as the United States watches on and laughs with glee.

Kurdish War Crimes

This, too, is ultimately an irrelevant consideration in determining the matter. Why? Because this is the same argument the powers-that-be have used to vilify indigenous populations throughout history that have been fighting for their own right to self-rule. The Maori in New Zealand fought back against British troops using guerrilla-style tactics. Contrary to popular belief, the British ended up colonizing New Zealand with brutal and lethal force. Is it correct to demonize the Maori for their tactics given the historical context?

If anything, this is the same neoconservative argument Israel uses to demonize the Palestinian people and justify attacks on civilian targets. In Gaza, militants are infamous for suicide bombings; Palestinians often stab Israelis in brutal and deadly attacks, and Hamas rocket fire has been branded a war crime. Western media also reports that the majority of Palestinians (not just the militants, but the people) support suicide bombings.

If the violent aspect of these movements is relevant in the Kurdish question, should it not be as equally relevant in the Palestinian one, as well? Why is it that alternative media commentators deem the  Palestinian cause to be just but condemn the Kurdish one? One has to wonder if there is a valid reason to separate the two; and if the Palestinian people can be separated from the militants who exact war crimes, then so should the millions of Kurdish people who don’t fight for any militia at all.

Kurds Are Being Used to Destabilize the Middle East

The majority of the Kurdish opposition arguments appear to come from outlets that are typically pro-Syrian government. However, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s government has actually gone on record to acknowledge they are open to negotiating with the Kurds, stating that [t]his topic is open to negotiation and discussion and when we are done eliminating Daesh [ISIL], we can sit with our Kurdish sons and reach an understanding on a formula for the future.”

In the same vein, without going too far into the history of the Kurdish movement and the various puppet strings that have been attached to the Kurdish people, the question must be asked: even if Kurdish independence posed a major threat to the Syrian state and broke up the Middle East even further than it already has been, is this reason enough to deny Kurds their individual rights and freedoms?

In order to see what is being referred to here, consider what has been going on in the Middle East for the last few decades. In 2015, Turkey waltzed into Iraq and refused to leave, occupying a small portion of the country. Jihadist rebels, including ISIS fighters, have been crossing the Turkish border into Syria, as well as back and forth across the Iraq-Syria border ever since the 2003 invasion. Corporate media has repeatedly argued that the Assad government allowed jihadists to travel from Syria to Iraq in order to counter the American invasion. In 2009, Iranian troops also roamed unanswered into Iraq to occupy an oil-rich part of the country, and the U.S. could do nothing but sit on their hands and watch. Iran is now re-populating areas of Syria with Shia families in their ultimate bid to formally create a Shia-dominated bridge as referred to above.

Whether you like it or not, almost every player in the region is in the business of destabilizing (or stabilizing in their own favor, depending on one’s perspective) the area surrounding Iraq, which has been a failed state for some time now.

As far as anyone can tell, the only actions that will bring about further destabilization are the actions of those players who seek to quash Kurdish independence, as they seem set to interfere and spread more violence in achieving this aim.

All that being said, the Kurdish referendum result overwhelmingly favored independence. The people of West Papua have also voted overwhelmingly in favor of seceding away from Indonesia’s brutal occupation in a petition brought before the U.N. Would you oppose the rights of West Papuans based on any of the considerations above?

If not, why? People cannot be punished for being born in a particular region, and all people should be born with the same fundamental rights and freedoms. If you support independence movements in some places and oppose them in others, one would hope you surely have a decent argument to support it.

Op-ed / Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo




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  • David Abosso

    Is this article supposed to be taken seriously or as a satire piece? If there was no benefit to Israel or the US then why is Israel openly supporting and endorsing their vision of finally establishing their mythical Kurdistan?..And clearly the US is supporting them militarily because our first proxy army went the way of the dinosaur and the Kurds offered a willing replacement. Is it really so baffling that the United States wouldn’t openly endorse their quest for autonomy? Obviously that has been the carrot the US has dangled in front of them to motivate them to continue to be used as pawn..for them to actually attain it would then represent the loss of the carrot..Secondly, and of far greater significance in terms of eroding the credibility of your argument is your absolutely disgraceful attempt to take a legitimate Palestinian resistance of an attempted genocide and somehow compare that and place it on equal footing as the Kurdish quest to steal enough land from the nations in which they dwell to establish their “state”..The next logical step of course…and the one in which they have consistently failed mind you..would be to then convince enough nations to grant recognition..and give their actions the rubber stamp of legitimacy. Clearly the actions of the Kurdish factions in the northwest of Syria would seem to suggest that peaceful negotiations rank a very distant second on their priority scale…given that they’ve taken it upon themselves to take advantage of the western manufactured chaos to help themselves to what they want..If I want a home, does that entitle me to partition land from your backyard to build it?..So tell me Darius..who’s land are they entitled to steal to establish their state?

  • Michael Hunter

    The Kurds have long been the “forgotten man” of the middle east. Back in the 1920s when most modern ME states were founded out of the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, a Kurdish state was conspicuous by it’s absence on the resulting map. The issue is far from black and white however – the Kurdish people live in a quite a large area spanning large portions of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria – HOWEVER in many of these areas the Kurds do not actually represent a majority of the population. So where would a Kurdish state actually be then? That’s one of many issues that would need to be addressed, and obviously the Iraqis, Turks, Iranians and Syrians would all have something to say about this. But the Kurds are certainly a people with a strong identity and they have strengthened this identity in the world eye view with their determined resistance against ISIL/ISIS in recent years. I certainly have sympathy for their plight although the world should learn the lessons of Israel and Palestine before attempting to carve out another state from this tumultuous region. The conciliatory tones struck by Bashar Assad as quoted in the above article are to be welcomed and I hope they are echoed by his contemporaries in the other states involved going forward.