Sep 15, 2014
This article is from the September 5th issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.
For a few weeks, the U.S., France and now Germany have been providing the Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq with weapons, ammunition and food. And the U.S. Air Force has bombed to help these fighters hold or gain ground.
The French government states that these Kurdish forces are the only ones able to stand up to the terrorists of the Islamic State (ISIS). The Kurdish chiefs, for now interviewed favorably by Western journalists, see this fight as the beginning of their national existence, the creation of a true Kurdish state.
When the Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I, it was divided into zones of influence, in particular between France and Britain. This colonial “peace” was obtained thanks to military interventions, the repression of national revolts and, of course, the denial of the rights of various ethnic groups, including the Kurds.
Eventually, the unfortunate Kurdish people were barred from having their own state. The Kurdish population was divided among four countries: Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.
Since then, the Kurds have had to fight to assert their identity. The Iraqi Kurds were ignored when Saddam Hussein was an ally of the West, but then encouraged by U.S. leaders to rebel against the dictator. They were abandoned when Hussein bombed their areas in 1991, and then supported by the West again during the second war in Iraq in 2003.The U.S. army of occupation has allowed the Kurds some control of the area where they live – in exchange for them protecting the areas where oil is being extracted to benefit Western corporations.
Today, imperialist powers allow the Kurds to serve as guards around the oil fields, where they can be killed fighting the militias of ISIS.
In the Middle East, ravaged by the wars of imperialist intervention, that’s as much independence as the Kurds have been offered.