The Turkish state is bombarding Kurds in Afrin, using bombing and a ground invasion. This follows devastating attacks on Kurdish areas in Turkey in 2016, when President Erdogan ended a ‘peace process’ and started a war, stirring up anti-Kurdish nationalism in Turkey.
Stop the war on the Kurds!
For mass resistance
In 2016 Turkish planes bombed ISIS bases in Syria for the first time. But using the excuse provided by the west’s so-called ‘war on terror’, it used these attacks as cover for a bombardment of Kurdish areas.
These are the same Kurdish forces that were fighting ISIS on the ground! The Turkish state would rather have seen ISIS win out than a Kurdish victory.
The Kurds are a stateless nation, divided across Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey since the post first world war agreement between imperialist powers to carve up the region.
But in the instability created since the 2003 Iraq War they have developed autonomous areas in Iraq and Syria. The fight against ISIS has raised the possibility of breaking down imperialism's borders. As a result of advances made by the Kurdish People's Defence Force (YPG) in Syria (the fighting forces of the left-wing PYD - Democratic Union Party), a big conjoining area in both northern Syria and Iraq is under Kurdish control.
The Turkish regime fears what this might mean for Turkey itself.
In the fight against ISIS Kurdish fighters have been heroic. But many of their gains have been made alongside airstrikes from Russia and the US.
But as the Socialist Party and the CWI warned many times, the US and Russia are no friends of the Kurdish people. They will use Kurdish fighters when it suits their interests, and then just as readily abandon them.
As soon as ISIS has been set back, the US and Russia have allowed Turkey to unleash its war machine, in the hope of steadying their relationship with the Turkish regime.
The different imperialist powers, including the US and Russia, have never had the interests of Kurdish people at heart. But they are purely interested in their own power and economic interests, and support Kurdish forces only insofar as they do not conflict with that.
This happened most starkly in 1991, when George Bush encouraged an uprising against Saddam Hussein and then left the Kurds to be massacred.
Neither western powers nor repressive regimes in the region want the determination of Kurds to fight for independence in other areas to increase further, because of the deeper instability that would create, including the potential break-up of Turkey.
The regional capitalist powers are all prepared to whip up ethnic and national division and set people against each other, eg Arab against Kurd, in order to serve themselves.
For mass resistance
Of course the Kurds have the right to defend themselves. The Socialist Party calls for democratic, non-sectarian, multi-ethnic defence committees, giving the population an active role.
The territories now under Kurdish control are populated by Arabs and Turkmen as well as Kurds. It is vital to appeal to the mass of the population to organise together.
By championing the rights of self-determination, a movement could be built that would withstand the Turkish onslaught and reach out to workers and the poor across the whole region.
It is also important to make an appeal to working class people in Turkey. In such a terrible situation this might seem remote. But such an appeal, with a programme to defend democratic rights, for jobs and homes, for the region’s vast resources to be owned and controlled democratically for the benefit of all, could break through the fear and hate. Workers and the poor in Turkey have nothing to gain from the Kurds continued oppression, which only strengthens the government and bosses that also exploit and oppresses them.
The greatest fear of the rich, big bosses and landowners, and their political representatives, would be the coming together of Kurdish, Iraqi, Turkish, Syrian and Iranian workers in a movement that could challenge local and imperialist governments, and capitalism itself.
We support the right of the Kurdish people to self-determination including, if they so wish, full autonomous democratic rights, the establishment of independent states, or a common state of all Kurds.
A voluntary socialist confederation of the Middle East would enable all people to freely and democratically decide their own fates.
Socialists and workers organisations in Britain need to build movements against the war on the Kurds and against imperialist intervention, and demand rights and decent conditions for refugees.
Stop the war against the Kurds!
Joint Statement by SOSYALIST ALTERNATIF (CWI –Turkey) & PATRONSUZ DUNYA
Erdogan’s regime has launched a military operation in Efrin, a Kurdish city at the northwestern side of Syria, with the full support of the so-called social democratic opposition party, the CHP. The gains and liberation struggle of the Kurdish people, spread out in a territory divided between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, is targeted in a common accord between those four countries’ regimes and imperialist forces such as Russia and the USA.
The name of the operation itself, “Olive Branch”, expresses the common accord against all kinds of demands based on the right of self-determination of the Kurds, even if these powers are in conflict with each other: the name “Olive Branch” expresses an olive branch one dictator offers to another while both of them defines the other as a “blood-shredded dictator”. As socialists and revolutionary Marxists, we call on all workers and trade unions to oppose this attack.
This is a war against the Kurds and the motive behind it is plainly simple: the Kurdish people are geographically divided into and being oppressed by four countries, a usurpation of their most fundamental national democratic rights. Any possible gain the Kurds acquire in any of those countries will imply national demands on democratic right and therefore accelerate the creation of a process of national awareness for Kurdish people in the three other countries. That point precisely creates a common concern for the other countries on the basis of their oppressing regimes. Hence they do not hesitate to utilize all kinds of means, including war and massacre, in order to eliminate those gains.
The media, which act as a propaganda ministry for Erdogan’s palace, injects racism into the consciousness of the masses by representing this occupation campaign as an operation “against terrorism”. This is a big lie because Erdogan regime itself is the one that has fed the Syrian civil war, supported jihadist-terrorist organizations, described ISIS, which caused bloodshed not only in Syria but also in other countries in the world, as ‘angry youth’ and has used those jihadist-terrorist organizations for its political strategy. Erdogan regime overtly transported jihadists from Turkey to Afrin with buses for this occupation campaign, without even trying to conceal it. The Erdogan regime was at the negotiating table with the Russian and Syrian regimes concerning both previous Aleppo and current Idlib, as a ‘representative’ of jihadist-terrorist organizations; this reveals the relationship between Erdogan regime and jihadists.
On the other hand, the regime silences all the opposition voices through the state of emergency and emergency decrees. By this war, the Erdogan regime tries to create new advantages to enhance its power. They will add “state of war” to the “state of emergency”. Additionally, this war will give a boost to the nationalist atmosphere in the country that will decrease the room of maneuver for the opposition. Also, the CHP (Kemalist, so-called social democratic party) is in competition with the ‘AKP-MHP coalition’ in the ‘who is the most ‘patriotic’.
The real enemy is not the people in Efrin, but the Erdogan regime that suppresses every democratic demand with the full force of the state apparatus. The conditions of the working class, whose children are sent to war, is worsening. The Erdogan regime will effectively use the war against the Kurds to prevent the transformation of working class’ discontent towards a threat to the regime. By this way, it will be much easier for the regime to stigmatize all the people demanding their rights as ‘supporters of terrorists’. It is almost certain that we are going to witness a sector-wide ban on strike of workers in the metal sector in the coming days. At a public meeting in Kütahya city Erdogan scolded subcontracted workers who are demanding permanent positions, saying “You don’t listen to the explanations, you don’t follow, you don’t know (…) we have said it before in the Parliament, in squares for several times, you still insist not to understand…” all while he was announcing the start of the occupation campaign. This shows the seeming self-confidence of Erdogan, created by his absolute power over the country. We can face more of the same due to the war, and the divisions in the working class as a result of racism, nationalism, sectarianism and chauvinism.
All opposition parties and the media, which are fully in agreement with the Erdogan regime on this subject, show an extreme attention to the “fight against terrorism” as the reason for the operation, and in avoiding using the word “Kurdish” as much as possible (including some groups that define themselves as “socialist”). It is the reason for the quick change of the name of Rojava from a "Kurdish Corridor" extending to the Mediterranean into a "terror corridor". Even the ultra-nationalist and racist MHP says "you cannot pretend that the MHP is against the Kurds". Their real concern is the national consciousness formed around the Kurds.
Like all other peoples, the Kurds should have the right to live and determine their own destiny, and achieve this, whether in Syria, Iraq, Iran or Turkey. The formation of the national consciousness of the Kurds and their claims to democratic rights should become a concern for the whole exploited working class. This is a precondition to be successful as a united power of the working class struggle in Turkey. For that reason, it is necessary for the Turkish working class to defend the rights of the Kurds collectively. Only by this way, it may be possible to gain the trust and then the support of the Kurdish people and combine the struggle for the national democratic rights with the class struggle.
Neither the Kurdish people nor the people of Syria are our enemies. The real enemy is that of the Erdogan dictatorship, which protects the bosses, thieves, corruption, killers and jihadist-terrorist organizations who have given nothing to the workers and the oppressed, except unemployment, poverty, exploitation, blood, tears, war and death. A dictatorship can only destroyed by its victims. The victims of this regime are ordinary Turks, Kurds, Alevites, Sunnis, that is, the working classes and all other oppressed people.
The AKP, CHP, MHP and İYİ Party, as they are all nationalist and chauvinist parties, are trying to demonstrate that both the workers and the capitalist classes have the same interests under the roof of “one nation”. However, these interests do not overlap, no matter which nationality, ethnicity or religion they belong to. Rather they are opposite. That is why there is a need for a workers’ party that can organise our own class against the nationalist parties of the capitalists. Only the unity of the working class can stop the wars, the imperialists and their collaborators. Therefore, we call on all organizations of the working class, in particular the trade unions, to oppose this war which the Turkish state has declared against the Kurds, with the help of US and Russian imperialism.
Stop the occupation now!
Don’t be a part of the occupation, say no to the attack against Afrin!
Trade unions against the war, general strike!
Let’s unite the metal workers’ strike with the struggle against the war!
Class unity against nationalism and sectarianism!
Against the war, exploitation, oppression and poverty, for a voluntary socialist confederation of the Middle East