Remember the First International 150 years ago: remember the Kurds today!

September 28, 2014 at 6:26 pm (history, internationalism, iraq, kurdistan, Marxism, posted by JD, solidarity, Syria, workers)

sketch of Marx addressing the CongressBy johnj

(right: Marx addresses the inaugural meeting of the First International)

150 years ago today  the First International (the ‘International Working Men’s Association’ ) was in founded in London by the likes of Marx, Engels and Bakunin. It earned establishment hatred for its support for the Paris Commune in 1871.

Today, in Kobanê, northern Syria, Kurdish women and men are heroically resisting the barbarous forces of ISIS – with almost no international support.

Don’t believe the media hype about US air strikes – in Syrian Kurdistan these have so far been minimal and ineffective, unlike in Iraqi Kurdistan where US jets have protected Erbil, a city of Western consulates and oil companies.

ISIS in Syrian Kurdistan is using US tanks and heavy artillery seized when it captured Mosul in northern Iraq. It spreads inhuman terror: when these mercenaries captured one Syrian Kurd village last week they decapitated a disabled woman who had no legs.

The brave Kurds of the YPG/YPJ are resisting with AK47s and largely home-made armour. And with their hearts.

They draw courage from their national pride and their democratic, secular, egalitarian values. The same values that inspired those internationalists who gathered in London on 28 September 1864. And those who went to fight fascism in Spain in the 1930s.

What about us, today?


  1. Lamia said,

    “Don’t believe the media hype about US air strikes – in Syrian Kurdistan these have so far been minimal and ineffective, unlike in Iraqi Kurdistan where US jets have protected Erbil, a city of Western consulates and oil companies.”

    What an utterly juvenile ‘barb’. And it’s plain dishonest.

    The US has carried out airstrikes far from Irbil, across Iraq and now in parts of Syria. It has had limited impact but in some places it has helped stop the ISIS advance. It helped cover the evacuation of Mount Sinjar. There are towns and villages in some areas that are temporarily safe from ISIS genociders because of US attacks on ISIS armour.

    The Kurds themselves have expressed their gratitude and desire for more. They know what you can’t bear to admit even as a possibility: that if they are to defeat ISIS, they will need US air power on their side or they will fail. Brave as they are, they were hanging on by their fingernails before the airstrikes started, because they don’t have the armour that ISIS has.

    But the western far left is so fixated in its hatred of the USA that it cannot bear to give a scrap of credit, or to even describe what has happened in any other terms other than The Evil USA Stealing All The Oil.

    Of course the US is protecting its oil interests in Iraq. It is also doing far more of practical effect to interdict ISIS and thus objectively more good for innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria than a thousand snide articles like this will ever achieve.

    Do you really want the Kurds to succeed, or would you rather see them fail bloodily? Without US and other western airpower, they will do the latter. Don’t kid yourself anyone else is going to help out.

    • John said,

      Dear Lamia, Please read and think. This isn’t about the efficacy of the US air strikes in general in Iraq and Syria (in fact it says they helped save Erbil). Instead it argued that they had been “limited and ineffective so far” in the Battle of Kobane which has raged for more than two weeks. That’s what YPG/YPJ Kurd fighters in Kobane have been saying. Following last week’s air strikes in other parts of Syria, ISIS sent more fighters to Kobane.
      Possibly (let’s see) the US will step up their strikes in the area, but it’s plain Kobane has at best been low priority for them, even though it’s the main theatre of struggle against ISIS in Syria.
      Two questions for you: Why aren’t these Kurds getting heavy weapons from the West? And how have they managed to do so well in resisting ISIS without them?
      And another question, not for you but for the ‘Brit Left’: why aren’t you wholeheartedly supporting the Syrian Kurds?
      P.S. Possibly Turkey will intervene, but a big part of its motivation would be to crush Kurdish autonomy in the areas Kurds call Rojava.

  2. Lamia said,


    “(in fact it says they helped save Erbil)”

    You implied all it had done was save Erbil, and that solely ‘because of the oil’. Of course it has defended Erbil. It holds US interests and is also the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan. It has carried out numerous strikes elsewhere too.

    “Two questions for you: Why aren’t these Kurds getting heavy weapons from the West?”


    1. Because heavy weapons are expensive and don’t grow on trees, and
    2. Because the last lot of heavy weapons the US gave or sold to an amry around there got taken by ISIS when the people who were supposed to be using them ran away.

    Why isn’t Russia providing heavy weapons to the Kurds? Why isn’t China? Or Cuba or Venzuela?

    “And how have they managed to do so well in resisting ISIS without them?”

    1. The Kurds are good at defensive warfare, which is also easier to conduct than offensive warfare. But ‘resisting’ is not the same as rolling back and defeating. they have had decades of experience of effective defensive warfare, but very little of the offensive kind.

    2. They have not done infallibly well, and they have lost plenty of Kurdish villages and towns. That’s not their fault, it’s just a fact. They are up against great odds.

    ISIS will not be defeated without considerable air intervention. They have too much armour and their enemies on the ground are currently too disjointed and unprepared.

    I am completely with you in supporting the Kurds and wanting them to gain an independent Kurdistan. I see them as a progressive force for the whole region. But idealising the fighting spirit of the Kurds to the point of thinking they can defeat ISIS almost alone, given the right stuff, is just not realistic. There’s no evidence they know how to conduct large scale offensive campaigns, or that they will get the help they need from Arab nations. The best and most aid will come and has already come from the West.

    There is a lot of ‘firefighting’ currently being done and while I am sure that on aggregate many lives are being saved from death at the hands of ISIS, I also expect the picture from Iraq and Syria will take many weeks or months to become somewhat clearer – even to those fighting ISIS. All we can be sure of is that the more support the Kurds have – including airpower – the better.

  3. John said,

    No, I said the air strikes had been ineffective so far in Syrian Kurdistan while they have been pretty effective in Iraqi Kurdistan. I repeat: the Battle for Kobane has been raging for two weeks. It is the only “ground war” taking place in Syria against ISIS at the moment, so why hasn’t the defence of the Syrian Kurds been given higher priority by the US and its allies? Incidentally their resistance also outshines that of the Peshmargas across the border, until recently at least. It’s got a lot to do with their morale and the values that inspire them. I’m busy atm and will have to leave you to do your research.

  4. Lamia said,

    And many of those understandably grousing about the glacially slow and so far inadequate scale of US military response would do well to ponder: the cautious/deluded/head-in-sand attitude towards ISIS of Obama and other western leaders over many months has a fair deal to do with Western electorates acceding to the false conviction: ‘no more intervention, ever, because its always only about oil and always only makes things worse’.

    That is how we have ended up with a situation where a widely approved ‘solution’ to ISIS carrying out genocide appears to be to chant ‘Hypocrite! Oil!’ at the USA and UK governments. It makes a lot of western people feel morally pure – but it objectively condemns many thousands more to hideous torture and death.

  5. John said,

    With respect, you need to look more deeply into what the various world powers are up to. But it seems we agree on this:it is nauseating for lefties to run around with ‘Don’t Bomb Iraq’ placards, like it’s 2003, when the Yezidis recently suffered mass murder and ethnic cleansing, with thousands of women and girls sold into slavery, while the Syrian Kurds are facing slaughter.

    Where is our solidarity? The ‘Left’ should campaign for ALL Kurd forces resisting ISIS to be armed, with whatever they need.

    We should all support the women and men of Syrian Kurdistan who have been trying to develop an autonomous, secular, egalitarian region, despite constant attacks from the jihadi-fascists.

  6. Oso Sabio said,

    Reblogged this on Resistance Is Fertile and commented:
    Solidarity with Kobane and the Rojava Revolution!

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