Attila The Stockbroker asks “where is the left” in support of the Kurds?

October 22, 2014 at 5:50 pm (anti-fascism, internationalism, islamism, kurdistan, Middle East, posted by JD, reactionay "anti-imperialism", secularism, solidarity, Stop The War, turkey)

Letter published in todays’s Morning Star:

Secular, progressive Kurds in need of left

I salute the heroic struggle of the secular, progressive Kurds of the YPG (People’s Protection Groups) as they battle to defend Kobane from fascist murderers equipped with much heavier and more modern weapons.

The Turks and the Western leaders appear prepared to let the fascists wipe out the Kurdish fighters — people like me and you, people of the left — including the women who save the last bullet for themselves rather than fall into the hands of the fascists.

It seems to me that there is a cynical plan in place. If Kobane falls, there will be crocodile tears about massacres and the drums will start beating for a ground war and the gruesome cycle starting all over again.

There is, of course, an alternative.

The Kurds are once again victims of the same kind of geopolitics which denied them a homeland when the Sykes-Picot agreement was drawn up at the end of the Ottoman empire.

With modern weaponry they could defend their own communities successfully — they certainly have the fighting ability to do so.

But the Turks and the Western powers are scared of their left-wing radicalism and their desire for an independent homeland.

And, sadly, many on the left turn their backs. They can’t bring themselves to support fellow progressives desperate for military aid in fighting fascism, because they see that in some way as “supporting imperialism.”

The Kurds are crying out for support, for Western governments to help them.

They demonstrate with banners saying “Your silence is killing us.” They are right.

This is Guernica, this is Madrid. These are our comrades. But where is the left? Where are the thousands who rightly throng the streets in support of another stateless, oppressed people in Palestine? Where is the Stop The War Coalition? Why the silence? Why, why, WHY?



JD adds: Very interesting article on the Kurds, intervention and the European left, by Yasin Suma, here


  1. Mark Croft said,

    who or what is JD in reference too above “JD adds: Very interesting article on the Kurds, intervention and the European left, by Yasin Suma, here”

  2. Jim Denham said,

    JD is me, Jim Denham. Maybe it’s a sign of my rampant egotism and megalomania that I assumed everyone would know that.

  3. Solidarity with Kobani and Shingal Public Meeting, House of Commons. | Tendance Coatesy said,

    […] Yesterday the comrades from Shiraz published this. […]

  4. Waterloo Sunset said,

    Good piece from Attila. (He’s being posting similar things on his Facebook for some time now).

    A very thoughts/observations.

    1. The left presence on solidarity demonstrations has been really sparse. I’ve been on demos where it’s near exclusively been made up of Kurds and antifa types. While I’m pleased that my political tradition seems to be acquitting itself reasonably honourably on this, it would obviously be way better if we were seeing more left diversity. (I’m assuming the AWL have had a presence, but don’t have the numbers for that to be visible everywhere).

    2. It’s noticeable that, of the more trad left, a lot of the people that have been strongest on this have been ex AFA. (Including Attila). When some of the loudest anti ISIS voices on this have been coming from those that have politically prioritised anti-fascism, that should really give others on the left pause for thought….

    3. We may be starting to see signs that things are changing to an extent among the left. There’s both the McDonnell meeting linked to by Coatsey and the Left Unity motion (proposed by another ex AFA member, incidentally). We shall see…

    4. We should be looking at what we can do in terms of actual, practical solidarity, taking into account the paucity of the forces available to us. I can think of two main focuses. The first is Turkey. It needs to be made clear to the Turkish government that targeting the Kurds in the way they have been doing will make them a target in return. The second is the PKK. We need to be campaigning loudly for the removal of the proscription status. If it’s practical in terms of numbers, I think we should also look at physically defending their flags from being confiscated.

    5. It is rather rich that certain people on the right are using this to bash the left, when they have previously shown no interest in the Kurds and said not a word when the previously mentioned proscription was brought it. Certain people have a fair bit more to do to redeem themselves before they can be taken seriously. The “defending flags” I’ve suggested would be a good way to do so. If the Harryites et al aren’t prepared to put their necks on the line for once, they need to fuck off.

  5. Lamia said,

    “The Turks and the Western leaders appear prepared to let the fascists wipe out the Kurdish fighters…”

    Attila the Stockbroker has missed, then, the one hundred plus US airstrikes around Kobani which have killed hundreds of ISIS scum and helped drive them back, as well as the recent airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies.

    I am right with those on the left who want the heroic Kurds defended and aided, and like many others I found it baffling and horrifying that it took so long for aid to come. Kurds in the west and people like Andrew Coates and a number of others on the left and elsewhere have rightly done their best to publicise the plight of Kobani. I do believe the massive coverage encouraged the US to get involved and act decisively.

    But the point is, however belatedly, it did. It has made a great difference. This ‘wise monkey’ refusal to acknowledge any good ever done by the US and its allies is not a principle, it’s petty, it’s untruthful, and it is extremely hypocritical, especially when so many on the left have loudly opposed intervening to help the Kurds, Yazidis and others, knowing perfectly well what that means.

    There is no merit in a piece which demonstrates such incredible dishonesty about verifiable facts. And I say that as someone very concerned about how much help the Kurds can count on from the West and whether Obama and co do have a workable plan to defeat ISIS. You don’t have to think the US is great but there is no excuse for simply lying about what it has actually done re Kobani, which is what Attila the Stockbroker and others are doing.

  6. John R said,

    Attila the Stockbroker has made a few comments in the Guardian which appear to go much further in his criticisms of groups like Stop the War.

    “There is an old Kurdish saying ‘We have no friends but the mountains’ and it is so true right now. The likes of the Stop the War Coalition have published articles saying basically ‘Being supplied with modern weaponry by the West won’t help the Kurds’ (in the face of desperate appeals for same from the people under threat of massacre and the obvious fact that it will) purely to fit an ideological agenda which appears to condemn any Western intervention, anywhere, under any circumstances. I was in broad agreement with that position until the desperate plight of these secular progressive people cried out louder than any ideology, mindset or political standpoint.” (Oct 8 2014)

    Here, to my mind, he seems to say that there are times when it is necessary to support Western intervention and the US arming the Kurds against ISIS is definitely one of those. Re the airstrikes, he does make another comment disagreeing with them (10 Oct) but counter poses arming the Kurds to that.

  7. Lamia said,

    I don’t know if that was in reply to my post, but thanks for that clarification anyway John R.

    I have a read a report that the weapons dropped were very light stuff from the Iraqi Kurds which the Kobani Kurd Polat Can has said will be only of minor value, which is not great news. Still, I have a feeling now that the Obama Administration is learning the value in keeping Kobani afloat and I doubt now that they will simply forget about it or allow it to fall. It is encouraging that the co-ordination between USAF and Kobani seems to have improved greatly and had a good effect.

    Of course, Kobani is still only one place, and the larger struggle of the Kurds is a far greater and more complex matter. I have another thought on the Kobani situation which is probably best to air at another time, hopefully after the place is ‘out of the woods’ and the overall anti-ISIS situation is much better.

  8. Aaron Aarons said,

    The basic theoretical method that seems to guide this web site, at least as it shows itself here, is pragmatism, where a specific problem is treated in isolation from everything else, and without regard for how one’s response to that situation can affect other situations in the future.

    Although his way of describing the problem is different and much more elaborated than mine, I recommend the article by Richard Seymour:

    • Jim Denham said,

      You are, of course, entitled to your assessment that we at Shiraz are guided by “pragmatism” (as opposed to …what?): but I have to say that the day I take any lessons in socialist principles from the pretentious, half-educated sub-Althussarian buffoon Seymour, is the day I give it all up and devote myself to booze and jazz.

      • Pinkie said,

        I thought you had already given yourself up to booze and jazz. Were I to be a member of the AWL I think that is what I would do too.

      • Aaron Aarons said,

        You seem to believe, JD, that stringing together a bunch of adjectives in an ad hominem attack is a valid substitute for political argument or analysis.

        As to pragmatism, the alternative is looking at a specific situation as part of a totality, both spatially and temporally, so that you don’t make the overall situation worse in trying to “do something” about the specific one — a “something” that generally doesn’t even help in the specific situation because it ignores that totality that shapes said specific situation.

  9. Lamia said,

    It’s a completely useless article that does nothing but stroke Seymour’s already inflated ego, and attempts to raise doing nothing to some sort of principled achievement. I’m sure it will be read with grateful interest by the Kurds fighting ISIS.

    • Aaron Aarons said,

      I doubt that the Kurds fighting IS are reading anything either the AWL or Joseph Seymour is writing, and such a comment is a demagogic appeal to pragmatism in any case. And Seymour is not advocating “doing nothing”, but not pretending to do something when one doesn’t have the power to directly affect outcomes, and in the process strengthening one’s imperialist enemy’s ability to do, with less opposition, whatever serves its interests.

      Of course, if you don’t see imperialist capital as the main enemy, these arguments won’t move you.

  10. Attila said,

    Lamia, there is a simple reason for the lack of mention of the airstrikes. I initially wrote my piece over two weeks ago as one of my bi monthly columns for the Star, before the US strikes had started, but the comrades wouldn’t publish it in that way because it was an opinion piece rather than a personal diary, and said they’d do it as a letter. It finally saw print two days ago. Simple as that.

  11. Lamia said,



    thank you for that information, in the light of which I withdraw my charge and apologise.

    Unfortunately a central plank of your argument has now fallen away:

    “The Turks and the Western leaders appear prepared to let the fascists wipe out the Kurdish fighters — people like me and you, people of the left — including the women who save the last bullet for themselves rather than fall into the hands of the fascists.

    It seems to me that there is a cynical plan in place. If Kobane falls, there will be crocodile tears about massacres and the drums will start beating for a ground war and the gruesome cycle starting all over again.”

    Have you revised your estimation of the ‘cynical plan’?

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