I've never made much of a secret out of my affection for the Kurdish Independence Movement, particularly of the PKK/YPG variety. I've earned something of a reputation on my usual message boards for being their whitest cheerleader. Part of it's political, self-determination and all that shit. But its also become something very personal. Partly because of what I like to call the Irish thing. Coming from a lineage of proud and often doomed struggle against imperial oppression and subjugation has made me into something of a serial fellow traveler with third world independence movements from Gaza to Grozny. But mostly it has to do with the fact that the PKK and their Syrian cousins in the YPG have followed an ideological trajectory that is nearly identical to my own. Over the last couple decades, we have both evolved from garden variety, New Leftish, revolutionary socialism to a kind of post-Marxist anarcho-syndicalism without ever losing our cheeky zeal for radical chic. The Syrian YPG have even managed to construct a successful stateless society that reflects these shared ideals.
From the toxic dust of the American Empires latest Middle Eastern jihad, the YPG have erected the autonomous democratic confederation of Rojava in Syria's north eastern Kurdish region. What began as a basic defense mechanism against the growing genocidal scourge of ISIS has blossomed into a secular, poly-ethnic and self sustainable example of bottom-up, Athenian-style, direct democracy. A true leaderless, borderless society. Proof positive that social anarchism can still work. No gods. No masters. And all of this achieved while leading the regions most successful counter-insurgency against Wahhabist tyranny. For the longest time, support for Rojava was the one thing that most of the major players in the Syrian cluster-fuck could agree on. Over the last couple weeks, however, things have changed. And the rare, hard won good fortune of the Kurds has shifted towards a strange new darkness.
It all seems to have started shortly after the failed July coup attempt in Turkey. A month later nearly to the day, a firefight erupted between the YPG and their supposed allies in a pro-Assad militia in the city of Hasakah which led to the first Syrian Air Force strike against Kurdish forces in the five year history of the war. A week later Turkey invaded Rojava under the guise of fighting their friends in ISIS who turned tail and ran the moment they saw the tanks, without firing more than a handful of bullets. The real target was obviously the YPG and their alleged allies, east and west, didn't seem to give a shit. The US even supplied the Turks with logistical support and just days ago, as I type this, Russia, America and Turkey agreed to a week-long ceasefire to be topped off with unprecedented joint US-Russian operations against ISIS and Al-Nusra. So what the fuck happened? What changed? How did the US, Russia and Turkey all get on the same page? And why did the Kurds get screwed in the process? In order to answer these questions we have to ask ourselves, what do these three countries in this weird new alliance want?
What Turkey wants is pretty simple. It's what they've always wanted. A return to the glory days of the Ottoman Empire. The two biggest obstacles to this goal are the Kurds and the Assad regime. That's why it's little wonder that Turkey and their new Sultan Erdogan have consistently been ISIS and Al-Nusra's best friends in the region. Sending them guns, gas and maniacs and buying their pilfered oil in bulk. All this had put Turkey at odds with Russia and naturally Syria. This all seemed to change shortly after the failed coup against Erdogan which leads us to Russia.
What Russia wants is to avoid the creation of another bottomless vortex of never ending terrorism within shooting distance of their borders. The only way they can achieve this relative peace is to keep the Assad regime in place and destroy the foreign jihadis sent by Uncle Sam and his Gulf buddies to turn the Levant into a smoking ash heap. Russia has been pretty successful at doing this so far with their loose coalition of Syria, Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah and the Kurds. But as long as Turkey remains committed to the overthrow of Assad there will always be a permanent flow of armed Wahhabists spilling over the border to unleash holy fucking hell. Russia was left with only two options, beat em or join em. And since Putin doesn't share America's lust for endless war, they were left with no choice but to find a way to rope Turkey into their orbit. This is where the failed Turkish coup comes into play.
The attempt to overthrow Sultan Erdogan lasted less than 24 hours and was basically squashed before it had even begun. What followed was Erdogan's self-proclaimed "gift from god". A massive purge of tens of thousands of the Sultan's biggest critics in the government, military and judiciary. As well as the evisceration of the last feeble vestiges of Turkey's so-called democracy. What also followed was a very public break-up between Erdogan's Turkey and their alleged NATO allies in Obama's Washington and a previously unthinkable reconciliation with Putin's Moscow. What appears to have happened is that Russian intelligence caught wind of an American backed plot against Erdogan, hardly unusual, historically speaking, and tipped the strongman off in advance in order to pull Washington's favorite Sultan into the Kremlin's tent. What likely transpired next was a Faustian bargain of sorts. Erdogan would thank Putin for the heads up by laying off Assad and Putin would return the favor by keeping his hands in his pockets while Erdogan rips Rojava to fucking ribbons. And how does America play into all this? I'll tell you my theory.
What America wanted from Syria was an oil pipeline to undercut Russia's burgeoning integration with Europe. When Assad shot this idea down, America wanted Assad gone and was willing to do just about anything to make it happen. They tried arming rebels including the Kurds as well as terrorists (with the exception of the Kurds, there was hardly a difference between the two). They even tried blaming Assad for these same terrorist's poison gas attacks in order to justify an American invasion. But Putin outsmarted them every step of the way with better rebels, popular peace deals and successful interventions. America's last hope became using their partners in crime, the Turks, to launch the NATO backed intervention that they couldn't get away with doing themselves and maintain an indefinite no-fly-zone from which to launch a never ending barrage of jihadist mayhem into Syria and eventually, in time, an American invasion to clean up the mess once the world becomes frightened enough to let them get away with it. There were only two problems with this devilish little plot. Turkey didn't have the guts or the firepower to take on Russia, who stood between them and Syria, and they didn't have the support from their own military to launch a Yankee proxy war.
I believe America solved the first problem by using their old buddies, the Gulenists, to launch a purposely doomed and half-assed coup, with Erdogan's full approval, right under the noses of Russian intelligence. Thus giving Putin the opportunity to play the hero and Erdogan the opportunity to play the spurred former allie desperate to make a deal and find a new pappa bear to protect his crumbling fiefdom. All this gave Putin the false impression of having the upper hand and convinced him to make a previously unthinkable concession to his former enemy by unofficially green-lighting a Turkish invasion as long as it ended with Rojava. And just like that Putin fed the Kurds to the treads of Ottoman tanks.
This brings us to what I believe was America's solution to the second problem. With the powerful Turkish Army unwilling to fight their brothers in ISIS or the Russian backed Syrians, a scapegoat was needed and in Turkey their is know better scapegoat than those dastardly, unruly Kurds. So what does America do? They back the Kurds of coarse. Supplying the YPG with guns, air power and even Green Berets. As the territory held by Rojava spread, so did the anti-Kurdish anxiety among the Turkish military elite. By the time the YPG was given the green-light by the US to cross the Euphrates, Turkey had been given the green-light by Russia to invade. It was a fucking set-up from the drop and the Kurds never saw it coming.
The Kurds biggest flaw has always been their seemingly boundless faith in the myth of America as the savior of oppressed peoples. No matter how many times we screw them, they just keep coming back for more abuse like a battered spouse loyal to lover-boy till the bloody end. I'll never understand it. It's as if they were all raised on a steady diet of Sodium Pentothal and John Wayne movies. They still buy into that old post-World War legend of the indispensable America. The America without sin. None other than the late, great Ho Chi Minh once shared this same delusion. Sending Eisenhower opium peace pipes while he sent him agent orange and erecting shrines to the Founding Fathers who would have treated him like a mutt. But Ho finally woke up and grew up. Realizing that Russia would always make a more dependable allie because they knew the taste of Uncle Sams jack boot. He lead his people to freedom. I had long hoped that the Kurds would do the same. That the combination of Vladimir Putin's pragmatism and Abdullah Ocalan's idealism would prove to be the perfect cure for the Middle East's endless woes. Perhaps I was being as foolish as my friends the Kurds. But so is Putin if he believes that he'll ever be able to trust Erdogan and his fellow revanchist barbarians. He had a rare opportunity to win over the most fiercely loyal warriors in the Middle East and he fucking blew it. My admiration for the man has taken a serious blow in the process. I guess the Kurds didn't count as much as the Crimean's or the Abkhazian's. Oh well, Fuck him. My Irish heart will continue to beat for Rojava in spite of my Russian soul. I guess it just goes to show that the only nations you can ever truly rely on are the ones without leaders.
Peace, Love, Empathy and Anarchy- CH