NOT LEARNING FROM HISTORY | Bulent Gokay


Comment on

Kurdish struggles and the challenge of foreign support: the case of Syrian Kurds by  Behnam Amin (openDemocracy)

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“strategic alliance of the Syrian Kurds with the United States has not been a matter of choice but necessity”!
Acting together with the US military intervention(s) in the region is not something new for the Kurdish groups/ forces in the region of Middle East. When the US forces launched, in coordination with their Western allies, the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, many Kurdish groups were openly supporting the Western military campaign. Majority of the left/ liberal anti-war movement in the UK, and many other Western countries, were against the war, western military intervention, and showed this with their protest against what they called as the imperialist war of their own governments. The Kurds started their uprising following the humiliating defeat of Saddam’s army, hoping that their powerful ‘strategic’ ally, US would come to their help. As we know now, no help arrived from the West: Saddam crushed the Kurdish uprising brutally by killing a large number of Iraqi Kurds, and many more escaped, became refugees. When the Kurdish uprising was tragically and brutally crushed, it was first the same anti-imperialist and anti- war groups in the UK and many other countries went out to the streets and protested against Saddam’s brutal crack down as well as their own government’s unprincipled stand. Memories of that tragic and bitter experience from the events following the first Gulf War are still vivid- how quickly the West abandoned its ‘strategic’ ally, the Kurds, at the critical moment.

We know from history, of course, this pattern stretches, at the very least, back to the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916, or rather complete abandonment of the promise of the Agreement within just a few short years. More recently, since after September 11, the main goal of the US interventions in the Middle East has been to spread American influence, to prevent any competitors to gain military and economic advantage at the expense of the US, and thus keep the region as the key American economic and security asset. Thus, history provides a sobering lesson about the outside, in particular Western, interventions in the Middle East.
I therefore believe it is completely unfair to criticise the left/ anti-war movement in the UK for not giving their full support to this ‘strategic’ alliance between the US and the Syrian Kurds.

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