This article was originally written for socialistworld.net, the website of the Committee for a Workers’ International.
The following leaflet text will be distributed by Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) members at a protest in central London, this coming weekend, against the Turkish invasion of northern Syria.
Scores of civilians, including children, slaughtered; over 70,000 forced to flee their homes; water supplies to nearly half a million people cut off – these are just the first casualties of the Turkish army’s indiscriminate shelling of towns along the Turkish-Syria border.
Trump gave the green light for Turkey to make a military attack against Kurdish areas in northern Syria. Turkish President, Erdogan, put into operation his long-held plans to seize control of territory in northern Syria and to forcibly “resettle” millions of refugees. Erdogan plans the displacement of many tens of thousands of Kurds and the ethnic engineering of a Syrian Arab ‘buffer’ against a Kurdish state.
The Erdogan regime fears that the consolidation of a de facto Kurdish state in northern Syria, Rojava, would encourage similar movements amongst the oppressed Kurds in Turkey.
The US collaborated with the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in the fight against Isis. But now that Trump has declared “we defeated Isis” and pledges to war-weary Americans to “bring our troops back home”, he abruptly ditches the YPG and leaves Kurds to mercy of the powerful Turkish army. The Turkish army invasion and the imposition of mainly Syrian Arab refugees into Kurdish areas of northern Syrian is a recipe for new bloody ethnic and sectarian conflict. It can spiral into another war in Syria. The Assad regime warns that it will “defend its sovereign territory” from Turkish military invasion. The conflict could also give a boost to the ultra-reactionary Isis.
The situation facing Kurds in northern Syria is desperate. YPG fighters courageously created the Rojova ‘autonomous structures’ that advanced women’s and democratic rights. But now the YPG are up against the second largest Nato military member and its proxy ‘Syrian National Army’ of reactionary Islamist allies.
There are calls for the “international community” to deploy “an international force” to enforce a “no fly zone to prevent catastrophe”. But who is the “international community”? It is made up primarily of major capitalist powers. How can we rely on governments of the rich, which carry out austerity policies against their own working class, to act in the interests of Kurds and other oppressed minorities?
The US, Britain, France and other military powers have, for many years, cynically exploited the Kurds’ plight for their own selfish geo-strategic aims in the Middle East. They have shown they are more than willing to sacrifice this oppressed nationality to further imperialist interests. Britain sells arms to Turkey, its Nato ally. And Putin’s regime is allied with Syrian President Assad, who spurns appeals from the YPG to come their aid.
All ‘interventions’ by regional and world powers into Syria and the Middle East, including under the flag of “humanitarianism”, have brought only immense human suffering and death, and enormously deepened sectarian, ethnic and national divisions.
As the YPG’s ill-fated alliance with the US shows, reliance on imperialist powers will not bring peace, prosperity or security, let alone lead to genuine self-determination for Kurds.
The latest unfolding tragedy facing Kurds underlines the need for an internationalist, socialist approach to win their national and cultural rights. This means rejecting any deals with regional capitalist regimes and imperialist powers.
Retaliatory bombings in Turkey will only succeed in driving parts of the Turkish population into the arms of the reactionary Erdogan regime that is whipping up nationalism. Instead, a class appeal should be made to Turkish workers and soldiers, who already oppose Erdogan’s unpopular policies and face recession, to oppose the invasion, which will be costly for all working class people.
A powerful independent workers’ alternative needs to be built, uniting the oppressed Kurds and the entire working class and poor of Syria, Turkey and the whole region; to resist capitalism, to fight for socialism and for genuine self-determination of all oppressed nationalities.
- Working class solidarity and mass protests around the world to oppose the Turkish army’s bloody invasion
- Organise workers’ boycotts and strikes against the weapons trade to Turkey
- Build multi-ethnic defence militias, democratically-run, to resist Turkish army attacks
- No trust in regional and imperialist powers, who have only ever betrayed the Kurds
- Build powerful independent workers’ organisations, including trade unions and mass workers’ parties, on a socialist programme, in Syria, Turkey and across the region
- Link the Kurds’ struggle with Turkish workers resisting Erdogan’s anti-working class policies
- Full cultural and national rights for Kurds, including the right to self-determination
- Overthrow capitalism! For a socialist Kurdistan, as part of a socialist federation of the Middle East and Turkey, on a voluntary and equal basis, to bring lasting peace and a transformation of living standards