Tell Us Lies About Kobanê -unpicking the demand for Turkish & western intervention

Date:

The notion that the fall of Kobanê could be prevented by the intervention of the Turkish army is a smokescreen that covers the truth that they are already intervening - on the side of ISIS. The Turkish state's selective blockade of the border, which allows arms and volunteers to cross for ISIS, but strangles them for the YPG defenders of Kobanê is the decisive intervention that is giving ISIS the upper hand.

This fundamental truth has been put forward by some minority voices in the mainstream media. Chiefly those intrepid reporters on the ground trying to cover the story. Honourable mention should be made of the BBC's Paul Adams amongst others. But these marginalised voices have been drowned out by the official media line issuing from the central editorial offices downwards, that the Kurds of Kobanê and Turkish Kurdistan are protesting "against Turkey's inactivity" or "failure to intervene". This is the world turned upside down. And Orwellian newspeak where the exact opposite of the truth is reported as accepted fact. The banners the protesters are holding say "Turkey Stop Supporting ISIS".

The first casualty of war is the truth, so they say. If Kobanê falls it will not be due to a deficit of imperialist intervention, but a surfeit of it. The mainstream media's standing orders are clear, however. All international stories about impending massacre must be reframed as a call for more Western intervention. Even when - especially when - the origins of the threat are the result of previous imperialist machinations.

The official party line carried across all media that "ISIS is the main threat" covers over the reality that ISIS is the baby of America's "partners in the region", Saudia Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and the UAE. That along with the US's failed policy of propping up clientelist proxy forces, like the useless, sectarian Iraqi "Army" who ran away leaving the advanced US-rpovided military hardware for ISIS to scoop up for free. US Vice President Joe Biden, at a college talk last week asserted that millions of funding, arms and aid had been given to ISIS by Turkey, Saudi and the Gulf states. An uncharacteristic moment of honesty. The result? The Obama administration forced him to issue grovelling apologies to all the states he had quite rightly fingered. The lies go on. The lies must be maintained. The central lie - that ISIS is a challenge to the "Team America World Police" way of running international relations, rather than it's love child, must be maintained at all costs.

But there is another lie in the proposition that "ISIS is the main threat". Turkey has acted, in plain view of the world this last week (and for much longer before that) according to the doctrine that in reality Kurdish autonomy in Rojava - the cantons of Efrîn, Kobanê, and Cizîrê in Northern Syria - is a bigger threat than ISIS. This is why Turkey has been allowing weapons and fighters to cross its border for ISIS while blocking the same for the YPG.

So what could be more threatening, not just to Ankara, but also to Washington (because let's be clear, behind all the airstrikes and hand-wringing, Washington ultimately had the capability but not the political will to overturn the Turkish strategy of letting ISIS wipe out Kurdish autonomy for them) than ISIS's project of a brutal, authoritarian, apocalyptic islamism? What indeed but the ever dangerous idea of freedom. The programme of Democratic Confederalism of the PYD/YPG and their PKK allies, is a new departure from their previous conventional Stalinist positions. Like any original, radical departure, what it will ultimately amount to in reality remains to be proven, in deeds not words. But what is most suibversive about freedom is less the reality of it than the idea of it. It is for the idea of freedom, for the hope of an alternative, that people fight and sacrifice.

Shortly before he was assassinated, along with fifty others of the top leadership of the Brigade, Hassan Aboud, the leader of Ahrar al-Sham, the main force of the Islamic Front, gave an interview to a Western journalist. Amongst many other things he gave his assessment of why the Iraqi Army ran like rabbits before the ISIS advance into Iraq in June. He judged the Iraqi rout was "because the army has no military ideology,". Two strong ideologies confronted each other in Kobanê over the last week. In the end both Turkey and - protests otherwise aside - the US and the West, have decided that the ideology of the Kurds, the idea of freedom it embodies, is the most dangerous. The notion that "ISIS is the main threat" is the lie that covers the reality that idea of freedom is clearly the greater threat.


We've been providing extensive coverage of the defence of Kobane on our Facebook page

Like what you're reading?
Find out when we publish more via the
WSM Facebook
& WSM Twitter