turkey 1984

Saudi Arabia’s and Turkey’s support of the “Islamic State” and the repression of the Kurdish resistance

The so called “Islamic State” (IS) is dominating the news for months. Its atrocities – killing thousands of innocents as well as destroying the Middle East’s rich cultural heritage – are resonating all over the world. The fatal mixture of religious fanaticism with military expertise and material are making them a tough enemy. Undoubtedly, this massive problem had to be addressed adequately. Many countries, including the West’s most powerful one, the United States, formed alliances to fight the IS which was expanding rapidly in Syria and Iraq. They relied solely on air strikes – not a single ground offensive was launched. Recently, Russia has entered the conflict by almost indiscriminately shelling the “Islamic State” as well as various rebel troops. (Their goal – besides the fight against the IS – is to support the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, an autocrat suspected of attacking his own population with the extremely toxic sarin gas.) 

However, it’s nearly uncontroversial that the biggest support for the IS is coming from Saudi Arabia, both materially and ideologically: 

“Saudi Arabia is influential because its oil and vast wealth make it powerful in the Middle East and beyond. But it is not financial resources alone that make it such an important player. Another factor is its propagating of Wahhabism, the fundamentalist, eighteenth-century version of Islam that imposes sharia law, relegates women to the status of second-class citizens, and regards Shia and Sufi Muslims as non-Muslims to be persecuted along with Christians ans Jews.” (Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State)

An interesting fact, too: around 95 percent of the school books used in the IS’s territory are the same as in Saudi Arabia – obviously, the IS has much in common with one of the most strongly supported countries.

But of course, the gulf monarchies are not the only supporters of the “Islamic State” – Turkey, as well, is backing the terrorists. Although not as actively as the Saudis, Turkey’s

“most important action has been to keep open its 560-mile border with Syria. This gave ISIS, al-Nusra, and other opposition groups a safe rear base from which to bring in men and weapons.”  (Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State)

In fact, nearly the only ones achieving military success against the “Islamic State” and other terrorist groups are the Kurds (notably the PKK and PYD, who are also establishing grassroots democratic institutions in their autonomous regions). As if the fight against the IS were not enough to deal with, the Kurds also have to struggle against Turkish repression, which is primarily a result of president Erdoğan’s imperialistic, nationalistic and fascist policies.

“In the course of the siege of Kobani it became clear that Turkey considered the Syrian Kurdish political and military organizations the PYD (Democratic Union Party) and YPG (People’s Protection Units) as posing a greater threat than the Islamic fundamentalists. 

Moreover, the PYD is the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been fighting for Kurdish self-rule in Turkey since 1984. Ever since Syrian government forces withdrew from the Syrian Kurdish cantons on the border with Turkey in July 2012, Ankara has feared the impact of self-governing Syrian Kurds on its own fifteen-million-strong Kurdish population. President  Erdoğan would clearly prefer ISIS to control Kobani rather than the PYD.” (Patrick Cockburn, The Rise of Islamic State)

This situation is alarming; but the only thing we can do is to show solidarity with the Kurds who are risking their lives for a better world. We condemn the Turkish repression and support our Kurdish comrades who are fighting against fascism and imperialism  – and for freedom.

Solidarity from Berlin, Germany.