Kurdish heroism versus ISIS barbarism

John Wight
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
Kurdish heroism versus ISIS barbarism
On the Turkish frontier, in and around the town of Kobani in northern Syria, the world is witnessing the very best of humanity alongside the very worst.

The very best are, of course, the Kurdish defenders of the town, whose courage and heroism in resisting an onslaught by the forces of the Islamic State (IS) over the past few weeks is such that songs will be written about them in years to come.

Indeed, the sight of those men and women, many barely out of their teens, holding the line with light weapons against repeated assaults from three sides by militants from an organization whose brutality has shocked the entire world conjures up parallels with Barcelona, the Warsaw Ghetto, even Stalingrad in microcosm. And given the medieval ideology of IS, under which women are reduced to the status of slaves, the fact that women are playing such a key role in the town’s defense adds an extra dimension of defiance to the barbarism they are facing.

The Islamic State (IS, previously known as ISIL and ISIS) has emerged and erupted across northern Syria and Iraq as a direct consequence of the West’s disastrous policy of military intervention in the region, going back to 2003 with the war in Iraq. Moreover, in pursuit of its domination of this oil-rich part of the world, Washington and its allies have extended themselves in propping up a constellation of corrupt regimes across the region — specifically Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait - while at the same time failing to arbitrate a just settlement for the long suffering Palestinians.

During this crisis the previously mentioned Gulf states, along with Washington’s NATO ally Turkey, have managed to navigate a pernicious policy of providing indirectly if not directly support to IS over the past couple of years, while maintaining the facade of fighting terrorism. Until recently, IS fighters moved freely across the Turkey-Syria border and large shipments of arms were allowed to enter Syria from Turkey, as witnessed and recorded by outraged Kurds.

Police used tear gas and water cannon on October 7, 2014 in Istanbul against demonstrators who protest against attacks launched by Islamic State insurgents targeting the Syrian city of Kobane and lack of action by the government. Fresh air strikes by the US-led coalition hit positions held by Islamic State jihadists in the southwest of the key Syrian border town of Ain al-Arab (Kobane), according to an AFP journalist just across the border in Turkey. (AFP Photo / Ozan Kose)

It is no wonder that Kurdish exile communities are demonstrating throughout the world demanding an end to Turkey’s support for the Islamic State. In Turkey itself those demonstrations have resulted in fatalities, reminding us that Turkey’s history of denying its own Kurdish minority’s legitimate rights is a shameful one. In addition, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan remains determined to see the conflict in Syria continue until the Assad government is toppled, regardless of who and what replaces it, thus placing him on the side of barbarism.

As for the Saudis, the fact this vile regime retains the support of the West is an affront to decency – especially when we consider that the medieval and obscurantist creed of Wahhabism, near indistinguishable from the fundamentalist perversion of Islam which underpins the ideology of Al-Qaida and its offshoots such as the Islamic State, has no place in the 21st century.

It is inhuman and incompatible with human rights and yet it is the ruling orthodoxy taught to millions in the Kingdom.

So why is the West an ally of the very state which exists to promote a barbarous medieval ideology across the region and wider Muslim world? The answers are oil, a multi-billion dollar trade in arms, and strategic advantage. But even on those terms, the Frankenstein’s monster of IS demands a major reorientation of this policy and alliance.

Smoke from a strike by the US-led coalition rises in the Syrian town of Ain al-Arab, known as Kobane by the Kurds, as it seen from the Turkish - Syrian border in the southeastern village of Mursitpinar, Sanliurfa province, on October 13, 2014. (AFP Photo / Aris Messinis)

In truth, if Washington and its European allies were serious about defeating IS in Syria and Iraq it would order air strikes not only against its forces on the outskirts of Kobani and in northern Iraq, but also against Erdogan’s government in Istanbul followed by air strikes to root out the Saudis in Riyadh. The world should not make the mistake of holding its breath waiting for this to happen, however, as currently in the White House resides not a president but a comedian masquerading as one.

Obama’s recent announcement that he was still formulating a strategy to deal with IS, weeks after the group’s eruption across the region, suggests a president who feels the need to consult his advisers and ponder the issue endlessly before he even takes a trip to the bathroom.

This is not a game. The Kurds defending Kobani, the Syrian people as a whole, the Iraqi people — the people of the Middle East in their entirety — demand an end to the double dealing, opportunism and hypocrisy that has defined the West and its allies’ role in creating the conditions for the carnage being visited upon them by this murder cult.

The plight of Kobani gives those who are currently fighting for their lives defending it the right to make a pact with the devil himself in order to defeat those who mean to torture, rape and behead them. As such, only the most callous would criticize recent US air strikes against the IS forces in and around the town — air strikes its defenders have been pleading for.

However, ultimately, it will only be when the West desists from its wrongheaded policy of treating President Assad of Syria as an enemy rather than a pillar of resistance to this poisonous ideology, and understands that a coalition which includes Turkey and the Saudis is no coalition at all, will the region finally begin to emerge from this disaster.

Sadly, anyone betting on such an eventuality is likely to lose their money. For as the man said:“We have met the enemy and he is us.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.