The Kurds have a long history of struggle against discrimination and national oppression in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria. When French and British rulers divided the Middle East after the first imperialist world slaughter, setting new national borders in the process, one of their goals was to divide and weaken the Kurdish people. Kurds remain the largest nationality on earth without their own homeland.
An independent Kurdish republic came into existence in northern Iran after a revolutionary uprising established a workers and peasants government in neighboring Azerbaijan in December 1945. Both were crushed a year later by the Iranian monarchy, with the complicity of the Stalinist regime in Moscow, dealing a heavy blow to the Kurdish people and working class throughout the region.
A new rise in the Kurdish national struggle has been one of the unintended consequences of Washington’s endless wars in the Mideast since the first U.S. war in Iraq in 1991. In the aftermath of that slaughter, “the Kurdish people have come to the center stage in world politics as never before,” said Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes at the time, “not primarily as victims, but as courageous and determined fighters for national rights.” (See the article “Opening Guns of World War III: Washington’s Assault on Iraq,” published in issue no. 7 of the magazine New International.)
Today there are some 5 million Kurds in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq, and another 2 million in areas under Kurdish control in Syria. These conquests give impetus to their aspirations for national independence, especially in Turkey, home to 15 million Kurds. Despite all their conflicting interests and alliances, the capitalist rulers of the United States, Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq all oppose an independent Kurdistan.
Washington has alternately posed as a defender of the Kurds — doling out aid with an eyedropper — and blocked moves toward Kurdish sovereignty, depending on its shifting relations and alliances with the different capitalist rulers in the region. Just look at Vice President Joe Biden’s arrogant demand Aug. 24 — and Ankara’s delight with it — that Kurdish militia fighters in Syria, Washington’s supposed allies, “must go back across the river … period,” and give up territory liberated from Islamic State west of the Euphrates.
Get all U.S. troops, warplanes and drones out of the Middle East now!
US-Turkish war moves in Syria seek to block Kurds
Endless Mideast wars: catastrophe for working people
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