FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

The Islamic State, the Kurds and Generational War

Some historians see the period between 1914 and 1945 as the replication of another Thirty Years War.  There was the illusion of peace between 1919 and 1939 – the failed efforts of the League of Nations (that failure is still misunderstood), attempts to outlaw war and attempts to construct a viable international system controlled by mild dispute resolution.  But the war system was simply too alluring as a means of redressing grievances. The seeds sown in the trenches of the First World War flowered in toxic blooms for the Second.

The battles being waged across the scarred landscape of the Middle East, notably those in northern Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria, issue from wars that are now becoming generational in age.  The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December 1979 was simply one grand announcement of things to come, a reminder that those countries bordering traditionally mighty powers could not be left alone.

Militants and insurgents fighting a seemingly irrepressible machine were armed through US and Pakistani conduits.  Pakistan’s sole military victory, a sorry state for an army with a country, came through mujahadeen fighters taking the blow against Soviet tanks.  Throughout, the holy veracity of their cause was coloured by Allah’s sweet inspiration – the “bear” trap was coated with the divine inspiration of the Prophet.

This did not seem to concern most of the ideological straightjackets operating behind their office desks in Washington, though it would have struck former CIA operative Robert Baer as a touch disconcerting.  The US was arming forces who would, given the right moment, bite the hand that fed them.

Much biting has been taking place since.  Sponsor at your risk.  Al Qaida assumed a combat guise, and for much of the time, even through the 1990s, its fighters received the backing of Washington, as long as they sang the right tune.   Ditto the Taliban, who received backing from Washington via traditional Saudi and Pakistani contacts when it was thought that strong central rule was indispensable for an oil and gas pipeline.[1]  When things went off key, they found themselves targets.

Various splinter groups of the al-Qaeda franchise grew, and in time, the current Islamic State, grafted from the al-Qaeda branch of Iraq, outgrew its inspirational sources.  The parent al-Qaeda organization found the bullish, blood lusty radicals too much to handle.  They would deal with the infidels differently.  Exile has followed.

In 2014, we see the war of 2003, when Iraq was invaded with studied insanity, continue. Factions, be it Sunni or Shiite, are being backed.  The international punters are getting their wallets out, and the bank trails are varied.  A loose Western grouping is taking a bet on stopping the Islamic State with aid to Christian groups and Kurdish militants.  The Saudis and Qataris are gunning for the Islamic State. The US, with characteristic absurdity, finds itself engaging forces backed by their allies.

The issue of finding a solution in this conflict is rooted in numerous meetings, summits and venues.  These meetings will not take place, at least for some time, because the West finds itself bound and gagged in what it can do.  Its allies back its enemies. Its enemies know that.

The battles now being waged in northern Iraq cannot be divorced from the battles being waged in Syria, where the Assad regime, bugbear and convenient target of Western indignation, is fighting to the death.  There is no Islamic State solution without a Syrian solution.  In what must be foreign policy driven by mescalin, Islamic State fighters battling Assad may find themselves using US, French and UK supplies. The moment they cross into Iraq, they become the targets of those very same powers.  There is, fictitiously, the idea of good Islamic militants and bad ones.  Presumably this might be in the manner of beheadings.  The difference between Clark Kent and superman is, after all, a matter of spectacles.

The same thing can be said of the Kurds, who have struck it lucky with the change of events.  Just as Islamic State fighters will find themselves afforded different regimes of treatment depending on whether it is in Iraq or Syria, the same can be said for the Kurdish fighters who might find themselves in Turkey.  In northern Iraq, they are touted as the new saviours.  But another synaptic delusion has found its way into the argument: what Kurdish grouping are we talking about here?

While the Peshmerga has crowded the headlines, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)[2] has made the battle against the Islamic State their fight.  Their skills, fashioned over years fighting the Turkish army, should be familiar to anyone acquainted with the region. They also top the list of terrorist organizations in Turkey, a keen NATO ally. While the poster child units of the Peshmerga have received a bruising, the PKK and its affiliates are not merely holding the fort but making gains.

The diplomats in Washington may have a sense of that, though it is not clear whether their employers do.  This ignorance is certainly finding form in the corridors of confused power among the allies.  Australia’s Abbott government is crying for attention, putting its C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster aircraft at the disposal of the “humanitarian” mission.  The entire mission has a monotonously similar ring to it – one mounted by Western powers, enraged by human rights violations.  Humanitarianism has become the notorious shape changer.  The transformation from food parcel to weapons package is an easy one to make.

The countries now battling the Islamic State, be it by actual weapons or proxy, are also making a solid effort of turning their own states into heavily policed garrisons.  Surveillance bills and detention orders are being readied.  Returning Islamic militants are cited as the cause.  Foreign demons have a habit of causing local discord and instability.

The sad irony here is that this emergency, this instability, is the very thing craved by authorities that claim it already exists.  Fight the enemy there, in distant Iraq, because that enemy is bound to be causing mischief at home on the streets of London, Washington or Sydney. But if history throws up another of its perversions, an actual Kurdish state could issue forth from the cracks of the Iraqi state.  It will have the Islamic State to thank for that.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com  

Notes

[1] http://www.rense.com/general14/rise.htm

 

 

More articles by:

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
December 06, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Eat an Impeachment
Matthew Hoh
Authorizations for Madness; The Effects and Consequences of Congress’ Endless Permissions for War
Jefferson Morley
Why the Douma Chemical Attack Wasn’t a ‘Managed Massacre’
Andrew Levine
Whatever Happened to the Obama Coalition?
Paul Street
The Dismal Dollar Dems and the Subversion of Democracy
Dave Lindorff
Conviction and Removal Aren’t the Issue; It’s Impeachment of Trump That is Essential
Ron Jacobs
Law Seminar in the Hearing Room: Impeachment Day Six
Linda Pentz Gunter
Why Do We Punish the Peacemakers?
Louis Proyect
Michael Bloomberg and Me
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Hits a Grim Threshold
Joseph Natoli
What We Must Do
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Global Poison Spring
Robert Fantina
Is Kashmir India’s Palestine?
Charles McKelvey
A Theory of Truth From the South
Walden Bello
How the Battle of Seattle Made the Truth About Globalization True
Evan Jones
BNP Before a French Court
Norman Solomon
Kerry’s Endorsement of Biden Fits: Two Deceptive Supporters of the Iraq War
Torsten Bewernitz – Gabriel Kuhn
Syndicalism for the Twenty-First Century: From Unionism to Class-Struggle Militancy
Matthew Stevenson
Across the Balkans: From Banja Luka to Sarajevo
Thomas Knapp
NATO is a Brain Dead, Obsolete, Rabid Dog. Euthanize It.
Forrest Hylton
Bolivia’s Coup Government: a Far-Right Horror Show
M. G. Piety
A Lesson From the Danes on Immigration
Ellen Isaacs
The Audacity of Hypocrisy
Monika Zgustova
Chernobyl, Lies and Messianism in Russia
Manuel García, Jr.
From Caesar’s Last Breath to Ours
Binoy Kampmark
Going to the ICJ: Myanmar, Genocide and Aung San Suu Kyi’s Gamble
Jill Richardson
Marijuana and the Myth of the “Gateway Drug”
Muzamil Bhat
Srinagar’s Shikaras: Still Waters Run Deep Losses
Gaither Stewart
War and Betrayal: Change and Transformation
Farzana Versey
What Religion is Your Nationalism?
Clark T. Scott
The Focus on Trump Reveals the Democrat Model
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Do Bernie’s Supporters Know What “Not Me, Us” Means? Does Bernie?
Peter Harley
Aldo Leopold, Revisited
Winslow Myers
A Presidential Speech the World Needs to Hear
Christopher Brauchli
The Chosen One
Jim Britell
Misconceptions About Lobbying Representatives and Agencies
Ted Rall
Trump Gets Away with Stuff Because He Does
Mel Gurtov
Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and the Insecurity of China’s Leadership
Nicky Reid
Dennis Kucinich, Tulsi Gabbard and the Slow Death of the Democratic Delusion
Tom H. Hastings
Cross-Generational Power to Change
John Kendall Hawkins
1619: The Mighty Whitey Arrives
Julian Rose
Why I Don’t Have a Mobile Phone
David Yearsley
Parasitic Sounds
Elliot Sperber
Class War is Chemical War
December 05, 2019
Colin Todhunter
Don’t Look, Don’t See: Time for Honest Media Reporting on Impacts of Pesticides
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail