In every Western mainstream media article on ‘what must be done’ about Daesh, one of the usual answers is to give as much support to ‘the Kurds’ as possible, essentially so they will fight our battles for us (I write ‘the Kurds’ in quotation marks as this the media refers to them as a unified people, rather than consisting of various factions). This is also a frequent sentiment in the comments sections of said articles. The implication of this being that Kurds are superior to Arabs and are more reliable partners. An example of this would be The Telegraph’s article ‘Britain must give the Kurds the tools to lead Iraq out of this mess’. Author John McTernan states:
A few years ago, in a dusty backstreet in Irbil – capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq – I had the privilege to visit an Assyrian church. There have been few more sombre moments in my life than hearing first-hand about the persecution of Iraq’s Christian minority. And even fewer more moving and uplifting than being told that the Kurdish government gave a welcome and a haven to Christians because they believed it was the right thing to do – that such values of tolerance and plurality were part of the reason they had fought hard themselves for autonomy and democracy.
While Iraqi Kurdistan is recognised as more tolerant of religious minorities than elsewhere in the country, it is propaganda to claim that all Iraqi Arabs are prejudiced towards Christians and those of other religions. There are plenty of examples of inter-faith bonding and mutual respect in both Iraq and Syria (excluding ISIS and other takfiri groups of course). Obviously what the MSM aren’t saying is that ISIS is completely a construct of foreign powers, and that in this great game to remap the Middle East, the Kurds are being promoted as the ‘good guys’, while Shia Iraqis are demonised – mainly due to the relationship between Shia Islam and our favourite bogeyman Iran. The Western invasion of Iraq led to a mass-exodus of Christians, mainly to Syria, and now they are being driven out of that country as well. However while McTernan says: ‘What is it about the Kurds? Why can they bring wisdom and maturity to political decision-making?’, they still, culturally, have much more in common with their Arab counterparts than what would be considered ‘British values’.
In 2007 a Yazidi teenager – Dua Khalil – was stoned to death by a crowd of young men due to suspicions she was having a romantic relationship with a Sunni Muslim boy. Security officers standing by filmed the brutal murder on their phones, and the ‘action’ was available to watch on international news channels such as CNN. It was evident that this footage was captured not due to the horror of the bystanders, but as a method of commemoration; to share it with others. I make reference to this because ‘we’ in the West tend to associate honour killings with Arabs, Muslims and Sharia law – many Kurds are Muslims (Khalil was Yazidi) – however the practice is more cultural than religious . Dua Khalil was murdered in 2007, but these so-called ‘honor killings’ are still rife in Kurdistan. Johanna Higgs writes:
In Kurdistan, the UN estimates that the number of honor killings might be as high as 50 each month, and that most of the deaths go unreported. One reason that they continue to be a leading cause of death for women may be the increasingly oppressed position of women in Iraqi society. An Iraqi Kurdish writer, Berivan Dosky, wrote in The Guardian that conditions for women in post-war Iraq are a disaster, including in Kurdistan. Dreams of equality and peace that emerged among women after the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime (and complicated by the United States’ invasion) have diminished, as many women still bear the burden of their families’ honor.
This contrasts wildly with the image we are given in the West, of a Kurdish egalitarian oasis, surrounded by savage Arabs (similar to the depiction we are presented with of Israel). It is important to note however that the Kurds are not one homogeneous group – Iraqi Kurds are not the same as Syrian, Iranian and Turkish Kurds, and within each country there are multiple factions that don’t all get along with one another. Therefore while Kurdish women in Syria may be more equal to their male counterparts, there is huge gender inequality in Iraq.
Gender rights for all Iraqi women regressed by decades as a result of the US-led invasion. To read a first-hand account of a young (Arab) woman living through the occupation, visit Baghdad Burning (start from the bottom of the page and read upwards). The author’s story of no longer being able to leave the house without a male relative and her head uncovered, plus losing her job due to her gender, is heartbreaking.
To return to the Kurds: female genital mutilation is also widespread. Wikipedia states:
Human Rights Watch reported that female genital cutting is practiced mainly by Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, reportedly 60% percent of Kurdish women population have undergone this procedure, although the KRG claimed that the figures are exaggerated. Girls and women receive conflicting and inaccurate messages from public officials on its consequences. The Kurdistan parliament in 2008 passed a draft law outlawing the practice, but the ministerial decree necessary to implement it, expected in February 2009, was cancelled. As reported to the Centre for Islamic Pluralism by the non-governmental organization Stop FGM in Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, on 25 November, officially admitted the wide prevalence in the territory of female genital mutilation (FGM). Recognition by the KRG of the frequency of this custom among Kurds came during a conference program commemorating the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. On 27 November 2010, the Kurdish government officially admitted to violence against women in Kurdistan and began taking serious measures. 21 June 2011 The Family Violence Bill was approved by the Kurdistan Parliament, it includes several provisions criminalizing the practice.
Additionally, it is not just females that suffer oppression from cruel laws and practices. In a current ongoing case, a young man – Yousef Muhammad Ali – is on trial for criticising Islam. The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) write:
Yousef Muhammad Ali who spent many years studying Islam and Sharia law made a presentation in school on the Big Bang Theory. Islamists in his class instigated a fatwa against him. Also he faced threats when he criticised Islam on Facebook. Upon receiving a number of death threats, he contacted the police and filed a grievance against a perpetrator. His case was sent to a public tribunal in Darbandikhan, which rather than address the threats to Yousef Muhammad Ali’s life, had him arrested. He was then transferred to Sulaymaniyah jail. On 15th December 2014, his sentence was renewed until the 22nd December 2014. After campaigning by rights activists and journalists in Kurdistan and abroad he was released on bail on 17 December 2014. His hearing date is on 13 July 2015.
Yousef’s case is the kind of story we would expect to hear in relation to Saudi Arabia, but in reality the Western public know little about the Kurds that we profess so much support for. The above examples are by no means an attempt to bash the Kurds, but only serve to highlight that they are hardly the Westernised partners they’re made out to be.
It seems like every time you hear a British or American politician on TV giving their opinion on defeating ISIS, their answer is sending more weapons to the Kurds. In reality, to the US, both the YPG and the Peshmerga are nothing more than their proxy force on the ground enabling the carving up of Syria and Iraq. It is evident that serious airstrikes against Daesh only take place to aid Kurdish forces, such as in Kobani, Tal Abyad and Erbil. No doubt the Americans will create a Kurdistan homeland for their allies against ISIS, but only because doing so is a step towards remaking the Middle East into a number of ethnically and religiously homogeneous statelets in the service of America and Israeli imperialism and for easier control of oil reserves, rather than a genuine desire to help their long-oppressed pawns.
The Kurds must also be warned that accepting aid from America/NATO comes at a price, therefore they will likely have to give up some form of their sovereignty in return for independence. Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is essentially an American outpost in Iraq. An oil town, it is home to an American consulate, and is filled with thousands of American workers and five star hotels, while the
You don’t need to know Hebrew to find the humour in Netanyahu’s swearing in speech during Friday’s Knesset session:
From the London Review of Books:
Yesterday, on the 67th anniversary of the establishment of Israel (Palestinians commemorate the Nakba today), Binyamin Netanyahu was sworn in as prime minister. It’s taken him a while to put together a governing coalition of 61 seats, against 59 in the opposition. It’s worth watching the first minute of Netanyahu’s speech to the Knesset. You don’t have to understand Hebrew. ‘Tonight with God’s help,’ he begins, ‘we will create a government in Israel.’ He pauses for a second. ‘We will defend Israeli security.’ Another pause. ‘And we will strive for peace.’ At the word ‘peace’ (‘shalom’) many members of the Knesset couldn’t contain themselves. Bursts of spontaneous laughter broke out from the opposition benches. Led by Arab MKs from the Joint List, the contagious laughter carried away more and more members of the opposition. The word ‘peace’ in Israel, especially spoken by Netanyahu, is a joke. It is indeed funny to watch. Yet it is the tragic story of Israel.
On so-called “Jerusalem Day” today – an annual event held to celebrate the occupying of the city – extremist Israeli settlers marched through the streets chanting slogans such as: ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘Mohammed is Dead’. They also distributed flyers calling for the destruction of the Al-Aqsa Mosque – Islam’s 3rd holiest site. A Jordanian TV crew were attacked and chased through the streets by these colonialist terrorists.
Update – a female correspondent for RT Arabic was assaulted by Israeli police. From RT;
Dalia Nammari and the cameraman Muhammad Aishu were filming the march of settlers, which they had been accredited to, when the police interfered with their work and took away the camera. The crew continued to report from the scene using a smart phone and going on air live via Skype, when the police attacked them again.
Last year, Israeli forces raided a building in Ramallah where the offices of several media outlets, including RT’s Arabic channel, were located. The troops broke down the doors of the offices, destroyed some of the equipment and confiscated records.
During last year’s siege of Gaza, Israeli forces killed a total of 18 journalists.
click on the subtitles button if you require English subtitles
Palestinian hip-hop group DAM have released a new video for their single “Who You Are?” on Thursday, as a joint project between them and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Completed with the help of its newest, female, member – Maysa Daw – the song draws attention to women’s rights and is critical of the patriarchal society in which the group grew up in.
DAM are considered to be the first Palestinian hip-hop group, having formed in 1990 in the city Lyd. They have previously released two albums and star in the documentary film “Slingshot Hip Hop,” which takes a look at the nascent hip hop scene in Palestine.
It’s important to learn more about the ordinary lives of the Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, and indeed Israel itself, rather than sweeping them under the rug with the rest of the Middle East in the never-ending “War on/of Terror.” Israel said 9/11 was great for their country, and has done everything in its power – which is quite clearly compiled of vast resources of wealth compared to the Palestinians – to dehumanise them, and depict them as soulless terrorists, in every way imaginable.
Two weekends ago, as the annual AIPAC conference took place, Orthodox Jews in New York, Washington and Jerusalem protested against the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s presence in the US. Prior to his “controversial” speech to Congress (in which he would claim that a nuclear deal with Iran would pose an existential threat to his country) Netanyahu declared that he would go to Washington as he went to Paris: to speak for all Jews.
The audacity of such a statement was all the more astonishing when taking into consideration the fact that President Hollande had specifically asked the Israeli PM not to attend the march in Paris.
There’s not much to say about Bibi’s speech itself – I think anyone familiar with the man can guess what he had to say – but the resulting protests did give the world this amusing slogan:
Which – whether deliberately or not – was a delightful play upon one of Likud’s current election campaign ads…
In an interview with Vox last month Barack Obama said: ‘We occasionally have to twist the arms of countries that wouldn’t do what we need them to do.’ He elaborated, stating that “if it weren’t for the various economic or diplomatic or, in some cases, military leverage that we had — if we didn’t have that dose of realism, we wouldn’t get anything done, either.”
Thanks to a cache of intelligence cables that were leaked to the Guardian, we now have an example of one such occasion. The leaked documents revealed that Barack Obama once “threatened” Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. This was in relation to the 2012 bid by the Palestinian Authority to seek ‘non-member observer status’ at the United Nations. The article states:
A South African state security agency report from November 2012 records a Palestinian intelligence officer handing over a memo detailing a phone call made by the US president to the Palestinian leader “where President Obama threatened President Abbas if he goes ahead with the UN bid”.
Abbas pressed ahead with the application to the UN, and a fortnight later the general assembly backed the bid, which smoothed the way for the Palestinians to attempt to bring cases against Israel at the international criminal court.
The nature of Obama’s threat isn’t expanded upon in the cables, however that the administration sought to punish Abbas and the Palestinians for seeking to use the appropriate and legal international bodies as a means of establishing their state says a lot about the White House’s disregard for democracy and human rights – despite the constant invoking of such principles by the administration as a reason for bombing non-compliant nations, or applying sanctions etc.
Surely this proves once and for all that the U.S. is not a neutral mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. If anyone needs to be threatened, Obama should be telling Netanyahu that he will no longer be receiving $3 billion of aid every year until Israel proves itself willing to return to the pre-1967 borders, and commit to a meaningful resolution to the conflict.
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When I first heard Obama actually admitting to twisting arms, I immediately thought of the US’s insistence that the EU impose sanctions on Russia following the downing of MH17 last summer. Despite – almost a year later – no investigation apportioning blame having been published, within hours of the crash Obama had proclaimed Vladimir Putin to be personally responsible. New sanctions were implemented, and the EU soon followed suit. This definitely seemed like a case of arm-twisting; Joe Biden even said that the White House had had to “embarrass” European leaders into imposing the sanctions.
For months now the behaviour of Angela Merkel and others has been so at odds with reality, that blackmail seems like the only credible reason for this. It seems like the NSA certainly picked up some good dirt on Merkel while bugging her phone. When she and Hollande flew to Moscow to meet with Putin in January, the lack of an American or British presence was telling. So was the fact that the three leaders spoke for hours without aides. Then, when Merkel visited the White House the week after, some incriminating photographs of her with a group of skinhead/neo-Nazi types were published only hours before she and Obama met. Anonymous took credit for this, however due to the decentralized nature of the group, it would be possible for anyone with an agenda to have published these photos on behalf of the hacker collective.
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Obviously this is all just speculation, but as Obama has admitted to using coercive means to achieve his objectives – as is evidenced by his threatening of Mahmoud Abbas – it seems likely that he and his administration have issued threats to the EU.
Thus the lofty statements made by the White House, State Department etc alluding to the importance of democratic principles, self-determination, human rights, freedom of speech and so on become rather meaningless when these are not backed up by actions to support them.
Sadly there is another parallel to be drawn from the current situations in Palestine and Ukraine. While Russia receives sanctions for its so-called “annexation” of Crimea – despite the peninsula voting overwhelmingly to rejoin its homeland – Israel receives billions of dollars in aid every year to maintain their occupation of Palestine, when it can be guaranteed that given the choice, no Palestinian would choose to live under Israeli rule.