Imperialism and the Islamic State

The Islamic State (IS) is inextricably tied to the actions of the imperialists. In FRFI 241 we argued that IS was formed as a legacy of imperialist intervention across the Middle East and beyond (see ‘Islamic State: imperialist terror’). The imperialists sponsored and funded jihadists to undermine communists, nationalists and secularists – the social and political forces which held back reactionary trends in political Islam. Countless recruits to jihadist organisations have joined to fight against brutal imperialist occupation, war and torture. It has now come to light that the IS leadership and ideology was largely forged in US prison camps in Iraq. Toby Harbertson reports.

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Victory in Kobane

After 135 days of heroic resistance the defenders of Kobane cleared the city of Islamic State (IS) forces on 26 January 2015. Representatives of the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) said that they would proceed to clear the surrounding villages of IS. IS attacked Kobane on 15 September 2014. Over 200,000 people crossed the border into Turkey. Turkey’s President Erdogan said, ‘Kobane may fall very soon.’ The Kurdish fighters fought with determination, organisation and skill. They were joined by peshmerga from South Kurdistan (northern Iraq), volunteers from the Turkish Marxist Leninist Communist Party (MLKP), elements of the Free Syrian Army and others and they were helped by bomb attacks on IS positions by the US Air Force. The Turkish state obstructed volunteers from joining the defence of Kobane from North Kurdistan (Turkey). In the end, IS forces were reported fleeing into Turkey, to be escorted away from the border with Syria by Turkish troops.

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Israel, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda: the war in the Golan Heights

The Zionist settler state of Israel has made clear that it intends to increase its military involvement in southern Syria, against the resistance axis of Hezbollah, the Syrian government, Iran and Palestinian militants, and in a tacit alliance with Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Jabhat Al Nusra (JN). Israeli drones launched an unprovoked drone strike on Hezbollah soldiers on 18 January near the Syrian town of Quneitra, killing eight, including an Iranian general. After further Israeli strikes on Syrian positions, Hezbollah retaliated, killing two Israeli soldiers. Following this, Israeli attacks on southern Lebanon killed a Spanish UN soldier. With the major imperialist powers taking steps to normalise relations with Iran, and giving qualified support to peace negotiations involving the Syrian government, Israel sees attacks on Syria and Hezbollah as the best way to reassert its own interests.

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Islamic State: Permanent war in the Middle East

The Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq presents a huge problem for the imperialists, right at the heart of one of the world’s most resource rich regions. Through decades of war and manipulation the US, Britain, France and other imperialist powers have created the social, economic and sectarian conditions for the rise of IS. Every state in the region has been shaped by its relationship to the imperialist system. But the crisis of the system is accelerating. Contradictions are throwing themselves up in the path of imperialist strategy. Reacting to new obstacles the imperialists are creating yet more problems – for their own interests and for the people of the region. Having let IS grow to challenge the Syrian government and Iran’s growing influence, NATO powers have created a fundamentalist monster they can neither control nor destroy. They were forced to take action when IS posed a threat to their oil interests in Iraq. Now they are left fighting an expensive and difficult war in Iraq and Syria, with a lack of commitment from regional allies and threats to their economic hegemony on the horizon. Toby Harbertson reports.

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! says Long Live Kurdistan! Biji Kurdistan!


Speech by Trevor Rayne from Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! to the demonstration to support the Kurdish resistance forces of the YPG and YPJ in Kobane called by the Kurdistan National Congress in Parliament Square, London on 11 October 2014.

Today, the struggle of the Kurdish people in Kobane is on the front line of the struggle for all of humanity. They are not just fighting the Islamic State they are fighting the forces of barbarism, of ignorance and intolerance, the forces of mass murder and those who, like the Turkish state, would excuse them and use them for their own short term and selfish ends.

People in Britain have a particular responsibility for the fate of the Kurdish people. At the end of the First World War there were two great losers when the British and French imperialists carved up the old Ottoman Empire; the Palestinians and the Kurds. Their suffering endures down to today. Enough! It must end, it must be stopped.

As we are here on this historic site opposite the Houses of Parliament shall we have a little history? At the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, agreed by among others the gentleman represented by that statue there, Winston Churchill, the Kurds were promised a homeland. By 1923 and the Treaty of Lausanne all such promises were broken. The Kurds were partitioned between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. These four states were founded upon the oppression of the Kurds. The Kurdish people’s struggle for rights stands at the heart of any movement towards democracy in the Middle East, it is inextricably intertwined with its fate.

Today, the Turkish state has tried to set a trap for the Kurds in Kobane and Rojava. It intends to use ISIS to destroy the Kurdish people’s struggle for freedom and self-determination. Turkey blockades Rojava, West Kurdistan, but allows ISIS to travel across its border to Syria to fight the Kurds. Turkey uses its army to stop Kurdish people crossing to help defend Kobane, but it has transported weapons and fighters to ISIS. According to London’s own prestigious Financial Times ISIS smuggles oil from northern Iraq for sale in Turkey, thereby funding ISIS.     

Turkey’s President Erdogan says the PKK and ISIS are both terrorist organisations. What a hypocrite, what a Janus, two-faced liar he is. We demand that the PKK be decriminalised in Britain and Europe; it is not a criminal organisation – Turkey is the international pariah! Secondly, in keeping with the demand of the United Nations Special Envoy to Syria made yesterday, we demand that the British government demands that Turkey allows Kurdish volunteers to cross the border to defend Kobane and Rojava – with weapons. Humanitarian and medical aid supplies must be sent now.

Today, now, right now, the people of Kobane, the Kurdish people have provided the world with a pinnacle of resistance. New peaks will arise and you will see the land you have fought for and deserve, a free and independent Kurdistan. Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! says Long Live Kurdistan! Biji Kurdistan!