[Marxism] Terror in Kurdistan

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Feb 3 12:16:51 MST 2004

Today's NY Times has an op-ed piece by Peter W. Galbraith, the former US 
Ambassador to Croatia, blaming the recent suicide bomb attacks on 
terrorists who infiltrated Kurdistan when border controls were relaxed 
under US pressure:

"Until Sunday, the Kurdish lands had been largely free of the terrorism 
and chaos that has plagued the rest of the country. In April, they 
protested American demands to dismantle the controls on the border 
separating them from the rest of newly freed Iraq. They argued that it 
would let terrorists in. When the Americans relented months later as 
chaos grew in the south, many Kurds felt it was too late. The bombings 
on Sunday will reinforce widely shared doubts about a closer association 
with Baghdad."

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/03/opinion/03GALB.html

His op-ed piece supports the perspective laid out in another op-ed piece 
by Leslie Gelb that I took note of in my swans.com article on the Kurds. 
(http://www.swans.com/library/art10/iraq/proyect.html) Gelb proposed 
that Iraq be divided into three separate states: Kurdish in the North; 
Sunni in the Center and Shi'ite in the South. It is clear that somebody 
like Galbraith, who was a key player in the breakup of Yugoslavia, would 
be enthusiastic over such a solution. Perhaps the only thing holding 
back a break-up of Iraq is opposition from Turkey, a state with much 
more clout than the Kurds--a Bishop in comparison to a pawn, so to speak.

 From Galbraith's op-ed piece you would get the impression of something 
like Palestinians crawling under a fence to attack a Tel Aviv 
restaurant. Some fanatic from the Sunni triangle snuck across the 
borders with Kurdistan while nobody was looking and crashed the 
celebrations at Kurdish HQ's. This impression might be reinforced by 
accusation from Kurd leaders that Ansar al-Islam was involved. By all 
accounts, this is an armed group that is believed to be allied with 
Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida.

There's one problem, however. Ansar al-Islam is also supposed to be 
based *inside* Kurdistan. Since al-Qaida is supposedly an expression of 
Islamic fundamentalism, why would such a group operate inside Kurdistan? 
As it turns out, the answer is quite simple. Ansar al-Islam is made up 
of Kurds who *are* Islamic fundamentalists, a fact that never entered 
Galbraith's op-ed piece or figures at all in the hysterical coverage 
about the suicide bombings.

According to Human Rights Watch:

"Scores of Iraqi Kurds affiliated to Ansar al-Islam, including key 
leaders, consider themselves veterans of the Afghan war. They had spent 
time in Afghanistan, initially fighting against Soviet forces during the 
1980s. Representatives of other Iraqi Kurdish Islamist groups who 
maintain links with Ansar al-Islam told Human Rights Watch that a small 
number of Iraqi Kurds affiliated to the group had also fought alongside 
the Taliban, and that they then returned to Iraqi Kurdistan following 
the latter's defeat."

Ansar has its roots in something called the Islamic Movement of 
Kurdistan (IMK) which received 6 percent of the vote in 1991. If there 
are 4 million Kurds in Iraq, this means that Ansar has a social and 
political base among 200,000 people. With such a substantial base, it 
seems that plugging holes in the border is not the answer, especially 
since it has been reported that the suicide bombers came into the 
Kurdish headquarters without any suspicions being raised about their 
appearance or language. As might be expected, the suicide bombings have 
increased the intensity of the demands for a separate Kurdish state, 
which will no doubt increase the contradictions between Turkey and the 
USA. Whatever illusions the US imperialists once had about a cake-walk, 
they will continue to be dashed in coming months.


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