[Marxism] Have the Syrian Kurds Committed War Crimes?

Nick Fredman nick.j.fredman at gmail.com
Fri Feb 10 18:21:54 MST 2017

I've not got time to take up everything in this long article in detail but

* The uncritical relaying of a truther-like conspiracy theory peddled by a
former regime judge that the ISIS assault on Kobane was fake news;

* The uncritical relaying of a conspiracy theory peddled by a regime
security operative, albeit in more creative detail than other versions of
the theory, that self-government in Rojava was a cosy arrangement secretly
worked out in early 2011. This theory and those of close PYD-regime
collaboration is widespread in different versions among both Assadists and
among those supportive of the Syrian rebels, including in the latter case
otherwise relatively sensible people like Joseph Daher in his recent
Jacobin article. But such theories ignore the fact that self-government
clearly dates from the violent seizure of power by Kurdish forces in July
2012, taking advantage of the crisis precipitated by the Damascus bombing
of a number of regime figures, and that subsequent administrative
arrangements are post-hoc adaptations to the politico-military balance of
forces that can and do break down regularly due to the incompatibility of
the aims of each side, as discussed for example in the report on this
academic discussion on the Rojava experience available at
BTW I think such arrangement haven't been unknown in rebel-held areas,
judging by a description in Jonathan Littell's Syrian notebooks of a
pharmacy in rebel-held Homs still receiving Health Ministry subsidised
medicine (I'm sure most health and other arrangements between the centre
and regions have collapsed or been denied in rebel held areas); also BTW
Daher's conspiracy theory of recent close collaboration that would lead to
a pay-off to the PYD-led movement was rather contradicted by the recent
complete rejection of any federalism by the regime (Daher was particularly
silly in seeing the dropping of the Kurdish word Rojava from the name of
the Northern Syrian Federation as proof of his theory, nonsensical given
that it was part of a stronger declaration of independence from the regime
and of a democratic alternative for all of Syria);

* The uncritical relaying of the views of the increasingly
military-authoritarian Turkish state and the billionaire ganster-run
northern Iraq quasi-state that they're innocent injured parties who've just
had to form a tight blockage around Rojava because the regime there is so
very bad;

* Regarding "ethnic cleansing" claims, the heavy use of satellite photos
which haven't been shown to prove anything except that buildings are
destroyed in war; the article claims that there's "lots and lots" of
example where the destruction post-dated fighting, but in the example it
gives, the dates between the photos includes periods of fighting; it should
be noted more often that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Rejected
these claims in 2015
as did a team from the Syrian National Coalition
and that a Human Rights Watch report had some negative things to say about
the Rojava regime in 2014 which may or may not have some validity but
didn't mention ethnic cleansing

* On ethnic cleansing and other issues, the author claims PYD figures just
brushed him off; he doesn't mention the PYD's detailed rebuttal of the
Amnesty International report on this, which surely he was referred to and
which he should have studied and cited in any case (I reckon from the way
he discusses the satellite photo issue probably saw it but dubiously
declines to cite it);

* The highly dubious assumptions about the motivations and views of Kurdish
and other refugees from the region; people of varied views flee war, as
shown by the somewhat surprising result in the often cited survey of Syrian
refugees that 40% supported the Assad regime
the claim that the main reason people are fleeing Rojava is conscription
and opposition to the system there is completely undercut by the
eye-witness reports of masses of people returning when fighting eases

Considering that, while I wouldn't discount authoritarian tendencies or
abuses by the PYD movement, if there's credible evidence of such, but I'd
say this report is only damning of the journalist's lack of balance,
objectivity and knowledge of the issues. By the rather sensationalist style
and dubious and unbalanced use of evidence I'd say he was determined to
justify his grant by finding a sensational story that bravely contradicted
received wisdom, so that's what he found.

On Thu, Feb 9, 2017 at 9:02 PM, Michael Karadjis via Marxism <
marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:

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> This report sounds pretty damning. Not sure how much I trust all the
> allegations of PYD-Iran collaboration, or especially of PYD-ISIS
> collaboration; and the claim that thousands of Kurds take refuge in Turkey
> to evade YPG conscription, rather than to avoid war, seems far-fetched (and
> in any case, not backed up in this article at least); but the large-scale
> abuses seem fairly well-documented.
> Have the Syrian Kurds Committed War Crimes?
> This special report, which also exposes their collusion with the Assad
> regime, undermines their claim to be leading a democratic, open society.
> By Roy Gutman
> https://www.thenation.com/article/have-the-syrian-kurds-comm
> itted-war-crimes/
> Yesterday 3:39 pm

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