[Marxism] David Graeber: manufactured ignorance: the strange case of Juan Cole and the Kurdish freedom movement

Chris Slee chris_w_slee at hotmail.com
Fri Mar 2 14:27:25 MST 2018


Salih Muslim's statement that "many who were siding with the insurrection were coming from the mosques" was very unfortunate in its wording.  But I think he was referring to the  Islamist (and Sunni sectarian) politics of much of the rebel leadership.  He said the goal of the PYD was a "democratic and secular state".  The Islamists had a different goal, so they were not allies.

When Salih Muslim talks of the "regime change project", he is not referring to the original uprising against Assad, but the attempt to use that uprising to instal a new government backed by Turkey and the West.  He makes the point that such a government was likely to be repressive towards the Kurds.

Chris Slee


________________________________________
From: Marxism <marxism-bounces at lists.csbs.utah.edu> on behalf of mkaradjis . via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Sent: Friday, 2 March 2018 1:24:02 PM
To: Chris Slee
Subject: Re: [Marxism] David Graeber: manufactured ignorance: the strange case of Juan Cole and the Kurdish freedom movement

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Sorry Nick, who wrote anything here to whitewash the Turkish state.
Look, it is not a matter of one statement by Salih Muslim in 2013,
repulsive as that one was. You need to deal with the fact that the
PYD's decision to go its own entirely neutral "third way" from the
very outset has been part of the problem, as well as the problems
arising from Turkish pressure on the opposition and the opposition's
own Arab nationalist background.

PYD leader Salih Muslim admits that they effectively declared
themselves neutral as early as mid-2011:

“Regarding our position in the conflict, the Kurds in Syria had been
fighting for our democratic rights in a country ruled by a dynastic
and despotic regime. But a few months after the uprising we realized
that many who were siding with the insurrection were coming from the
mosques and we thought that those were not good travel companions for
us.” http://kurdistantribune.com/2016/salih-muslim-time-has-proved-us-right/

Yes, thousands of Syrians were pouring out of mosques – one of the
only safe places – and going to protest for democracy against Assad
from the earliest days; it is immensely sectarian (in the political
sense) to see all these people as your enemies “a few months” into the
uprising, as if every worshipper protesting for democracy and freedom
is a crazed jihadist.

In an interview back in 2011, Salih Muslim (who was curiously allowed
back into Syria by Assad, following years of exile), also used
familiar Assadist tropes in defining the uprising as a western “regime
change” operation:

“As PYD, we believe that the international plan asking for a change in
Syria is not in favor of the peoples … In return for assuming the
leading role on Syria, Turkey received compromises by the West on
suppressing the Syrian Kurds. One of the major reasons of the regime
change project in Syria was to eliminate the Kurdish” (PYD Lideri
Salih Müslim ile Röportaj, “Suriye’de Kürtler yol haritası
çıkartıyor”, Firat News Agency, 12 September 2011, cited in
http://www.todayszaman.com/todays-think-tanks_syrias-pkk-game_271361.html).

Then there were the PYD attacks on Kurdish anti-Assad demonstrations,
beginning in Afrin in February 2012. I quoted from Burning Country on
this in a recent post. here is another report:

“On February 3, 2012, organized attacks by sympathizers of the
Democratic Union Party (PYD) injured at least 17 people in ʿAfrin.
Armed PYD supporters surrounded approximately three hundred supporters
of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference as they were gathering for a
dissident demonstration. The PYD demanded that the demonstrators walk
behind their flag. When the demonstrators refused and chanted “Azadî”
(“Freedom”), they were attacked with billy clubs, knives, chains, and
guns.
… Syrian security forces did not intervene. Numerous demonstrators
were brought to the hospital—however, some of them could not be
treated as the PYD also continued its attacks there.”
http://kurdwatch.org/en/interview8/html?aid=2449&z=en

According to the same report, five demonstrations took place the same
day in al-Qamishli. The regime arrested several people, but also
“during the demonstration in al-Antariyah, PYD thugs attacked
activists who were filming the protests with the explanation that only
employees of the PKK stations Roj-TV and Ronahi-TV were allowed to
make such recordings. Three activists suffered serious head injuries.”

The rest of 2012 is a literal catalogue of PYD attacks on Kurdish
anti-Assad demonstrations. Depending on the situation, the PYD
sometimes organised its own anti-Assad demonstrations, while at other
times it attempted to swap the anti-Assad slogans for demands that
Ocalan be released and the like.

Valid criticism is not "demonisation." Only blind romanticism leads to
demonisation, which is why so many Rojava romantics often start
spurning out the crudest Islamophobic nonsense about "head-choppers"
as soon as any rebels out side Rojava are mentioned. Perhaps time for
a more critical outlook.

On Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 1:06 PM, Nick Fredman via Marxism
<marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
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>
> Ok then we pretty much know for sure that at least 6 people in Afrin or
> about 0.001% of the current population held up placards of Assad, and that
> their reasons for doing so might have been influenced by what the former
> leader of the PYD said about one regime attack 5 years ago. I’m not sure
> though this is the most important point with regard to an article about how
> a well-known and avowedly leftist US academic is systematically demonizing
> the PKK and PYD and systematically whitewashing the Turkish state.
>
> On Fri, 2 Mar 2018 at 9:08 am, Louis Proyect <lnp3 at panix.com> wrote:
>
>> On 3/1/18 5:01 PM, Nick Fredman wrote:
>> >
>> > Louis uses “Kurds” for these placard holders when he does not know their
>> > ethnicity, or, more to the point if we don’t want to ape lazy, ignorant
>> > journalists in the bourgeois media, their political affiliations or
>> views.
>>
>> Maybe that's because my views were shaped by PYD leader Salih Muslim
>> calling the sarin gas attack in East Ghouta that cost the lives of more
>> than a thousand people a "false flag". Any leader capable of making such
>> a terrible statement is creating an atmosphere where it is entirely
>> plausible that his followers would hold pictures of the killer of those
>> people aloft.
>>
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