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Secessionism in Iraqi Kurdistan Under the Banner of Referendum


Secessionism in Iraqi Kurdistan Under the Banner of Referendum, in the Service of Imperialist and Zionist Interests.

Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)

Communists agree with the principle of the right of nations to self-determination by means of their own struggle and not by outside interventions. The communists achieved this principle through their struggles against colonialism and imperialism, which violated and are violating national rights. At the same time, the communists do not issue a blank check for the rights of nations to secede in all cases. In each case, a concrete analysis must be carried out in order to determine whether the secession will be in the best interest of the struggle of the working class and in favour of the people against neo-colonialism, imperialism, and Zionism. If not, the question becomes, “Will secession be in the service of world reaction that will strengthen the counter-revolutions in the world?” We agree with the separation of Ireland and Scotland from Britain, for example, because such separation weakens the world counter-revolution and creates a more favourable ground for class struggle in these countries. We disagree with the division of Yugoslavia because it served the world reaction.

In the case of Iraqi Kurdistan:

1) The Autonomous Government of Iraqi Kurdistan has decided to conduct an organized referendum with the official and open support of Israeli Zionism to secede from Iraq and to establish an “independent” Kurdistan in northern Iraq. This runs contrary to the constitution of Iraq, which the Autonomous Government had signed to it. Is a bourgeois and national chauvinist government and a close ally of imperialism and Zionism in the region really independent?

In the next step, the Kurdish regions of Turkey, Syria, and Iran should join the “independent” Iraqi Kurdistan to declare a so-called unified and independent state of Kurdistan. This independence is even opposed by the Security Council of the United Nations. The only country that openly and officially supports this “independence” is the aggressive state of Zionist Israel whose expert agents continue to sabotage and provoke conflict in the region. Also, Saudi Arabia has hidden behind Israel and the U.S. imperialists and has actively moved to build a reliable base for their sinister intentions in the region. Israel has been active in Iraqi Kurdistan for many years. It has deployed military and spy agents to train the Iraqi Kurds and to strengthen their ties with Israeli Kurds who are moving to the area and buying lands in Kurdistan.

After the 1979 Revolution, the Iranian pro-Israeli trends of Mansour Hekmat, with financial and logistical assistance from Israel, entered Iraqi Kurdistan and encouraged the Kurds to make connections with the Israelis. Hekmat’s theories are in the service of removing obstacles to “independent Kurdistan”. The theories of struggle against Iranians’ love for homeland and the support for “patriotism” of national chauvinist Kurds are two examples of such theories; the first was falsely portrayed as chauvinism, and the second as a symbol of internationalism. According to Hekmat’s followers, non-Kurdish communists should be “internationalists” and vote for the secession of Kurdistan, but Kurdish communists should be nationalists and, with all powers and under all conditions, support the dismantling of Iran. They contrive stories that the secession of Iraqi Kurdistan will lead to intensification of class struggle and bring the prospect of socialism in Kurdistan closer. What an invalid statement! Did the rise of the state of Israel intensify the class struggle against the Zionist bourgeoisie within Arab-sieged Israel, or, conversely, did it lead to the suppression and disarmament of the Jewish communists with their tradition of a heroic anti-fascist struggle?

Will the struggle of the Kurdistan working class against their own bourgeoisie flourish and intensify, or will it be suppressed due to a range of factors such as the following: the geographical situation of Kurdistan, the real or fabricated permanent threat by its neighbours, the use of unilateral and misleading propaganda tools and pretexts (such as “external threat”, “Kurdistan security “, and “defence of the existence of the Kurdish people”), the brainwashing of the workers and the public by the imperialist propaganda experts in favour of the Kurdish bourgeoisie, and the conversion of Kurdistan to a base of imperialism and Zionism? It is clear that, as an accomplice to the imperialism and Zionism, the bourgeoisie of Iraqi Kurdistan provides a “calm environment” for the establishment of a national, jingoistic government.

2) Iraqi Kurdistan opened the oil resources to Israel in the aftermath of its complicity with imperialism and Zionism in their invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of its UN-recognized government. The U.S. imperialists and Israeli Zionists, through their political-economical-financial assistance, used the Iraqi Kurds to change the political geography of the region and to create a counter-revolutionary base against all revolutionary forces and the people of the region. In addition, the sell-out Kurds who collaborated with Bill Clinton, George Bush, Obama, and Netanyahu in the destruction of Iraq, strengthened Daesh (ISIS) through a fabrication of events. They encouraged and assisted Daesh in its move towards Baghdad. These counter-revolutionary Kurds are now President Trump’s accomplices in the further destruction of the region. There are Kurdish organizations that consider themselves as revolutionary and communist, but they do not fight against these pro-imperialist and pro-Zionist moves in the region. Their activities consist of a fight for the “Right to Self Determination” by means of alliance with imperialism and Zionism, the creation of a counter-revolutionary base, and a second Israel in the region with the purpose of suppressing the area’s revolutionaries while stabilizing Israel’s status in the region.

This counter-revolutionary Kurdistan, in the context of strategic policies of imperialism and Zionism, will not only be the enemy of the people of the region, but will also fight the presence of any revolutionary and labour movement within Kurdistan itself.

Mullah Mostafa Barzani, the undisputed Kurdish leader and the father of Massoud Barzani, a graduate of the University of Tel Aviv, repeatedly called for U.S. support for Kurdistan and even expressed the desire to annex Iraq’s Kurdistan to the U.S. as its fifty-first state. (See page 57, International Politics and the Middle East, Carl Brown.) Has such a request served the interests of the people of the region and of Kurdistan? Mullah Mostafa Barzani congratulated the Israelis on the defeat of the Arabs in the Six-Day War. Barzani fought with the Shah of Iran and the Savak and Mussad operatives against the Arab people and sent the Kurdish revolutionary anti-Shah opponents to the gallows. In October 1998, U.S. imperialism provided aid to the sell-out opposition, including two main Kurdish groups, the Democratic Party of Barzani and the Patriotic Union of Talebani and to the Kurdish Islamic Movement; $97 million military aid and $2 million propaganda aid, for their assistance in the U.S. occupation and looting of Iraq. There is no Kurdish organization that has condemned these plots against the people of the region including the Kurds.

Now, putting aside the theory,

Doesn’t the emergence of such a counter-revolutionary centre and the right hand of Zionism and imperialism in the region objectively harm the revolutionary national and workers’ movements of all people of the region and even the Kurds?

Doesn’t the emergence of such a counter-revolutionary centre objectively harm the revolutionary and democratic unity of the working classes of nations within each country while representing a futile attempt that damages the struggle for socialism for all people of the country?

Doesn’t the counter-revolutionary decision of secession generate chaos in the region in the interest of imperialism and in the service of a re-division of the world into new areas under imperialist influence?

If history and reality have shown that the answers to these questions is negative, and surely they have, then this move should not be supported on the basis of a general principle. No progressive force can conceal itself under the cover of the “right of nations to self-determination” by means of alliance with imperialism and Zionism. National chauvinist Kurds argue that it is no one’s business whom they want to accept as their master, that alliance and cooperation with Israel and the United States will be their own decision, and that they alone will determine who their friends and enemies are.

If we accept this pseudo-argument, why should the people and working class of the region “raise a snake in their sleeves”, which intends to establish a base against the existence of other countries? Is this not a suicidal move for the people and working classes in the region? Isn’t it selfishness and nationalist blindness to call on all revolutionary forces to accept the creation of a colony in which swords are sharpened against the neighbours? Is it permissible to not recognize as democratic and respectable the moves of a force that “voluntarily” and “democratically” accepts complicity with Israel and imperialism? The “rights” that lead to the destruction of the rights of others or threatens the lives of others, are not rights, but are instead acts of conspiratorial violence. Just as there is no right to murder or to aggression, there is no right to suppress or plot against other nations. No nation can disassociate its fate from the fate of other nations. No nation can generate an atmosphere of false hope for self-determination by means of alliance with imperialism. Such a nation would become indifferent to the bloody repression of other people by the common enemy: the reactionary rulers of the region. The people of the region have the same destiny as the Palestinian people who are the victims of Zionist aggression. The people of the region also support Palestinian liberation struggles against the artificially-built state of Israel. Those who defend the oppression, expulsion, murder, and genocide of the Palestinian people, those who expressed happiness and applauded the Zionist victory over the Arabs, cannot be the supporters of democracy, freedom, and rights of nations to self-determination. One should not ignore the fact that in the aftermath of upcoming events of the economic and military siege of “Independent Kurdistan”, there will be situations that harm the Kurdish people. Unfortunately, the Kurds in alliance with the region’s reactionary forces, as past experiences have shown, will be the first victims of attempts for secession and of regional conflict.

3) In this class struggle that has been waged, apart from a few individuals, the seats of Kurdish communist groups and revolutionary organizations are unfortunately empty. No Kurdish group has come to the scene as a defender of the class interests of the working people, to defend their unity, and to expose and destroy the common and oppressive enemy in each specific country. When non-Kurd communists in Iran or Iraq speak for the elimination of national oppression, in the arena of culture and education in mother tongue or otherwise, they advocate this for all people in Iran, whether Kurd or Azeri. Naturally, the duty of the communists of oppressed minority nations is to promote national unity, to cooperate and ally with other people, to promote the advantage of the existence of a greater country, and to promote the cooperation and alliance of the proletariat of all these nations under the leadership of the party of the working class in Iran or Iraq. The Iranian communists’ support for the legitimate demands of minorities should expose the face of the bourgeoisie of nationalities that intend to deceive their own working class and should contribute to the unity of the class struggle. It’s ridiculous that a self-declared progressive Kurd calls on non- Kurdish communists to defend their secessionist activities unconditionally. According to them, “Kurdish communists” should call for national secession, and non-Kurd communists should also defend national secession and sacrifice the expediency of class struggle and the interest of workers for the interests of national chauvinists. This relationship is not naturally dialectical. By this logic, the “Kurdish communists” are looking for non-Kurdish allies who confirm their secessionist movement with a “communist stamp”.

4) The rights of nations to self-determination which Lenin puts forward, deals with the rights of nations to establish their own national governments, especially during the anti-colonial struggles that the Socialists of the Second International did not recognize. The Second International claimed that since they were “civilized” and their country was more advanced, it was permissible in terms of the interest of the global developments and the growth of productive forces that African and Asian and other colonies remain in the hands of colonialists. With respect to pure democracy, Lenin never addressed the issue of the rights of nations to self-determination, which he correctly regarded as democratic bourgeois rights. There is no such right to pure democracy. Democracy has always had class content. This should be taken into account with regards to the treatment of the right of people to determine their own destiny. The right of nations should be evaluated and given practical support with consideration for the interests of the communist movement. From Marxism-Leninism’s point of view, the issuance of a blank cheque for each group that is “fighting” in abstract for the “right of nation to self-determination” is in complete contradiction with Marxism. In the Soviet Union, the communists never tolerated the plots by the imperialist-allied “Rada” in Ukraine or “Musavat – (Equality) – a national liberal party” or “Dashnaks” in the Caucasus, and suppressed them with the help of the Red Guard and communists of the regions. The interests of socialism and the working class demanded that the bourgeois sections of these governments or forces be suppressed. In Finland, the working-class movement was suppressed by the betrayal of the right-wing “socialists” and by the direct intervention of the Germans and by the reactionary bourgeoisie of the Baltic countries. The Finland solution stemmed from the weakness of the Bolsheviks during the First World War and was never repeated. The national chauvinist Kurds who do not have knowledge of the history of this secession are sticking to “Finland Solution” example in vain and citing it with ignorance.

From the communists’ point of view, during the era of imperialism, one cannot defend a national separation if that separation does not serve the interests of the proletariat. The disintegration of Yugoslavia, Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, the Congo and others were in the interest of the strategic policy of hegemonic imperialism.

We still remember the division of Vietnam and Korea. The communists will not support a policy of “divide and conquer”. The imperialists want to divide the countries so that they can more easily challenge each nation’s independence, threaten its survival, and rule more easily.

At the time when the Great October Socialist Revolution became victorious, the imperialist policy was to unite the divided or isolated states that were not able to confront the influence of communism, to strengthen the central government in these countries, and to put them in confrontation with developing socialism. Reza Khan’s (Reza Shah’s) coup in Iran, the repression of Sheikh Khazaal, Simko Shikak’s followers, and the installation of the central government in Iraq led by King Faisal should be seen and examined in the context of this analysis. Now that the Soviet Union has disintegrated and its power has diminished, and China cannot yet play the role of the former Soviet Social Imperialism, the division of countries has been put on the imperialists’ agenda. It is easier for the imperialists to dominate countries such as Macedonia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, and Serbia than it is for them to dominate a strong and unified country like Yugoslavia. It should be said that Bosnia-Herzegovina or Kosovo is essentially not a country, because their survival hangs by a hair.

Stalin, describing Lenin’s ideas and the Marxist-Leninist conception of the national question in the era of imperialism, wrote that:

“It was formerly the ‘accepted’ idea that the only method of liberating the oppressed peoples is the method of bourgeois nationalism, the method of nations drawing apart from one another, the method of disuniting nations, and the method of intensifying national enmity among the labouring masses of the various nations.

“That legend must now be regarded as refuted. One of the most important results of the October Revolution is that it dealt that legend a mortal blow, by demonstrating in practice the possibility and expediency of the proletarian, internationalist method of liberating the oppressed peoples, as the only correct method; by demonstrating in practice the possibility and expediency of a fraternal union of the workers and peasants of the most diverse nations based on the principles of voluntariness and internationalism. The existence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, which is the prototype of the future integration of the working people of all countries into a single world economic system, cannot but serve as direct proof of this.” (The International Character of the October Revolution, On the Occasion of the Tenth Anniversary of the October Resolution, November 6-7, 1927)

5) The Marxist-Leninist Kurds are placed along with the communists of other nationalities residing in Iran that fight for a common cause. The Kurdish organizations that declare themselves Iranian communists have not taken the smallest steps to expose the complicity of the reactionary Kurds with Zionism and the imperialism and reaction of the region including Saudi Arabia. This conduct alone shows the extent to which they are caught in the web of the Zionist financial networks and the imperialist influences in the region. They are incapable of making independent moves. It is the duty of the Kurdish organizations and groups in particular to expose, on the basis of the tragic and undeniable experience of the past, the destructive roles of Zionism and imperialism in cooperation and relation with the Kurds, and in particular with the Iraqi Kurds. Unfortunately, in this context, the national chauvinism’s spotlight has blinded the eyes and the opportunism of the Iranian liberal oppositions. Obviously, no organization with such a disgraceful stand can seize the leadership of the people’s struggles. The deviant Kurdish organizations do not pay attention to this opposition and laugh at them for the service these cowards give to the Zionists.

Long live the unity and solidarity of the people of the region against reaction, imperialism, and Zionism!

Long live socialism, the banner of human liberation!

The Party of Labour of Iran (Toufan)

September 23, 2017

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Claims and facts about the right of nations to self-determination


Claims and facts about the right of nations to self-determination,following the independence referendums in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia.

Following the independence referendums in Iraqi Kurdistan and Catalonia, the right of nations to self-determination has become a popular debate. Here are some of the claims and facts about this right:

Claim 1. Defending the right of nations to self-determination ignites separatism

The right of self-determination is a way of respecting a nation’s right to live the way it chooses to. Lenin states that this right applied even to the most ‘extreme’ options, including the ‘right to secession’. For this reason, the right of nations to self-determination forms the ‘right to establish a separate state’. This means that even if a majority of a nation now calls to ‘break off from’, i.e. ‘secession’, this right must be recognised. However, Lenin did not want this right because he wanted a separation, but because he wanted to advocate a genuine fraternity and unity among peoples. According to the programme of the Bolsheviks, the solution to the national question was to recognise the right of self-determination, and through this, removing all national privileges under a single state framework as a voluntary union based on equal rights. In order for the peoples to live together, the ‘right to secession’ must be recognised. Prohibition of this right encourages separation. For example, the more the demand of Turkey’s Kurds to have autonomous life is repressed, the more the Kurdish people gain a sense of need for ‘separation’. Therefore, the right of nations to self-determination does not mean to advocate separation but to defend the removal of national privileges and the conditions of voluntary unity.

2. The national question has already been resolved in Iraq. Language, cultural freedoms and autonomy have been provided. The Kurds are no longer an oppressed nation. The referendum serves the interests of Barzani, the President of Kurdistan Regional Government.

It is true that the recent independence referendum is linked with Barzani’s political interests. However, reducing the national question to the issue of language and culture is a liberal approach. For example, why has the national question in Catalonia not been resolved? They have their language, culture, local government and own parliament, but the national question still was not resolved. There is a similar situation in Iraqi Kurdistan and the Kurdish question in Turkey. Even if we assume that language and cultural equality were to be provided, the Kurdish question would not be resolved without the demands of the Kurds for autonomy being met. The national question cannot only be seen as a cultural rights issue. The problem will continue as long as the Kurds request for autonomy is interfered with and prevented from the outside. In the final analysis, the national question is the rejection of the right of a nation to self-determination. In some cases, this will include matters such as language, culture and so on (just like the situation in Turkey for instance) and not in others (Catalonia and Iraqi Kurdistan). And so the national question can not be solved without the recognition of the right to self-determination. For this reason, Turkey’s left’s refusal of this right in ‘good faith’ opens the way to the nationalism of the oppressor nation.

3. To defend the right to a referendum that will clearly lead to separation is to support separatism through the rhetoric of ‘principles’ and ‘rights’.

A socialist from Turkey cannot handle this issue abstractly without taking into consideration the historical context as if they were living in Australia. In Turkey, the nationalism of the oppressor nation is institutionalised and is highly effective among the working people. This nationalism is based on anti-Kurdishness and therefore there is a hysterical hostility to a possible Kurdish state. Establishing a state is seen as a privilege that the Turks hold and therefore a Kurdish state is not deemed appropriate. This is why socialists of Turkey firstly have the duty to help the working people gain an internationalist consciousness and to oppose all national privileges.

The question is as follows: How will an equal friendship-fraternity relationship be established between the Turkish workers and the Kurdish workers? How will the common struggle be achieved? If socialists of Turkey will not respect the will of the Kurds demanding independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, can equality and fraternity even be considerable? The only way to establish trust, fraternity and equality between the nations in the medium term so that a common way of fighting is achieved is through the recognition of the right to self-determination.

4. Those who support the right to self-determination do not care about the common struggle of the peoples.

For the common struggles and fraternity of peoples and show to them that we are brothers, it is necessary to respect their preferences in order to break the prejudices of a people who have been massacred for centuries. This is the foundation of voluntary unity. The right to self-determination is not only a defence of an abstract principal but also a compulsory principle to provide for the fraternity, common struggle and voluntary unity of the peoples.  As Lenin says “Humanity … can only achieve the inevitable union of nations by going through a transition period when all oppressed nations are liberated, i.e. when they have the freedom of secession from the oppressor nation.”

5. Kurdish parties did not support the referendum. Therefore, the referendum does not reflect the will of the Kurdish nation.

It is true that there are differences between the Kurds and their parties. However, the objection of Kurdish parties is not to the referendum itself, but to Barzani’s desire to make the referendum an instrument to serve his own political future. Nearly all Kurdish parties criticized this and called for a ‘yes’ vote the day before the referendum. There will always be division and political infighting within a national movement; their existence does not invalidate the right of people to self-determination; especially for the socialist of another country.

6. In the age of imperialism, the right of people to self-determination is invalid. It is not possible. Small countries get annexed to imperialism.

This is exactly the content of Lenin’s polemics with Luxemburg on the right of people to self-determination. Lenin naturally defends the right of people to self-determination as the solution to the national question. As the right of people to self-determination does not solve patriarchy, press freedom or lowered wages problems, nor does it solve the problem of imperialist economic hegemony.

In his polemic with Luxemburg, Lenin argued this democratic principle not as a solution to all the problems in the world but as an idea to put an end to the national oppression in a multinational country. Of course, this country will be united with the struggle against imperialism and its stance under revolutionary conditions, i.e. progressive or socialist party leadership of the nation. This is the call of the III International and we defend it. Unfortunately, this is not what is happening in the case of Iraqi Kurdistan.

7. While the concept of the right of people to self-determination is the revolutionary concept of yesterday, this question cannot be discussed ‘idealistically’ unless the concept of imperialism in others dependent on itself is seen today.

Imperialism wants to use the right of people to self-determination to serve its own interests. This was done in Yugoslavia. This, however, requires the socialist not to reject the right of people to self-determination, but the perspective to struggle against and combat imperialism. Big monopolies may suggest control of unregistered employment, in part due to the fact that it is an element of “unfair competition”. As seen in WTO meetings, some representatives of imperialist countries may oppose low pay in countries like Bangladesh, in fear of competition. Imperialist countries such as the USA and Russia may fight against ISIS. All this does not require socialists to give up on these claims and defend ISIS. However, it requires one to struggle and act in a revolutionary context. Therefore, apparent defence of this principle by imperialists in some cases cannot be an excuse for socialists to give up. As Lenin expressed in the then current circumstances, “Just as in the example of Latin countries, conditions, where people were lied to with republican slogans and these were used by financial oligarchy for financial pillage cannot be a reason for social-democrats to give up on republicanism; in the same way, in the fight for freedom against the imperialist state, the condition that this could be used by another ‘bigger’ imperialist state for imperialist intentions of same order, cannot be a reason for social-democrats to reject the right of people to self-determination”.

8. If the national movement is collaborationist or bourgeois-led, the right of people to self-determination cannot be defended.

If a national movement was not led by the bourgeoisie, there would be no debate on the right of people to self-determination. The reason for the debate is the bourgeois nature of national movements. Thus, the right of people to self-determination is valid under conditions of bourgeois-led national movements; or even co-operation with imperialism. Socialists recognize it but fight against the nationalist exercise of this right. For example, some in the Turkish left opposition to the referendum in Iraqi Kurdistan openly reject the right of people to self-determination. The referendum is to be respected. The fact that the referendum was brought about by Barzani for various reasons is an internal problem for the people of Kurdistan. When these internal problems are dealt with, there will be no such thing as the right of people to self-determination. Excuses such as “Talabani is a compromiser”, “Goran is a nationalist”, “PKK is nationalist” etc. to deny the right of people to self-determination will never cease to exist. Because an immaculate national movement in human history can never be found. Therefore, it is not the referendum that we should oppose. What we should criticise is Kurdish support for Barzani. And our friendly call to Kurdish workers and labourers is thus: “Do not support Barzani, the representative of the Kurdish co-conspirator bourgeoisie, take your fate into your own hands, do your own politics. Do not let independent Kurdistan become a toy for imperialism.” This call is a sign of our friendly, revolutionary support and solidarity, not a “lecture”. The right of people to self-determination and support for Barzani are two separate things. This is what separates internationalists from Kurdish nationalism.

9. For Lenin, the right of people to self-determination was not a principle but a tactic.

It was beyond a dilemma of whether it was tactics, principles or strategy. It was all of them; tactical principle and strategic principle. Along with being a democratic principle, it was the only way to safeguard the unity of the working class. From this point of view, it had an unbreakable connection with socialist goals. By his statement; “Wherever we see ties relating to international oppression – without preaching for the need to separate – we will vigorously defend the right to self-determination and the right to separation for each nation. To defend, recognise and side with this right means: to defend equal rights between nations; to resist oppression; to fight against national privileges of any nation; and hence, to develop the class struggle between workers of every individual country”.

10. Independent Kurdistan will be a second Israel in the region.

The basis of this thesis is clearly the traditional bourgeois-nationalist sensitivity to an independent Kurdish state. If it remains in Barzani’s leadership, Kurdistan will indeed be an important figure in US imperialism, and therefore Israel’s anti-Iran strategy. It will be a co-conspirator state. However, it will not be a second Israel because there is no Palestine in Kurdistan, there is no Zionism. As a co-conspirator administration to imperialism, it will look more like Turkey than Israel. However, with its size, population and economic dependency it will probably be a weaker partner than Turkey.

11. Kurdistan will be an advanced outpost of imperialism.

It seems likely to be so under the collaborator Barzani administration. At the referendum, the decision was for independence. It must be implemented in accordance with the right of people to self-determination. However, there is great opposition amongst Kurds too. Perception of an independent Kurdistan as an “unchanging, collaborator country” is also linked to the nationalist hysteria of hate against the Kurds. Barzani can be overthrown, independent Kurdistan can advance in a popular, anti-imperialist and democratic line. This popular option is not blocked by independence. In other words, Kurdistan does not have to be an imperialist outpost just because it is Kurdistan. Kurdish people harbour a vigorous vein of opposition in their collective historical memory that advocates the opposite.

12. Independent Kurdistan will trigger a war in the region.

Independent Kurdistan is not a disaster. In fact, Kurdish autonomous region operates like an independent country already. The administration is now a collaborator of imperialism. For that reason, unless war originates from hostility to Kurds; it should be seen as a disaster for the region. Disaster can only happen when politics of Kurdish hate leads to a war, started by reactionary countries in the region. In that case, it is not the Kurds demanding independence, but the reactionary states of the region that should be blamed and fought against.

13. ‘Socialists’ on Turkish left that reject the right of the people to self-determination are fascists.

Of course, rejection of the right of people to self-determination is a step in support of oppressor state nationalism. However, some parties that reject this right on a theoretical level defend recognition of the results of the referendum and oppose military action or oppression against Kurdistan. These parties and movements cannot be accused of fascism. What we see is the result of being influenced by a deviation to the right and oppressor state nationalism.

14. Lenin defended the right of revolution to self-determine, not right of people to self-determination.

Lenin’s perspective was undoubtedly revolutionary. He addressed the solution of every problem with a revolutionary perspective. For this reason, he unfalteringly defended the right of people to self-determination. He did not point to a tautology of “right of revolution to self-determine” because revolution cannot be expressed in terms of a right; it is a matter of power. When sufficient power is gained, neither counter-revolution nor revolutionary forces will be trapped in an abstract notion of right. Revolution does not take place by rights but by the force. However, the right of people to self-determination is defensible and defended as a right and principle.

15. Independence of Iraqi Kurdistan will also open Turkey’s borders to debate.

It is a pity that this argument came from the ‘left’. Of course, the struggle cannot be carried out without considering existing borders. However, today’s borders were drawn by imperialists on the basis of oppression and division of Kurdish peoples. It is the duty of socialists to defend their unity on the basis of equal rights and not act as “border guards” in a geography where peoples are oppressed and massacred, and in order to do this unfailingly, they must recognize the right of people to self-determination.

16. The father of the right of people to self-determination is US President Wilson. Lenin quickly adopted this principle to gain the support of colonial peoples against Wilson.

This principle entered socialist agenda long before Wilson expressed it. This principle was included in the decisions of the Second International Congress held in London in 1896. It has been in the program of Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDLP) since its first Congress.

17. Lenin defended this principle not in the era of imperialism but in the era of socialist revolutions.

The right of people to self-determination was the subject of a further four comprehensive discussions for Lenin and the Bolsheviks after being re-admitted into the 1903 program. First; In 1913, the right of people to self-determination was defended against the Austrian national-socialist Otto Bauer’s “national cultural autonomy” formulation and its reflections in Russia. In 1914, Lenin defended the right of people to self-determination in the Bolshevik Party against rising national movements, and in opposition to those who claimed it will inflame apartheid. In 1916, Lenin again explained in detail the right of people to self-determination against the Bukharin and Kievsky thesis that “the right of people to self-determination cannot be realized in the era of imperialism” and that “it will serve imperialism”; he described their opposition as “Marxism’s cartoon” and “imperialist economics”. Finally, it was proposed by Lenin in the Third International, expanding the scope of the formulation of the struggle against the imperialism of the colonial countries.

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Trump Preparing to Diplomatically Recognize Kurdish Control over Huge Swathe of Syria


According to an unnamed senior Western official, US President Donald Trump is preparing to diplomatically recognize the areas of Syria that the Kurdish-led and US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) control, Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported.

“The 28,000 square km territory, controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces, a collection of predominantly Kurdish militias including the YPG People’s Protection Units, took its first step toward US recognition after US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis promised to send US diplomats to SDF-controlled areas to work alongside US troops operating in the region,” the report said.

The SDF control the parts of Syria seen in yellow.

“According to the official, US initiatives in the region include empowering local councils, backing reconstruction efforts, assisting in training of government agency workers, improving public services and infrastructure, protecting SDF areas and engaging in the upkeep of military bases, all of which will eventually lead to diplomatic recognition,” the report continued.

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36,898 Killed in Iraq During 2017

At least 36,898 people were killed, and 8,753 were wounded in Iraq during 2017. These figures should be considered lowball estimates, especially considering that the number of casualties being reported publicly was reduced. During 2016, 52,369 people were killed 21,795 were wounded. The Iraqi government chose to censor information about security casualties and perhaps even civilian ones. Consequently, at the end of 2016, the United Nations was hectored into limiting the number of casualties it was allowed to compile on the ground.

The breakdown is as follows: at least 9,036 civilians killed, and another 6,607 wounded. However, Kurdish intelligence reported, in July, a belief that at least 40,000 civilians were killed in Mosul alone. Certainly, many bodies remain uncounted under the rubble left by the battle for Mosul, or in unmarked mass graves. The number of civilian wounded dropped considerably despite security campaigns across Iraq. This is unlikely to be true.

At least 1,696 security personnel were killed and 1,827 were wounded. In September, Coalition forces revealed that over 1,200 Iraqi soldiers were killed during the Mosul campaign alone, nearly doubling the number of dead.

Among the militants, at least 24,276 were killed, and 309 were wounded. Unlike the civilian and security casualties, the number of militant dead could be an exaggeration, or it could also be a low number.

Among foreign military forces, 33 were killed or died while in Iraq. The U.S. lost 17 personnel (four in hostile events). The Turks lost 14, while another 10 were wounded. France lost one member in a hostile attack. A British servicemember was also killed. Iran lost at least one soldier. In March, officials admitted that 2,100 Iranian servicemembers were killed in Iraq or Syria, so the number of dead personnel must be higher, but is not being included in this compilation.

Iraq also executed at least 111 prisoners. Some analysts believe the number is higher.

At least 546 members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) were also killed.

At least four people were killed, and five more were wounded in recent violence:

Four militiamen were wounded in a highway bombing near Riyadh.

A bomb in Radwaniya wounded a tribal fighter.

An airstrike killed three militants in Sansal.

An ISIS mufti was killed Houd al-Zour, along with a number of companions.

Posted in Middle East, Iraq0 Comments

Iran confirms upholding death sentence for academic over spying

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Iran’s Supreme Court has upheld a death sentence against a Sweden-based Iranian academic convicted of spying for the Nazi regime of ‘Israel’, the Tehran prosecutor was quoted as saying on Monday, confirming reports by Amnesty International and his family.

Ahmadreza Djalali, a medical doctor and lecturer at the Karolinska Institute, a Stockholm medical university, was accused of providing information to the Nazi regime to help it assassinate several senior nuclear scientists.

Djalali was arrested in Iran in April 2016 and later convicted of espionage. He has denied the charges, Amnesty said.

At least four scientists were killed between 2010 and 2012 in what Tehran said were assassinations meant to sabotage its efforts to develop nuclear energy. Western powers and the Nazi regime said Iran aimed to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran denied this.

The Islamic Republic hanged a man in 2012 over the killings, saying he was an agent for Israeli intelligence agency Mossad.

On Monday, Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said the Supreme Court recently upheld the death sentence against Djalali, the news site of Iran’s judiciary, Mizan, reported.

Dolatabadi said Djalali had confessed to meeting Mossad agents repeatedly to deliver information on Iran’s nuclear and defence plans and personnel, and helping to infect Defence Ministry computer systems with viruses, Mizan reported.

London-based Amnesty International and Djalali’s wife said earlier this month that his lawyers were told that the Supreme Court had considered his case and upheld his death sentence.

Iranian state television broadcast last week what it described as Djalali’s confessions. His wife said he had been forced by his interrogators to read the confession.

Djalali was on a business trip to Iran when he was arrested and sent to Evin prison. He was held in solitary confinement for three months of his detention and tortured, Amnesty said.

It said Djalali wrote a letter inside prison in August stating he was being held for refusing to spy for Iran.

Sweden condemned the sentence in October and said it had raised the matter with Iranian envoys.

Seventy-five Nobel prize laureates petitioned Iranian authorities last month to release Djalali so he could “continue his scholarly work for the benefit of mankind”.

Posted in Iraq0 Comments

New bill would permit Nazi Mossad to travel to Kurdish-controlled areas

New bill would permit Israelis to travel to Kurdish-controlled areas


Israel National News

A new bill proposed by MK Ksenia Svetlova (Zionist Union) would enable Israelis to travel to Kurdish-controlled areas. As the Kurds live in areas spread across Iran, Iraq, and Syria, Kurdish-controlled areas are defined as enemy territory and are off limits to Israelis.

Svetlova, who was an Arab affairs reporter before entering the Knesset, told the Times of Israel that she initiated the bill in order to strengthen the ties between Israel and the Kurds. “It’s important for Israeli citizens who are interested in pursuing ties with the Kurds to know that when they come back from Kurdistan they won’t be persecuted by a variety of security agencies, and this is unfortunately what happens now,” she said.

Kurdish affairs analyst Zach Daniel praised the move, telling Arutz Sheva that the Kurdish people were natural allies for Israel. “Time and again, the Kurds proved their dedication to defeat terrorism and promote human rights” he said.

“They’ve built semi-autonomous areas, safe for tourism, business — and with ethnic and religious pluralism,” he added. “Their reward begins with being treated differently from the arbitrarily-defined, failed states adjacent to them. It’s not only about Israel. Every country should revise their policies to reflect this reality. “

“MK Svetlova’s bill does just that, and all parties should back her common-sense efforts.”

The proposed bill came as the Knesset held a conference devoted to ties between the Kurdish people and Israel. Svetlova, who chairs the Lobby for Strengthening the Relationship between the State of Israel and the Kurdish People, repeatedly called on Israelis to increase their cooperation with the Kurds.

There are similarities in our destinies,” she told the conference.

Israel had been the only country to openly support Kurdish independence after the Kurdish declaration of independence in October, with Netanyahu backing “the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, IraqComments Off on New bill would permit Nazi Mossad to travel to Kurdish-controlled areas

Syrian War Report – December 1, 2017: ISIS Plans To Move Its Caliphate To Libya


…from SouthFront

The elite Tiger Forces have reportedly redeployed most of its units from the province of Deir Ezzor to northeastern Hama and southern Aleppo to support the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in its clashes against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) in the area. Pro—government sources speculate that this is a sign of the upcoming large-scale advance towards the Abu al-Duhur Airbase.

Members of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) have successfully counter-attacked against the SAA and entered the villages of Ramlah and Abisan. Two SAA soldiers were reportedly captured by militants.

On November 30, Ahrar al-Sham said that its members have repelled an SAA attack on its positions in the Armored Vehicles Base in Damascus’ Eastern Ghouta. The militant group added that a battle tank of the SAA was destroyed during the clashes.

Pro-government sources claimed on November 21 that the SAA had restored control over the entire area of the base after repelling the attack of Ahrar al-Sham. However, it appears that the militants still control some positions in the command section of the base.

The US-led coalition has announced that it withdraws the 1st Battalion of the 10th Marine Regiment from Syria. The battalion includes 400 US marines armed with M777 howitzers. The US Marines participated in the Raqqah battle supporting the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has ordered the remnants of the terrorist group to focus on Libya to compensate for losses in Iraq and Syria, the UK-based Saudi newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported. The report quoted documents allegedly found in ISIS locations in various parts of Libya, including al-Baghdadi’s letters to 13 of his top supporters. The documents contained orders to turn southern Libya into a new ISIS base, which will be used for operations in North Africa, including Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria.

Meanwhile, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, a spokesperson for the Iraqi Army, told Fox News that al-Baghdadi is currently hiding in the ISIS-held area on the Syrian-Iraqi border. According to the general, the terrorists’ leader sustained “severe injuries” on February 11 as a result of the Iraqi airstrike on the city of al-Qaim.

If al-Baghdadi is really alive, he and his inner circle will likely attempt to leave the shrinking ISIS-held area in Syria and Iraq soon and to establish a new ISIS base in some African or Asian country. It’s high likely that Libya can become such a country.

Posted in Middle East, Iraq, Libya, SyriaComments Off on Syrian War Report – December 1, 2017: ISIS Plans To Move Its Caliphate To Libya

ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate


“There can be no doubt about it, the ISIS of just two years ago was the most powerful, well-led, generously-armed and resource-efficient paramilitary force in modern history, having carved out for itself an empire between two sovereign states and devastating their armies in the process. However, this is no longer so. The days of the Islamic State consuming Syria like a cancer are over.” The Defeat of ISIS, Andrew Illingworth, Almasdar News

Russia and its allies have expelled ISIS from its last urban stronghold in Syria. Now the Syrian coalition will turn its attention to the numerous hotspots around the country where al Qaida-linked groups have dug in waiting for the Syrian Army to make its final push.

On Monday, Lebanese media reported that the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), joined by combat troops from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah, recaptured the city of Abu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province. The city was the last bastion for the terrorist group, ISIS, which, at one time, controlled a vast swathe of land stretching from northern Iraq to central Syria. Now the group has been chased from its last urban hideaway and scattered across the arid wastelands like a nomadic tribe wandering the dessert. Abu Kamal was ISIS’s “last stand”, the final chance to fend off the advancing loyalist forces and reverse the course of the war. But the three-pronged attack proved to be too much for the demoralized jihadists who fled the city northward or surrendered to Syrian troops on the perimeter. Thus, ISIS no longer occupies any of the major towns or cities that once comprised the emerging Wahhabi proto-state. The group has been soundly defeated, its leadership is in tatters and the star-crossed Caliphate has met its end.

What happens next in Syria is of critical importance. Although large parts of the country remain under the control of al-Qaida-linked groups and the other Sunni militias, Russian President Vladimir Putinbelieves the combat part of the war is nearing its end and wants to begin preparations for a political settlement. This view is shared by the entire Putin administration including Deputy Defense Minister Valery Gerasimov. On Monday, Gerasimov said:

“The active phase of the military operation in Syria is nearly over. Thanks to our joint efforts, terrorists are being wiped out in the Al-Bukamal area in eastern Syria and along the Syrian-Iraqi border. It will only be a matter of time before the other militant groups are completely eradicated which will allow us to move on to a post-conflict settlement.”

It’s worth noting, that the western media has entirely ignored the defeat of ISIS at Abu Kamal mainly because it was the Russian-led coalition that delivered the final blow. In the current climate in the US, any facts that fail to support the anti-Russia hysteria that has swept the country, are scrubbed from publication. So while the headlines at the New York Times should have read: “Russia Crushes ISIS in Syria”, they instead focused on the trivial details of the latest sex scandal.

Post-ISIS Meetings Begin

On Monday, Putin met with Bashar al Assad in the Russian resort city of Sochi to discuss the winding down of military operations and the next phase of the 7 year-long war. The Syrian President expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the man who, by any measure, saved Syria from a fate similar to that of Libya or Iraq.

“I have conveyed to Mr. Putin and to the Russian people, our gratitude for their efforts to save our country. In the name of the Syrian people, I greet you and thank you all, every Russian officer, fighter and pilot that took part in this war.”

Putin thinks the defeat of ISIS at Abu Kamal creates an opportunity for the warring parties to hash out their differences and reach an agreement that will put an end to the fighting. There’s no doubt that Assad will be asked to make concessions he wouldn’t otherwise make to satisfy the objectives of his Russian allies. But Putin does not want Syria to become his Vietnam, he has no intention of using the Russian airforce to recapture every square inch of sovereign Syrian territory. As he’s said from the very beginning, his plans involve the annihilation of the terrorist forces operating in the country; nothing more and nothing less. This is why the outcome at Abu Kamal is so important in shaping the agenda. ISIS has been vanquished and the enclaves where the other insurgent groups are currently located, will be part of a wide-ranging mop-up operation that will end the terrorist threat in Syria for good. Security will eventually be reestablished and the government will move on to the arduous task of rebuilding its decimated cities and infrastructure. But first a settlement must be reached.

Later in the week, Putin will meet with leaders from Iran, Turkey and (maybe) Saudi Arabia. The geopolitical interests of all the parties are vastly different but not necessarily irreconcilable. Turkey, for example, might agree to withdraw its troops from Northern Syria if they are given assurances by Putin that the Kurds will not be allowed to set up an independent state on Turkey’s southern border. The Kurds might also be willing to settle for something less than “full statehood” if they are allowed sufficient autonomy to operate as a culturally independent entity. The main problem is the United States and its Israeli-Saudi allies who still want to topple Assad, partition the country, and transform Syria into another US garrison state at the heart of the world’s largest energy reserves. The defeat of ISIS has not changed Washington’s strategic ambitions or its determination to occupy Syria even after the hostilities have ended.

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis has already stated that the US will not leave Syria after ISIS is crushed. Here’s what Mattis said at a recent press briefing on November 13:

“We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has cracked…We’re going to make sure we set the conditions for a diplomatic solution…We have to get the UN-brokered effort in Geneva to take this thing forward.”

When Mattis was asked to provide the legal justification for the ongoing US occupation of east Syria, he said:

“You know, the UN said that ISIS — basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out.”

The United Nations never approved US intervention in Syria, but that’s probably a moot point given Washington’s abysmal record of shrugging off international law. From the look of things, the US is planning to stay in Syria for a long time, and that’s going to dampen the prospects for peace. Check this out from NPR:

“A rising number of Syrians who fled are returning to their homes, with more than 600,000 going back in the first seven months of this year, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The U.N. migration agency says that number is comparable to the number of returns spanning the entire year in 2016.

The Syrian government has been stressing that people are coming home, NPR’s Ruth Sherlock reports, and state media have been posting photos and accounts of such returns…

Most of those going home – 84 percent — were displaced within Syria. “The next highest number of people … returned from Turkey, followed by Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq,” the IOM adds.” (U.N.: More Than 600,000 Syrians Have Returned Home In 2017″, NPR)

The fact that Syrian refugees are returning home in droves further underscores the positive impact Russia’s intervention has had on restoring security across the country. The Russian president and his generals have prevented another country in the Middle East from being senselessly ravaged and plunged into fratricidal warfare. But while Putin has achieved much of what he set out to do when he launched his campaign in September 2015, US proxies in the mostly-Kurdish SDF have seized nearly all the territory east of the Euphrates creating the de facto partition that Putin hoped to avoid. How can this situation be resolved without a clash between Washington and Moscow?

It can’t be. There can be no political settlement unless the US relinquishes control over Syrian territory and abandons its misguided project to redraw the map of the Middle East. But is that really going to happen?

It all depends on Donald Trump. If Trump really wants to end the conflict, then the Saudis and Israelis will probably comply. But if Trump is convinced that Syria is merely a skirmish in a much broader war with Iran, then he might opt to double-down by establishing bases east of the Euphrates while escalating tensions in other parts of the region. Is this what the recent flare-up in Saudi Arabia was all about? Did the Crown Prince collude with Trump’s people in detaining Saad Hariri? Is the administration trying to throw more gas on the ME fire hoping to shift the attention to Tehran?

It’s possible. Trump has never tried to conceal his hatred for Iran, but how far is he willing to take it? Is he willing to take the country to war? Here’s a clip from an article by Josh Rogin at the Washington Post which helps to illustrate how members of the media (and their think tank colleagues?) are using events in Syria to make their case against Iran. He says:

“…the Assad regime and Iran are preparing for the next phase of the long-running war, in which they will attempt to conquer the rest of the country. Whether Iran succeeds depends largely on whether the United States acknowledges and then counters that strategy.

Tehran is pouring thousands of fighters into newly acquired territories and building military bases. Although U.S.-supported forces hold territories east of the Euphrates River in Syria’s southeast, as well as along the borders of Israel and Jordan in the southwest, Iran has stated its intention to help Bashar al-Assad retake all of Syria….” (“The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria”, Washington Post)

Does Trump believe this nonsense? Iran has not “conquered Syria”. It was invited to help support the sovereign government in its fight against jihadist outsiders who destroyed the country and killed tens of thousands of its people. Rogin’s analysis is completely divorced from reality.

Here’s more from the same article:

“[A] task force of senior former U.S. diplomatic and military officials has come up with suggestions for how Trump could prevent Iran from taking over what’s left of liberated Syria and fulfill his own promise to contain Iranian influence in the region.”

By “liberated Syria”, Rogin is presumably referring to the territory in east Syria that is currently occupied by US Special Forces and their Kurdish proxies. Here’s more:

“Most urgently . . . the United States must impose real obstacles to Tehran’s pursuit of total victory by the Assad regime in Syria,”…. the Trump administration must increase its assistance to Sunni communities lucky enough to live outside Assad’s rule and help U.S.-supported local groups hold valuable territory in Syria’s southeast…” (WA Post)

Escalate the conflict? Is that what Rogin wants: More war? And, on what grounds?

On the basis that the enemies of the Syrian government must be given carte blanche in their battle for regime change. Isn’t that the gist of what he’s saying?

Rogin again;

“… the United States should work with regional allies to stop Iran from moving weapons and troops into Syria. That would require interdicting shipments by sea and ensuring that U.S.-supported forces control key border towns in Syria and Iraq. Such moves could check Iranian aggression without triggering armed conflict with Tehran.” (“The U.S. must prepare for Iran’s next move in Syria”, Washington Post)

Rogin’s analysis reads like a science fiction novel. He wants the United States to engage in clearly illegal acts of piracy to prevent a sovereign government from assisting a neighbor in its fight against foreign terrorists. He also wants Trump to block critical land-routes that connect Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran, effectively imposing a military cordon around the country. Rogin thinks the US has the right to arbitrarily decide these matters without United Nations approval.

This is lunacy, and yet, this is the neocon rationale for expanding the war beyond Syria’s borders. More than anything, the neocons want to drag the United States into a war with Iran. That is their Number 1 priority.

But what about Trump? What does Trump want? Does he want to be the “exalted” leader who plunges the country into another bloody world war or does he want to implement the non-interventionist policies he supported during his campaign?

Which is it?

Posted in Middle East, Iraq, SyriaComments Off on ISIS Last Stand; End Times for the Caliphate

Iraqi Civilian Describes US Airstrike on His Home That Killed His Wife, Daughter, Brother and Nephew


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Today we spend the hour looking at a damning new report that reveals how US-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq have killed far more civilians than officials have acknowledged. An on-the-ground investigation by the New York Times Magazine titled “The Uncounted” found the actual civilian death toll may be 31 times higher than US officials admit. We interview one of the survivors featured in the report. Joining us from Erbil, Iraq, Basim Razzo describes the 2015 US airstrike on his home in Mosul, in which his wife, daughter, brother and nephew were killed. Video of the strike on his home shows a target hit with military precision.


AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I’m Juan González. Welcome to all of our listeners and viewers around the country and around the world. Today we spend the hour looking at a damning new report that reveals how US-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Iraq have killed far more civilians than officials have acknowledged.

The Pentagon claims its air war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State has killed few civilians. But an on-the-ground investigation by The New York Times has revealed the US-led military coalition is killing far more civilians in Iraq than it has acknowledged. The Pentagon claims just 89 of its airstrikes have killed civilians since 2014. But the Times found the actual rate of civilian deaths may be 31 times higher than the US is admitting. In fact, the report reveals that as many as one in five coalition airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq resulted in civilian deaths.

The reporters write, “In terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history.” The investigation comes as US military officials continue to insist coalition bombing in Iraq has been precise in hitting its targets. This is Army Lieutenant General Stephen J. Townsend.

ARMY LIEUTENANT GENERAL STEPHEN J. TOWNSEND: I reject any notion that coalition fires were in any way imprecise, unlawful, or excessively targeted civilians. I would argue that this is, I believe, the most precise campaign in the history of warfare, and we have gone to extraordinary measures to safeguard civilian lives.

AMY GOODMAN: But The New York Times investigation reveals many of the American-led airstrikes against Islamic State militants actually killed civilians. One of the survivors they interviewed, Basim Razzo, described a coalition airstrike on his home in Mosul, Iraq, in 2015 in which his wife, daughter, brother, and nephew were killed. Video of the strike on his home shows a target hit with military precision.

Well, today we are joined by that man, Basim Razzo. He’s joining us from Erbil, Iraq, via Democracy Now! video stream. We’re also joined in studio, here in New York, by the two reporters who co-authored this New York Times investigation headlined “The Uncounted.”

Azmat Khan is an investigative journalist and a Future of War fellow at New America and Arizona State University, and Anand Gopal is an assistant research professor at Arizona State University and the author of No Good Men Among the Living. I want to start off in Erbil, Iraq, with Basim Razzo. Basim, that is not actually your longtime home. You lived in Mosul until 2015. Can you describe what happened on that fateful night when your home was hit by a US airstrike?

BASIM RAZZO: Good morning, Amy. Thank you for having me on your program. That night, as I said in my story, I went to bed around 1:00. I had just checked my daughter to see if she was asleep, and I lied down. And then I woke up to a devastating explosion. Did not realize what had happened. I felt that I was in a nightmare, but then I felt that something had happened, because I looked up to the skies and I could see the stars.

There was a terrible smell in the air. And then I started feeling my legs, pinching myself. I thought I was in a dream or in a nightmare, but no, it was reality. I looked to the left at my wife, and all I could see was debris. And I started shouting her name — “Mayada, Mayada.” She did not answer me. I started shouting at my daughter, Tuqa. No answer. And then I started shouting at my brother’s house, but I could not hear a sound.

Minutes later, I could hear a sound from far away, and it seems that it was the groundkeeper that we have. His house was about 500 meters from my house. Minutes later, he started shouting at me. He said “Uncle Basim, Uncle Basim, I am coming, I am coming. But I need to get a ladder so I can climb up. Are you OK?” I said to him — his name is [inaudible]. I said [inaudible] “Please, help me. I think I am very hurt and something is broken. I cannot move.”

I tried to stand up, but I fell down. I reached to my back because I felt my back was warm. And I touched my back, and then I felt something in my left arm. Something was warm. And it was blood. My back has been injured. My left foot had broken. My bed was in a v-shape, which resulted in a break to my hip. I tried to just move a little bit, but I could not move at all.

So minutes later, I could hear our groundkeeper climbing up to me. And then he came to me and he said “Are you OK? Are you OK?” I said, “I am badly hurt. What has happened to the other house?” That was my brother’s house. He said “I don’t know.” But I could hear a female sound. And then when I started shouting at her, it was my sister-in-law, Azza. And she said “Basim, everybody’s gone.”

But I could not see anything. It was very dark. The bombing has damaged the electricity. The street was dark. Everything was dark. And then about half an hour later, I could see somebody was walking, entering the farm with a torch light. And they climbed up the ladder and three members of ISIS were looking down at me. So the first thing I said to them, I said, “Are you happy?”They looked at me in disgust and they left me. They climbed down the ladder and they left.

But they had called an ambulance, but they did not let the ambulance come right away.
Because usually when there is a bombing, most of the time it is followed by a second bombing, so they wanted to stay out. So they left for another like 15 minutes. And then when they could hear that the planes were out of the sky, they ordered the ambulance to enter my farm.

And they took me down, put me on the ambulance, and they rushed me to the hospital. When I reached the hospital, it was chaos. I was disoriented. I didn’t know what was happening. I was in pain. And then I looked around and I could not know anybody. It was all ISIS members. But some person, he tapped on my shoulder and said, “Uncle Basim, don’t worry, I know you are here, my son.” He said, “I will be here for you. Don’t worry. Don’t worry.”

So he started rushing me — he cleaned my wound in my back. They did some x-rays for me. They did a CT scan for — they were afraid that I have like brain damage or hemorrhage. Thank God, I did not have anything. They put a cast on my left foot. And then I woke up the next morning around 10:00 with my brother-in-law and another friend, and they had told me what just happened. They told me that all my member family are gone.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Basim Razzo, our deepest condolences to you and your family. You mentioned that your brother’s house was next door. How many total members of the family were in both houses, and how many survived, and what kind of injuries did they have?

BASIM RAZZO: In my house, it was me, my wife, and my daughter. Two lost their life — my wife and my daughter. In my brother’s house, which was about 20 feet away from my house, it was my brother, his wife, and his son. Only his wife survived. So total, four deaths, two survivals.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you describe the last day with your wife and your daughter?

BASIM RAZZO: Well, usually, before ISIS, I could come home late, like 10:00 or 11:00.
But since ISIS entered Mosul, it is better for me and more comfortable for me to be home early. I would sit with my family, sit with my brother’s family, after sundown. We will go out to the farm. So it was just a regular everyday. I would come home from work around 5:00 or 6:00. I’d have dinner with them.

AMY GOODMAN: You had had a party the night before at your brother’s house?

BASIM RAZZO: We had a party, like a party for women. And my daughter and my wife attended that party. And then we just have tea. And then when it’s — and it is sundown, when the temperature cools down a little bit. Because you know, it was September. It is very hot in September in Iraq. So about 8:00 or 9:00, we would go out to the front yard. We would have tea, maybe some cold drinks. Maybe we will have some fruits. And then we would stay late until like 10:00 or 11:00. And that was my hours before my accident.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And your mention of the strike — how often were these airstrikes visited on Mosul or on your neighborhood in particular? Were these regular occurrences or was this an unusual occurrence in your neighborhood?

BASIM RAZZO: Well, at that time, there was not that much bombing, before the liberation of Mosul. You would hear some bombing every now and then, but it was not that often. But you could hear drones in the sky. But for bombing, it was not that often.

AMY GOODMAN: There is a picture in The New York Times investigation of your daughter Tuqa on the night before the airstrike. She’s got that sparkler you describe.

BASIM RAZZO: Yes. She had found it somewhere. I think it was — I don’t know if we had bought it earlier for her birthday, but it was left somewhere, and she had found it. And she lit it. And I was shouting at her because it was dangerous to light it inside. I told her, “Tuqa, honey, why don’t you go outside?” She said, “No, it’s not working. I think it is damaged because of the humidity, so it is not sparkling that much. So I will be safe. I’ll be safe.” So thank God she was safe. But she lost her life later.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and then come back and hear what happened next. Has the US claimed responsibility for what it did to your family? We will be joined by the two reporters who have investigated the attack on not only your home and your brother’s, but so many others in Mosul, Iraq.


Posted in USA, IraqComments Off on Iraqi Civilian Describes US Airstrike on His Home That Killed His Wife, Daughter, Brother and Nephew

Iraq Defeated ISIS, but the Battle Against Extremism Rages On


A suspected ISIS fighter sits in a basement as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 3, 2017. (AP/Felipe Dana)

The military campaign against the Islamic State is almost over. But now, locals and politicians alike say, the Iraqi government must work to ensure they cannot return to recruit more followers.

Posted in Middle East, IraqComments Off on Iraq Defeated ISIS, but the Battle Against Extremism Rages On

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