An interview with (KAF)* about the situation in Iraq/Kurdistan and the conflict with Islamic State conducted by Spanish anarchist website www.alasbarricadas.org on 03rd September 2014.
ALB: How are you now ?
We are fine but like many of you extremely concerning about the current situation in Iraq in general, and Iraqi part of Kurdistan in particular. We are very active on social media in respect of writing, making comments and discussing the current crisis that exists with different people and groups.
ALB: Do you fear the attack of ISIS will defeat Peshmerge ?
In fact the attack from Isis is not just attack on Reginald Kurdistan Government (KRG) forces or military, (recognised as Peshmarga), it is attack on everybody. As you know the Isis is the darkest force and far more brutal than any of other terrorist groups. They do not distinguish between an armed people and the ordinary people. Whenever the Isis entered given the residents a very hard time by controlling them, subdue them by implementing the Sharia Law. We are sure you have heard what happened already to Yazidis while they are a peaceful people and did not fight with them at all. The Isis is not less brutal to Christian and Shias than the Yazidis because they believe these people, all are devils or evils.
We are more concerning about the actual war that the people in Iraq and Iraqi Kurdish are facing it now more than defeating Peshmarga on the hands of Isis. KRG forces (Peshmarga) is the corrupted forces of the current political parties who are in power mainly Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) whose leader is Massoud Barzany who is the president of Iraqi Kurdistan as well, and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) still leaded by Jalal Talabany, the former Iraqi president. There are also other forces from Islamic organisations and other small political parties. However, we know that these forces (Peshmarga) are a tool in the hand of the political parties and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), but as you know we have nothing in common with them and always consider them they are a suppresser forces. However, while Iraq and Kurdistan at the moment face the darkest forces in the current history, we should be worry about Peshmarga to be defeated.
There is another important point that we would like to bring to your attention. Peshamrga in the beginning not just defeated, in fact, they fled without shooting a single bullet. If it was not because of the People Defence Units (PDU) and Women Defend Units (WDU) (the Syrian Kurdish forces) and later PKK the Isis easily could invade the capital of Kurdistan, Irbil. If they occupied Irbil then the rest of the Kurdistan towns could fall in their hands with no resistance or a very little resistance.
ALB: Are your people working in self-defense against ISIS ?
As we, KAF previously stated that we are only a Virtual Forum not a physical organization that we have no people from the top to the bottom. The majority of us who write in our Forum (Seko) live abroad; we therefore can do nothing physically in self-defense of Kurdistan. If you mean people in Kurdistan who agree with our ideas or close to KAF, of course, they try to organize themselves to fight back. However, because there is no an Anarchists movement in Kurdistan, we are afraid to tell you that: yes there are no self-defense groups or movement like how we can see in Turkey and (Rojava) Syrian Kurdistan. We do believe the only force or power can defeat the Isis is the independent Self-defense from the mass people. Unfortunately this force or movement at the moment does not exist.
ALB: What do you think of the US bombings ?
Before the US decided to bombard and hit the Isis bases, there was a lot of rumors and news that the Isis is made of the US, UK and Israeli. The more reliable evidence that we can refer to was from Edward Snowdn about this. Now when they (UK and US) decide to attack the Isis and selling weapons to KRG is to undermine Edward Snowdn information and the rumors that spread widely.
We are against intervention from US and Western countries and also selling weapons to KRG. We know this is a big business for them that can make a lot of profits through this trade. We also do not want Kurdistan become a battlefield for the entire Jihadist’s groups in the world against US, Western countries and Kurdish in which so many innocent people killed and many places would be destroyed. In addition, the war situation creates more hatters between Kurdish and Arab, between Kurdish and Sunnis. In the meantime causing emerging many racist and fascist groups.
The only winner in the wars is the big companies that sell weapons and war equipments, and the losers always are the poor people.
ALB: Are you working with PYD/PKK/PÇDK ?
No we do not. Because we reject any support or co-operation with any hierarchal, political and authoritarian groups and organizations. We only line up ourselves and interested in any resistance from the mass people and the social movements wherever they are in this world and we are ready to support them by whatever we can.
ALB: As for your answers, in Iraq, there is now a self-defense group called Sinjar's Protection Units (YPS). I think this is a creation of YPG. Also PÇDK is creating its own militia. I imagine that some rank-and-file peshmerga might now be looking at self-defense militias with simpathy. Do you think it is possible to have in the next months an autonomous canton in Iraq, similar to those in Rojava ? (I mean, autonomous to KRG, US and everything else)
We unfortunately do not think something like what you mentioned can happen easily and quickly because:
First, the nature of parliamentary system and the role of centralism in Iraq like elsewhere do not allow it. Second, thirteen years of sanctions by western countries and US against Iraq including Kurdistan, as well as the invasion and occupation, then imposing free market policy and globalization on Iraq, forcing it to be dependent on the conditions that have been laid down by the big powers in Europe and the financial institutions ( IMF, WB, ECB). Third, there are internal reasons as well. The Kurdistan Regional Government, (KRG) for the last 22 years dominated every aspect of people’s life in Kurdistan. They have worked on changing the mentality of the citizens to be corrupt, to be materialistic, to lose their own self-confidence and independence to be dependent on them mentally and financially. KRG has created such an atmospheres in Kurdistan, majority of the people just think about how to get rich and compete with one another in becoming richer and to be in better positions. In a very rich country like Kurdistan, its people are dependent on everything imported from abroad, there is no independent economy as policies of the parties who are in power have destroyed the independent economy of Kurdistan.
We believe that what happened in Syrian Kurdistan in term of setting up the military Units and also self-rule in its three cantons the PKK and PYD are behind them and the DSAs under their influences. This means that if something like that happens in Sinjar neither the KRG nor the Iraqi central government and the countries in the region and US allow this couple of forces ( PKK & PYD) to stay in Sinjar for a long time in supporting people there to announce their own self-rule.
We recognize setting up people defense units as a people’s army and also democratic self-administration (DSA) on the basis of people cooperatives, communes and emerging federalism, need a very long social process by mass struggle independently to involve in all social, and economic questions that becomes something very urgent and necessary. These are the grounds of setting up a true people defense unit and the direct democratic administration otherwise the units will be a militia like any other militia in the world and the so called DSA will be a real dictator government.
It is a fact that there was a big conspiracy in withdrawing the KRG forces(Peshmarga) and this created a gap or giving an opportunity to emerge a mass resistance and setting up a Protection Units among Ezidis themselves who have been genocide and displaced. However, there is another important point perhaps you are not aware of it which is among the Ezidis themselves there are elites especially the religion’s Prince and the powerful rich people who are always supportive of KRG’s policies having an impact on many people in Ezidis community by using their religion influences . This can be a big threaten to divide the Ezidis community.
In short neither the self-consciousness of people under KRG nor the economical and the social grounds are possible at least at the present, to allow what we see in Syrian Kurdistan happens in Sinjar. In addition when comes to that there are possibility for both , the KRG and the Iraqi central government, unite against the people’s resistance in Sinjar using any meaning in suppressing and oppressing them. We also believe the regional, western countries and US who have been almost for two decades they invest politically and economically there (Iraqi Kurdistan) and making very huge profits they do not sit down just to watch the situation. They, therefore, intervene first by using their network spies, logistical supports then providing anything else to KRG and Iraqi central government that need to protect their interests. It is worth reminding you that at the same time both governments Iran and Turkey for a long time are continuously attempting to eliminate the PKK’s forces and are using this as an excuse to penetrate Kurdistan border by their military forces and bombarding the region and killing so many innocent people.
In addition to what we said, we must admit that there are no anarchist social movement there ( Iraqi Kurdistan) at all. What we have there is more idea and thought of anarchism.
In fact the leftist and the communist parties try to create their own Units under the name of “people’s guards or Units of People resistance “ but they are not in a enough strong position to do so, even if they manage doing to do it in the future, it won’t be something different from the hierarchal units or in the best condition it will be a militias that we have so many of both types (militias and state militias) in Kurdistan. Their real intention is that to make a political capital out of this, and like any other political groups or military Units trying to get wages and salary from the Bourgeois government.
ALB: Some Kurdish women from PKK came to Barcelona last month. One of them recognized her to be anarchist. She was from Germany and she wanted to learn more about the anarchist history here in Spain. Do you think there are anarchists in the ranks of PKK ? Do you have contacts with them ? Would it be possible to have a left libertarian current inside this hierarchical movement ?
Yes inside PKK and PYD there are men and women with anarchist idea and thought. Some of these people have reached that through their own struggles and experiences. The others under influences of Abdullah Ocalan have become anarchist and libertarian. They realized that the anarchism is the most radical answer to capitalist system. We believe that those embraced the anarchist idea under influences of Ocalan may not be solid as the people reached the same idea through their own struggles and experiences. Obviously the reason for that is while Ocalan is still on the top of hierarchal organization like PKK, who has every power if for some reason orders the people inside PKK or PYD to change their direction, we are sure many of them happy to do it. If that happens there is a possibility for this group to change its principles and direction. We think differently about those especially guerilla women who have become anarchist through their own experiences as they are a members of the groups and committees in the villages and towns in the society; we believe they are more stable and solid. We have seen a few interviews that they have given and also seen a few films that show how they live together and how do they manage their work and daily life together like living in communes. All these give us more hope, yet again because we do not live with them, therefore, we do not know how much of these are true. We must also say that among their sister parties in Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan, we unfortunately do not see these positive changes and directions. These people almost look like PKK of the beginning of 90s of last century, they are still nationalist and most of their leaders are very authoritarian. We think they do not embrace the current idea and thought of Ocalan, like, the economic cooperative, the communes in the town and villages, people self-rule, direct democracy, the system of federalism and the free confederation. We believe the parties policies in Iran/Iraq Kurdistan very much in contradiction with the current policies of PKK and PYD, they are still insisting on the political changes rather than the social changes, they are still competing the other Bourgeois Parties in gaining money, power and position.
The experiences of many of us proved or at least showed that it is very very hard for a libertarian/anarchist idea and direction to grow and develop inside a hierarchal organization . Not only this, it is impossible for such ideas and directions to remain or stay and continues in ideological nationalist organization. We can always separate or distinguish between the social movement and the leftist political movement whatever form they have, because the leftist and the politicians are always authoritarian and corrupted. We can see in reality the leftist are always try to tame and control the struggles and the movement of the mass people and using them to achieve its own political aims and making a political capital out of it. We are the witness of all the attempts that have been made by leftist during the uprising which happened in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991 and up to present how they have tried to change the direction of the mass movements, deceiving them, disappointing them, compromising with the state and trying to plant the seeds of naivety among people to believe in political parties, centralism "the workers state", "communist state" and "socialism state". These are all the propagandas that they have produced since then.
Unfortunately, we so far, could not make a direct link or connection with the anarchist people in PKK and PYD. We have tried before to do so but we were not successful, however, we are hoping to make that connection in the nearest future.
ALB: and the last question, what do you think about Democratic Confederalism ? Is it true that PKK is pro this, or is it propaganda held by the Western countries ? (If they pass as, for example, similar to Zapatista, they might be seen as 'cool' in the leftist millieu)
In fact answering this question is difficult because first PKK controls a region and is completely different from what Zapatista in their country controlled and also PKK is a hierarchal force as a party and as a military force. We cannot be sure of the details of their daily life and their actions as we do not have evidence to prove whether it is true or falls. The only things that we can talk about are the Democratic Self Administration, (DSA) of Syrian Kurdistan and Tev-Dem that a while ago one of our comrades visited there for a couple of weeks. Surely there is no comparison between there and the KRG in Iraqi- Kurdistan. At the moment there is a power sharing between whole political parties within DSA so there is a good balance. PYD as a main party in there took advantage of being in a very strong position, because on one side KRG cannot use his proxy party (Alparty) to control the DSA and the situation, on the other side the Islamist organization cannot have any influences in Syrian Kurdistan. However, while the PYD is the main party and in the next DSA election no doubt will win the majority of votes there, we do not know PYD will control the DSA or simply using another method to balance the power sharing. This is worrying us obviously and we have to wait and see. What we can say is, PYD is also a hierarchal party and the authoritarian people leading it, because of this there is a possibility of changes in either ways. We certainly cannot compare DSA with the KRG as KRG is an excellent protector of the free market of capitalism. The experiment of DSA and Tev-Dem are very attractive more hopeful by transferring the position of women in the religion and patriarchal society in Middle East that improved and developed. It has created the feeling of libration and tendency of self-liberation among women. The dignity, personality, self confidence and freedom of the women all have back. All these cannot be achieved by every force or party. This has created an atmosphere for the anarchist movement especially while the women already have a major role in the communes and the rest of the local groups and committees. They can shoulder to shoulder with men lead them in the future to a social revolution. In the meantime we are hoping this experiment is setting a good example for the women in Iraqi Kurdistan who are currently under the large influences of the capitalism’s free market, consuming culture and political parties including the religious parties to leave this stage and involve in a social revolution.
The women in Syrian Kurdistan do not just play a big role in the areas/ fields we mentioned above, in fact by setting up the Women Defense Units (WDU) changed the position of women as a weak creature and having only certain duties which are inside the house in Middle Eastern society. It raised the question that they cannot be dominated by men, clans and religions. They can change the society and proved again any movement in the society without them cannot get anywhere. They reaffirmed that the desire and feeling of librating from slavery or being a second class citizen in a patriarchat society only comes from their own effort and struggles. That being said, a long time ago there was no force who could liberate a slave unless that slave has a self-conscious of liberation and this has become a strong demand and desire to do so.
Finally we thank you very much and recognize your concerns about other anarchists in different parts of the world. In this interview you have given us a good opportunity to talk briefly about the Iraq, Kurdistan and Middle East Societies. This opportunity perhaps opens a small window to English speaker and that anarchist can speak English to see the situation that explained above from our view. We think not many anarchists in the world are aware or know a lot about the situation in this part of the world. This may encourage them to make effort to know a bit about the Middle East and the anarchist movement there. We noted that the self-centrist views of the European comrades in general is one of the diseases in the anarchist movement after the Second World War because we think many of the anarchists comrades, they normally focus on Europe, US and Latin America and do not have much interest in the same movement in elsewhere.
* KAF : Kurdistan Anarchists Forum
** ALB : www.alasbarricadas.org/noticias/node/13165