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Kurdish leader: 'We are the only humanist shield against barbarity'
October 6, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Gharib Hassou is representative in Iraqi Kurdistan of the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekitîya Demokrat, PYD), the main force of Kurdish resistance in Syria. He is interviewed by Stéphane Aubouard in Erbil for the French left-wing newspaper l’Humanité. Translated by Isabelle Métral. (Note: DAESH is also know as "Islamic State" (IS) or ISIS).
* * *
Why is the conquest of Kobane so important for DAESH?
Gharib Hassou: Because the town’s position is strategic. If DAESH succeed in seizing it, it would divide the two other Syrian Kurdish districts of Afrin and Jesire, which would weaken our resistance while enlarging its own borders. But beyond that strategic dimension, there is a symbolic aspect too, for it was in Kobane that we started the revolution in 2012. So DAESH wants to demoralise the Syrian Kurds by getting hold of that important symbol. In the last year they have tried to take hold of it 10 times and each time with our forces alone we succeeded in fighting them back. The problem is that their fire power is now much more important since they have taken tanks and heavy weaponry from the Iraqi army. And add to this the secret forces of some states that actively support the jihadists in their conquest.
Do you mean Turkey?
Actively, yes and I do mean Turkey. Joe Biden (the US diplomacy boss) has just confirmed this from a financial point of view. Not only did Ankara support DAESH militarily, but Turkey’s financial contribution is paramount. There are direct agreements between Turkey and DAESH, which functions like a mafia with the money it receives. That money comes notably from the oilfields that jihadists control all along the border. They sell the oil to Turkey (rumour puts the price at US$40 a barrel instead of the current price of $100). Turkey is calling the shots in the region these days, but nevertheless says it might join the [international] coalition [against IS] …
But Turkey’s parliament has just voted for intervention, if not a military intervention, at least for humanitarian assistance to the town of Kobane …
I don’t believe a word of it. The Turks have fought the Kurds for thousands of years, so they know who their enemy is. And it is not DAESH. The truth is that Turkey does not want a democratic state to be set up in our region, it wants an Islamist state. [Turkey's prime minister] Erdogan is an Islamist. So the West should be aware that this war concerns them as much as it does us, Syrian Kurds, and the YPG, and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) who are the only ones to fight on the battlefield.
We are the only brotherly, humanist, shield against barbarity. We are the only people in the region to be organised democratically. With us it is the people that rule. In each of the three states, there is a male and a female governor. All the communities have a legal right to exist. We did not conquer Kobane by cutting off heads and after raping women!
So I call on the civilised world to come to our help. If Kobane falls, the symbol of a people’s fraternity will fall. And today we are the only bastion against the creation of the Islamist State. Our fall might result in a domino effect. For the whole of Syria, Turkey and even the confines of Europe, Romania, Bulgaria might fall. And yet the whole world is merely watching us being massacred without stirring as much as a finger.
Still, the US is dropping bombs near Kobane …
It is but we are beginning to doubt the objective of these strikes. I just cannot understand how it is that the most powerful army in the world, who can target a single man hiding in the desert, is now unable to hit a single IS tank. Kurdish fighters were even killed last week when a US strike missed its target. These attacks were aimed at pushing DAESH back but they had the opposite effect. There was besides not the slightest contact between Kurdish fighters and the US staff. But our Iraqi Kurdish brothers have been trying to help us, notably by attacking the jihadists around Sinjar where the Yezidi have taken refuge, which enabled to release the DAESH vice around Kobane somewhat, as DAESH was forced to send supply forces into Iraq.
But unfortunately all this is not enough. Instead of carrying out air strikes that are very costly, we would rather they sent us heavy weaponry. That is the only thing we need to push DAESH back.
Unfortunately there are agreements between Turkey and Western states that do not really want things to change in the Middle East. We are paying a heavy price for the Lausanne agreements signed by the big powers in 1923 in order to divide up our country.