The Hypocrisy of Chomsky and the Imperialist Left on Syria, Rojava and Yemen

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SYDNEY, Australia – “‘Scared to Death’: Syria’s Kurds Feel Trapped Between Threats From Assad and Erdogan” – Ha’aretz

Many pro-Rojava [named region of a separatist Kurdish entity on Syrian territory] leftists including Noam Chomsky agree that an illegal US military occupation of a sovereign country is needed to protect “the Kurds”, possibly because they have no idea how pragmatically Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has addressed Kurdish demands and grievances.

The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) wanted citizenship for 300,000 stateless Kurds and Assad granted it back in April 2011. Then they wanted autonomy, which Assad effectively gave them back in July 2012. Most do not know that from 1980-98 the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in which the YPG is the Syrian branch, and its leader Abdullah Ocalan were based in Damascus from where they waged their secessionist campaign against Turkey.

More broadly, why in the minds of pro-Rojava leftists are Kurds literally the only victims of Islamic extremism whose lives seem to matter? Because it serves a pro-partition agenda.

Ten million Yemenis are starving right now because of this campaign of Saudi aggression, which pays 100,000 foreign mercenaries, armed by the Anglo-American military industrial complex, to fight alongside Al-Qaeda, against the Ansarullah-backed government in Sana’a, all in order to restore the pro-Saudi status quo. The left doesn’t care because nothing about Yemen was ever marketed to them as fashionable, with no dancing feminists to exoticise.

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If the pro-Rojava left really cared about Turkish-backed Islamists murdering socialist Kurds, why from 2012 to 2014 did they say nothing about the arming and funding of those Islamists by the NATO-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) alliance? I remember that period, the only people who said anything in defence of Syrian Kurds (aside from Kurdish leftists) were those who supported the defence of the Syrian government.

The fashionability of “Rojava” among the western left was manufactured to coincide with the US intervention in September 2014, before which, it was the Syrian military that protected YPG held areas from Islamic State attacks, and how were they repaid? After receiving US patronage, the YPG tried to violently expel the Syrian military from Hasakah province.

The US intervention in September 2014 was not purely motivated by a desire to defeat Islamic State, rather it was to protect Kurdish held territories in Syria and Iraq, which in turn encouraged Islamic State to direct their aggression at the Syrian government (which is obviously easier than fighting militias that have US protection), which prompted the Russian intervention a year later.

The Syrian government’s frustration with the Kurdish YPG is therefore entirely understandable. The YPG will not tolerate Turkish-backed Islamists on territory they control, but had no problem allowing the US to bomb Syrian government forces from their territory, even if it meant raising the possibility of the rest of Syria being overrun by the same forces that they want the entire world to save them from.

Jay Tharappel is a PhD Candidate at Sydney University.

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