Letter to the Worker-communist Party of Kurdistan, November 2017, on the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum

Submitted by martin on 2 July, 2018 - 7:41 Author: AWL

Dear comrades: We would like to take the opportunity to tell you what we think about the issues raised in your motion.

We recognise the long history of Kurdish oppression and we are for the rights of the Kurds to self-determination.

We also accept the right of the Iraqi Kurds to break with Iraq and set up a fully independent state. We accept that the majority of Iraqi Kurds currently want this. We also understand that the founding of an independent state for the Iraqi Kurds would probably give Kurdish people elsewhere in the region more confidence and hope for their own liberation, and bring self-determination for the Kurdish people as a whole, nearer. In these respects the founding of an Iraqi Kurdish state has a democratic content.

However we do not accept that the boundaries of a future Iraqi Kurdish state should be defined by the parties of Barzani or Talabani. We are not nationalists. We have no interest in backing a forcible Kurdish seizure of areas that are not majority Kurdish; the status of mixed or disputed areas should be settled by discussion, agreement and compromise; in particular we do not take for granted that Kirkuk would be – automatically, necessarily – part of an Iraqi Kurdish state.

We are for minority rights - for Arabs, Turkomen – inside a Kurdish state.

Our aim is workers’ unity across the national and ethnic divisions and the most equitable, democratic solution possible to the national question. We note that there is not a single mention of the specific role of the working class movement in your motion; there is not a single thing in your motion that gives it a working-class, socialist character. It is not a left-wing motion.

We do not accept that it is the job of socialists to advocate UN involvement in delivering an Iraqi Kurdish state. The agency of change you propose is not the international workers’ movement but the UN.

The UN is not a democratic world government. The UN is not a body where a working class, socialist voice is ever heard. The UN is not susceptible to working class pressure - even to the extent to which a right-wing government in a bourgeois democracy is.

Giving credit, in advance, to the UN for a conference on the Kurdish question is disorientating. Socialists should not pretend the UN will intervene for the Kurds (in fact, in the unlikely event of such a conference being called, the UN is much more likely to act against Kurdish aspirations for statehood, given the hostile attitude of the US and other big powers that actually control the UN).

The Security Council will not save the Kurds. Or perhaps you believe the Chinese, US, French, British and Russian governments are on our side?

Our role is to encourage, organise and persuade the international labour movement to take up the issue. Our ideas and appeals should be addressed to our class. Your motion ignores our class and its role.

While we favour Kurdish self-determination and, now, an Iraqi Kurdish state, we are not convinced that an immediate declaration of independence is wise. Why? For the same reason that while we generally favour strikes in industry, we will sometimes avoid calling them if we think we might lose. If the Iraqi Kurds declared a state, unilaterally, now, they might well be crushed by a combination of Iran, Iraq and Turkey.

We think that socialists who move motions about the Kurds in the UK labour movement without referring directly to our allies and potential allies in the region – the labour movements, women’s organisations and socialists in the region – are not fulfilling their role adequately. The job of socialists is to raise class consciousness, to advocate working class solidarity and struggle. Our job is to integrate the democratic solution to the Kurdish national question into a more general perspective of fighting for women’s liberation, freedom, democracy and workers’ liberty.


Below is the WCPK text to which this was a response

In a peaceful referendum on 25 September 2017 Kurdistan people voted for independence from Iraq. The result of this referendum, where 3,305,295 citizens voted (72% of the population) with 92.7% voting in favour of independence.

The reaction from Iraqi government, parliament and Federal court has been against the people of Kurdistan’s right of self-determination. This has been shown by the Iraqi Government closing the airspace around the Kurdish area of Iraq by stopping all international flights in and out of Kurdistan, blocking of borders and military aggression made by the Iraqi forces and Shia militias to Kirkuk.

We have been disappointed by international silent regarding Iraqi government's aggression and killing dozens of Kurdish people and injured and thousands had fled from their cities. There wasn't any condemnation from the UN, EU, British and US governments.

We are sure if this silentness from UN and members of security council will not change, the escalation of this military aggression from Iraqi government will increase to enforce its authority over dispute areas and it will lead to ethnic war in Iraq. Iraqi and Kurdish have a catastrophic experience with this sectarian government in the last 14 years as sectarian religious war is still their and now they will add ethnic war as well.

Therefore, we call on the UN to:

1. Recognise the Kurdish people’s right for an independent state.
2. Hold an international conference to discuss and solve the problems and disputes between Kurdistan and Iraqi government regarding oil, water, borders and the process of independence of Kurdistan.

We are supporting the Centre for Independence of Kurdistan and participating in their struggle for Kurdistan people’s right for Independence.

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