‘No friends but the mountains’: Washington seeks to ensnare Kurds

In-depth Report:

The targeting of Kurdish civilians in Syria by US-supported armed thugs is part of a deliberate attempt to galvanize the Kurds and pit them in a resurgent struggle against the non-Kurd regions.

The Kurdish Democratic Union Party and other sources are now  reporting that Kurdish men, women, and children are  systematically being tortured, raped, and executed. Fighting has  broken out between Syrian Kurds and the insurgent forces  supported by the US, UK, France, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia,  and Qatar.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Iranian Parliament  have condemned the targeting of Syrian Kurds while the Obama  Administration and its cohorts have remained mostly silent.  Lavrov’s insistence that the United Nations Security Council  condemns the violence has also been to no avail.

One of the reasons that the Obama Administration has been silent  is because they are supporting the butchers behind the massacre  and are trying to avoid more embarrassment. The US and its  allies, however, will make supportive noise for the Kurds once  they get the result they are seeking.

Caught in the crossfire of geopolitical games

The geopolitical importance of the Kurds lies in their geography.  Kurdistan sits at the heart of the contemporary Middle East. The  mountainous region intersects the boundaries of Syria, Turkey,  Iraq, Iran, and Armenia. Its position makes it the main point of  convergence in the Middle East. This has distinguished Kurdistan  as a place where regional rivalries and intrigues are played out.  It also means that Kurdistan can be used to create upheaval and  instability in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran.

The contemporary states of the Middle East have all used the  Kurds in their rivalries against one another. Time and time  again, however, the Kurds have been manipulated in the  geopolitical calculi of the Middle East. They have regularly  found themselves to be expendable and effectively dropped as  partners by those players that their leaders made ill-conceived  alliances with. In the past this took place during the  centuries-long conflict between the Ottoman and Iranian Empires.  Kurdish chieftains proved to be especially decisive in ensuring  an Ottoman victory in the Battle of Chaldiran against the  Safavids in 1514. Centuries later, Kurdish militias would be  recruited by the Ottoman government in its hostilities with the  Armenians of Anatolia in the 1890s, only for Kurdish leaders to  mistakenly side with the British and face the wrath of the  newborn Republic of Turkey. They would incidentally be betrayed  by the British in Iraq a few decades later. The Kurds have been  oppressed in Turkey ever since.

Relatives visit a Syrian Kurdish man who was injured during an airstrike on the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff) Relatives visit a Syrian Kurdish man who was injured during an airstrike on the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern city of Aleppo (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff)


Mohammed-Reza Shah supported the Iraqi Kurds against the Iraqi  government until 1975. When he received the concessions he wanted  over control of the Shatt Al-Arab from Baghdad, he ended his  support of the Iraqi Kurds, leaving them to face the Iraqi  military. The alliance between Tehran and the Iraqi Kurds would  only be rekindled during the Iran-Iraq War and after the Shah was  ousted.

The Israelis, on the other hand, became interested in the Kurds  as part of their policy of forming alliances with ethnic groups,  such as the Berbers, who live in the sea of Arabs stretching from  Morocco to Iraq. Tel Aviv has used Iraqi Kurdistan as a regional  base against friends, such as Turkey, and foes, such as Iran and  Syria. Yet, Israel has never hesitated to drop the Kurds either.

Using their contacts with the Kurds, it was Tel Aviv that helped  the Turkish government capture the Kurdish guerilla leader  Abdullah Ocalan.

Turkey in the last decade has slowly loosened its repressive  policies against the Kurds as part of its neo-Ottoman bid to  expand its economic and political influence in the Middle East.  Ankara’s government has even instigated the Iraqi Kurds to clash  with the Iraqi federal government, whereas it has been  unsuccessful in its attempts to entice the Syrian Kurds into its  orbit. It is even alleged that Prime Minister Erodogan had  devised a Turkish-Kurdish federation of some sort that would  eventually incorporate Iraqi Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan with  Turkey.

The US government has constantly changed its position on the  Kurds. In coordination with the Shah of Iran, Washington actually  armed the Iraqi Kurds and led them on. The moment that the Shah  got his concessions, the US dropped the Iraqi Kurds by ending its  support. The US then started to support Saddam Hussein against  the Iraqi Kurds and, under the guise of giving agricultural  credits, effectively armed him with the chemical weapons that he  used against them and Iran. After America turned its back on  Saddam Hussein, the US pushed the Kurds to rebel against Baghdad,  only to abandon them once more by leaving them during their hour  of need in a position of deadlock. The US and UK would go on to  use the Kurds as a convenient excuse for establishing their  illegal no-fly zones over Iraq and later to support their  invasion in 2003.

Ironically, while Washington condemned Saddam Hussein for  mistreating the Kurds, it actually supported and helped the  Turkish government against the Kurds in both Turkey and Iraq. Now  the Obama Administration is mutely trying to manipulate the  Kurds, in Syria and elsewhere, into destabilizing Syria and the  Middle East.

A Syrian Kurdish refugee from the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, holds her baby in a school used as a refugee camp in the northern city of Afrin (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff) A Syrian Kurdish refugee from the majority-Kurdish Sheikh Maqsud district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, holds her baby in a school used as a refugee camp in the northern city of Afrin (AFP Photo / Dimitar Dilkoff)


Militarizing the Kurds to Fragment Syria

When the troubles in Syria began in 2011, there was an attempt to  recruit the Syrian Kurds. The Syrian Kurds were cautious and the  recruitment attempts failed. Despite the best attempts of the  Syrian National Council and the other puppet opposition groups  outside of Syria, the Syrian Kurds were not drawn into the ranks  of the insurgency. Instead the Syrian government gave the Kurds a  new level of autonomy.

The systematic massacres of Syrian Kurds mark the start of a new  strategy to entangle the Kurds in the fighting inside Syria. The  targeting of the Syrian Kurds by insurgent groups like Al-Nusra  is premeditated and strategically executed precisely with the  intention of galvanizing the Kurds in Syria and elsewhere into  forming more armed groups and segregating themselves from  non-Kurds. In what looks like the momentum towards a broader  regional conflagration, the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional  Government of Iraqi Kurdistan have also threatened to intervene.

There is actually an old and saturnine proverb which is linked to  what is happening and, at the same time, speaks to the memory of  the Kurdish people about their perception of a tragic history.

The proverb avers that the Kurds have no friends except for the  mountains. The most important thing about this proverb is that it  is the axiom for what has been a mentality of besiegement among  the Kurds: they have no one to rely on but themselves. This is  exactly what the mandarins and strategists conducting the  operations against Syria want to exploit the Kurds to feel; they  want the Kurds to “have no friends except for the mountains” and  to “fight the rest.”  The Arabs, the Turks, and the  mixture of ethnic groups that comprise the population of Iran are   “the rest.”

While Israeli and US analysts and experts keep parroting the same  propaganda talking points that Syria will be divided into  sectarian mini-states based on faith and ethnicity, the Syrians  themselves are refuting this. What these experts are saying will  happen is a goal that Washington and Tel Aviv are in fact  struggling to achieve in Syria. In this context, the ultimate aim  of dragging the Kurds into fighting is to divide Syria and  fragment the Middle East via resurgent and militant Kurdish  ethno-nationalism that shouts that the Kurds have no friends. The  Kurds should not be fooled into becoming the cannon fodder of  those who seek to divide the Middle East.

They have more friends than just the mountains. Kurdish history,  like the history of the world’s other peoples, is one filled with  both tragedy and exultation. The long story of the Kurds has not  been one of exclusion and discrimination alone. It has been one  of inclusion and regional leadership too. It says something when  the great eagle that is on Egypt’s flag and used as a pan-Arab  symbol and coat of arms by a number of different Arab states is  the emblem of the great Kurdish leader Saladin and that many of  the Middle East’s leaders have been Kurds.

This article was originally published on RT.

About the author:

An award-winning author and geopolitical analyst, Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is the author of The Globalization of NATO (Clarity Press) and a forthcoming book The War on Libya and the Re-Colonization of Africa. He has also contributed to several other books ranging from cultural critique to international relations. He is a Sociologist and Research Associate at the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), a contributor at the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF), Moscow, and a member of the Scientific Committee of Geopolitica, Italy.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article. The Centre of Research on Globalization grants permission to cross-post Global Research articles on community internet sites as long the source and copyright are acknowledged together with a hyperlink to the original Global Research article. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: [email protected]

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of "fair use" in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than "fair use" you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: [email protected]