Worried about becoming US pawn, Kurdish fighter says “We won’t sell our souls for guns”

(TFC– The Kurds have no friends but the mountains. It’s a popular saying that has proven true over the last century or so. When the Ottoman Empire fell, the 1920 Treaty of Sevres made a provision for a Kurdish state. Just three years later, the powers that be demonstrated they cared nothing for the Kurdish people when the Treaty of Lausanne set out the borders of the Turkey. There was no Kurdistan. The Kurds have been promised their own country year after year, war after war. It has never materialized. Now the Kurds may be able to accomplish through the fortunes of war what the political process denied them for decades, some would say centuries.

The Kurdish people are indigenous to the Mesopotamian highlands and to some extent the plains. When the world powers divided up the region into countries, the Kurds were left without a country of their own. Their population wound up in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, and Armenia. The Kurds never gave up their dream of autonomy. In 1925, they fought back in Turkey. With the help of the Soviets in 1946, they attempted to set up a small country in Iran. It was ultimately crushed by the Iranian government. In 1961, it was the Iraqi Kurds who attempted to obtain their right to self-determination. They were able to obtain a small amount of self-rule. In 1978, they renewed their fight against the Turkish government and the PKK was founded. In 1979, the Kurds attempted to break free from Iran again during the commotion of the Islamic Revolution. They failed. After the Gulf War in 1991, the Kurds in Iraq tried again. The promised assistance from the west failed to materialize and thousands were slaughtered by Saddam Hussein. Despite that betrayal, the Kurds fought alongside US and British forces during the 2003 war that deposed Saddam. Now Syrian Kurds are attempting to take advantage of the chaos there to gain their country. In fighting spirit, the Kurds are much like the Irish, decades of defeat has only hardened their resolve.

The US has called for the ouster of Assad since it destabilized the country, and several times it has come close to obtaining its wish and commencing ground operations under the guise of fighting the Islamic State. Due to public pressure, inept leadership, and Russian intervention; the US hasn’t been able to get those boots on the ground it so desperately seeks. The success of Russian operations has rendered the US irrelevant to the geopolitical game in Syria. It is attempting to reclaim some interest in the war by supplying arms to the Kurds who are simultaneously fighting for their independence and fighting the Islamic State. This move has angered Turkey, a NATO ally, because some of the arms will definitely be funneled from the Syrian Kurds to the Turkish Kurds.

The Fifth Column spoke to several Kurdish sources about the new deal. A source within the Kurdish Government in Iraq had this to say of his Syrian counterparts:

“They have learned from us. They know the United States want[s] to use them to fight the war and make Assad leave. They won’t play this game. I have been told they have already decided on a line on the map which Kurdish forces are not to cross. We have no interest in the fall of [Assad]. Assad is the leader of the Syrian people and he should stay. We just want our people to have their own leader.”

Mahabad Araz, 24, is currently in Syria near Raqqa. She has been fighting for two years. News of US arms had not yet reached her position and she found out of the agreement via The Fifth Column.

“It would be wonderful, if it is true. Most of our rifles are old and it is hard to find [ammunition] for [indirect fire weapons]. We’ve heard this before, so I don’t hold my breath. We are more likely to get arms from Americans and Germans who want to help, not the governments.”

When asked what she thought of the deal after being assured the news had broke, she said

“It is so we will move to fight Syrian regime forces. We won’t. I won’t anyway. I’m here for my people, not for some rich man in New York. If [our leadership] wants to fight that war, they can fight it without me.”

A friend of Mahabad’s who was listening stated

“We fight for years so we don’t have some other people over us. We won’t sell our souls for guns.”

Image Source: Kurdishstruggle, Flickr, Creative Commons
Kurdish YPG Fighters

Contrary to how the Western governments will eventually spin the events, the Kurdish people have no interest in overthrowing Assad. They want their own country, and could not care less what happens within the borders of Syria after they leave it. It’s clear the next phase of US propaganda is to paint US involvement as an attempt to assist an indigenous group obtain independence. While the supplies are surely appreciated, US ground troops are not needed to defend the Kurdish-held territories. The Kurds are currently on the offensive pushing against the Islamic State. The weapons will assist that, but unless there is a drastic change in Assad’s attitude towards using force against the Kurds, there is no reason to involve American troops on the Kurdish people’s behalf. Any claim that there is, is simply a pretext for a US invasion of Syria. The Kurds have bled and fought for years without the assistance they deserved. Now, as the end of their war approaches, the United States seems to want to appear as the savior after abandoning them multiple times over the last few decades. This new country can and will survive without becoming another US puppet beholden to US interests, and they won’t fight wars as a proxy army of the US.

While the Kurds may have no friends but the mountains, they won’t be anyone’s pawn any longer.