We aren’t sure whether to be more alarmed or amused. Kyle Orton, an analyst with the ultra-hawkish Henry Jackson Society, has a piece entitled “The West’s Inconsistent Approach to Foreign Fighters in Syria,” warning that the Kurdish forces the US is backing are in an alliance with anarchists and elements of the Turkish and European armed left. It is bascally regurgitating Turkey’s cynical propaganda game of conflating the secular-democratic Kurdish forces and ISIS as equally “terrorist.” It portrays the Kurdish-led People’s Protection Units (YPG) as merely an extension of the PKK guerilla movement in Turkey, and waxes paranoid about the leftist volunteers that have come to the Rojava region join them, now apparently organized in an umbrella called the International Revolutionary People’s Guerrilla Forces (IRPGF, with its own Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube video, and manifesto on the anarchist website CrimethInc).
With somewhat garbled syntax, Orton warns:
The YPG/PKK—operating through a front-group known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)—is the primary ground instrument the West has chosen in its war against IS, and it seems that this support encompasses a blind-eye being turned to a flow of Western fighters joining the ranks of the PKK, despite the terrorism designation. Twenty-two Westerners have already been killed fighting for the YPG.
This reminds us of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade being blasted as “prematurely anti-fascist.” It is rather patronizing to call the SDF a “front group”; it is a legitimate coalition, although it is true that the YPG is its central pillar. Just as it’s cynical to portray the YPG as a mere extension of the PKK, rather than an allied sibling organization. More to the point, whatever legitimate criticisms can be made of the autonomy struggle in Rojava, only those who stand fundamentally in solidarity with that struggle have any moral authority to raise them.
The analysis also uncritically echoes claims that the leftist Kurdish forces are collaborating with Assad and his foreign backers. We acknowledge the tragic reality that the Rojava Kurds are being drawn into a de facto alliance with Russia and Assad—although over the course of the conflict their leaders have both broached accommodation with Assad and pledged to fight Assad. We have also already noted charges of internal repression by the Kurdish autonomous forces in Rojava—despite their anarchist-influenced politics. But the more Syria is turned into a playing field for the Great Powers like Russia, Turkey and the US, the more difficult it will be for the autonomist forces to overcome these contradictions. This kind of red-scare propaganda is hurting, not helping.
We’ve noted that the Henry Jackson Society (named for an arch-reactionary US senator, although it is based in Britain) is an aggressively pro-intervention alliance of neocons and unreconstructed Cold War hawks. As pathological as this propaganda is, we find it both hilarious and heartening that they are suddenly so afraid of anarchists.