Democratisation of the Middle East?


Jörg Ulich is questioning line taken by the Kurdish liberation movement in Turkey

To the Kurdish liberation movement

With great concern we have observed the latest developments of the Kurdish organisations and their approach to developments in Iraq. We particularly deplore the declaration of the organisation that views itself as a heir of the Workers` Party of Kurdistan (PKK) and which in our opinion has made a historic mistake in their current position on the US-American aggression against the peoples of the world – a mistake that objectively puts the progressive parts of the Kurdish movement against all progressive movements of the Middle East.

In declarations of the Kurdish organisations (Yekom, Kadek, PJA) about their position on the imminent attack against Iraq in 2003 they were equidistant between the warring parties. In several declarations(1) in 2003 they say that "neither the USA nor Ba…‘th will serve democracy". As an alternative they present the "project" of Abdullah Öcalan that envisions a "development of democracy based on the democratic will of the peoples"(2) for the Middle East, without stating what or who that should concretely be based on. Those declarations usually refer to a "democratic civil society" – a concept that was created by the bourgeois part of the anti-globalisation movement around Toni Negri and which is used today to denounce those movements who resist the global neo-liberal offensive. The Kadek declaration of April 11th, 2003, clearly goes further, from an equidistant position before the war to a clear positioning on the side of the US aggressor: "Those regimes [of the Middle East] in fact paved the way for the intervention by not accepting democratic change. The weakness of popular struggle for democracy left a military intervention as the only alternative." At the same time Kadek calls for "constructive" collaboration with the occupation of Iraq and offers the United States to help them in "building a democratic regime" in Iraq(3). In it`s last declaration(4) Kadek correctly concludes that "toppling the Iraqi regime by US intervention has started a process of almost complete dissolution of the status quo in the Middle East. Confronted with this situation the leading regional powers have made efforts to stop that change", but for us it`s very questionable which side Kadek and their environment take in this regard. Especially their stance on the Iraqi resistance – whom they in the last declaration delegitimate as an "alliance of Saddam regime supporters" in the context of Iranian, Turkish and Syrian interests – makes us fear that the Kurdish liberation movement tries to establish itself by such manoeuvring as a "constructive" force within the occupation regime. The last resolution spreads the illusion that the intervention eventually changed a "status quo" that was not suitable for "democratisation" and that the American capitalist model will inevitably bring about a democratic development; this statement makes the Kurdish liberation movement the vanguard of "Americanisation" of the whole region. Furthermore Kadek concludes in its last declaration, that the "US Mid-East intervention" will make "democratisation" inevitable – "even if it is based on dependence" –, and thus Kadek clearly sides with the United States, against the peoples and movements who are fighting against the "democracy" of the World Bank and the IMF, who fight for their national sovereignty and independence. The Kurdish People`s Congress that emerged from Kadek took this line again in November 2003 and in advance gives green light to the United States for an intervention against Syria and Iran, if they don`t start "democratic reforms" by themselves. In our opinion such a position can only lead to a catastrophe for the Kurdish movement and poses it against all anti-imperialist movements of the region. A democratic republic of the Middle East can only be based on a broad democratic and anti-imperialist front that repeals the occupation and builds a democratic stated based on reclaiming national sovereignty. The Kurdish movement could play an important role in this anti-imperialist front.

The resistance in Iraq today is a precondition for a new dynamic in the struggles of the peoples and classes for their liberation. Every day that the Iraqi people ties down US imperialism in Iraq, they prevent new wars, alleviates the fronts of comrades in Asia and Latin America. The Iraqi resistance today represents the struggle for international law, democracy and human rights. Considering that many of our comrades have worked side by side with you for many years and even fought in the Kurdish Liberation Army for a free and sovereign Kurdistan, we sharply condemn your rapprochement policy and demand that the leadership of the liberation movement begins a comprehensive re-orientation of their policy and practice.

Jörg Ulrich for Initiativ e.V.

(1) KADEK (Freedom and Democracy Congress), in: Press Statement, April 11th, 2003
(2) Free Woman`s Party, PJA (Partiya Jina Azad), in: Press Statement, April 4th, 2003
(3) KADEK (Freedom and Democracy Congress), in: Press Statement, April 4th, 2003
(4) KADEK Presidential Council, June 26th, 2003