Our Disagreement With “Free Haifa”
By Yossi Schwartz (ISL: Occupied Palestine/Israel), supported by the RCIT
Turkey under the Islamist government is playing an important role in the imperialist strategy in the region in this period of the Arab revolution. Since the beginning of the Arab revolution in Syria in 2011 the US and other imperialists have been seeking a policy of breaking Syria from Iran. Such a schism between Damascus and Tehran would change the Middle East’s strategic balance in favor of the US and Israel. The reconciliation between the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) is related to the new role Turkey is playing in relations to Iran.
Turkey’s ruling class motives behind their “Oslo Agreement” with the PKK
The AKP government wants to pacify the Kurdish liberation struggle which plays a major role in Turkey since at least three decades. The Kurdish people in Turkey – numbering, according to different estimations, between 18-25 million people or 25-30% of Turkey’s population – are historically severely oppressed by the Turkish state and desire to achieve national self-determination. However their justified liberation struggle has been led by the PKK which is a petty-bourgeois nationalist movement. The AKP tries to finish the Kurdish struggle and in this it gets the help of the treacherous leadership of the PKK around Abdullah Ocalan.
Such a pacification would not only remove temporarily an important element of political instability in Turkey, but would also enable the Turkish ruling class to intervene more effectively in the region the Islamic government of Turkey is promising a Kurdish autonomy for the disarming of the Kurdish guerrilla forces.
“On March 30 — Speaking on CNN Türk on Friday night Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said PKK militants withdrawing from Turkey will have to lay down their arms before crossing the border. This, he added, to prevent further confrontation. Erdoğan added that “perhaps these militants will go to Iraq, perhaps to Syria, or perhaps to Europe, particularly the Scandinavian countries. I cannot know that. What’s important to me is peace in my country. The thing I know is that when they go, the atmosphere of my country will change when we realize the economic boom in the east of the country brings to mind the Oslo’s accord.“(30.3.2013)
Further details on this truce between the Turkish government and the PKK are given by the Çandar of Lebanese Almonitor which seems reasonable:
“The PKK’s escalation of armed struggle had coincided with the declaration of a cease-fire between Iran and the Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK), the Iranian Kurdish wing of the PKK, in August 2011. PJAK fighters are now waiting in their trenches in the Kandil Mountains. Both the PJAK of Iran and the PYD of Syria are under the PKK’s rule with its supreme leader Abdullah Ocalan.
“Therefore, the question to be asked is whether what is perceived as “peace” in Turkey is actually an armistice between Turkey and the PKK that will have the PJAK initiate action against Tehran and the PYD against Damascus, or whether Erdogan will not be satisfied until the full decommissioning of the PKK which would substantially signify the “ultimate peace.” (Cengiz Çandar for Al-Monitor Turkey Pulse, posted on April 7, 2013)
Imperialist powers move to isolate Iran
In addition the aim of this Turkish-Kurdish “Oslo Accord”, is to achieve the imperialist policy of breaking Syria from Iran. A move that the Iranian government is very worried of it. Iran has accused Barack Obama of playing “a new game” to isolate Tehran after he brokered reconciliation between Turkey and Israel last week. On this point writes the Australian newspaper The Times:
“The Iranian government was caught off guard by the US President’s diplomatic coup on Friday, when Israel and Turkey agreed to restore diplomatic ties after a three-year dispute. It provides a platform for greater co-operation on Syria, where Iran is propping up the Assad regime with cash and weapons.
“Turkey is a key player in the effort to overthrow the Syrian President, and Israel could now be drawn closer into the loose coalition of powers seeking to depose Iran’s closest ally in the Middle East.
“Voicing Tehran’s concerns, General Masoud Jazayeri, the deputy head of Iran’s armed forces, denounced Mr Obama’s initiative as “a US game to undermine the anti-Israel resistance”. Attacking Turkey as a US stooge, he said Washington was seeking to usurp Iran’s place in the Muslim world and corrupt the purity of Islam with an “American Islam”. Tehran’s discomfort will be viewed with some satisfaction in the White House as Mr Obama returned home yesterday following his first visit to Israel last week.” (The Times, March 26, 2013)
No to a Turkey-PKK “Oslo Agreement”! No imperialist war against Iran!
As revolutionary Marxists we support the Syrian masses against Assad bloody regime and for this reason we approve of Turkey sending weapons to the rebels. At the same time we oppose Iran military support for the dictator. We oppose the new Oslo agreement that – like the Israeli-Palestinian accord in 1993 serves Israel and the other imperialists against the Palestinian masses – serves Turkey to continue the oppression of the Kurdish masses.
We also oppose the economic and military isolation of Iran and the imperialist policy that Turkey supports of breaking the Iranian-Syria military front against Israel and the other imperialists. In the case of an imperialist war against Iran we do not politically support Iran’s bourgeois-Islamist regime. However the interest of the international working class is to side militarily with Iran because the worse enemy is the imperialists who want to rob Iran of its oil and if they will defeat Iran the imperialists will install their own bloody dictator.
Free Haifa adapts to bourgeois Islamism of Turkey’s AKP …
This is very different policy than Free Haifa that supports politically and not only military the Islamist forces, and also supports the Turkish-Kurds Oslo accord as well. Namely the imperialist policy of breaking the Iran-Syria military alliance.
On February 22, 2013 on the Web pages of Free Haifa we find a position of political support for the Turkish government under the title:”Mabrook to our Kurdish and Turkish sisters and brothers for the Ceasefire!”
“It is a rare moment that we, in war torn Palestine, demonstrate to express international solidarity. But when, in 1999, Abdullah Ocalan was expelled from Syria under Turkish pressure and arrested in Kenya, after an international man-hunt in which Israel played important role, we in Abna Al-Balad prepared the hard to make PKK flag, collected our comrades from Haifa and the Galilee and went to demonstrate in front of the Turkish embassy in Tel Aviv. ….The Kurdish people shared with the Palestinians the fate of a people whose very existence was denied, whose identity and national expression were criminalized and persecuted. Kurds and Palestinians were training and fighting side by side – and the Left PKK was admired by the Palestinian Left.
“When the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, came to power in 2002, it was not clear whether they want or can bring any real change. In ten years in power they changed many things: Turning Turkey from a conveyor of imperialist policies to a local power, developing the local economy, promoting democracy by cutting the straight jacket of army control.
“But it was clear that there can’t be real democracy in Turkey without recognition of the Kurdish people and their legitimate rights. And it was clear that there can’t be any progress toward conciliation with the Kurds as long as Turkey is basically controlled by the military establishment, as the war against the Kurds served so well its interest to enslave all the people in Turkey….
“Now, as the Arab Spring marches on from its initial festive two months to more than two years of prolonged bloody struggles, we have a lot to learn from the Kurdish struggle for liberation and from Turkey’s struggle for democracy. You need a lot of dedication, courage, patience and wisdom to win – but first you should “put your eyes upon the price” and stick to your principles in spite of all the hardships and apparently insurmountable obstacles.” (Free Haifa: Mabrook to our Kurdish and Turkish sisters and brothers for the Ceasefire!, 22.3.2013)
This is political support for the capitalist oppressive government of Turkey and for the oppression of the Kurds and denial of their right of self determination in a free and red Kurdistan that can be formed only with the victory of a socialist revolution because the Kurds are divided among different capitalist states that oppose the right of self determination for the Kurds. By supporting this accord that is essentially not different from the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo accord, Free Haifa stands also with the imperialist’s policy of isolating Iran.
… as well as to bourgeois Islamism of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood
Turkey and Syria are not the only places where Free Haifa is supporting politically the Islamists. This is also the case in Egypt whereFree Haifa supports politically Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood on the ground that Morsi is a defender of the revolution against the army and the elements of the old regime.
On this Free Haifa wrote:
“When president Morsi was elected I wrote a special post to welcome his elections. I called on all the forces of the Egyptian revolution to work together to dismantle the old order and build a new system that will serve the Egyptian people. ….
“The final result was the sum of their collective efforts. On one side Morsi’s “power grab” prevented the Judiciary from blocking the writing of the new constitution and throwing Egypt back to lack of any legitimate system. On the other side the street protests forced Morsi to give up his extra powers. The result was that all agreed to take part in the referendum about the proposed constitution.
“The second and last round of vote in the referendum about Egypt’s proposed constitution will be held tomorrow, Saturday, 22.12.2012. I don’t know what will be the results of this referendum, but I can already say that the winners in the referendum are the Egyptian people.
“If the majority votes to accept the proposed constitution, Egypt will have its first democratic constitution, won by revolutionary struggle and approved by democratic vote. It will establish the free Egyptian people as the source of legitimacy. Any deficiency in the constitution should later be amended by the same Egyptian people.
“On the other side, if the constitution will be rejected it will also mean that the Egyptian people are exercising their right to decide their fate. They will continue their struggle for a better constitution, government, economic order and society.
“With all the harsh words and violent eruptions of the last period in Egypt, I would suggest that we all take some historic perspective by comparing Egypt’s revolution to its predecessors like France 1789-99, Russia 1917 and Iran 1979. Two years on into these revolutions there was a bloody struggle that will make our Egyptian conflict look like a friendly conversation.” (Free Haifa: Supporting the Egyptian Referendum…, 22.12.2012)
Thus, for Free Haifa supporting Morsi’s constitution was a victory for the revolution. This is political support for the Muslim Brotherhood. The interest of the revolutionary masses was to oppose Morsi’s Constituent Assembly by a revolutionary Constituent Assembly while at the same time forming workers and peasant soviets to prepare the working class led revolution.
Right and wrong historical analogies
Free Haifa is right of course to compare the Egyptian revolution to the French and the Russian revolution. However we should ask what is the role of the Muslim Brotherhood and to whom can we compare them in the French and Russian revolutions.
The Muslim Brotherhood comparable party in the French revolution was the constitutional Monarchists that stood against the revolutionary Jacobins in the same way Morsi stands today against the Egyptian workers peasants and poor. Of course revolutionaries socialist do not support politically the Salvation Front because we fight for a working class led revolution. In the case of the Russian revolution the counterpart to Morsi was the bourgeois Cadet party that had to be removed by the workers led revolution. Even if Free Haifa believe that the counter part was Kerensky it does not justify giving Morsi political support. The Bolsheviks defended Kerensky government against actual Kornilov coup d’etat without giving Kornilov any political support. In addition it must be said that the army works with Morsi and does not organize at this time any coup against Morsi.
The history of this region knows other cases that left wing forces support politically the bourgeois and petit bourgeois forces. This happened in Palestine in 1936-9 uprising when the Palestinian Communist Party (PKP) supported politically the reactionary Islamist Mufti of Jerusalem instead of fighting for working class led revolution.
The other known time was in Iran where the left supported the Islamists. In the first case the British-Zionists were able to defeat the Palestinian uprising because of lack of a revolutionary leadership as the Mufti and the Arabs kings were afraid of losing control over the uprising. In the second case when the Islamists cane to power in Iran in 1979, they killed the left in the following years. This is the result of the popular front politics of the reformists and nationalists with their theory of two stage revolution. In reality the first stage is politically supporting the anti working class forces and the second stage is the destruction of the revolutionary movement.
While revolutionaries are looking for a united front with Free Haifa, we also say clearly: It is necessary for Free Haifa to break with its reformist and nationalist tradition in order to play a revolutionary role in the coming Third Intifada.