Archive for the ‘Kurdistan’ Category

This is the first in what will be an occasional series of articles we are running about specific revolutionary women; we say ‘occasional’ simply because they won’t be daily or weekly.  This article was not written to be part of this series; Yassamine wrote it for a different purpose, but we thought it was a fascinating article and so we’re re-blogging it to kick off the series.

by Yassamine Mather

One hundred thousand women demonstrate in Tehran against the imposition of the veil by the theocratic regime in 1979

Taher Ahmadzadeh, a veteran member of Iran’s Jebheh Melli (National Front – Mossadegh’s political coalition) and the Freedom Movement, who became briefly the governor of Khorassan province after the Iranian revolution of 1979, died on November 30 in Mashad, northern Iran. Most of the Persian language press inside and outside the country published lengthy obituaries. He had been imprisoned both during the Pahlavi period and after the Islamic Revolution and the obituaries dedicated paragraphs to his sons Massoud and Majid, founders of the Sazman-e Cherikha-ye Fadayee-ye Khalgh, OIPFG, who were executed by the Shah’s regime, and his youngest son, Mojtaba, a sympathizer of another communist organisation, who opposed armed struggle, killed at the age of 25 by the Islamic Republic.

However almost all of these obituaries failed to mention his daughter Mastoureh Ahmadzadeh, who is alive, who was a political prisoner of the Shah’s regime and became a leading figure of OIPFG, a member of its central committee. The editors, journalists and commentators who remind us everyday how they have become ‘feminists’, the very same people who complain daily about the lack of women ministers in Rouhani’s government (as if that would make any difference to a government led by a reformist Shia cleric) wrote about Taher Ahmadzadeh and his three sons but not a word about his daughter. It is almost as if she doesn’t exist.

This short piece, based on my memories of Mastoureh (comrade Azam) in Kurdistan and later in France, is to (more…)


Masoud Barzani

by Yassamine Mather

The Kurdish regional government (KRG) in Iraq will be holding a referendum on the issue of independence on September 25. There have been appeals for it to be delayed and the date has changed a number of times, but at the moment it looks like the vote will go ahead.

In 2014, at the time when Islamic State was gaining ground in northern Kurdistan, Kurds accused the Iraqi army of abandoning the territory lost to the jihadists. Ironically it is the ‘liberation’ of Erbil, Mosul and other northern cities that has precipitated the referendum. Last week in an interview with BBC Persian, Masoud Barzani, the president of the KRG, indicated that it will draw up the borders of a future Kurdish state if Baghdad does not accept a vote in favour of independence. However, what was significant in the BBC interview was Barzani’s insistence that (more…)

Massive anti-regime protest, Hama, Syria, July 2011

Massive anti-regime protest, Hama, Syria, July 2011

As part of our policy of publishing different left points of view about the conflict in Syria we are reprinting an interview with Syrian socialist Ghayath Naisse, a member of the Revolutionary Left Current.  The interview was conducted by Simon Assaf about the brutalisation of Syria, the goals of those intervening and the prospects for socialists in the region.1  We’ve taken it from the International Socialism journal site, here.

Simon Assaf: Let’s start with imperialism. What do those intervening in Syria—Russia, the Saudis, the US and Turkey—hope to achieve?

Ghayath Naisse: Syria makes for a very particular case study in that virtually all the imperialist and regional powers are in action in the same territory.

First, let’s talk about the intervention by Russia and its allies. Russian imperialism has an important geostrategic interest in the region. After Libya, Syria is now the last bastion where Russia has had a military presence for decades. It has the naval base at Tartus, which has grown in recent years, and the air base at Hmeimim near Latakia. So, on a geostrategic level, if it loses Syria, Russia has no presence and no conduit for diplomatic influence in the Mediterranean basin.

That particular interest combines with a more general one. Since the ascent of Vladimir Putin, Russia has sought to recover its place among the great powers—to make the other imperialist powers recognise its place among them, by force if necessary. That shaped its actions in Ukraine and it’s also shaping what happens in Syria.

To understand the other imperialist “camp”, the United States and its allies, we must start from seeing that the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq in 2003 ended in failure and defeat. The departure of US forces in 2011 was a striking show of failure for US imperialism in the whole region and in Iraq in particular. What’s happening now with ISIS has allowed the US to return to the region, not just to Iraq but to Syria too, at least within the limits of a “low cost intervention”. That means it doesn’t need to put its troops on the ground but has a major aerial presence.

So, supposedly to confront ISIS, there has been a return of the US in Iraq. And in Syria, where the US previously had a minimal, largely diplomatic presence, it now intervenes directly. It has special forces around the border and in the north, and an incontestable air supremacy. That is what’s at stake for the US—its interest in returning to a region it had been forced out of. This is an important region for the US, where its allies such as Israel and the Gulf states were threatened by the uprising and revolutions that swept the region.

Part of the radical left criticises the US policy in the region for “doing nothing”. But that’s not true. The US has (more…)

Redline has run articles with different perspectives on Syria – from those who emphasise imperialist involvement to those that emphasise the awfulness of the Assad regime and the need to solidarise with its victims and those fighting it.  Below is the third perspective, presented by one of our Iranian readers (Redline is blocked in Iran, but we have readers there as well as Iranian readers around the world).  This third perspective is that the Assads are brutal and corrupt dictators but the alternative is even worse, as happened in Iran in 1979 – and, for that matter, more recently in Libya.  This perspective also suggests that western leftists who place emphasis on getting rid of Assad, at virtually any cost, are playing with fire but that it is not them who have suffered the consequences of the replacement of Gaddafi and it won’t be them who will suffer the consequences of the replacement of Assad by Islamic fundamentalists – it will be the working class, women, and national and religious minorities; the western left will just walk away unscathed (and unreflective).


As bad as the Assad regime is, the alternative is even worse

by Karim Pourhamzavi

The tragic and brutal chaos is getting close to completing its fifth year. Recently, the siege of Aleppo by the Syrian army and its allies, along with the Russian heavy bombardment, has attracted a large amount of media attention, particularly by the anti-Assad camp. The extensive advance of the troops loyal to the Syrian regime, at the time of writing, put an end to the controversial siege.

Aleppo, the largest city in Syria, did not witness a large-scale uprising in 2011, when the wider rebellion took place and steadily became a transnational armed struggle by the end of the same year. Various militant groups who fight in Syria, most prominent of which is the Nusra Front, the al-Qaeda branch in Syria, took over eastern Aleppo in 2012. The eastern part of the city includes approximately 300,000 residents and the western part, which has remained under the control of the Syrian regime to this day, is home for over one million residents, although you would not know this from ‘mainstream’ media coverage – you would think the whole of the city has been in ‘rebel’ hands and is being bombarded by the regime.


Any attempt of the Syrian regime to regain the eastern part of Aleppo was confronted by extensive propaganda in much of the western media. Not to mention the increase of multi-dimensional supports to the militants, including the Nusra Front, by the anti-Assad camp. The focus on civilian casualties whenever the Syrian army tries to regain Aleppo is, however, only one side of the story. The other side is that (more…)


Above is the speech given by Brian Leeson to the November 28 annual conference of the Irish revolutionary socialist movement éirígí.

While conditions in Ireland are rather different from New Zealand – Ireland was partitioned by British imperialism, with a direct colonial set-up in the north and a neo-colonial set-up in the south, whereas NZ is an imperialist power in its own right – there are important similarities due to capitalism ruling the island.

Moreover, in the south, the Labour Party has been leading a massive attack on workers’ rights and living standards while in the north Sinn Fein functions as part of the status quo, going along with and implementing austerity imposed from London.

But whereas New Zealand has a largely passive working class, Ireland’s history of rebellion created a (more…)

Iranian Kurd and asylum seeker, Fazel Chegeni, found dead on Christmas Island.

Iranian Kurd and asylum seeker, Fazel Chegeni, found dead on Christmas Island.

The following piece is taken from the New Matilda blog in Australia*.  It looks at the background to the over-night seizure of one of the compounds on Christmas Island by asylum seekers and NZ deportees being held on the island by the Australian government.  The detainees’ rebellion followed the death of a Kurdish asylum seeker outside the wire.  The authorities refused to explain how the man had died after his escape.   

Today the Radio NZ programme Morning Report interviewed one of the NZ deportees on the island – for international readers, people in Australia who are not Australian citizens can be deported if they commit three crimes over their lifetime.  This includes people who are, for all intents and purposes Australian – eg, people who have lived there since they were small children, for instance migrants from New Zealand.

images These deportees, upon being released from prison, are then detained indefinitely by the Canberra government before being deported.  The fact that scores of them are NZ-born Australian residents has created a lot of resentment in NZ.  Happily, on the island, this seems to have led to solidarity between the asylum seekers and the NZ deportees, rather than simply the attitude of “We’re NZers, we shouldn’t be treated like ‘the boat people’ who came here illegally.”

The NZer interviewed on Morning Report said they were preparing for the compound to be stormed by the private security company that controls the detention centre – Serco.  The more attention is on the island, the harder it will be for the Serco goons to lay into any of those held in this veritable concentration camp.

We’ve changed the title of the original article somewhat, but not edited it at all.

by Max Chalmers

The question you have to ask on mornings like this is ‘how many more’.

Over the weekend Australia added another name – or, in the language of the Department of Immigration, another “illegal maritime arrival” – to the list of deaths that have occurred as a result of the nation’s punitive refugee and immigration policy settings.

According to refugee advocates the (more…)

Darius Zand (right) in Kurdistan in the 1980s

Darius Zand (right) in Kurdistan in the 1980s

by Yassamine Mather

On September 12 2015, the Iranian revolutionary, Dariush Zand (‘Dr Said’), died in exile in Paris, following a short illness. Many of us who survived the terrible wars and the cold winters of Iranian Kurdistan in the 1980s no doubt owe our lives to his dedication, medical skills and determination to help his patients, most of whom were peshmerga fighters from the Fedayeen (Minority) and other left-wing groups. Having said that, whenever the conditions allowed, Dariush also treated locals and Kurdish peasants.

Dr Said was very popular both in Baghcheh, where, together with Mastoureh Ahmadzadeh (another medic and a member of the central committee of the Fedayeen), he had set up a clinic, and later in another base near the village of Vardeh, where he used an adjoining peasant house for his medical consultations. Those of us who were lucky to be present in both bases benefited from his skills directly, when he dealt with our illnesses and wounds, as well as indirectly, when the villagers brought eggs, fruit and on rare occasions chickens in gratitude.

However, Dr Said is remembered for the way he treated peshmergas injured in the unequal and often desperate battles with Revolutionary Guards and the army of Iran’s Islamic Republic. Throughout his stay in Kurdistan (he had left a lucrative medical practice, along with his wife and daughters, in Tehran) he had no (more…)