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Another "supposed damning fact" to add to Nick's list:  the claim that Salih 
Muslim called for the expulsion of Arabs, when on many occasions he said the 
exact opposite.

This false claim was included in Burning Country, which is on the whole a good 
account of the Syrian revolution, but which is biased against the PYD (probably 
because of misinformation supplied to the authors by political opponents of the 


Chris Slee

From: Marxism <marxism-boun...@lists.csbs.utah.edu> on behalf of Nick Fredman 
via Marxism <marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu>
Sent: Saturday, 3 March 2018 7:53:16 AM
To: Chris Slee
Cc: Activists and scholars in Marxist tradition
Subject: Re: [Marxism] David Graeber: manufactured ignorance: the strange case 
of Juan Cole and the Kurdish freedom movement

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Michael has missed the point that my comment was about the actual subject
line of this thread: Juan Cole, who David Graeber shows is systematically
demonizing the PKK and PYD and systematically whitewashing the Turkish
state. I think the egregious and clearly conscious nature of Cole’s
distortions in this regard is very significant, much more than making a big
deal about a picture of what seems like a tiny number of people in Afrin
holding pictures of Assad.

More generally I’m all for an evidenced-based and critical view of the
DFNS, Syria and any other topic. That’s why, as well as paying attention to
the totality of the views and currents of the Apoist current and not just
convenient snippets, I’ve paid attention to independent writers who’ve
spent time in Rojava and interviewed numerous people there, such as Anna
Flach, Michael Knapp and Ercan Ayboga (the Revolution in Rojava book and
many articles), UK socialist feminist Rahila Gupta, and Dutch journalists
Wladimir Wildenberg and Frederike Geerdink, as well as David Graeber.

Such people haven’t been useful idiots but critical analysts: Gupta has
criticised the somewhat odd Apoist analysis of women’s oppression and blind
eye to questions of sexuality and Graeber has pointed out the likely
contradictions ahead of purposefully building a dual-power type political

It’s also why I’ve pointed out on this list and elsewhere that’s there’s
some dubious “critiques” of and supposed damning facts about the Rojava
revolution that some of the left have spread about in an uncritical
kneejerk fashion. Off the top of my head these include:

* The view that Rojava was handed over in a secret deal, rather than seized
in the popular uprising that’s been described by eyewitnesses (ironically
enough this bit of folk lore is repeated by Graeber in the article of the
subject line here);

* The assertion by Assad a few years ago that he’s armed the YPG/J, and has
the documents to prove it, they’re laying around somewhere...;

* Roy Gutman’s laughable “expose” articles (from Istanbul not Rojava), the
only two non-anonymous sources in which soon after criticising his
distortion of their views;

* The clearly doctored smudgy long-shot photos and brief video clips of YPG
and SAA flags flying together in Aleppo;

* And now, taking a pic of a tiny number of unknown people as representive
of the views of a movement, rather than the clearly stated views of that

So I’ll take Michael’s points and references on board but I won’t
uncritically accept the veracity of the claims made without checking them
or uncritically accept his interpretations.

On Fri, 2 Mar 2018 at 1:24 pm, mkaradjis . <mkarad...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Sorry Nick, who wrote anything here to whitewash the Turkish state.
> Look, it is not a matter of one statement by Salih Muslim in 2013,
> repulsive as that one was. You need to deal with the fact that the
> PYD's decision to go its own entirely neutral "third way" from the
> very outset has been part of the problem, as well as the problems
> arising from Turkish pressure on the opposition and the opposition's
> own Arab nationalist background.
> PYD leader Salih Muslim admits that they effectively declared
> themselves neutral as early as mid-2011:
> “Regarding our position in the conflict, the Kurds in Syria had been
> fighting for our democratic rights in a country ruled by a dynastic
> and despotic regime. But a few months after the uprising we realized
> that many who were siding with the insurrection were coming from the
> mosques and we thought that those were not good travel companions for
> us.”
> http://kurdistantribune.com/2016/salih-muslim-time-has-proved-us-right/
> Yes, thousands of Syrians were pouring out of mosques – one of the
> only safe places – and going to protest for democracy against Assad
> from the earliest days; it is immensely sectarian (in the political
> sense) to see all these people as your enemies “a few months” into the
> uprising, as if every worshipper protesting for democracy and freedom
> is a crazed jihadist.
> In an interview back in 2011, Salih Muslim (who was curiously allowed
> back into Syria by Assad, following years of exile), also used
> familiar Assadist tropes in defining the uprising as a western “regime
> change” operation:
> “As PYD, we believe that the international plan asking for a change in
> Syria is not in favor of the peoples … In return for assuming the
> leading role on Syria, Turkey received compromises by the West on
> suppressing the Syrian Kurds. One of the major reasons of the regime
> change project in Syria was to eliminate the Kurdish” (PYD Lideri
> Salih Müslim ile Röportaj, “Suriye’de Kürtler yol haritası
> çıkartıyor”, Firat News Agency, 12 September 2011, cited in
> http://www.todayszaman.com/todays-think-tanks_syrias-pkk-game_271361.html
> ).
> Then there were the PYD attacks on Kurdish anti-Assad demonstrations,
> beginning in Afrin in February 2012. I quoted from Burning Country on
> this in a recent post. here is another report:
> “On February 3, 2012, organized attacks by sympathizers of the
> Democratic Union Party (PYD) injured at least 17 people in ʿAfrin.
> Armed PYD supporters surrounded approximately three hundred supporters
> of the Kurdish Patriotic Conference as they were gathering for a
> dissident demonstration. The PYD demanded that the demonstrators walk
> behind their flag. When the demonstrators refused and chanted “Azadî”
> (“Freedom”), they were attacked with billy clubs, knives, chains, and
> guns.
> … Syrian security forces did not intervene. Numerous demonstrators
> were brought to the hospital—however, some of them could not be
> treated as the PYD also continued its attacks there.”
> http://kurdwatch.org/en/interview8/html?aid=2449&z=en
> According to the same report, five demonstrations took place the same
> day in al-Qamishli. The regime arrested several people, but also
> “during the demonstration in al-Antariyah, PYD thugs attacked
> activists who were filming the protests with the explanation that only
> employees of the PKK stations Roj-TV and Ronahi-TV were allowed to
> make such recordings. Three activists suffered serious head injuries.”
> The rest of 2012 is a literal catalogue of PYD attacks on Kurdish
> anti-Assad demonstrations. Depending on the situation, the PYD
> sometimes organised its own anti-Assad demonstrations, while at other
> times it attempted to swap the anti-Assad slogans for demands that
> Ocalan be released and the like.
> Valid criticism is not "demonisation." Only blind romanticism leads to
> demonisation, which is why so many Rojava romantics often start
> spurning out the crudest Islamophobic nonsense about "head-choppers"
> as soon as any rebels out side Rojava are mentioned. Perhaps time for
> a more critical outlook.
> On Fri, Mar 2, 2018 at 1:06 PM, Nick Fredman via Marxism
> <marxism@lists.csbs.utah.edu> wrote:
> > ********************  POSTING RULES & NOTES  ********************
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> >
> > Ok then we pretty much know for sure that at least 6 people in Afrin or
> > about 0.001% of the current population held up placards of Assad, and
> that
> > their reasons for doing so might have been influenced by what the former
> > leader of the PYD said about one regime attack 5 years ago. I’m not sure
> > though this is the most important point with regard to an article about
> how
> > a well-known and avowedly leftist US academic is systematically
> demonizing
> > the PKK and PYD and systematically whitewashing the Turkish state.
> >
> > On Fri, 2 Mar 2018 at 9:08 am, Louis Proyect <l...@panix.com> wrote:
> >
> >> On 3/1/18 5:01 PM, Nick Fredman wrote:
> >> >
> >> > Louis uses “Kurds” for these placard holders when he does not know
> their
> >> > ethnicity, or, more to the point if we don’t want to ape lazy,
> ignorant
> >> > journalists in the bourgeois media, their political affiliations or
> >> views.
> >>
> >> Maybe that's because my views were shaped by PYD leader Salih Muslim
> >> calling the sarin gas attack in East Ghouta that cost the lives of more
> >> than a thousand people a "false flag". Any leader capable of making such
> >> a terrible statement is creating an atmosphere where it is entirely
> >> plausible that his followers would hold pictures of the killer of those
> >> people aloft.
> >>
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