review of

David L. Phillips's "The Kurdish Spring"


2167. "review of David L. Phillips's "The Kurdish Spring""

- the complete version of my review

- credited to: tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE

- published on my "Critic" website May 16, 2023


review of

David L. Phillips's's "The Kurdish Spring"

by tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - May 9-15, 2023

For the complete review go here:


I can't claim to be particularly aware of world affairs in any thorough way. I didn't learn about Rojava & its potential interest to me as a fledgling autonomous zone until I read a review titled "The Rojava Revolution is a Women's Story" by Paul Buhle of Janet Biehl's "Their Blood Got Mixed: Revolutionary Rojava and the War and the War on Isis" in the fall 2022 issue of Fifth Estate. Almost immediately after reading that I read mention of Rojava again in Peter Lamborn Wilson's bk "Conversazione". Those 2 reads led me to think I shd learn more. I'd been hearing for decades that the Kurds are a supressed people, particularly in Iraq. SO, I looked online for bks about the Kurds & Rojava & found a top 5 list provided by Janet Biehl. It might've been this list here: . I bought 5 bks & decided to read them in chronological order from oldest to newest. They're all fairly contemporary. I started w/ "The Kurdish Spring" (copyright 2015, the Author's Note is dated October 1, 2014).

Let's start w/ the publisher, Transaction Publisher: Who are they?

"Transaction began on July 1, 1962, as part of a multiplex grant sponsored by the Ford Foundation at Washington University in St. Louis. From beginnings as a social science magazine, Transaction: Social Science and Modern Society (later Society), Transaction Publishers evolved into a full-fledged publisher of books (Transaction Books), journals (Transaction Periodicals Consortium), and eBooks.

"In 1969, Transaction relocated to the newly formed Livingston College, on the Livingston campus of Rutgers University in Piscataway, New Jersey. Many editors, authors, and advisors are drawn from the faculty. Close to 200 faculty members have been authors and editors of Transaction books.

"AldineTransaction was an imprint of Transaction Publishers. Formerly a division of Walter de Gruyter, Inc., Aldine Publishing Co. was acquired by Transaction in July 2004, and the books were then published under the imprint AldineTransaction. AldineTransaction published classic books in the fields of sociology, anthropology, economics, sociobiology, physical anthropology, and public policy. It acquired book lists from Precedent Publishers in 2009 and the Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research (CUPR) in 2011.

"Transaction published more than 6,000 titles." -

In "Studies in Intelligence" vol 48, No 4, 2004, "The Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf Intelligence in Recent Public Literature Compiled and Reviewed by Hayden B. Peake This section contains brief reviews of recent books of interest to the intelligence professional and the student of intelligence." a review of "Cees Wiebes. Intelligence and The War In Bosnia 1992-1995. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2003. 463 pages, index." ( ) is provided. I find it interesting that there's an online source for learning about what publicly available bks might be of interest to intelligence officers. I never expected such a thing. I made a cursory search for "Intelligence Officer's Bookshelf Kurdish Spring" & didn't find anything. It wd've been very interesting to read a review of this bk from an "intelligence professional"'s POV.

My 1st impression was that the work is scholarly.. almost tooooo scholarly in the sense that its seeming objectivity seems suspect as a little bit tooooo pat. That + reading about the author made me wonder whether he's CIA. In Bernard Kouchner's Foreword it's written:

"David L. Phillips deciphers all the figures of contemporary threats and crisis. He also believes in the resources of our democracies, however threatened they may be. He knows how to turn international law into an instrument for peace. His capacity for analysis acts as a detector of conflicts to come.

"Rather than retreat to the quiet of his reading rooms, predicting the past and lamenting about done deeds, Phillips likes to travel to the most forlorn places on the planet, an active witness of current turmoil." - p ix

The above writer refers to Phillips as "The Activist Professor" & I reckon I've known at least one professor who fits that description - but to be "an active witness of current turmoil" involves more than being an activist, it means going into war zones, places not necessarily even easily entered w/o some sort of way of getting there. There are people who know how to get across borders surreptitiously & there are people who are able to get across them w/ official assistance. Phillips strikes me more as the latter.

From the Author's Note:

"President George H. W. Bush encouraged the Kurds to rebel against Saddam Hussein, but the Iraqi regime did not collapse. Bush turned a blind eye when Saddam launched a counterattack, driving more than 1.5 million Kurds across the borders of Iran and Turkey. Kurdist militia-peshmerga-tried to defend Kurds against Saddam's superior forces. The term perhmerga means "those who face death."" - p xi

& in my late 1990s days of activism against the sanctions against Iraq I heard an Iraqi speaker talk about this. The speaker sd that the US promised support for an insurrection so they went ahead w/ the rebellion only to find no US support forthcoming, leaving the rebels in a dramatically vulnerable position.

"In February 1992, Jalal Talabani convened a meeting of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Sulaimani. Karim and I made the long drive from Diyarbakir in Southeast Turkey across the Habur Gate into Iraqi Kurdistan. The road was covered with a long slick of black crude. Oil drums were strapped underneath the carriages of trucks, smuggling crude in exchange for food needed in Iraqi Kurdistan.

"The mood was celebratory. Saddam's forces had been expelled; Kurds enjoyed self-rule. They erupted in wild cheers when I called for freedom, democracy, and human rights (Azadi, Demokrasi, and Buji). At Masoud Barzani's meeting of the Kurdistan Deomcratic Party (KDP) in August 1993, I proposed that the United States establish a consulate general in Erbil. Kurds enthusiastically welcomed an "American flag in Kurdistan." The US Department of State set up a consulate in Erbil after Saddam was overthrown." - p xii

Now a mere "activist professor" wdn't have the power to make such a suggestion. But Phillips is described on the back-cover bio thusly:

"David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights. Phillips served as foreign affairs expert and senior adviser to the US Department of State during the administrations of presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama."

The above-mentioned Institute has a website that offers this self-description:

"The Institute for the Study of Human Rights (ISHR) was established in 1978 at Columbia University. ISHR is committed to its three core goals of providing interdisciplinary human rights education to Columbia students, fostering innovative academic research, and offering its expertise in capacity building to human rights leaders, organizations, and universities around the world.

"ISHR was the first academic center in the world to be founded on an interdisciplinary commitment to the study of human rights. This remains one of ISHR's most distinctive features. We recognize that on a fundamental level, human rights research must transcend traditional academic boundaries, departments, and disciplines, reaching out to the practitioners' world in the process, to address the ever-increasing complexities of human rights in a globalized world. ISHR's emphases on interdisciplinarity, engagement, and globalism draw from and complement the strengths that have long characterized intellectual life at Columbia." -

This webpage shows a picture of a wall on wch is engraved:





Well, it's hard to find fault w/ that, eh? But talk is cheap, including talk about "freedom, democracy, and human rights" & the US government's PR supporting the same. But let's not forget that this same US government has endorsed torture (so much for "freedom, democracy, and human rights") during the same Bush that Phillips worked for & is not above more than a little deception to get control of oil-rich areas such as Kurdistan. & then what about some FREEDOM FROM WORSHIP? That might help things (although it didn't seem to help the USSR much).

& then there's "ISHR's emphases on interdisciplinarity, engagement, and globalism" - "interdisciplinarity" is all well & good as far as I'm concerned - but "engagement" can mean many things, including war - and "globalism" is a huge problem as far as I'm concerned - b/c despite the heavenly promises of 'global visionaries' like Klaus Schwab (Chairperson of the World Economic Forum) globalism strikes me as just-another oligarchical power-play. Today's version of 'globalism' has certainly curtailed freedom of speech & freedom from fear, the past few yrs during wch most countries have been expected to unite into a global entity to fight a very dubiously real health crisis has resulted in more excuses than ever to stop freedom of speech, all justified w/ an insanely high level of fear-mongering. I'm reminded of Visconti's great film "The Damned" in wch wealthy Germans were browbeaten into supporting Nazism only to find themselves trapped in a nightmare that most certainly didn't serve their best interests. I wonder if any of the early supporters of today's 'globalism' are beginning to similarly realize that the promised paradise of peace-on-Earth comes at a price of death-of-the-mind w/o even delivering the peace?

Then there's the Introduction:

"Kurds are the largest stateless people in the world. An estimated 32 million Kurds live in what is called Kurdistan, a geographic area consisting of Turkey (North Kurdistan), Iraq (South Kurdistan), Syria (West Kurdistan), and Iran (East Kurdistan). The Kurds were divided by Western poers in the twentieth century and subjugated by Arabs, Ottomans, and Persians. According to a Kurdish proverb, "Kurds have no friend but the mountains." Today, however, Kurds are evolving from a victimized people to a coherent political community with viable national aspirations.

"The Kurdish Spring is a contemporary political history, describing the struggle of Kurds for rights and statehood. It chronicles their betrayal and abuse in the twentieth century. The 1980s was a low point. In Iraq, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons to kill up to 182,000 Iraqi Kurds, including 5,000 in a single day at Halabja; 4,500 Kurdist villages were destroyed during the Anfal Campaign between 1986 and 1988. [1]"


"Kurds rebounded. After the Gulf War, the US-led Operation Northern Watch successfully protected Iraqi Kurds and created conditions for their return and self-rule." - p xvii

Note that here we have the 1st of many endnotes. Endnote 1 is fairly typical:

"KRG Representation in the United Kingdom." KRG Representation in the United Kingdom. N.p.,n.d. Web 16 Feb 2014. <>." - p xxiii

Note that "N.p.,n.d." means "No publisher, no date" & applies to online sources. I decided to check out the provided link. This led to "Not found". I double-checked my copying of the URL & found it to be correct. The reason why I went to this trouble was b/c this was one of the 1st of many assertions that Phillips makes that Hussein used chemical weapons. Readers might remember that the the main reason why the US invaded Iraq was b/c it was purported that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction that included chemical weapons. As I recall, no such weapons were found. In other words, the story that Iraq was using chemical weapons has been heavily questioned since that time but Phillips's story sticks to it. & why is his only endnote source for this genocide a no-author-listed, no publisher, no date online article that apparently at the very least doesn't exist at the same URL anymore? There IS a "KRG Representation in the United Kingdom" website: - & perhaps the info about the genocide can be found somewhere there. But what I wonder is: weren't there any other sources that cd be used as references? A source not directly a Kurdish one? Surely, someone wd've noticed & reported on such atrocities other than the Kurds themselves?!

"Iraqi Kurdistan used to be thickly forested before Saddam Hussein denuded the region as part of Iraq's scorched-earth policy toward the Kurds." - p xxi

I decided to look into this a bit more. I'd already heard about the draining of swamps as a means of repression but I hadn't heard of deforestation. This led to a long article online entitled "Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds", listing the publisher as "Human Rights Watch" & giving the publication date as "July 1993". Authors are listed (Geroge Black being the primary writer) & there's a disclaimer: "This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States." All in all, this mode of presentation seems trustworthy to me.

"In the March 1991 popular uprising in northern Iraq, Kurdish civilians and members of the Kurdish political parties stormed and took control of offices of the Iraqi government and its agencies, including the various intelligence agencies. Several of these buildings were heavily damaged, or even burned to the ground, but others survived unscathed. The Kurds thus came into possession of the inventories of many of these facilities. Matters taken include large quantities of documents, logs and registers, as well as audiotapes, videotapes, films and photographs.

"In the days before the uprising was crushed by advancing Iraqi troops, the Kurdish parties succeeded in removing the majority of the documents they had captured from the towns to strongholds in the mountains. In the spring of 1992, one of the two largest parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), agreed to a tripartite arrangement in which Middle East Watch and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee were the other two partners. Under this arrangement, the PUK agreed to send the documents in its possession to the United States for research and analysis; the Senate Foreign Relations Committee agreed to turn the documents into official records of the U.S. Congress and store them in the facilities of the U.S. National Archives; and Middle East Watch agreed to conduct research on the documents for human rights purposes, including the pursuit of a genocide case before the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

"The PUK cache consists of fourteen tons of documents contained in 847 boxes. The total number of pages has been estimated at over four million. In May 1992, the PUK placed these documents in the temporary custody of Middle East Watch and they were then flown, in the presence of the director of Middle East Watch, to the United States. In Washington, D.C., the documents were then handed over to the U.S. National Archives and placed in its storage facilities, while remaining under the joint custody of the PUK and Middle East Watch." -

This article doesn't explicitly mention deforestation but it includes the destruction of trees in the general havoc:

"After hiding out in the mountains for weeks, several people from Garawan crept back into their village in search of food. Some homes had been destroyed by shelling, but most were still standing at this point and official records suggest that the destruction was carried out sporadically over the next several months. But leveled they were: When inhabitants were at last able to return to Garawan in 1991, after the post-war uprising, they found that "everything had been destroyed, exploded by dynamite; even the pipes were taken that brought the water from the spring." All signs of life had vanished, even the beehives. The poplar trees used for roofing material had been cut down. Even this was not enough, it seems. "They also destroyed a martyrs' cemetery [for <i>peshmerga</i> who had fallen] that had been built in the area of Zenia," said a fighter from Garawan, who was hiding nearby and had relatives interred there. The man watched from the mountainside through binoculars as a group of <i>jahsh</i> and soldiers dynamited and desecrated the graves." - ibid

There's also this mention of scorched-earth policy:

"Yet Qala Dizeh may best be seen, perhaps, as a postscript to Anfal--a return to the same logic of anti-Kurdish activities that had gone on for years. The best answer to our question may be that the logic of Anfal ended when the behavior of the Iraqi bureaucracy shifted into a perceptibly different gear. This is not the same as saying "when the killing stopped," or "when the deportations ended," or "when the last village had been burned and bulldozed." For killings and deportations and scorched earth policies have been a feature of life under the Ba'ath Party for many years, and they continue to this day. But, by the spring of 1989, it is safe to say that the Iraqi regime felt that all the goals of Anfal had been met, and on April 23, the Revolutionary Command Council issued its decree No.271, in which the special powers conferred upon Ali Hassan al-Majid were revoked. The sense that the Kurdish problem was now fully under control is further reinforced by Saddam Hussein's December 1989 decision to abolish even the Northern Affairs Committee of the RCC, which had been in existence for more than ten years." - ibid

The Kurdish Regional Government in the United States provides this:


The term al-Anfal is the name given to a succession of attacks against the Kurdish population in Iraq during a specific period. These attacks were named  "al-Anfal" by Saddam Hussein and his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid (known as 'Chemical Ali'),  who used this term to describe the carefully planned and orchestrated eight-staged genocidal campaign between February 23rd and September 6th 1988. In Kurdish society, the word Anfal has come to represent the entire genocide over decades.


· An estimated 1 million people in Iraq have 'disappeared' since the 1960s, all presumed murdered or missing.

· Human Rights Watch reported in its 1993 comprehensive report on Anfal in Iraq that at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Kurds are estimated to have been killed at the hands of the Ba'ath regime.  However, since then, several sources have stated that as many as 182,000 or even more people were killed in that operation

· Gendercide: Throughout the Kurdish Anfal, men and boys of 'battle age' were rounded up and 'disappeared' en masse. Most of these men and boys were captured, transported to mass graves and shot in mass executions. Of the total victims of Anfal, an estimated 70% were men, approximately aged 15 to 50.

· Thousands of women and children also vanished. Unlike the men, however, they were taken from specific areas as opposed to throughout the region. Evidence also shows that many were taken to internment camps where they were executed or died from deprivation.

· During the 1980s, the Kurdish population was attacked with chemical weapons, killing thousands of men, women and children indiscriminately.

· During the Anfal, 90% of Kurdish villages and more than 20 small towns and cities were completely destroyed."


Again, note that the use of chemical weapons is presented matter-of-factly. &, yet, in refutation of the George W. Bush administration's justification of the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq there was a 2010 Hollywood movie made called "Fair Game" in wch the US intelligence on the matter was presented as defective. This movie cd be sd to represent the 'liberal' position given that G. W. Bush was a much despised 'conservative' president. So what's to be believed? Is Phillips supporting the hypothetically discredited chemical weapons scenario as presented by one faction of the CIA? Or is the "Fair Game" story just another facet of the endless political factioning in the US?

In the long run, I don't really know what to think about Phillips's acct but it is my feeling that he represents a mainstream privileged public relations face of the American 'good guy', looking out for the best interests of the underdog, of the oppressed. It's all too easy for me to be moved by passages like the following.

""Good Kurds" are those who do what the United States wants. "Bad Kurds" are those who do not. Kurds are rewarded for compliant behavior. Rewards are withheld when they do not comply. US officials, especially "Arabists" in the State Department, treat Kurdish issues as a minority-rights concern rather than a matter of democracy, self-determination, and justice. In this way, Kurds are often taken for granted, rather than appreciated as one of America's most important allies in the Middle East. The West has sympathy for Kurds, whose history of victimization includes being gassed, murdered, and tortured. But sympathy is no longer sufficient. Kurds increasingly resist subordinating their national aspirations to the will of the international community.

"The twentieth century was a graveyard for Kurdish aspirations. The 1923 Lausanne Treaty betrayed US President Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points and denied the Kurds a homeland. The 1975 Algiers Accord, brokered by National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger, settled a border dispute between Iran and Iraq at the expense of the Kurds. In 1991, the Kurdish uprising was spurred on by President George W. Bush, who abandoned the Kurds to Saddam's brutal counteroffensive." - p xxii

Of course when I read the above I'm on the side of the Kurds - but, no matter how much I respect & love bks as sources of information, I always read w/ a grain of salt when I read about things I have no direct experience of. My most natural tabula rasa response is to try to imagine what the Kurd's situation wd be like if there were NO borders, NO nations, NO fighting over resources like oil. Unfortunately, imagining such a thing is like imagining a world w/o guns, missiles, bombs, all weapons invented for purposes other than hunting. In other words, it ain't gonna happen, it's too late, it's wishful thinking. & I'm not talking about globalization either, not about 'one world'. All of this misery is caused by very human squabbles, very human power-mongering. & this bk, gives what I accept as a good hard look at human-induced misery in the Middle East - what I don't necessarily accept is that Phillips's philosophy, humanitarian tho it may seem, is really the solution. Then again, it may help lessen the misery (or make it worse). What I'm reminded of when I read about American foreign policy is the introduction of the cane toad in Australia. One 'fix' makes a bigger problem. That's what 'western' medicine brings to mind for me too. The more humans intervene, the more fucked-up everything gets. The 'solution' seems to be an escalation, time & again.

People seem to look to a 'higher power' over & over to solve problems that otherwise seem insoluble - whether it's a god or a president or whatever. As an atheist & an anarchist I tend to think the problems are created by these hierarchies & they only make them worse as things go along. It's like building a 3 ft dam at the edge of the ocean, the water just goes around. SO, when I read a positive representation of the act of a president I might be impressed by it but I still take it w/ a grain-of-salt.

"US President Woodrow Wilson's progressive ideas for self-determination and free trade were published as "Fourteen Points" on January 8, 1918, during the final year of World War I. It was a detailed legal treatise and statement of principles based on research by a team of 150 advisers led by Wilson's counselor, Edward M. House. Wilson's egalitarian worldview was a dramatic departure from Sykes-Picot. The Points were directed to muliple audiences, including the German government and people. Wilson was the first head of state to address a global audience through radio transmission. Hard copies of his speech were also dropped behind enemy lines. Wilson sought support from the Allies for his vision, as well as establishment of the League of Nations. He also sought to persuade a sceptical US domestic audience of the need for America's robust role in world affairs.

"Eight of Wilson's Fourteen Points addressed territorial issues. Five of the Fourteen Points addressed human rights and democratic principles, including the right to self-determination. Point Five called for "A free, open-minded, and absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance on the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined."" - p 7

Sounds good, right? & this hypothetically represented the official US position. Nonetheless, the US annexed Puerto Rico in 1898 & the Puerto Ricans were still trying to get rid of the US many decades after 1918. The Hawaiian Islands were annexed in the same yr & turned into a state thanks to sleazy manipulations of plantation owners in 1959. I don't think Wilson's Fourteen Points were honored then. In other words, talk is cheap but money can still buy whatever. Note also that the concept of "free trade" is evoked, a key element of globalization. Both "globalism" & "free trade" are euphemisms for control & exploitation. Wilson might not've meant free trade that way but that's what it's come to mean in practice. As for "the need for America's robust role in world affairs"? Hasn't that come to mean that the US is now the self-designated 'world cop'? Using excuses for intervention that're usually, if not always, dubious? 'Stopping the spread of communism' in Southeast Asia & Latin America meant creating a huge heroin problem, massacring a huge number of people, suppressing elected governments, etc.

"Wilson addressed a joint session of the US Congress on February 11, 1918. "Peoples and provinces are not to be bartered about from sovereignty to sovereignty as if they were mere chattels and pawns in a game, now forever discredited."" - p 8

"France's foreign minister, George Clemenceau, cynically responded, "Even the good Lord contented Himself with only Ten Commandments, and we should not try to improve upon them."" - p 8

Inevitably the ruling elites of various countries were likely to wish they'd thought of it 1st, that they cd be the ones proposing the moral law. Ego battles between world 'leaders' are the problem over & over again.

Phillips's history is interesting & valuable to me, I don't mean to be completely negative or critical of this bk, I think it helped me have a greater understanding of the politics of the Middle East. The problem for me, philosophically, is really more of a human condition one - humans continue to be our own worst enemy & as long as that continues to be internally the case we're going to continue to have major problems regardless of what interventions occur.

"The Treaty of Versailles was finalized on June 28 and published on October 21, 1919. Versailles reconfigured the map of Europe, creating nine new states: Poland, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In addition, Versailles divided the Middle East into zones of influence, as envisioned by Sykes-Picot. The Baghdad and Basra villayets were assigned to Britain; Britain took Transjordan, Palestine, and what are now Iraq and Kuwait. France gave up the Mosul villaey and took what are now Syria and Lebanon. The United States was offered a mandate over the Kurds, but Wilson declined the responsibility. He did not want the United States to become a colonial power in the Middle East. Dealing with the Kurdish question was deferred to future negotiations between Britain and France." - p 12

Imagine that. Imagine being born in one country & then having yr area redefined as another one. I have to admire Wilson for declining colonialism, if that's really what he was doing. It's hard to imagine living w/ the instability that's engendered by these powerful country maneuvers.

"Sir Percy Cox received a petition from tribal leaders making the case for independence. Violenece erupted when Cox dismissed their appeal in June 1920. The revolt started in Mosul, but soon British garrisons were overrun in the mid-Euphrates region. Anarchy spread across Iraq." - p 27

It's interesting that Phillips uses the word "anarchy" to describe this situation. Yes, these Iraqis were revolting against BRITISH rule but not necessarily against ANY rule. Phillips is pro-Kurdish independence. Since Rojava seems to be the closest to attaining this autonomy:

"The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), also known as Rojava, is a de facto autonomous region in northeastern Syria. It consists of self-governing sub-regions in the areas of Afrin, Jazira, Euphrates, Raqqa, Tabqa, Manbij, and Deir Ez-Zor. The region gained its de facto autonomy in 2012 in the context of the ongoing Rojava conflict and the wider Syrian Civil War, in which its official military force, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), has taken part.

"While entertaining some foreign relations, the region is not officially recognized as autonomous by the government of Syria or any state except for the Catalan Parliament. The AANES has widespread support for its universal democratic, sustainable, autonomous pluralist, equal, and feminist policies in dialogues with other parties and organizations. Northeastern Syria is polyethnic and home to sizeable ethnic Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian populations, with smaller communities of ethnic Turkmen, Armenians, Circassians, and Yazidis." -

& since I've read that the Rojava people have had some philosophical influence from anarchist Murray Bookchin (Janet Biehl: "I was the partner and late-life collaborator of the late social ecology theorist Murray Bookchin. Shortly before his death his 2006, the Kurdish freedom movement took up his ideas, as Abdullah Öcalan, the PKK's thought leader, had recommended them. Öcalan created a new ideology based in part on social ecology, promoting face-to-face democracy through citizen assemblies and councils; the liberation of women; a cooperative economy; and an ecological orientation." - ) it seems reasonable to me that Phillips might recognize anarchy as a positive force. That doesn't, however, seem to be the case. Anarchy, as presented by those who oppose it, is always automatically depicted as a destructive chaos. However, in the case of the Iraqi rebellion against British rule it seems to me that the British rule is the problem, not the rebellion against it.

"The CIA and MI6 engineered another coup in Iraq, on July 14, 1958. The 14th of July Revolution was led by General Abdel Karim Qasim and Colonel Abdul Salam Arif. King Faysal II was executed, ending thirty-seven years of Hashmite rule. Qasim became the sole leader and prime minister. Iraq was run by a Revolutionary Council headed by a committee of the country's communal and ethnic groups. The committee was intended to function as a co-presidency but was deeply dysfunctional. Iraq drifted toward anarchy as rival groups competed for control." - p 32

It seems to me that the drift "toward anarchy" wd've happened only if the rival groups abandoned competition for control & started in on Mutual Aid.

"In World War II, many Iraqis sided with Germany as an opportunity against British colonialism."


"Iraq became a staging ground for military operations by the Allies and a launch point for attacks against the Vichy-French administration in Syria. British and Soviet forces invaded Iran in 1941, preventing Iran from entering World War II on Germany's side. They divided the country into two zones of control, with Kurds in the Soviet zone enjoying de facto independence." - p 30

Whew! I have to hand it to Phillips for even being able to keep track of all this.

"Conflict in Iraqi Kurdistan contributed to unrest in the armed forces, mobilizing opposition to Qasim by the Arab Renaissance (Baath) Socialist Party. In 1963, Baathists overthrew Qasim and went on a rampage executing Kurds and communists." - p 33

Socialists killing communists. "The main difference is that under communism, most property and economic resources are owned and controlled by the state (rather than individual citizens); under socialism, all citizens share equally in economic resources as allocated by a democratically-elected government." (,by%20a%20democratically%2Delected%20government. ) I've always been under the impression that the USSR's socialism was intended to be a stepping stone to communism - as if socialism were entry-level communism. As such, I find the idea of socialists killing communists a bit confusing.

In an article on an overall communist death toll online I find this:

"With this understood, the Soviet Union appears the greatest megamurderer of all, apparently killing near 61,000,000 people. Stalin himself is responsible for almost 43,000,000 of these. Most of the deaths, perhaps around 39,000,000 are due to lethal forced labor in gulag and transit thereto. Communist China up to 1987, but mainly from 1949 through the cultural revolution, which alone may have seen over 1,000,000 murdered, is the second worst megamurderer. Then there are the lesser megamurderers, such as North Korea and Tito's Yugoslavia." -

But, again, I'm confused: I thought the Soviet Union was the United Socialist Soviet Republic &, therefore, NOT communist - &, yet, in a Wikipedia article it's stated that "From its creation, the government in the Soviet Union was based on the one-party rule of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks)." (,the%20Communist%20Party%20(Bolsheviks). ) So, in answer to "Was the U.S.S.R. a socialist republic? Wikipedia says: "Overview. Chapter 8 of the 1977 Soviet Constitution is titled as the "Soviet Union is a union state". Article 70 stated that the union was founded on principles "socialist federalism" as a result of free self-determination of nation and volunteer association of equal in rights soviet socialist republics." (,-See%20also%3A%20National&text=Chapter%208%20of%20the%201977,in%20rights%20soviet%20socialist%20republics. ) So, obviously, there's something I'm not getting here. It seems that "socialist" & "communist" are used a bit too interchangeably.

"According to a classified House Select Intelligence Committee report,

"The recipients of US arms and cash were an insurgent ethnic group fighting for autonomy in a country bordering our ally [Iran]. . . . The President, Dr. Kissinger, and the foreign head of state [Mohammed Reza Pahlavi] hoped that our clients would not prevail. They preferred instead that the insurgents simply continue a level of hostilities sufficient to sap the resources of our ally's neighboring country [Iraq]. . . . Even in the context of covert action, ours was a cynical enterprise." - p 35

The endnote indicates that that was "Published in The Village Voice, February 16, 1976." - p 43

There're probably people who thrive under such conditions of diabolical intrigue, I'm not one of them, I'm too honest. I reckon I'd have to read the The Village Voice article to get a version of how the "classified" document was leaked. Then there's always the question of was the leak ALSO a part of a cynical diabolical plan?

"The fourth president of Iraq, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, initiated discusssions with Syria about unifying Iraq and Syria. Both were under Baath leadership. Syrian president Hafez al-Assad would become vice president as a result of the merger. Saddam recognized that merging Iraq and Syria would diminish his authority. He marshaled support in Iraq's Baath party and forced Bakr to resign. Despite never having served in the military, Saddam became secretary general of Iraq's Baath party, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and president on July 16, 1979.

"Saddam imagined that opponents in the military and party hierarchy were conspiring against him. His first act was to purge the Baath party. In a chilling episode, the names of purported opponents were ceremoniously read out loud at the Baath Party Congress on July 22, 1979. These people were dragged from the plenary hall and arrested. For dramatic effect, some were executed in the hallway. That day, sixty-eight people were arrested, tried before a political court, and executed. Those who remained were petrified." - p 36

Sheesh. I take it for granted Saddam Hussein was one spectacular asshole - but what do I KNOW? Cicciolina, of the Free Love Party in Italy, offered to have sex w/ him to straighten him out. To put "Despite never having served in the military, Saddam became [..] commander-in-chief of the armed forces" in perspective in relation to the US:

"The Constitution provides: "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States . . . ." U.S. Const. art. I, § 2, cl."


So how many presidents had actually been in the military before attaining the position of control over it?

"Despite being commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces, prior military service is not a prerequisite for presidents of the United States."


"Of the 45 men elected president of the United States, 31 had prior military service, while only 14 had no prior military service. Their service ranks range from private in a state militia to the general of the army."


Of course the idea is that presidents generally follow the advice of their actual senior military people. Anyway, the point is obvious: Hussein's problem wasn't that he hadn't served in the military, it was that he was a dictator.

The instances of citing of chemical warfare use continue to mount:

"Saddam used chemical weapons against Iranian forces. Iraqi and Iranian cities were bombed." - p 37

"Washington provided food and commodities to Iraq. Western firms also sold Iraq precursors that were transformed into chemical weapons used against Iran, as well as Iraqi Kurds. Saddam turned the international community's fear of Khomeini to his advantage." - p 38

"Majid was known as Chemical Ali for deploying weapons of mass destruction against civilians. The most notorious incident occurred in Halabja on March 16, 1988. Up to five thousand Kurds-mostly women and children-were killed by an aeiral bombardment using sarin and mustard gas. Many victims of chemical weapons still suffer severe health problems. Chemical and biological weapons burned the skin, eyes, and lungs, and caused cancer, deformities, and neurological damage in its victims. As many as, 182,000 Kurds were killed during the Anfal. Approximately 4,500 Kurdish villages and at least 31 Assyrian villages were destroyed." - p 39

Chemical & biological weapons are a horrible thing. Unfortunately, the US government's PR that their troops are the 'good guys' going in to save people in Iraq from the bad guys using chemical weapons is more than a little hypocritical & unconvincing. Let's not forget Agent Orange, at a minimum - it was used to destroy villages chockful of women & children too & that was only 13 yrs earlier in Viet Nam. Making matters worse, American soldiers who were injured by it had to pursue a lawsuit for 13 yrs before the government wd even acknowledge that they'd been harmed. It's despicable but the US isn't as distinct from Iraq under Hussein as I, personally, wd like.

"According to the Turkish government's official report, 13,160 Kurds were killed, and 11,818 exiled during the Dersim rebellion. The actual figures were much higher. As many as 70,000 people may have been killed. Widespread atrocities were reported, including the alleged bombing of Kurdish villages with poison gas." - p 47

"Use of chemical weapons against Kurdish communities in Halabja were consistent with Iraq's use of WMD against Iranian forces elsewhere along the Iran-Iraq border and at different times during the war. However, the attack on Halabja came after the Iran-Iraq War ended. It served no strategic purpose. The chemical weapons attack was a signal to Kurds, rather than a military maneuver against Iran." - p 91

The chemical weapons accusations move on to Syria:

"Assad dashed any hope for reconciliation when his forces used chemical weapons on August 21, 2013. That day, At least 1,400 civilians died including 426 children. According to rebels, the WMD attack was the fourteenth attack using chemical weapons. US Secretary of State John Kerry responded with outrage: "The indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by chemical weapons is a moral obscenity." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the use of chemical weapons a crime against humanity and demanded action.

"President Obama warned during the Q&A part of a press conference that Assad's use of chemical weapons crossed a "red line." Despite overwhelming evidence of attacks using sarin gas and other chemicals, the British parliament rejected a resolution authorizing the use of force"


"Kerry made a passing comment calling on the UN to sequester Assad's chemical weapons on May 4, 2013. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov seized the opportunity to propose a UN-led weapons inspections regime for Syria. The UNSC adopted a plan to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles." - p 166

"Assad intensified military action, turning the tide of battle. Hezbollah entered the fray. The regime's use of barrel bombs was a particular heinous tool terrorizing civilians. Even after 90 percent of Syria's WMD stockpiles were removed, Syria's armed forces used chlorine bombs. Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, cited "massive evidence" that the "the highest levels of the Syrian government" were responsible for war crimes." - p 167

"Obama drew a red line and threatened air strikes when Syria used chemical weapons on civilians:

"Well over 1,000 people were murdered. Several hundreds of them were children-young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government. This attack is an assault on human dignity. It also presents a serious danger to our national security. It risks making a mockery of the global prohibition on the use of chemical weapons. It endangers our friends and our partners along Syria's borders, including Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq. It could lead to escalating use of chemical weapons, or their proliferation to terrorist groups who would do our people harm. In a world with many dangers, this menace must be confronted." - p 205

SO, Phillips presents the use of chemical weapons by countries soon to become enemies of the US as a proven fact. I have no problem believing that Hussein & Assad used such weapons, after all, to the megalomaniacs who have massive power the 'little people' are nothing more than insects to be sprayed - take the use of Zyklon B for extermination in Nazi Germany. Then again, there are holocaust revisionists who wd contest that. How am I, personally, to know what's the truth? Rule #1: Everyone vying for power will lie, Rule #2: Everyone vying for power will use whatever means to attain that power, including heinous weaponry. After awhile, what becomes generally accepted as reality is whatever story becomes most widespread. That doesn't necessarily make it true or false. Let's take Iraq 1st, I did a search: "did iraq use chemical weapons". Here are a few sample results:

"Iran first alleged Iraqi chemical weapons use before the UN on November 3, 1983. Between March 13 and March 19, 1984, the first UN specialist team to visit Iran observed hospital patients suffering with side effects consistent with sulfur mustard gas. Forensic tests on Iraqi aerial bombs determined the Iraqi military had used both mustard and tabun nerve gas. The UN team's visit to Iran in March 1986 found that Iraqi chemical weapons use was more extensive than in 1984, and that the Iraqi military relied heavy on mustard gas, with some nerve gas used as well. In the case of the latter, both sarin and tabun dissipated faster into the environment, which made it harder for the team visiting later to collect forensic evidence. Between April 29 and May 3, 1987, the UN team visited Iraq for the first time, where it examined patients in a Baghdad military hospital who had been exposed to mustard gas. The team also visited five sites east of Basra claimed to have been subjected to Iranian chemical weapons attack. Iraqi officials alleged Iranian forces had used phosgene and mustard gas in attacks on April 10, 11, and 12, 1987. They also presented the UN team with 130-millimeter artillery shells that they claimed were captured Iranian chemical weapons. After examination, the forensic analysis found no trace of mustard gas nor chemical resistant coating on the munitions. Clearly skeptical of Iraqi allegations of Iranian chemical weapons use as the cause of Iraqi casualties as opposed to Iraq's own poison gas, the report concluded, "in the absence of conclusive evidence of the weapons used, it could not be determined how the injuries were caused.""


"Saddam Hussein's chemical warfare development and use can be divided into three phases:

· Phase 1: January 1981 to June 1983, Iraq started testing chemical weapons.

· Phase 2: August 1983 to December 1983, chemical weapons were used to a limited extent.

· Phase 3: February 1984 to the end of the war, chemical weapons were used extensively.

Project 922 was the codename for Iraq's third and most successful attempt at producing chemical and biological weapons. Within three years (1978­1981), Project 922 had gone from concept to production for first generation Iraqi chemical weapons (mustard agent). By 1984, Iraq started producing its first nerve agents, Tabun and Sarin. In 1986, a five-year plan was drawn up that ultimately led to biological weapons production. By 1988, Iraq had produced VX. The program reached its zenith in the late 1980s during the Iran­Iraq War. From August 1983 to July 1988 Iran was subjected to extensive Iraqi chemical attacks. Between 1981 and 1991, Iraq produced over 3,857 tons of CW agents.[citation needed]"


"U.S. investigators have confirmed that Iraq used chemical weapons to quash a Shiite uprising after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The information was uncovered by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG), the task force established following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to determine the state of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, but was little noticed when the ISG issued its final three-volume report in September 2004."


"In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act."


Now, the Wikipedia entry on the "United States chemical weapons program" mainly presents the US as being, once again, the (relative) 'good guys' vis à vis chemical weapons usage:

"The United States chemical weapons program began in 1917 during World War I with the creation of the U.S. Army's Gas Service Section and ended 73 years later in 1990 with the country's practical adoption of the Chemical Weapons Convention (signed 1993; entered into force, 1997). Destruction of stockpiled chemical weapons began in 1985 and is still ongoing. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense (USAMRICD), at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, continues to operate."


There is, however, some controversy over the truth of this history. Under the heading of "Cold War" in the above-quoted Wikipedia article it says:

"One of the anticholinergic compounds, 3-quinuclidinyl benzilate, was assigned the NATO code BZ and was weaponized at the beginning of the 1960s for possible battlefield use. This agent was allegedly employed by American troops as a counterinsurgency weapon in the Vietnam War but the U.S. maintains that this agent never saw operational use. The North Koreans and Chinese have alleged that chemical and biological weapons were used by the United States in the Korean War; but the United States' denial is supported by Russian archival documents.

"The growing protests over the U.S. role in the Vietnam War, the use of defoliants there, and the use of riot control agents both in Southeast Asia and inside the U.S. (as well as heightened concern for the environment) all gradually increased public hostility in the U.S. toward chemical weapons in the 1960s." - ibid

To me, the use of the term "defoliant" downplays napalm as a chemical weapon. Anyone who's seen the photo of Phan Thi Kim Phúc running naked thru the streets of Trang Bàng, South Vietnam on June 8, 1972 after being napalmed by South Vietnamese planes will accept that, yes, napalm is a chemical weapon. US police routinely use tear gas for control of crowds, always referred to, usually erroneously in my personal experience, as "riot control". OK, tear gas isn't fatal like sarin is but it's not exactly a good experience either.

At any rate, the story is widespread that Iraq used chemical weapons & that this cd be used as a justification for the US invasion thereof. What did the UN have to say about that?

"In September 2004, then-United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated, "I have indicated that it is not in accordance with the UN charter. From our point of view and the UN Charter point of view, it [the war] was illegal"."


You get the idea. Phillips is quick to condemn Iraq & Syria & slow to condemn the US. Given the above-quoted bio of "Phillips served as foreign affairs expert and senior adviser to the US Department of State during the administrations of presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama" it's no surprise that this wd be the case. Still, I have to admit, I'm a US citizen, I like it here.. but that doesn't mean I want to turn a blind eye to bullshit.

Re Syria, Phillips quotes Obama: "young girls and boys gassed to death by their own government" but where're the mentions of dropping a bomb on women & children (& men) of the MOVE group in Philadelphia? Certainly, that was a US atrocity perpetrated against its own civilians?! & what about the mass murder of the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX? Both of those crimes are glossed over by US propaganda to this day. The murder of the Branch Davidians has been portrayed as an 'accident'. Bullshit. If I ran my car into a school bus full of children & the bus blew up & killed them all do I just get to walk away from that like it's nothing?!

"The UN Security Council passed Resolution 598 calling for an end to the war, on July 20, 1987. Iran ignored appeals from the international community. Instead of a ceasefire, Iran attacked northern Iraq in the spring of 1988. Saddam accused the Kurds of acting as a fifth column, supporting Iran's offensive. Iraq intensified its attacks on the Kurds right after the cease-fire with Iran in July 1988. After the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam launched a military campaign of extermination and looting that was called Anfal. The campaign took its name from Suratal-Anfal in the Qur'an. Al Anfal literally means the "spoils" (of war). The Anfal Campaign is also known as the Kurdish genocide." - p 38

The way I figure it is that any country that can't avoid war w/ its neighbor has got to have some serious foreign policy problems. In this case, I can't find much fault w/ the US. Sure, back in the day, there was the war w/ Mexico in wch the US stole huge areas of land from the Mexicans. That was yet-another inexcusable crime of western expansionism. But, at least, since then the US has managed to not go to war w/ Canada or Mexico. The closest idiocy along those lines that I can recall is Rump, The Idiot King, managing to get both Canada & Mexico to sanction the US. That was probably his biggest 'accomplishment' while in office.

I found this next quote from Secretary of the Defense Dick Cheney astonishing:

"If you're going to go in and try to topple Saddam Hussein, you have to go to Baghdad. Once you've got Baghdad, it's not clear what you would do with it. It's not clear what kind of government you would put in place of the one that's currently there now. Is it going to be a Shia regime, or a Sunni regime or a Kurdish regime? Or one that tilts toward the Baathists, or one that tilts toward the Islamic fundamentalists? How much credibility is that government going to have if it's set up by the United States military when it's there?" - p 40

WHEW! Why am I astounded?! B/c that seems so damned sensible I wd've thought it impossible as an issuance from Cheney's pie-hole. After all,

"of all the administration members with potential conflicts of interest, none seems more troubling than Vice President Dick Cheney. Cheney is former CEO of Halliburton, an oil-services company that also provides construction and military support services - a triple-header of wartime spoils.

"A few weeks ago, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers awarded a no-bid contract to extinguish oil well fires in Iraq to Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), a subsidiary of Halliburton. The contract was granted under a January Bush administration waiver that, according to the Washington Post, allowed "government agencies to handpick companies for Iraqi reconstruction projects."" -

In other words, I've always taken it for granted that Cheney wd've been frothing at the wallet to get his boys in there to Iraq post-US-invasion to get them-thar spoils-of-war like a vampire that has a thousand undead wives to feed. The obvious answer to Cheney's question is to have Iraq have a government that separates religion from the state as our government hypothetically does & that sure as fuck isn't going to work either. Freedom FROM Religion, folks.

"Political violence was widespread, claiming about five thousand lives between 1976 and 1980. There were many incidents, including the May Day massacre of 1977. The Socialist Worker's Party of Turkey gathered half a million people in Taksim Square on May 1, 1977. Armored vehicles and water cannons occupied the square. Shots were fired from the roof of the Marmara Hotel. According to the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions, thirty-six people died during the riot." - p 49

What riot? No riot is mentioned, just a May Day rally. Also, while "Armored vehicles and water cannons occupied the square" it's not clear from this description whether they were put into play & whether they had anything to do w/ the deaths - nor is it clear who was firing from the hotel rooftop. My most likely deduction is that police snipers were doing the firing but that's not clear. Is there a subtext here implying that any worker's celebration is a "riot"? That strikes me as US propaganda policy.

Still in Turkey:

"The PKK assumed prominence and gained broad popular support after the Maras Massacre. In Maras, 111 Alevi Kurds were killed during a week of bloodletting between December 18 and 25, 1978. According to Seyho Demir, an eyewitness that day,

"The massacre was organized by MIT (the Turkish secret service), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the Islamists together. . . . As soon as I heard about the massacre, I went to Maras. In the morning I went to Maras State Hospital. There I met a nurse I knew. . . . When she saw me she was surprised: "Seyho, where have you come from? They are killing everyone here. They have taken at least ten lightly-wounded people from the hospital downstairs and killed them." This was done under the control of the head physician of the Maras State Hospital. Everyone knows that such a big massacre cannot be carried out without state involvement. In the Yörükselim neighborhood they cut a pregnant woman open with a bayonet. They took out the eight-month fetus, shouting "Allah Allah" and hung it from an electricty pole with a hook. The pictures of this savagery were published in the newspapers that day."" - p 51

Now, of course, I'm horrified by the above. If I'd even witnessed such a thing happening to people I didn't even know it wd permanently affect me, I'd never recover, I'd have nightmares. I never ever want to have such an experience. BUT, I'm reading about it in a bk. The author describes the teller of the story as an "eyewitness" but, according to his telling, he wasn't, he arrived after it was over & heard about it from a friend. I don't mean to downplay the horror, for better or for worse I have no problem believing in the depravity of humans - esp humans under the influence of religion, freed from personal responsibility by the age-old God-told-me-too excuse. Alas, when I read the story, I know I'm being manipulated by the author, that the author has an agenda. THAT'S what degrades the emotions.

"The PKK founded the Mahsum Korkmaz Academy in the Bekaa Valley which was under control of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) at the time. The Mahsum Korkmaz Academy offered idiological instruction and training in guer[r]illa operations. Instructors came from the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Cuba, and Iran. Mahsum Korkmaz also served as a base of operations for the PKK's guerrilla war against Turkey." - p 52

"Women's emancipation became a symbol of the PKK's egalitarian ideals and its fight for social justice against the feudal and patriarchical Kurdish society. Hundreds of women were recruited into the PKK's armed forces. A majority of the PKK's suicide bombings were carried out by women." - p 53

The picture of despair is well 'nigh endless. Imagine being a woman in a society so oppressively patriarchical that you'd want to join a military organization to escape it. Imagine then choosing to be a suicide bomber b/c even that is better than the shitty life offered otherwise. It's not a pretty picture,

"The PKK bombed the Turkish Consulate in Strasbourg, France, during a joint operation with ASALA on November 10, 1980. The PLO provided sanctuary and training to the PKK beginning in 1982. Germany's Red Army Faction (RAF) helped the PKK organize rallies in Bonn, and RAF members visited PKK bases in Turkey." - p 55

Given that I have no direct-experience way of verifying much of anything in this bk it's hard for me to really judge the story presented. I've had sympathy for the RAF so that sympathy tenuously extends from there to the PKK & the PLO.

"Between 1984 and 1987, the PKK kidnapped and killed 217 teachers. It burned hundreds of rural schools, effectively shutting down the education system." - p 56

Once again, when I take the above at face value, I'm horrified & lose all sympathy for the PKK. Still, I know I'm being manipulated in that direction by the author, who I don't trust. As the, by now, cliché goes: One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. Presumably the teachers were targetted NOT for being educators but for teaching an agenda egregious to the PKK. What that agenda might've been we're not told. Personally, I'm against killing ANYBODY - but the people I wdn't be inclined to kill might be perfectly happy to kill me. So it goes.

The endnote substantiating the story about the murders of the teachers is as follows:

""Disarming, Demobilizing and Reintegrating the PKKby David L. Phillips." Today's Zaman, Your Gateway to Turkish Daily News. Web. 20 May 2014." - p 64

Note that the absence of a space between "PKK" & "by" is in the original, not a mistake in transcription by this reviewer. Note also that the article provided as substantiation is by the author & that its provided date is 27 yrs after the purported atrocities. I'd call this potentially bad source material.

"Threats, both real and imagined, were used to sustain a primacy of the military's role in public affairs and justify its expenditures. Rather than security, the military was known for staging incidents to justify recrimination against the Kurdish community.

"In 1996, a car crashed in the village of Susurluk. In the vehicle were Sedat Bucak, Istanbul's deputy police chief and a leader of the ultranationalist Grey Wolves on Interpol's red bulletin list. The car was loaded with cash, weapons, and false identification cards. The incident revealed a cabal between the State, security services and the mafia to assassinate civilian opponents in return for sharing the spoils from narcotics trafficking. "the "Susurluk incident" dramatized pervasive activities of the Deep State." - p 58

The "Deep State" is another concept that appears more than once in "The Kurdish Spring". I've been under the impression that the great brain-washed believe that the "Deep State" is a 'conspiracy theorist''s buzz word. Here, it's taken for granted that there's a state operating behind the scenes, hidden from the public b/c of its criminal nature & to ensure its greatest effectiveness. That seems reasonable to me.

"The PKK had no status as a state party but signed the Geneva Convention and committed itself to international accords of war." - p 60

I can respect that - even if political groups are only paying lip service to such things for PR purposes it's better than downright blowing them off as if they don't matter. I lost respect for the Sendero Luminoso when they refused to sign an international agreement against torture.

"The Shining Path rejected the concept of human rights; a Shining Path document stated:

"We start by not ascribing to either the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Costa Rica [Convention on Human Rights], but we have used their legal devices to unmask and denounce the old Peruvian state. ... For us, human rights are contradictory to the rights of the people, because we base rights in man as a social product, not man as an abstract with innate rights. "Human rights" do not exist except for the bourgeois man, a position that was at the forefront of feudalism, like liberty, equality, and fraternity were advanced for the bourgeoisie of the past. But today, since the appearance of the proletariat as an organized class in the Communist Party, with the experience of triumphant revolutions, with the construction of socialism, new democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat, it has been proven that human rights serve the oppressor class and the exploiters who run the imperialist and landowner-bureaucratic states. Bourgeois states in general. ... Our position is very clear. We reject and condemn human rights because they are bourgeois, reactionary, counterrevolutionary rights, and are today a weapon of revisionists and imperialists, principally Yankee imperialists.

"- Communist Party of Peru ­ Shining Path, Sobre las Dos Colinas"

Honestly, from my POV, that's pure insanity.

"The NSC dismissed the PKK's unilateral ceasefire. Prospects for dialogue dimmed when thirty-three soldiers were killed on the road between Elazig and Bingol on May 24, 1993. The soldiers were unarmed; they had just finished their military service and were on their way to being discharged. Turkey recommitted to a military solution." - p 60

It's easy to suspect that of being a set-up. To quote Phillips again: "Threats, both real and imagined, were used to sustain a primacy of the military's role in public affairs and justify its expenditures. Rather than security, the military was known for staging incidents to justify recrimination against the Kurdish community." (p 58) Wd the PKK really kill unarmed soldiers after they asked for a ceasefire? It seems more likely to me that the state security forces wd stage such an incident so that they cd continue to accrue money & terrorize people.

"Beginning in the early 1960s, Turkey launched the Southeastern Anatolia Development Project (GAP), a massive investment plan designed to harness the waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers for the region's economic development. It built twenty-three dams, including the $2.3 billion Ataturk Dam, the ninth largest in the world." - p 61

It's interesting how dams are usually described in positive terms such as "for the region's economic development" when to the people living in the areas to be flooded it's a displacement that often causes them to become beggars in cities, essentially losing everything.

The last endnote for this chapter states:

"Some Kurds believe that Öcalan is under the control of Turkish authorities, and that he is being manipulated to sustain the PKK to justify the state's efforts to subvert reforms and democratization." - p 65

Alas, it's this endless capacity, this endless possibility of deceit & manipulation that makes having a true understanding of what's going on well nigh impossible. The most manipulative agencies probably prefer it that way. What I'd look for, if I were even capable of being in a position to be looking, wd be the geographical areas in wch the most people lead the most egalitarian & peaceful lives. Then I'd look for an explanation of how that came to be. Therein lies hope. Or, perhaps, therein lies evidence of the most successfully insulated of the exploiters. At any rate, in this bk's narrative there's endless misery, seemingly rooted in the usual causes: greed for oil & its profits, religious intolerance & its genocidal fury.

"Kurdish intellectuals, including the writer Celadet Bedirxan and the philosopher Qedri Can" - p 68

Thus, I come upon the names of writers that I wasn't previously familiar w/ whose works I shd seek out & find time to read. A search on Amazon for "works by Celadet Bedirxan in English" yielded only bks in Kurdish & Turkish. Searches elsewhere were equally as futile. A search for Qedri Can was even more futile.

By this point, the reader is on the subject of "Kurds in Syria".

"The Kurds were too factionalized to mount a political response or launch an effective insurgency. Jalal Talabani broke with the KDP to form the PUK in 1975. Talabani's ally in Syria, Darwish, changed the name of the KDPS to the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party in Syria. Darwish's Progressive Party divided into the Equality Party (Wekhevi) and the Kurdish National Democratic Party. Salah Badressin rejected the PUK faction and established the Unity of the People Party (Yekitiya Gel). It was renamed the Kurdish Popular Union Party in 1980, but split again in 1991. One group called themselves Wekhevi and the other Yekiti, which splintered in 1994 to become the Kurdish Democratic United Party. The proliferation of Kurdish political parties was not so much a product of political pluralism in the Kurdish community. It was a measure of disunity, fomented by Damascus to keep the Kurds from organizing an effective opposition." - p 73

Whew! The impression I get from this bk is of constant intrigue & warring.. w/ a hint of justifications based thereon for intervention by powerful forces, esp the US - &, yet, I wonder if a history of the US cdn't be written in wch nothing but factionalism & crazed criminality might not be the name of the game - just bringing up the vast # of people in American prisons wd certainly be proof enuf. So what if such a bk were to be written & used to justify the invasion of the US by some 'world cop' for 'our own good'?

"Assad made membership in the Muslim Brotherhood punishable by death, following a 1980 assassination attempt by the Brotherhood." - p 75

"With Syria's rebellion in full swing, Erdogan and Assad met again to discuss the escalation of violence on Turkey's border. Erdogan urged Assad to engage the Muslim Brotherhood in a governing coalition."


"Erdogan reproached Assad for human rights abuses, but he did not publicly question the legitimacy of Assad's rule. Erdogan was much tougher on Hosni Mubarek, whom he condemned in the strongest terms for his crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt." - p 156

I might've 1st run across mention of the Muslim Brotherhood in my reading of the 1958 Egyptian novel by Fathy Ghanem called "The Man Who Lost His Shadow". I quote from my review of that:

""'Pasha, I want your calm opinion. After you've considered the matter from all angles.'

""'I know what I'm talking about,' he retorts. 'Now's no time for intrigues. This thing is bigger than all of us. Let anyone come to power - foe or friend - and I'll support him, provided he rids us of these criminals. The country's being ruined by trash . . . Communists . . . Muslim Brothers . . . Socialists . . . Nationalists. They're all paupers with nothing to lose. But we, we have everything to lose.'"

"Note that the "Muslim Brothers" & "Nationalists" are lumped in w/ "Communists" & "Socialists". Jump-cut to the present: I quote from the Wikipedia article re the "History of modern Egypt" also quoted above:

""The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, remains an illegal organization and may not be recognized as a political party (current Egyptian law prohibits the formation of political parties based on religion). Members are known publicly and openly speak their views. Members of the Brotherhood have been elected to the People's Assembly and local councils as independents."

"It's my understanding that the Muslim Brothers are still active in Egypt today in contemporary uprisings. I, for one, hope the Muslim Brothers lose at the same time that I hope that anti-police brutality & anti-torture forces will win. If Egypt were to become another fundamentalist state like Iran, the world will go one step further down into narrow-mindedness. If, as the article states, "current Egyptian law prohibits the formation of political parties based on religion" then I applaud that whole-heartedly."


We move on to "Kurds in Iran":

"Khomeini declared a holy war against the Kurds on August 19, 1979. He referred to them as "children of Satan" and the "enemies of God." By 1982, some ten thousand Kurds had been killed and two hundred thousand displaced during the counterinsurgency. Thousands were executed after summary trials." - p 90

Assuming that this is all true, wch, of course, it may not be, I just return to: Why is humanity so utterly fucked-up?! The bible instructs Christians: Thou shalt not kill &, yet, that doesn't seem to do a whole helluva lotof good - after all, there are army chaplains & vile people like Billy Graham who endorse Christian 'holy wars'. Doesn't the Q'uran have any similar injunction?! Y'know, love one another & all that. I'm an atheist & I've never killed anyone nor is the idea of a 'holy war' anything but despicable to me. I get it that humans hate each other's guts, I'm more than a little bit of a misanthrope myself - but, c'mon people, enuf is enuf.

On to "Self-Rule in Iraq":

"The Iraqi Kurdistan Front consisted of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and six other groups of Kurds. It was established to meet people's basic needs. Iraqi Kurds went to the polls on May 19, 1992, to elect the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the Kurdistan National Assembly. The tally was a virtual draw between the KDP and PUK. The KDP received 45 percent of the vote, while the PUK received 44 percent. Only the KDP and PUK passed the 7 percent threshold necessary to gain seats in the legislature. The KDP and PUK created a unity government, allocating an even number of seats between them." - p 97

Naturally, this seems promising, cooperation instead of strife. However, that didn't last long.

"A civil war between the PUK and KDP broke out in 1994, leading to the collapse of their power-sharing agreement. Oil revenues, tax collection, and territorial disputes were flash-points. More than two thousand Kurds were killed before the KDP and PUK agreed to a cease-fire in late 1994." - p 98

This whole business of allegiances forged during & after wars is a strange one for me. I vote for allegiances formed w/o war - but that's just me, eh?!

"Kurdish authorities also gained international legitimacy. When Masoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani made their first joint trip to Washington in 1990, State Department officials met them at a coffee shop in Foggy Bottom. After the Gulf War, they were received officially. The KRG established liaison offices in Washington and other Western capitals. Today, Barzani and Talabani are welcomed like heads of state, with the full red-carpet treatment." - p 98

"In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush adopted a Doctrine of Preemption, affirming the right to attack potential foes before they could attack the United States. Bush believed that eliminating Saddam Hussein and transforming Iraq into a model democracy for the Middle East would undermine the Baathists in Syria, pressure the mullahs in Iran, enhance Israel's security, and serve US energy interests. Iraqi Kurds shared this vision and worked closely with the Bush administration for regime change.

"The US launched Operation Iraqi Freedom on March 19, 2003. US forces dashed across the desert, broke through Saddam's vaunted "ring of fire," and entered Baghdad." - p 100

What can I say? If everything were out in the open, if the tale told to the general US public were entirely true, if I were president of the US & 9/11 happened, how wd I respond? Of course, the problem here is that I don't think everything is out in the open, I don't think the tales told are 100% true, & I most definitely am not & wdn't want to be the president of the US or any other country. Nor do I have any expectations whatsoever that the world will ever start flowing the way I think is 'best'. In fact, I think global planners are a big part of humanity's overall disastrous nature.

"Kurds played a leading role in drafting the Transitional Administration Law (TAL), which was adopted on March 8, 2004." - p 101

TALly Ho!

"According to Paragraph C, "The permanent resolution of disputed territories, including Kirkuk, shall be deferred until after these measures are completed, a fair and transparent census has been conducted, and the permanent constitution has been ratified. This resolution shall be consistent with the principle of justice, taking into account the will of the people of those territories.""


"It affirmed the principle that revenue from the exploitation of natural resources should be redistributed to the regions based on the region's proportion of the population and that revenue sharing would be calculated with "due regard for areas that were unjustly deprived of these revenues by the previous regime."" - p 102

Looks good on paper. Now what actually happened?

"Holding elections was itself an accomplishment. Militants threatened to "wash the streets in blood." The Iraqi Islamic Party and the Association of Muslim Scholars refused to field candidates. Due to security concerns, seven thousand candidates did not reveal their identities until days before the election. Iraq's borders were sealed, and a no-fly zone imposed. Vehicles were banned from Baghdad, which was locked down under curfew. More than fifteen thousand US troops were deployed to protect polling stations. Despite the extraordinary security measures, a hundred attacks killed forty-four Iraqis on election day." - p 104

These blood-washers are tenacious little buggers aren't they?! The thing I don't understand is the streets don't even get cleaned after they've been washed in blood - these dipshits have really got to learn more modern methods if they actually want to clean the streets. Even dung wd probably work better than blood. Sheesh.

"According to Masoud Barzani, "It is surprising that the Iraqi army is trying to send forces to this area on the pretext of fighting terrorism and that they have not tried to coordinate with the Kurdistan Regional Government."[42]" - p 112

"42. (accessed May 9, 2014)." - p 123

That endnote link was just too tantalizing so I looked it up (& over & down). Here's a longer quote from the article:

"Now Khanaqin, another part of the disputed territories near Iraq's border with Iran (see map), is also demonstrating the limitations of U.S. strategies that are narrowly focused on the U.S. military presence. Many problems in Iraq simply don't have a U.S. military solution-and Iraqi actors will assert their interests and ultimately resolve their differences on their own terms. International and U.S. diplomacy can facilitate between the different sides, but ultimately Iraqi actors will determine the outcomes.

"Khanaqin, like Kirkuk, is a disputed oil-rich territory, and it was also the target of "Arabization" efforts by Saddam Hussein's regime. Forces from the Iraqi army entered the district earlier this week as part of a broader "Omens of Prosperity" operation aimed at Al Qaeda-affiliated elements in the Diyala province northeast of Baghdad. This operation is the latest in a series of military offensives conducted over the past few years in an attempt to bring stability to the Diyala province.

"Kurdish Peshmerga forces, an army under Kurdish authority that operates independently from the Iraqi central government, drew down some their presence earlier this month in parts of Diyala. Some Kurdish leaders expressed anger about the pressure they received from Iraq's central government to pull out from areas they believed Kurdish forces had sacrificed a great deal to pacify. But it remains unclear how many of the Peshmerga have actually left the area, with reports that some Kurdish forces are refusing to stand down.

"Thousands of Khanaqin residents reportedly turned out in large numbers on Tuesday of this week to protest the presence of the central government's Iraqi security forces in their city. Mayor Mohammed Mullah Hassan criticized the entry of security forces from the Iraqi central government. "Baghdad should exclude Khanaqin from military operations because there is no Al Qaeda in our city," Mullah said. When the Iraqi troops entered the city, Hassan alleged that, "there are political reasons behind the entry of the forces because they entered in the pretext of hunting down gunmen in the region, which is considered one of the most stable regions in Iraq.""

Back to "Self-Rule in Iraq":

"The SOFA established a phased withdrawal of US combat forces, starting with their departure from Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009. It prevented the detention of Iraqis by US forces for more than twenty-four hours without criminal charges. It required a warrant for US personnel to enter Iraqi homes. Some US contractors would be subject to Iraqi criminal law; others would retain their immunity in special cases." - p 116

Now, this immunity business is pretty tricky. "The Whistleblower" movie (2010) is described on Wikipedia as a "biographical drama". In it, there's "a Bosnian sex trafficking ring serving and facilitated by DynCorp employees, with international peacekeepers looking the other way." ( ) These sex slavers are able to get away w/ what they're doing b/c they're immune to prosecution b/c of their international contractors & peacekeepers status.

I usually look at endnotes to check whether there's something important that I might miss otherwise. Endnotes 52 & 53 are both for a "". That intrigued me so I decided to check out their site in general. Their mission:

"The Institute for the Study of War advances an informed understanding of military affairs through reliable research, trusted analysis, and innovative education. We are committed to improving the nation's ability to execute military operations and respond to emerging threats in order to achieve U.S. strategic objectives. ISW is a non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization." -

It fascinates me that such organizations exist. As a person primarily concerned w/ the more creative side of life I find such focuses to be extremely outside my box but still good to know about in case of research needs.

"The Imrali Peace Process":

"As Istanbul's mayor, Erdogan won praise for administrative efficiency, but his Islamic tendencies were also clear. He used his post to ban alcohol from restaurants, stirring fears that he would challenge Turkey's secular principles. His wife wore a headscarf as a symbol of her Islamic faith. Since the times of Ataturk, Turkey had been devoutly secular and had banned headscarves." - p 125

What bugs me about those headscarves is that they're not worn w/ any imagination. Why always wear them on their heads? If I were mayor, I'd make a new law requiring total public nudity by all women except for a headscarf - wch they'd be allowed to wear wherever they wanted to. That way both sides of the secular vs religious battle cd be appeased. Just to be fair, men wd be required to be nude too.

"Many Turks believe that the United States has a hidden agenda to establish a greater Kurdistan. According to Turkish officials, up to three thousand PUK members operated from sixty-five bases in Iraqi Kurdistan with their headquarters in the Qandil Mountains, fifty kilometers from the Turkish border." - p 127

I'm not sure how hidden the agenda is. The US wants 2 things that a greater Kurdistan can give: access to vast oil reserves & a major military force against the Islamic State.

Endnote 14 on p 146 explains that knowledge of those Turkish opinions was provided by an "Interview with intelligence officials from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs."

Of course, the US is far from the only power w/ 'hidden agendas' for the area.

"Even after the vote, the TGS tried to attach a condition by demanding a written guarantee that Turkish troops would be allowed to occupy Northern Iraq. US officials were incensed. the Iraq War had started with the 4th Infantry Division waiting offshore to enter Iraq via Turkey.

"US officials were concerned that Turkey would act independently and invade Iraq. Seizing Iraqi Kurdistan would give Turkey control of the Kirkuk oil fields, thereby undermining Kurdish aspirations for nationhood."


"The 4th Infantry Division never made it into battle. The absence of a northern front forced the United States to focus all its operations in the south, stretching supply lines and making US forces more vulnerable to attack. Rather than a joint US-Turkish force in the North, Turkish Special Forces infiltrated Iraqi Kurdistan to undermine any possible move of Iraqi Kurds for independence. They plotted the assassination of Kirkuk's governor, a Kurd, so he could be replaced by his Turkmen deputy." - p 128

So the skullduggery goes on.. & on..

"In 2005, the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk stated that, "Thirty thousand Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands but nobody dares to talk about it." He was charged with "insulting Turkishness" under Article 301 of the Penal Code." - p 131

&, now, in the US, WikiLeaks's founder, Julian Assange, is being persecuted despite his not even being a US citizen, for daring to expose things the US government wd rather stay hidden. Phillips presents the Turkish persecution of Pamuk as if it shows their barbarism but, as usual, the US is no different. These power-mongers surf on a sea of covert action & hypocrisy.

"In response to Erdogan's demand that DTP parliamentarians renounced the PKK, an MP explained that neither he nor his colleagues supported violence, but "Every Kurd has a family member involved with the PKK. How can I condemn my own children?"[33]" - p 133

"33. Interview by the author with a DTP Member of Parliament. September 13, 2007."


"35. Interview with Ahmet Turk by the author. Diyarbakir, August 8, 2014.

36. Cited by Dogu Ergil in an interview with the author, August 9, 2014.

37. Interview with Cimsit Firat by the author. Diyarbakir, August 8, 2014." - p 147

Now, I'm willing to believe that all these interviews actually took place - but just referring to them in endnotes is hardly substantiation is it?

Here's where Phillips promotes his preferred system of governance:

"In a federal system, the central government usually has paramount power, retaining responsibility for defense, foreign policy, and fiscal affairs. In federal states, sovereignty is shared between the central government and subnational units. Federalism is non-centralized, which means that units at each level have final authority and can be self-governing in different areas. Citizens have rights secured by both the central government and subnational authorities. States constituting the federation have an existence and functions that cannot be unilaterally changed by the central government. Federalism can be symmettrical or asymmettrical. Symmetrical federalism allocates the same powers to all subnational units. In asymmetrical arrangements, regions vary in their power and status." - p 134

"He insists on independence for North Kurdistan while rejecting political violence unless in self-defense. He envisions a Greater Kurdistan encompassing all territories where Kurds live in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria. According to Firat, "The PKK was a state project." He maintains that the organization was created by the Deep State after the 1980 military coup to oppose leftists and coopt the intellectual Kurdish national movement. "Before the PKK, Kurdish nationalism was a strong movement demanding territory. The PKK cooperated with the Deep State to kill real Kurdish nationalists." He maintains, "Kurds need a national movement bigger than the PKK."" - p 135

Non-humans will fight over territory. I reckon this prevents over-taxation of limited resources. I also reckon that humans will fight over just about anything. This seems to enable over-taxation of limited resources as well as complete misery for almost all concerned.

"From Syria's Ashes":

"The Damascus Declaration was an unprecedented joint appeal calling for an end to violence by the Assad regime. It demanded "a gradual and peaceful transition to democracy and the equality of all citizens in a secular and sovereign Syria."" - p 151

"Led by Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S) was established at the Brussels conference to raise international awareness about the plight of Kurds in Syria.

"Abbas and members of the Assembly's Executive Committee discussed Syria's state-sponsored terrorism with US officials, Members of Congress, and think tanks during a visit to Washington, DC in June 2006. Abbas presented a pro-democracy agenda for Syria." - p 152

As usual, given Phillips's State Dept advisor status, there's a subtext here that serves that interest: viz, that the US is the 'good guy' who doesn't create state-sponsored terrorism. Alas, if only that were true. Think of the US covert sponsorship of the Contras in Nicaragua & we need go any further although there's plenty further to go. The US approval of & use of torture is certainly state-sponsored terror.

"The Assembly found a receptive audience in Washington. The Project for a New American century was established by neo-conservatives in the 1990s. It envisioned eliminating the Baath Parties in both Iraq and Syria, toppling Saddam Hussein, and overthrowing the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Though Iraq and Syria were different states, they shared a Baathist ideology. Neoconservatives viewed Baathism as a fantastic form of Arab exceptionalism. They believed that regime change in Iraq and Syria would catalyze democratic, pro-Western revolutions across the Middle East." - pp 152-153

&, of course, "pro-Western revolutions" are a Western goal - but, then again, pro-Middle Eastern revolutions might be sd to be a Middle Eastern goal - & who's to say who's got the best idea? Maybe neither of them. I mean the Islamic State wants to see everyone in the world on the same page as them & the US wants everyone in the world to be 'democratized'. Apparently, peaceful coexistence & a willingness to agree to disagree are out of the question. Those of us who just want to be left to mind our own business are caught between the juggernauts trying to force us into their armies.

"Syria was a haven for Saddam Hussein's loyalists and Iraqi Baathists who fled Iraq in 2003. They regrouped on Syrian soil and then launched an insurgency with money, weapons, and fighters flown from Syria to Iraq. Iraq's instability spread to Syria, worsening tensions between ethnic and sectarian groups. Iran played a double game, colluding with both Assad and Arab Sunnis to support Iraqis resisting the US occupation of Iraq. Iran's Quds Force was focused on Tehran's core regional interest: preserving a corridor through the Shia crescent from Basra to Tehran, Damascus, and Beirut. The corridor was an essential portal for delivering arms to Hezbollah and other anti-Western and anti-Zionist terror groups." - p 154

Is it any wonder that people wd want to expel foreign invaders from their lands? That some forces in adjacent countries, despite their differences, wd unite for this purpose? The PR image of the US as the 'good guy' obviously is NOT one agreed upon by everyone.

"On April 21, Assad lifted the forty-eight-year-old state of emergency and abolished the Higher State Security Court. He declared, "the right to peaceful protest as one of the basic human rights guaranteed by the Syrian Constitution.""


"About two hundred Syrian Kurds protested in Qamishli, but government security forces broke up the rally using truncheons and tear gas. One person was killed and four people seriously injured.[27]" - p 155

Strangely, endnote 27 that was indicated at the end of the last-quoted section doesn't exist in the endnotes section. This bk is full of typos & the like. I can't really blame the author & the publishers - after all, my own bks have plenty of typos too - but the misspelling of a president's name seems a bit over the top:

"Just as Ronald Regan refused" - p 158

"Kurdish populated territories are mineral rich compared with most of Syria's dry and barren countryside. The PYD controlled the oil region of Rimalan. Jihadis were financed by wealthy sponsors and emirates, but they sought control of Rojava's energy fields to help pay for the long and grinding war." - p 162

Imagine a future in wch oil is no longer of any value whatsoever. All of today's bloodshed for it might be a thing of the past - or some new thing might replace the coveted resource.

"The PYD gained popular support by protecting the local population and providing services. YPG fighters numbered twenty thousand. Women were half the force. In November 2013, the PYD declared the transitional administration of Rojava along the Turkish border in Western Kurdistan. As part of its "democratic self-management project," local legislative assemblies were created in the districts of Efrin, Kobani, and Cezire." - p 162

I read this bk largely to try to have a better understanding of the bigger picture surrounding Rojava. Basically, I'm hoping that Rojava can escape the clutches of the bigger powers & maintain whatever egalitarian autonomy they can manage to establish.

"Washington opposed Rojava, which could accelerate the fragmentation of Syria. The Obama administration did not want its approach toward the PYD misconstrued as support for the PKK." - p 168

The US's bombing of Syria just might "accelerate the fragmentation of Syria" too. But those airstrikes didn't allegedly start until September 22, 2014 - so that's after the time under discussion in this bk.

"The Second Iranian Revolution":

"The Bush administration denied collaboration with The Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan (PJAK). However, the Iranian government and Turkish media insisted that the United States was covertly supporting PJAK as part of a broader strategy to undermine the regime in Iran. Unconfirmed reports indicated that the United States and Israel provided weapons and financing to PJAK, and that US Special Forces were also on the ground coordinating with PJAK. The Pentagon allegedly provided "a list of targets inside Iran of interest to the US." Covert activities require a presidential finding or Congressional oversight. Congressman Dennis Kucinich wrote President George W. Bush requesting information on ties to PJAK on April 18, 2006. Both the United States and PJAK denied collaboration. According to a CIA spokesman, "The CIA does not, as a rule, comment on allegations regarding covert operations."

"Officials at the Office of the Vice President and the Department of Defense were zealous in their efforts to undermine Iran's theocratic rulers. They envisioned the overthrow of Saddam Hussein as the first domino in regional regime change agenda. The Bush administration cooperated with groups that used violence to advance their political goal and had committed crimes against the United States." - p 173

"Kurds did not join pro-democracy advocates who took to the streets protesting electoral fraud." - p 177

As usual, I wonder about double-standards: when is it that protesters against electoral fraud are "pro-democracy" & when is it that they're something more sinister?

"We're for a democratic, secular, and federal Iran. We strongly believe in the separation between state and religion, and we are also for a system where every ethnic group-Kurds, Azerbaijanis, Baluchis-can have self-rule, governing their local and regional affairs through elected bodies. We believe in the importance of social, political, and civil movements in a broad coalition to bring about powerful change in Iran for labor, women's and students' movements, and ethnic minorities. What we ask and fight for is a democratic Iran, where the rights and lives of Kurds and other minorites are respected by the constitution." - pp 177-178

&, of course, such a group w/ such a platform is very convenient for US interests & will sound very reasonable to most Americans, myself included - &, yet, everything is so loaded w/ hidden agendas that it's hard to take any of it w/o a grain of salt. The overthrown Shah was a disaster for Iran, the religious rule has been a disaster for Iran. What about NO rule? Alas, the likelihood of that is very slim indeed.

"The End of Iraq":

"As ISIS advanced, its arsenal was augmented by sophisticated weaponry abandoned by the Iraqi armed forces. ISIS seized equipment including tanks, Humvees, artillery, and howitzers. Weaponry was state of the art, made in the USA. The United States spent $25 billion between 2005 and 2012 to equip and train Iraqi armed forces.

"ISIS was suddenly flush with weapons, fighters and cash. Seed funding for ISIS came from Saudi Arabia and other wealthy emirates. ISIS expanded its revenue by operating like a criminal gang. It raised funds through extortion and kidnapping. Additional revenue was derived by selling oil from wells in Raqaa and Jazeera to the Syrian government. ISIS also robbed banks, seizing at least $425 million from the central bank in Mosul and untold millions from other banks in Nineveh.

"Brutal tactics terrorized Iraqis living under the control of ISIS. Sharia law was imposed on the local population. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate with himself at the head. Anyone who resisted the Islamic State was executed. Its Taliban-like list of rules included a ban on cigarettes and alcohol. Sexual violence was widespread. Local women were allocated to ISIS fighters as "jihadi brides." Christians in Mosul were told to convert, pay a tax, or face death. ISIS was so extreme it broke from al-Qaeda, which it accused of being too moderate." - p 190

Seems truly horrible, right? I wdn't last a day before I'd be executed - & that's what such a description is intended to make the reader think. But, as usual, there's some double standard at play: ISIS is depicted as "operating like a criminal gang" but it's well documented that the US used opium growing in Laos & heroin production in South Vietnam to fund extremely unsavory activities - & that doesn't mean they were sweet. Everything described in this bk is weirdly convenient for US foreign policy.

"Kurds distinguish between the period before Mosul and after. Kurds woke up one morning to find ISIS as their neighbor. According to Fuad Hussein, Masoud Barzani's chief of staff and national security adviser, "values" separate the Kurds from ISIS. "ISIS is against civilized values, democracy, human rights and religious freedom. They are anti-West, anti-American, and anti-world while the Kurds are on a democratic path and committed to international cooperation."[38]" - p 196

"38. Interview with KRG National Security Adviser Fuad Hussein by the author, July 1, 2014 (Washington DC)." - p 199

"International Response":

"Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself "caliph," renamed ISIS the Islamic State, and called on Muslims worldwide to accept his authority." - p 201

It boggles my mind that such people exist & that they manage to corral the power that they do. Why don't people laugh them down? Well, the obvious reason is that they kill the people who might even hint at doing so.

"Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei maintained, "Americans are trying to undermine the stability and the territorial integrity of Iraq, in which the last remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime are used as proxies and those formerly outiside this network of power are treated as pawns." He believes that al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS were created by the US as a counterweight to Iran. An officier of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) maintained, "The ISIS conflict is an American and Zionist conspiracy to reverse Islamic awakening in the Middle East. Command centers for the ISIS fighters are in the White House and Saudi Arabia."" - p 214

Ok, I find that hard to believe but how wd I know?! I don't find it hard to believe that the CIA funneled support to the Mujahideen via Pakistan so that they cd resist the invading Russians in Afghanistan & that this resulted in the ultimate formation of the Taliban. One of the apparent problems w/ some of these CIA moves in the Middle East is an apparent underestimation of the groups whose increased militarization they help make possible.

"Saudi Arabia was virtually silent during Israel's clash with Hamas in 2014. Other Arab states-Egypt, Jordon, and the United Arab Emirates-have silent sympathy with Israel. They view radical Islam as the vanguard of Islamist efforts to detabilize the region." - p 217

It seems that just about every outside force, certainly IS & the US, is trying to restructure the area in their own image. Too bad they seem to care so little about the people who actually live there. I admit to the bias that the IS is even worse than the US in this regard but I wonder what wd happen if both of them were to completely withdraw. Of course, the likelihood of that happening is practially null.

"The Path to Independence":

"Practical obstacles impede the national aspirations of Iraqi Kurds. Though Baghdad is obligated to distribute 17 percent of Iraq's total oil income to the KRG, it suspended payments in January 2014. The KRG needs to sell its oil and gas to offset the loss of revenue. However, it faces legal and procedural obstacles to monetizing Iraqi Kurdistan's energy wealth. Large energy companies, like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, have positions in Iraqi Kurdistan, but they are hedging their bets pending a hydrocarbons and revenue sharing law between Baghdad and the KRG. Meanwhile, the KRG is at a disadvantage. It has oil but lacks delivery and storage capacity. The KRG also lacks the legal and political basis for consistent, large-scale exports. Ongoing violence poses a further problem; the northern pipeline has been regularly sabotaged." - pp 235-236

"Women in Suleimani are often seen without a hijab, strolling with unmarried male companions. Kurdish businessmen and politician Cimsit Firat describes cultural differences between Kurds and Arabs: "Kurds are joyful and love life. Kurds go to parties; they dance. The women dress colorfully." He contrasts them with Shiite women, who wear all black and are covered from head to toe, and Arab Sunni women, who are subordinated to their husbands and patriarchy. "Arabs have a culture of killing that dates back to the battle of Karbala" and the slaying of Ali and Hussein." - p 226

&, yeah, it's perhaps all-too-easy for me to get sucked into taking sides based on the above. I'm definitely 100% w/ the Kurds. Sometimes I wonder if the US isn't becoming more Arabic at the same time that Middle Eastern culture is becoming Americanized. It seems to me that American men having beards increased dramatically at the same time that the Taliban's beard culture became prominent - & what about these idiotic face masks that so many sheeple have been wearing out of fear of a pandemic that I never, personally, saw much evidence of?! How many American men wd secretly, or not so secretly, prefer to be able to own women & just boss them around ruthlessly instead of having to navigate the confusing labyrinth of pleasing them in order to get laid?

"Breaking up states through mutual agreement is a rarity. Czechs and Slovaks negotiated their disassociation in 1993; Norway held a referendum on independence from Sweden in 1905." - p 230

I didn't know about either of those things. That seems like the way to go to me - like a peaceful divorce, how often do they happen?

"If talks on the nuclear program flounder, Ayatollah Khamenei and the conservative Guardian Council will marginalize Rouhani and crack down on internal dissent. The United States would shift from diplomacy to a strategy of regime change. This could involve ratcheting up political support for prodemocracy activists and dissident ethnic groups. A new US administration might even consider covert activities, assisting PJAK and other armed militants to put more pressure on the regime." - p 231

"Iraqi Kurdistan has virtually no banking system. Since most of the KRG's income comes from oil, which is traded in dollars, the KRG could dollarize the Kurdish economy. Converting all of its currency into dollars would outsource central banking functions to the US Federal Reserve. This would strengthen ties with the United States and help develop liquidity arrangements with central banks around the world" - p 232

Phillips seems to think the above is a good idea. What he neglects to mention is that if the US decides to turn against the Kurds b/c they're too independent the US banking system can have an Emergency Sanction imposed on it by the US government & cut off Kurdistan from its own money.

"The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) can become more engaged with the KRG. The IMF has expertise to advise on fiscal policy. Though membership is not presently possible, the KRG can encourage the World Bank/IMF to set up working groups on Iraqi Kurdistan." - p 232

It's proposals such as the above that make me more or less write off Phillips completely. The World Bank & the IMF are just highest level loan sharks. Any country they get involved w/ ends up in their debt & under their control. Any association w/ them is a trap.

"The United States is making a good-faith effort to save Iraq." - p 234

But the invasion of Iraq, whatever its excuse, was a major cause of Iraq's destabilization.

David L. Phillips is certainly extremely knowledgable about this part of the world. I learned quite a bit from reading this bk. However, it's my opinion that Phillips is one of the class of privileged people who, despite their peaceful & caring PR, feel that they have the right to steer the world as they see fit. I wdn't trust this guy any more than I'd trust a CIA operative - there's just too much class arrogance at work.







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to Vine movies relevant to tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE made by Ryan Broughman

to tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's presence in the Visual Music Village

for info on tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's tape/CD publishing label: WIdémoUTH

to a very small selection of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's Writing

to the onesownthoughts YouTube channel