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The Big Lie

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Terrorist groups and European fighters in Iraq

  At present there is no independent Kurdish state but the ‘land of the Kurds’ crisscrosses Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran. However, the Iraqi Kurds have been able to gain autonomy from Baghdad. Kurdish aspirations for an independent state stem back to the days of Empire and the post First World War treaties, which carved up Ottoman territories. The two treaties that concern the Kurds are: Treaty of Sèvres signed in 1920, which mentions an independent Kurdish state and the Lausanne Treaty, signed three years later in 1923 that makes no mention of a Kurdish state.  Aspirations for Kurdistan  For the last few decades Kurdish nationalist groups have either been fighting to create an independent Kurdistan or gain more autonomy and rights. The Kurds experience marginalization and discrimination in Turkey, Iraq and Syria. This has forced some, especially political activists to seek asylum in Europe. In most cases they have settled in Germany, and some have established political groups to campaign for Kurdish rights. Among the nationalist groups is the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which until 2013 was engaged in a guerrilla war against the Turkish state. It used car and suicide bombings to advance its cause. Consequently, Turkey, the European Union and the USA have added the group to the list of banned terrorist organizations.  Kurdish foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq The current conflicts in Syria and Iraq have resulted in the PKK and its Syrian offshoot, the Syrian Kurdish PYD party to play an important role in defending Kurdish dominated parts in both countries. In Syria the YPD has fought Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. ISIS has received a lot media attention because of its violence and vast territorial gains in Syria and Iraq. The attention has been such that a documentary has been made about the group by VICE, an investigative journalist organization. In the documentary VICE journalists also speak to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in northern Iraq, one fighter they interviewed moved from Germany to fight alongside his brethren in Iraq against ISIS. There are also media reports claiming that a British Kurd is also fighting against ISIS. He told a British newspaper the Daily Mail that: “When I saw my Kurdish brothers and sisters being killed by these terrorists I was angry in my heart. I couldn’t stop myself and stay home”. “People say, ‘If you have a British passport why are you doing this? You could get out.’ But I am fighting to save people’s lives”. Although these are just two examples of European Kurds travelling to defend their brethren, it does not rule out the possibility of other cases. If there are a large number of European Kurds involved in the conflicts, it then raises two important questions, which are often posed to the Muslim community. These are radicalization and recruitment of Kurds by Kurdish groups. The questions are important for European countries where Kurds have settled, such as the UK and Germany. Europeans travelling to other countries to fight in conflicts is not new. The Spanish civil war attracted European fascists, the 2014 Ukrainian conflict has attracted European neo-Nazis, the Syrian conflict has attracted European Muslims and European Jews volunteer to fight for the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Individuals are motivated to volunteer and fight in foreign conflicts because they have been affected in such a way that they experience and understand the suffering endured by their ethnic and religious brethren as their own. This experience then leads them to employ ideological justifications to why they ‘must’ volunteer. PKK and the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts  The proverb ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ comes to mind when we look at the American and European policy in Syria and Iraq. In Syria they decided ‘not’ to provide military aid the rebels, which is understandable because they feared that the weapons might end up in the hands of terrorists. In the case of Iraqi Kurds, they are not only providing heavy weapons but also carrying out airstrikes and surveillance missions. The decision to help the Kurds as one British Muslim told me is not humanitarian:  “The USA is not helping the Kurds because of human rights but because they want to protect their political and economic interests, which that invested in.”  The involvement of the PKK and its affiliate has been vital in defending Kurdish Iraqi territory against ISIS, as international journalists based in northern Iraq have reported:  “Syrian Kurdish PYD party was the main group to safeguard Yazidi escape routes. Now, PKK fighters are manning the front line by the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. Aided by U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State positions, they also helped take back the key town of Makhmour from the Islamic State on Monday.” “Visits to front-line positions on Monday made it clear that an influx of fighters with links to the Kurdish Workers Party, known by its Kurdish initials PKK, had played a major role in driving the Islamic State from key areas within a 30-minute drive of Irbil, the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government.” One Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighter at a checkpoint outside Mahmour explained to international media that the reason why they have been successful against ISIS:  “They’re (PKK fighters) very experienced from fighting Daash in Syria and are true guerrilla fighters from their time in Turkey. They have more experience and training than we do.” The involvement of the PKK and its affiliates in Syria and Iraq highlights the many policy conundrums facing America and its European allies. By providing military aid to the northern Iraqi Kurds they have made a U-turn over their policy on ‘not to arm terrorist groups’, which is exactly what is happening in Iraq, although indirectly. The indirect arming of the PKK may also poses a future threat to Turkey, despite the ceasefire that both parties agreed in 2013. If relations between both become sour in the near future then the group could use the very weapons supplied by Turkey’s NATO allies against it, and reignite the decades old conflict.

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Obama, human rights and ISIS

Western leaders have suddenly woken up and realised that ISIS is a regional global security threat. This realisation has also forced policy makers and security experts to abandon their orientalist monocles. The desire to act ‘now’ by launching airstrikes on ISIS targets and by providing military and humanitarian aid to the Iraqi and Kurdish authorities raises questions about the ‘real’ motivations. Justifications for intervention President Obama’s reasons to intervene in Iraq, as he has said is to stop ‘these barbaric terrorists in order to protect Americans and prevent an act of genocide.’ He added, ‘the terrorists have taken over parts of Iraq and have been brutal to religious minorities, rounding up families, executing men, enslaving women, and threatening the systematic destruction of an entire religious community, which would be genocide’.

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Getting Ahead: A Case Study of Social Class in the USA

Getting Ahead: A Case Study of Social Class in the USA

This photo of my parents reveals much about their personalities (hers vivacious and outgoing, his withdrawn and closed off), their relationship (little real contact), and also the times. The typicality of their lives reveals much about the USA. My mother was a farmer’s daughter whose father lost the farm to the banks, and they had to scrabble along in the slums of the big city, St. Louis. All her life she yearned for her bucolic childhood when everything was “nice.” My father was a coal miner and the son of a coal miner from West Virginia. He hated the mines so much that after the Second World War he stayed in the military as a professional soldier.

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Our Common Core

Everything that exists on this Earth is made out of the same Common Core, the same molecules, and the same atoms. 75 % of the earth is covered in water. Up to 60 % of a human body is made up of water. Pigs are animals whose anatomy so closely resembles the human that a pig heart can be transplanted into a human and provide that human with a functional heartbeat. According to the animal liberation front over 100 million pigs are slaughtered every day in the U.S. It is the brutal circle of life as we know it. In this post we will be exploring a different common core, namely the Common Core standards that has been implemented in the U.S education system and that according to many educators will change how we see and conduct education on a fundamental and ground breaking level.

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