Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One man's terrorist... another man's strategic asset? Particularly when the first man is President Ahmadinejad of Iran, the second man works for the U.S. State Department and the group in question is PJAK.

You've got to love that revolutionary vibe!

PJAK are Iranian Kurdish guerrillas/terrorists/freedom fighters/insurgents/militants/dudes (delete as ideologically suitable/aesthetically pleasing). The Iranian government is almost certainly messing around inside Iraqi Kurdistan, probably by sponsoring a nasty Takfiri/Jihadi Kurdish group Ansar al-Islam, who have been repeatedly bashed down by the Kurdish Peshmergas but keeps popping back up again like mushrooms after rain. But on the other hand, neither the U.S. as the occupying power, nor the Iraqi National Government or Kurdish regional government are doing much about the PJAK bases inside Iraq from where they attack Iran. This can be contrasted with the recent bombing by the Turkish air force of the PKK bases inside Iraq, which the U.S. must have given a nod to as the USAF has dominance over Iraqi airspace. The Iranian government has responded though, by firing artillery into Iraqi Kurdistan - seemingly with little impact beyond injuring Iraqi Kurdish civilians who had nothing to do with PJAK.

The saying "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter" has come in for regular bashing over the last few years, particular from American commentators after 9/11: moral relativism, etc. etc. But PJAK isn't listed by U.S. as a terrorist organisation, and it's representatives have visited Washington D.C. Only a few people claim that the U.S. is supporting the group directly and they present no real evidence of it beside the normal unnamed sources or just saying 'it's logical'. But the U.S. is danger of falling into its own rhetorical trap of demanding 'moral clarity' in the 'War on Terror', even when in the past parts of the government have already shown hypocritical tendencies in that direction.

PJAK may well have a legitimate cause, and as it appears to have a certain pro-feminist ideology making them rather sympathetic in a region where women are heavily oppressed. But its methods would be quickly described as terrorist if they were aimed at Western forces in Iraq, or at Western countries more generally.

Links of interest:
  • Quality BBC reporting on the tenuous position of the Iraqi Kurds trying to balance American, Turkish and Iranian interests against their own.
  • Jamestown Terrorism Monitor article on the PJAK.
  • Wikipedia article on PJAK with lots of links to news coverage, particularly on their relations with the U.S.

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