Hail the Popular Resistance Forces!

Members of the Popular Resistance Forces take a break during military training, outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, late August.

Members of the Popular Resistance Forces take a break during military training, outside of Kirkuk, Iraq, late August.

Ever since the forces of Da’esh (aka ISIS/ISIL/IS) seized control of Mosul and other northern Iraqi cities, those opposing the so-called “Islamic State” have sought to organize themselves and take up arms to defend their homes and villages from the Islamist onslaught. Now, some of these ad hoc groups have begun to work together.

In late August, the Popular Resistance Forces were established in Kirkuk as a new self-defense organization. Unlike most of the other existing militia that have emerged as Da’esh has swept across Iraq and Syria, including the phony “Red Army” of the “official” Communist Party, the PRF is a multi-ethnic and non-sectarian military organization, welcoming Kurds and Arabs, Sunni and Shi’a, Jews, Christians and Yazidi, and men and women, into their fighting ranks. Both the Worker-Communist Party of Iraq and Worker-Communist Party of Kurdistan have welcomed the initiative taken by the working-class organizers of the Popular Resistance Forces to join the growing fight.

Since Da’esh has seized control of large areas of northern and western Iraq, as well as areas of northern and eastern Syria, they have waged a barbaric war of annihilation against all those in the region opposed to their clerical-fascist program. Especially hard hit have been the workers of Iraq and Syria, most notably oil workers, who are forced at gunpoint to pump and refine crude that is to be sold on the world’s markets in order to line the Islamists’ pockets.

The Workers Party in America joins our worker-communist comrades in welcoming the formation of the Popular Resistance Forces and hailing its courage in stepping forward to take up arms against Da’esh. Their desire to defend the multi-ethnic and diverse character of the Iraqi population, free from interference by Islamists and imperialism, is fully in line with the communist perspective of fighting for a secular, non-sectarian and multi-national working people’s republic in the region. At the same time, we as communists feel it is necessary to also point out the political shortcomings of the PRF as they stand.

A member of the PRF helps train a new recruit in the use of an AK-47 rifle.

A member of the PRF helps train a new recruit in the use of an AK-47 rifle.

From the information we have on hand, the political goals of the PRF do not appear to extend beyond “pure and simple” self-defense: of villages and towns, of religious and national minorities, etc. In other words, defense of the political situation that existed before Da’esh.

While these goals are, in and of themselves, laudable, it is important for us to point out that as long as the overall political situation in Iraq continues, the threat of sectarian terrorism, ethnic cleansing and Islamist barbarism will continue to hang over the Iraqi people like a sword of Damocles. In this respect, our brothers and sisters in the PRF only undermine their stated goals by allowing this kind of “pure and simple” perspective to remain at the center of their organization.

We understand that most of those involved in the organization of the PRF are not necessarily worker-communists or even veterans of armed political struggle, and thus what we are talking about would take a great deal of time and effort. In the current situation, time and effort are precious few. Trying to work out a more formal political program or perspective right now would inevitably be at the expense of the training that would keep people alive and fighting. As such, it only makes sense to be patient, to offer friendly and comradely advice, and to create the conditions that allow the militants of the PRF to draw their own conclusions and develop their own path to communism.

Hail the Popular Resistance! Smash Da’esh! For Workers’ Power!

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