Despite widespread support for Kurdish fighters resisting the advance of Islamic State in Iraq, the National Union of Students has failed to pass a motion expressing solidarity with the Kurdish people because they consider the ongoing conflict with ISIS to be “Islamophobic”.
The resolution, which called upon the NUS to condemn the Islamic State and to campaign for democracy in Iraq was submitted by a student member of “Kurdish descent” and came in response to “The ongoing humanitarian crisis and sectarian polarisation in Iraq – which has resulted in thousands of Yazidi Kurds being massacred”. Unfortunately for the hard-pressed Kurds who have been suffering the worst injustices at the hands of the Islamic State, the motion offended the sensibilities of the Union’s Black Students Officer (BSO) who led a voting bloc to defeat it.
One member of the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) group took to his blog to bemoan the fact the Union’s Black Student Officer could railroad the motion apparently by virtue of race alone. Complaining of the excessive power the Liberation campaigns enjoy he said: “the idea is widespread that if a Liberation Officer opposes something, it must be bad… people see or claim to see debate on the Middle East as something that the BSO should somehow have veto power over, regardless of the issues and the arguments made”.
Apart from the purported Islamophobia that supporting a minority group being raped and murdered by the Islamic State implies, the involvement of the United States in the conflict appears to have caused the greatest division among the various elements of the NUS, as the traditional bête noire of right-on student politics is flying air-missions in support of the Kurdish army.
The NCAFC blogger was realistic about the utility of American intervention, remarking: “the Kurds and Yazidis thus far would not have been able to survive if it had not been for aid from the Americans. Calling simply for an end to this intervention is the same as calling for the defeat of the Peshmerga forces by ISIS”.
As the motion was defeated by a combination of abstainees and the BSO power of opinion setting, in the words of the angered bloggers this time the NUS thought it preferable to “sit back and watch the slaughter” than to ally themselves with a “pro USA intervention” vote.