Rojava

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Rojava

Postby liminalOyster » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:16 pm

The geopolitics of the Kurds and the case of Rojava
Friday 26 January 2018, by AYBOGA Ercan


YPG (Kurdistan) SDF (Syria)
How does the military cooperation of the Kurds in Rojava and Northern Syria with the US, Russia and other forces affect their standing in the larger Syrian context?

Nowadays, with the defeat of the so called “Islamic State” (IS) on the ground in Syria the geopolitics of the Syrian Kurds is discussed more than ever. To be precise, we should speak of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and of the political structure “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria” (DFNS) of which Rojava (West/Syrian Kurdistan) is a part. What is of interest for this article is the criticism by some (or many) leftists against the military cooperation with the US. However, speaking only of the US would be too limiting, since in this particular conflict Russia, Turkey and Iran are also closely involved.

The geopolitics of the Syrian Kurds can be understood only in connection with the democratic-leftist Kurdish Freedom Movement (KFM). Starting with the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) in North Kurdistan (Bakur; Turkish part) in the 1970s, it spread to Rojava and East Kurdistan (Rojhilat; Iranian part) in the 1990s. When in 2003 the Party of Democratic Union (PYD) was founded, it accepted Öcalan’s political concept of Democratic Confederalism as basis. Due to the intensive repression by the Baath regime, the space remained small, but the organization of the population never ceased to exist.

In 2011, when the uprising against the Syrian regime started, the PYD saw its interest in benefitting from the weakness of the regime in order to organize people democratically in Rojava and the big cities of Syria. In the first months, the aim was to develop the self defense capacity as it was difficult to foresee further developments against the Baath regime as well as against the armed reactionary opposition. In the following months the revolutionary movement had been organized as TEV-DEM which apart from PYD included dozens of social organizations and people from the growing people’s councils all over Rojava. The Barzani-linked ENKS, the conservative Kurdish party bloc in Rojava, remained weak while TEV-DEM became the main player in Rojava. In spring 2012 when it was clear that the war is intensifying, the preparation for the liberation of Rojava started. The movement needed to be ready for the right moment.

TEV-DEM was faced with two basic decisions: Either Rojava will be defended by its own forces or it had to be given up. The second outcome would mean that other forces like the ENKS and/or the reactionary Syrian opposition would control Rojava.

Rojava was more difficult to defend than other parts of Kurdistan. On the level of terrain, the area is mainly flat and spread out. Furthermore, many international and regional powers had armed many warring forces in Syria. The unarmed democratic groups in Syria and the TEV-DEM, on the other hand, had no support from abroad. TEV-DEM had declared it a duty to defend Rojava, otherwise it would be a great setback for the KFM in all parts of Kurdistan. The point was to defend this revolution and to learn lessons from former revolutions in the world.

With the beginning of the successful liberation of Rojava’s towns in July 2012, the attacks against the area grew stronger. First, it was some FSA groups and Al-Nusra Front which could be defeated by the YPG (People’s Defense Units) and YPJ (Women’s Defense Units). Then came ISIS (later IS), and at first, from summer 2013 until May 2014, could be defeated as well. But with the occupation of Mosul IS had grew so strong to challenge even state armies. The Baath regime also attacked Rojava at times, motivated by the Iranian regime.

Currently the biggest threat to this region is the Turkish army which has been launching attacks since October 2015 almost daily at the borders and on the front lines. In fact, all of the regional and international powers had no interest in seeing an independent and democratic force in Syria become strong, this includes western states, which just ignored TEV-DEM, and Russia which met with TEV-DEM, but with no common goals. Even Turkey, Syria and Iran met with TEV-DEM politicians (later the Democratic Self-Administration (DSA) founded in January 2014 as a democratic enlargement), but with the sole aim to incorporate it into their own bloc.

In the summer of 2014 IS was at the peak of its power. The world was shocked and considered it a new major threat. This was the case in the Middle East as well as in the rest of the world. This was also the time when forces of the KFM were resisting against IS in Şengal, the main settlement of the Kurdish Ezidis in Başur. In the beginning of August 2014 both the PKK and YPG/YPJ rescued up to 80.000 Ezidis and prevented a bigger genocide – it was not the “international community” that saved these people, but those who who were till then either considered “terrorists” or ignored. From that moment, the perception of the Kurds in general, particularly of Rojava and the PKK started to change. A US led global coalition against IS was formed, at first focused only on Iraq.

Then, the large IS attack on Kobanî happened in September 2014. The Kurds resisted with whatever they had. Tens of thousands of people in Bakur gathered continuously at the border to Kobanî in order to show solidarity and protest Turkish states support for the IS. Around a thousand crossed the border to fight the IS. Because of the global IS threat and the successful resistance in Şengal the international media were also present at the border. Never before did the Kurds get so much attention. They were recognized not only as suffering, but rather as resisting. Kobanî was now well known and well seen worldwide.

The resistance was strong, but it was not enough in the face of IS. Because of the Turkish embargo, the YPG/YPJ from Cizîre, the biggest region in Rojava, could not join the resistance. If that was not the case, there would have been a balance of forces and international support would not have been necessary.

During the first days of October 2014 the US publicly declared that it could see no hope, even if it was already bombing IS in parts of Syria. A few days later, the US started to bomb IS systematically in and around Kobanî city. The resistance in Kobanî, a big uprising in Bakur/Turkey and the global public request for Kobanî support were the main driving factors for that. This intervention in Kobanî started under specific political conditions and it was not clear how long it will last. Only after that, did serious negotiations happen.

Motivations for the US and Syrian Kurds

On the short-term, the main motivation for the US was seeing that the defeat of IS in Kobanî would be very beneficial for their own strategy in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Kobanî became IS’ Stalingrad. For the revolution of Rojava the defense of Kobanî was crucial, otherwise it could be marginalized in Syria. This is how two forces opposed ideologically ended up having the same short term interests.

The bombing of IS gave the US a strong partner in Syria. This comes after the US along with Turkey and some of the Gulf states had been supporting armed opposition groups. These groups however, were unable to overthrow the regime and were becoming weaker, or becoming more and more extreme in their Islamic ideology. Furthermore, these groups were less committed to their western sponsors and more to Turkey and the Gulf sponsors, which the US saw with suspicion. This is why a cooperation with the YPG/YPJ promised to give the US more influence in Syria and having an active role in designing a new Syria.

In the beginning of the military cooperation the USA planned to subordinate Rojava militarily to the government of Başur. The notes of the talks on March 14, 2015 between several HDP (People’s Democratic Party) parliamentarians and the imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan state that the US exercised pressure on the YPG/YPJ to accept to be part of the PDK-Peshmerga commando structure, and that Öcalan took position against that. This did not happen, but the cooperation continued.

There are certainly other long-term motivations for the US to start the military cooperation with YPG/YPJ/SDF. One is to come back to the Middle East political scene and appear as a positive force after the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan which turned the US into an unwanted force in almost all Muslim majority countries.

This military engagement also served to limit the influence of Iran in Iraq which increased especially in the years until 2014. This became yet more important after Trump was elected.

Another reason is pressuring the Turkish government which has been moving away from its western allies in the last years. Turkey, has been trying to benefit from the conflicts between different powers, particularly the US and Russia to increase its influence in the Middle East. The support for Al Nusra and IS was part of this strategy while bypassing the embargo on Iran. For several years, the NATO has looked at these actions with suspicion. Turkey’s main concern in its international policies are the Kurds.

Furthermore, the US has actively supported the big parties PDK and YNK (PUK) in Başur since 1991 which led to a status of autonomy. There were expectations, among others, that the two parties would dominate the three other parts of Kurdistan and push back the KFM. But they failed. Instead, their corruption pushed Başur into a big economic and political crisis. Also, the PDK has been influenced by Turkey’s policies, especially by the sale of oil through Turkish pipelines.

Öcalan’s vision, on the other hand, is an inspiration for a new inclusive and democratic approach. Democratic Confederalism is the most powerful democratic concept in the Middle East. Millions of people in Bakur and Rojava had the possibility of experiencing it. Successful coalitions for democracy are formed with Turks, Arabs, Assyrians and others.

Neither the western states nor the Russian-Chinese block can propose anything to the multidimensional crisis of the Middle East – they are out of ideas. The discussion is almost only about “defeating terrorists, stability and building walls against refugees”.

The US wants to instrumentalize the KFM for its own interests either by taming the whole KFM or by disconnecting Rojava from the rest of the KFM. This could be done by offering more military support and international political support in exchange for promises of a strong political status within Syria if the DFNS would distance itself from Öcalan, and reject the KFM in Bakur (and the PKK), while giving more space to the PDK of Barzani and the YNK. However, since the beginning of the military cooperation in October 2014, there has not been much change in the balance of power and dependency between the two.

It would be much harder for the SDF to defend its territory without American military cooperation. The DFNS would be more vulnerable to attacks from Turkey and the Syrian regime, now that IS in no longer an existential threat. Now the SDF have much more fighters, technical capacities, motivations and thus a higher defense capacity, even if they had been defending their territory before US support.

Russia’s cooperation

The DFNS has important relations with Russia too, since 2012. Russia’s has multiple interests in this relationship, including that the SDF not deepen its military cooperation with the US.

For Russia this limited cooperation with the SDF can be used against Turkey, and the same goes for the US. While Turkey wanted to overthrow the Baath regime in the first years of the Syrian uprising, since 2016 it focuses almost only on limiting the growing power of the new democratic project in Rojava/Northern Syria. This approach of the Turkish government gives Russia the opportunity to play on the Turkish fears.

Having strong political-economic-military relations with Turkey, Russia allowed the Turkish army to invade the triangle region between Jarablus, Al-Bab and Azaz in Northern Syria, in return Turkey cut the support for armed groups in Aleppo. This invasion disconnected Kobanî and Afrîn. And with the Turkish army in Syria, Russia can exercise pressure on the SDF. This is the case especially around Afrîn, the site of the Turkish assault and where Russia has observation points it uses against both Turkey and SDF.

Russia has also been trying to seek an agreement between the growing DFNS and the Baath regime. The DFNS have repeatedly declared that they seek a strategic agreement with the Syrian regime which would make Syria democratic and federal. It has become public that the two sides have met several times. In these meetings, the Syrian regime was only ready to accept cultural rights for Kurds and a strengthening of municipalities, while the DFNS insisted that the reality of a broad democracy in Northern Syria and a basic democratization of Syria as a whole will be accepted. However, at the end of October 2017 the Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Muallim, said that negotiations about autonomy for the Kurdish regions can be discussed, a surprising development. But this is a dangerous and unacceptable proposal because it would divide the Kurdish and Arabic regions. Here the DFNS is in a more advantageous situation and continues to insist to be accepted by the Baath regime as a federal region.

The DFNS considers its relations with Russia beneficial in several terms. One objective is to limit the attacks by the Turkish state against the SDF liberated territories. Another objective is to use Russia’s influence to pressure the Syrian regime to negotiate a democratic solution and include the DFNS in the international negotiations to end the armed conflict in Syria. The third objective is not to deepen the relations with the US and benefit from the conflicting interests of the two international and regional powers. However, both states have in their international policies the interest to stay in contact or even to develop ties with the Kurds which now includes also the KFM – even if it is tactical.

Characteristics of the cooperation

The military cooperation has often characterized by tensions. One big controversial discussion was over Minbiç (Manbij) which the SDF wanted liberated while the USA focused on Raqqa. The SDF launched its operation in Minbiç anyway without American support, and was already in the outskirts of the city when the US gave support to the operation, and finally achieving its goal on August 12, 2016. This case shows that the cooperation between the SDF and the US is not one-sided.

When at the end of August 2016, the Turkish army moved to occupy Jarablus, the SDF tried to reach the city and strike back at the Turkish army by pushing out IS from the south. Although the Turkish army suffered losses, it could take over Jarablus city while IS retreated within one day without fighting. Several days later a de-facto ceasefire between the SDF and the Turkish army was negotiated by the Americans and came into effect. But with the American support of the Turkish invasion, the coordination between the SDF and the US fell into crisis for several weeks.

Nonetheless, the SDF was able to resist quite successfully against the moving Turkish troops around Al-Bab. The fight only ended when Russia and the US sent soldiers to the front around Minbic.

The number of US soldiers in Northern Syria should not be exaggerated as they are not fighting on the ground, except in Raqqa city. They are however involved in training and coordination of arriving military equipment.

One month before the liberation of Raqqa, the SDF started the “Cizîre storm” operation to liberate the whole region east of the Euphrates river in the Deir Ez-Zor province. The SDF commanders stated that they were going to carry the operation even if the Americans were opposed to it because it was urgent: the Syrian army was progressing quickly towards Deir Ez-Zor city. The operation was successful.

Although there is military cooperation between the SDF and the US led Global Anti-IS Coalition, it is not possible to speak about a political cooperation. The US makes a clear distinction between the political and military dimension and have not insisted that the DFNS is part of the Geneva negotiations. Although the US government refused public accusations by Turkey that the YPG are terrorists using American weapons that will eventually fall in the hands of the PKK, it has never said anything positive in public about the political process in Rojava/Northern Syria. Until now, no leading figure from the DFNS or SDF was allowed to visit the US.

Although the military relationship with Russia is much less developed than with the US, politically Russia gave more direct and positive statements about the Syrian Kurds and the DFNS. For example in the beginning of 2017 Russia prepared a draft for a new constitution which included that Kurds should be involved in the international negotiations. Just recently Russia announced a “people’s congress of Syria” to which the PYD/Kurds would be invited.

Background of the war

The KFM says that what is happening in the Middle East is the Third World War with Syria at the very center, and there are three main forces: first is international imperialism represented mainly by the US and Russia ; second is the regional status quo powers with Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia as the main players with imperialist characteristics ; and third is the revolutionary and democratic forces led by the Rojava Revolution and the PKK. These three forces are fighting among one another and the result is complicated with continuously changing coalitions and armed conflicts. Each force develops relations with those who seem to be opposed to the enemy, in order to achieve their strategic interests.

This is related to the deep and structural crisis of capitalism experienced violently in the Middle East. It is not enough to have an ideological and political approach as many leftist and socialist organizations do, rather an organizational and military approach is crucial. Without being dogmatic, it is necessary to fight against threats, but also to be able to restructure one’s organization according to the conditions and to understand the dynamics and contradictions of other players in order to be able to benefit from them. The goal must be to defend the gains and build a strong self-organized society wherever it is possible to strengthen one’s own power. The creation of zones of freedom is not only possible with friendly forces. A dogmatic position will lead to the defeat, so each step needs to be calculated well, particularly for the Kurds who have been colonized by four nation-states. Because the KFM acts on this approach since its foundation, it could achieve the current level of strength. The stakes are high: either the forces of imperialism and capitalism win, or a new space for freedom is forged for humanity in the region, and this is why international and regional powers are fighting so violently to preserve the status quo.

The people in Rojava

Irrespective of all developments and discussions it is important to see how the military cooperation with the US affects the society of Rojava. There are two main questions. First, how do political activists and the population consider this military cooperation. And whether and how the economic-political-cultural structures have experienced any changes through this cooperation.

Between February and March 2017 I held around 50 interviews with political activists and people from different administrative bodies on their political work and the political-social situation. Apart from one person, no one regarded the military cooperation without any concerns. The interviewees said mostly that this cooperation has come up because of difficult conditions - particularly in Kobanî - and numerous enemies, but does not include a political dimension. For them the US is cooperating for its own interests and the cooperation is a tactical one. There was a clear awareness that the revolution should not rely on this military cooperation which could end at any time, but should try to benefit from it. The same goes for Russia. These were important answers based on a critical perception and far-sightedness. Activists continue to develop and deepen their political work and insist on a strongly self-organized society. I observed that in Rojava a self-organized and self-sufficient society includes more and stronger communes, people’s councils and other political structures, a communal economy which produces its own needs as much as possible, an independent education and health system and self-defense in all neighborhoods, communes and villages. This approach is connected to a 40 year experience of the KFM which never depended on any other political power. In the general political discussions, the military cooperation with the US was seldom a subject.

Like other political and social structures, the press of Rojava does not put the military cooperation in the center of the news. Rather the focus is on the political project of democratic federalism/autonomy, defense, liberation, the building of new structures in society and public demonstrations.

I met few people who expressed a big expectation from the US. The silence of the USA/NATO states when the Iraqi Army attacked Kirkuk after the referendum in Başur in September 25, 2017 has confirmed that a critical approach is crucial.

The efforts to build up communes everywhere never ceased after the start of the military cooperation with the US; rather the number of communes doubled. Also the creation of cooperatives continued; today there are a few hundred of cooperatives. The democratic-communal economy continues to be developed. The anti-capitalist mentality was stronger in 2017 than in 2014 when I traveled for the first time to Rojava.

In discussions with YPG and YPJ members there was not much attached value on the relations with the US: it certainly provided more military equipment, but the human is always the strongest weapon in a war.

A member of the YPG, who is in direct relations with commanders in all areas, told me that the US military never tried to impose anything directly or tried to intervene in the political-social-economic model or life because they are aware that the SDF and DFNS would never accept any kind of intervention in their internal policies. He also emphasized that they are prepared for an end of the military cooperation with the US Army at any time. According to him the cooperation has some serious advantages, but has also risks. Particularly to get used to the US support over time is a risk which needs to be discussed permanently, thus the YPG has to take measures. Another challenge is that because of the US presence within Syria the disputes with the Syrian regime should not end up in a big war because the DFNS wants to come to a mutual and respectful agreement with the Ba’ath regime.

About whether the SDF coordination has fears that the cooperation could change the interest and political vision of the fighters, he said: “We believe that we have a strong political project with Democratic Confederalism which is an inspiring tool for us. What kind of ideas offer does the US or other states offer to us? We have a stronger democracy which is direct and inclusive and a gender liberation in rapid development. Most importantly, we have a vision for a new life for the people of the greater region. What the capitalist states have, is money, weapons and democracy in structural crisis, not more.”

I spoke to dozens of international volunteers who are still coming to join the Rojava revolution, mainly from Europe or North America. Most had a positive position on the development in Northern Syria and wanted to stay longer and learn how people organize themselves, discuss and share what they have.

The many internationalists do not consider the military cooperation between SDF and USA as an obstacle for their engagement in Northern Syria. There are at least several hundred internationalists, not counting the Arabs, Turks and other people of the Middle East. This fact should be considered when people only see the cooperation with the US and neglect all the other deep revolutionary and social developments in Northern Syria.

But if the US ends the military cooperation without any peace agreement for Syria, the SDF controlled territory would be more vulnerable to big military attacks from the Turkish army and the Syrian regime. This would mean a new intensification of the whole Syrian conflict with an unclear outcome. Furthermore, the continuing cooperation could develop over time into a dependency of the DFNS/SDF on the US due to deteriorating conditions in Northern Syria.

The risks of the military cooperation with the US are debated openly. And the population understands the positive and negative sides which creates a sort of immunity against dependency.

Another mechanism against dependency is to benefit from the contradictions between all powers involved in the Syrian war. For instance by maintaining relations with Russia which is interested to have relations with the Kurds in Syria and Iraq for its own long-term interests.

For the KFM it was possible to survive within the Syrian war thanks to the “revolutionary diplomacy”, while developing a new political model, first in Rojava and then in other parts of Northern Syria. The revolutionary diplomacy includes permanent evaluation in order to see upcoming risks as well as initiatives to be active in these political and military cooperations.

Another important mechanism – of course also a principle - is to develop the international solidarity with the revolution of Rojava and in general with the KFM, for instance with the internationalists who would transfer the revolution to their countries, or the continuous political work on international level. The resistance in Kobanî has created a solidarity movement worldwide, but it is not strong enough. International solidarity should not be underestimated as anti-revolutionary forces lobby against the revolution at all stages. Only a strong international solidarity – also in the Middle East - with this revolution will make the revolutionaries less dependent on military cooperations with the US.

If the revolution of Rojava would fail, this would probably be a setback for democratic and revolutionary forces in Kurdistan, Syria and also the Middle East and the world. Its survival and development, however, has the big potential to change the mindsets of millions of people in Middle East.

Ercan Ayboga
Open Democracy

https://www.opendemocracy.net/north-afr ... -of-rojava
"If you support factions that get big money backing, you are probably not a 'revolutionary'."
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:07 pm

It's complicated. The anti-State Left is divided on the YPG as some anarchists reject them for their background as a Marxist-Leninist "cult", while others cheer them on as (new) Bookchinite municipalists. Either way, things are compounded by their de facto alliance with Uncle Sam(!) I don't consider them as the Iraqi Kurds who seem to be pretty much clients of the USA, nor do I consider any sort of co-opting relationship with Russia, the Syrian State, Iran, nor any other yop-down power regime to be simple either. So I'm officially agnostic on these matters.
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Re: Rojava

Postby liminalOyster » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:25 pm

Fall 2014:

Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Syria?
David Graeber
Amid the Syrian warzone a democratic experiment is being stamped into the ground by Isis. That the wider world is unaware is a scandal
Wed 8 Oct 2014 04.04 EDT Last modified on Fri 7 Apr 2017 19.10 EDT

In 1937, my father volunteered to fight in the International Brigades in defence of the Spanish Republic. A would-be fascist coup had been temporarily halted by a worker’s uprising, spearheaded by anarchists and socialists, and in much of Spain a genuine social revolution ensued, leading to whole cities under directly democratic management, industries under worker control, and the radical empowerment of women.

Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.

I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again. Obviously, no historical event ever really happens twice. There are a thousand differences between what happened in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, the three largely Kurdish provinces of northern Syria, today. But some of the similarities are so striking, and so distressing, that I feel it’s incumbent on me, as someone who grew up in a family whose politics were in many ways defined by the Spanish revolution, to say: we cannot let it end the same way again.

The autonomous region of Rojava, as it exists today, is one of few bright spots – albeit a very bright one – to emerge from the tragedy of the Syrian revolution. Having driven out agents of the Assad regime in 2011, and despite the hostility of almost all of its neighbours, Rojava has not only maintained its independence, but is a remarkable democratic experiment. Popular assemblies have been created as the ultimate decision-making bodies, councils selected with careful ethnic balance (in each municipality, for instance, the top three officers have to include one Kurd, one Arab and one Assyrian or Armenian Christian, and at least one of the three has to be a woman), there are women’s and youth councils, and, in a remarkable echo of the armed Mujeres Libres (Free Women) of Spain, a feminist army, the “YJA Star” militia (the “Union of Free Women”, the star here referring to the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar), that has carried out a large proportion of the combat operations against the forces of Islamic State.

How can something like this happen and still be almost entirely ignored by the international community, even, largely, by the International left? Mainly, it seems, because the Rojavan revolutionary party, the PYD, works in alliance with Turkey’s Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), a Marxist guerilla movement that has since the 1970s been engaged in a long war against the Turkish state. Nato, the US and EU officially classify them as a “terrorist” organisation. Meanwhile, leftists largely write them off as Stalinists.

But, in fact, the PKK itself is no longer anything remotely like the old, top-down Leninist party it once was. Its own internal evolution, and the intellectual conversion of its own founder, Abdullah Ocalan, held in a Turkish island prison since 1999, have led it to entirely change its aims and tactics.

The PKK has declared that it no longer even seeks to create a Kurdish state. Instead, inspired in part by the vision of social ecologist and anarchist Murray Bookchin, it has adopted the vision of “libertarian municipalism”, calling for Kurds to create free, self-governing communities, based on principles of direct democracy, that would then come together across national borders – that it is hoped would over time become increasingly meaningless. In this way, they proposed, the Kurdish struggle could become a model for a wordwide movement towards genuine democracy, co-operative economy, and the gradual dissolution of the bureaucratic nation-state.

Since 2005 the PKK, inspired by the strategy of the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Turkish state and began concentrating their efforts in developing democratic structures in the territories they already controlled. Some have questioned how serious all this really is. Clearly, authoritarian elements remain. But what has happened in Rojava, where the Syrian revolution gave Kurdish radicals the chance to carry out such experiments in a large, contiguous territory, suggests this is anything but window dressing. Councils, assemblies and popular militias have been formed, regime property has been turned over to worker-managed co-operatives – and all despite continual attacks by the extreme rightwing forces of Isis. The results meet any definition of a social revolution. In the Middle East, at least, these efforts have been noticed: particularly after PKK and Rojava forces intervened to successfully fight their way through Isis territory in Iraq to rescue thousands of Yezidi refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar after the local peshmerga fled the field. These actions were widely celebrated in the region, but remarkably received almost no notice in the European or North American press.

Now, Isis has returned, with scores of US-made tanks and heavy artillery taken from Iraqi forces, to take revenge against many of those same revolutionary militias in Kobane, declaring their intention to massacre and enslave – yes, literally enslave – the entire civilian population. Meanwhile, the Turkish army stands at the border preventing reinforcements or ammunition from reaching the defenders, and US planes buzz overhead making occasional, symbolic, pinprick strikes – apparently, just to be able to say that it did not do nothing as a group it claims to be at war with crushes defenders of one of the world’s great democratic experiments.

If there is a parallel today to Franco’s superficially devout, murderous Falangists, who would it be but Isis? If there is a parallel to the Mujeres Libres of Spain, who could it be but the courageous women defending the barricades in Kobane? Is the world – and this time most scandalously of all, the international left – really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... syria-isis
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:01 pm

Here is another example:

Kurdish Women call for a global women’s movement

Kurdish women call on women around the world to come together to build a radical movement for women's liberation


Image

March 5, 2018


To the women of the world:

Let us turn the 21st century into the era of women’s freedom!

From the mountains of Kurdistan, in the lands where society developed with the leadership of women, we salute you with our great freedom, passion, ambition, and unbreakable struggle. From Rojava’s neighborhoods to South America’s forests, from Europe’s streets to Africa’s plains, from the Middle East’s valleys to North America’s plazas, from Asia’s mountains to Australia’s plateaus; with our love which knows no borders and with our most revolutionary feelings, we embrace all women who intensify the struggle for freedom and equality.

On the occasion of 8th March 2018, International Women’s Struggle Day, we commemorate all women, who have given their lives in the quest for freedom, in the resistance against enslavement, exploitation, and occupation. From Rosa Luxemburg to Sakine Cansız, from Kittur Rani Chennamma to Berta Caceres, from Ella Baker to Henan from Raqqa, from Djamila Bouhired, from Palestinian Sana’a Mehaidli to Nadia Anjuman, we are ever grateful to the immortal warriors of the women’s liberation struggle. Their light rips through the darkness imposed on us; on the path that they have illuminated before us, we march towards freedom. Along with them, we commemorate all women, who have been murdered over the course of a five thousand year old patriarchal order, through all sorts of male violence, wars, state terror, colonialist occupations, religiously masked powers, men’s gangs, husbands, and so-called lovers. It is their memory which raises our unbreakable determination to put an end to feminicide, which constitutes the longest war in the world.

Dear women, comrades, sisters,

We are in the midst of a historic process. The patriarchal system, as the age peer of statist civilization, is undergoing a deep structural crisis. As women, we must diagnose this systemic crisis with its causes and consequences, establish strong analyses and develop perspectives that will accelerate our struggle. For, just as the system’s structural crisis constitutes great threats to women around the world, this situation also offers opportunities to guarantee women’s freedom, opportunities which perhaps only come once in a century. We even say: we can turn the 21st century into the era of women’s liberation! This is not a dream or a utopia. It is a reality. But in order for it to come true, we must create a women’s liberation program for the 21st century.

For this, we must first of all fully grasp in their entirety the fundamental contradictions and attributes of the era we live in. What possibilities and risks do these contradictions and attributes constitute from the perspective of women’s liberation? What sort of responsibilities must we shoulder in this regard, as global women’s organizations and movements?

The world system entered the 21st century in a deep crisis, using terms such as “New World Order”.

In the quest to re-organize itself as a way out of the crisis, capitalist modernity first attempted to apply this new order in the Middle East under the name of “Great Middle East Project”. We name the process which started with the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, continued with the Arab Spring in North Africa and intensified in the last years in Syria, Iraq, and Kurdistan “Third World War”. Whilst the nation-state regimes in the Middle East, which were created by Western states one hundred years ago to permanently reproduce chaos and crisis, try to protect the status quo, the foreign powers attempt to divide the region among themselves anew.


Continues: https://www.redpepper.org.uk/kurdish-wo ... -movement/
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Re: Rojava

Postby liminalOyster » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:43 pm

I've certainly seen reasonable criticism of a certain utopian romanticism to relive the Spanish civil war but not so much about Leninism at least not recently. IIUC the merits of Bokchin there are contested even among anarchists.
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Thu Mar 08, 2018 5:01 pm

Some even call Abdullah Öcalan a Stalinist but that may or may not be the most fitting word, although "Marxist-Leninist" surely would have been an applicable term. Allegations that he collaborated with the Turkish "Deep State" are beyond my capacity to evaluate.
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:42 am

Here are some examples of left debate on these questions:


Rojava and Syriza: “What’s Left?” April 2015, MRR #383

The Kurds have asserted a common ethnic identity through shared language and culture for over nine hundred years, ever since the high Middle Ages of the 11th or 12th centuries. Modern Kurdish nationalism arose after 1880, and if anything gives anti-authoritarians the screaming heebie-jeebies, it’s nationalism. Patriotism, the nation-state, national liberation struggles; nationalism in all its variations and permutations is anathema certainly for anarchists and also for most left communists.

The Kurds struggled for national self-determination for a greater Kurdistan against the Ottoman empire until British/French imperialism divided up the Middle East after the first World War. Most of the Kurdish population found itself in southern and eastern Turkey, with sizable minorities residing in northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran. This arbitrary division of the region into artificial nation-states fractured the Kurdish national movement into separate nationalist struggles; the PKK in Turkey, the KDP and then the PUK in Iraq, and the KDP-I and PJAK in Iran. All of these Kurdish political entities claimed to be, to varying degrees, political parties/guerrilla armies fighting for national liberation against their respective non-Kurdish regimes.

Sectarianism, nationalism, and imperialism have continued to keep Kurdish struggles fragmented, among the most intransigent being the Kurdish PKK’s incessant “peoples war” against the Turkish state. Even Kurdish successes have been piecemeal as a consequence. This is illustrated by decades of conflict between the Iraqi Kurds and Iraq’s Ba’athist regime in aborted revolution, back-and-forth war, and state instigated genocide, finally mitigated only by the happenstance of American imperialism. When the US military enforced a no-fly zone over northern Iraq after the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Kurdish peshmerga consolidated autonomous power in the three northernmost Iraqi provinces (Dohuk, Arbil, and Sulaimanya) and surrounding territories, even as various Kurdish political factions fought a civil war for control of what would be called by 1998 the Kurdish Federation. This territory has been governed as a state-within-a-state by the Kurdistan Regional Government after the US/Iraq war of 2003, a pro-Western, pro-Turkish sovereign Kurdish state in all but name and UN recognition with pretensions to being the first puzzle piece fit into a greater Kurdistan.

Iraqi Kurdistan is the most staid, orthodox expression of Kurdish nationalism imaginable, however. Abdullah Öcalan, leader of the PKK now in a Turkish prison for terrorism, recently rescinded the organization’s staunch Marxism-Leninism and replaced it with a libertarian communalism that has strong anarchist overtones. Traditional Leninist democratic centralism has been replaced with the democratic confederalism of Kurdistan, which:
Is not a state system, but a democratic system of the people without a state. With the women and youth at the forefront, it is a system in which all sectors of society will develop their own democratic organisations. It is a politics exercised by free and equal confederal citizens by electing their own free regional representatives. It is based on the principle of its own strength and expertise. It derives its power from the people and in all areas including its economy it will seek self-sufficiency. [“Declaration of Democratic Confederalism” by Abdullah Öcalan]


Ostensibly influenced by libertarian socialism, Öcalan and the PKK have given a particular shout-out to Murray Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism for their ideological turnaround.

The Kurds have now seized the opportunity offered by Syria’s disintegration into civil war, and the threat posed by the resurgent Sunni fundamentalist Islamic State, to fight for an autonomous Kurdish region in northeastern Syria known as Rojava. The PYD party, which fields the YPG/J guerrilla army, has close ties to the PKK and governs Rojava with the pro-Iraqi KNC through a Kurdish Supreme Committee. The PKK’s communalism and democratic confederalism pervades Rojava. The territory is organized into cantons (Afrin, Jazira, and Kobani), governed by councils and communes, all defended by armed militias. The peshmerga have even joined the YPG/J in defending Kobani against the IS. So, here is the conundrum for anti-authoritarians. Is Rojava a genuine libertarian revolution of the Kurdish people, or is it window dressing for the post-Leninist Öcalan and his crypto-authoritarian, unapologetically nationalist PKK?

When the EZLN broke onto the international political stage in 1994, the Zapatistas were mum about their origins in Mexico’s 1968 student Marxist/Leninist/Maoist politics, as well as coy about their own political ideology. Nevertheless, anarchists and left communists embraced the EZLN wholeheartedly, without reservation, and events in Chiapas were defended as both revolutionary and anti-authoritarian. Not so Rojava. The anarcho/ultra milieu is being asked either to show unconditional solidarity for the revolution in Rojava or to summarily denounce Rojava as a Trojan horse for autocratic Kurdish nationalism.

Apparently, no nuance is permitted.



Dear cheerleaders, we need to have a chat about imperialism

Image
On the process of change in Northern Syria often called the Rojava revolution, the PYD as proponent of the process, and its alliance with Western imperialist powers.

In Rojava, in the North of Syria, Kurdish fighters are struggling against IS, Islamic State. That struggle deserves out interest, because it is not just a fight between armeed groups fighting for territory. The fight in Rojava is at the same time a struggle for a different social and political order, called Democratic Confederalism. Direct democracy, a central rol of women in the fight and in the running of society, space for people of different ethnic backgound to express themselves and co-determine their own fate, libertarian socialist inspiration and a clear break with the Marxist-Leninist and nationalist orthodoxies of the Kurdish movements involved , the PYD in Syria, the PKK in Turkey with which the PYD is connected ... all this gives many people reason to cheer the events as an important revolution – the Rojava Revolution. Others, however, are less convinced, some – myself not excluded – have serious reservations. Exchanges of opinions, sometimes furious ones, have been going on for months now.. What follows is is a contribution to this polemic.

Those of us expressing reservations on the Rojava process of change are often promptly accused of sectarianism or worse. A rather shocking example of this put-down attitude appeared in ROAR Magazine, in general a very useful publication that sheds lights on many encouraging struggles against neoliberal capitalism the world over, but also a publication that, in its boundless enthusiasm, sometimes veers into the direction of cheerleading for a particular fight: that of Rojava. ROAR has published valuable pieces on that struggle, but its general attitude seems a bit over the top to me. And when other radicals express their doubt on Rojava, such doubt is met with scorn. In this case, that scorn is expressed by Petar Stanchev.

Continues at: http://libcom.org/blog/dear-cheerleader ... m-04042015


Rojava in the Vortex of Inter-Imperialist Antagonisms

February 26, 2016
This article will appear in the forthcoming issue of Internationalist Perspective


Over the past several years Rojava or Western Kurdistan, legally a part of Syria, has been seen by many anarchists, libertarians, and even Marxists as the locus of a social revolution, one that demands solidarity on the part of revolutionaries, all the more so as it has been the object of brutal military assaults, first from Daesch (the Islamic State), and now from Erdogan’s Turkey. Inasmuch as the Middle-East today is literally on fire, the scene of vicious ethnic and religious cleansing, and bloody battles between rival imperialist states and armies, it is important to determine whether we are seeing a mortal threat to capital, an anti-capitalist commune OR an inter-imperialist bloodbath in which the population has been mobilized to serve the interests of capitalism.

For the past several years, as Syria has collapsed into civil war fueled by the intervention of imperialist states (Iran, Turkey, Russia and the US), Rojava has been under the control of the PYD and its fighters (the YPG), the Syrian offshoot of the PKK (The Kurdish Workers Party (sic.)), led by Abdullah Öcalan. Originally a Maoist, now in Turkish incarceration, Öcalan has had a prison conversion, and under the influence of the writings of the American libertarian, Murray Bookchin, has reinvented himself as a partisan of “communalism” and “Democratic Confederalism.” Suffice it to say that whether paying obeisance to Chairman Mao or to “libertarian municipalism” Öcalan, and Öcalan alone (his photograph is on virtually every “public” space in Rojava) rules; his word is law, and in Rojava, as secretly in much of the Kurdish regions of Turkey itself (at least by night), the Kurdish Workers Party rules. In Rojava the PYD has built a one-party state. The nature of the “democracy” to which the partisans of the PYD, both in the West and in Rojava, point, is no different – slogans aside – from that of the “people’s democracies” in the Stalinist bloc during the cold war. Indeed even the feminism to which its partisans also point, with its women “warriors,” hair flowing in the wind, gun in hand, bears an uncanny resemblance to those photos of La Pasiónaria on the front page of the Stalinist press in 1936, which Russian imperialism used so well to mobilize public support. The fact that Rojava itself has been brutally attacked by both IS and by The Turkish AK regime of Erdogan, cannot be the basis for any kind of revolutionary defencism, as so many in the libertarian “world” are calling for. The class line in an inter-imperialist war is not based on which side fired the first shot; on whose troops crossed the border first or started the war, or even the particular brutality of one or the other of the combatant armies. On such a basis, revolutionaries will always have to choose one capitalist state, one imperialist bloc, or the other, thereby guaranteeing the victory and consolidation of capitalism; and thereby precluding any possibility of either resistance to its power, or to articulating a political position that might become a basis for actual resistance to imperialism on both sides of the front line.

Is the Kurdish nationalism of the PKK/PYD, different from the Kurdish nationalism of Iraqi Kurdistan and Masoud Barzani? Certainly the ideology is different. In Iraqi Kurdistan capitalism has become a mantra in what is now a de facto American protectorate, and military base, where it is politically difficult to distinguish between the Kurdish Peschmerga, armed and equipped by the US, and the American special ops and troops based in Erbil. Yet apart from the Western “tourists” who in the recent past came to Rojava to see a “libertarian commune” in practice, Rojava too is full of CIA agents and American special ops. Indeed, when IS threatened to capture the Kurdish stronghold of Kobane, it was American air power that saved the town for the PYD. Neither in its Kurdish nationalism nor in its mobilization for inter-imperialist war at the side of the US can one make a distinction in class nature between Rojava and Erbil!

Today, the clash between imperialist states and their local allies has turned the Middle East into a veritable charnel house, in which the acclaim for Rojava can no longer be seen as naïve or politically innocent, but rather as a descent into the ideological vortex of imperialism itself, for which excuses are no longer possible. So, let us take a look at the rapidly deepening clash between rival imperialisms in the Middle East, where allies can become enemies on the turn of a dime, starting with the clash between Russian and American imperialism in the region. Putin’s Russia has a foothold in Middle East by way of its naval bases and air fields in Assad’s Syria, dominated by the Alawite minority, whose defense is essential to the retention of Russian influence and power in the region, and to its close relationship with Shiite Iran. The US has now come to see IS as a serious threat to its own power in the region, even at the “cost” of propping up the Shia government in Iraq. Indeed, though it is too early to tell, the possibility exists that the Iran nuclear deal could at some point in the not too distant future begin a process of détente with Teheran, particularly if Washington’s traditional Sunni allies (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan) remain unwilling to take the lead and provide the ground forces to crush IS. The growing disenchantment of America with its Sunni allies, applies to Sunni Turkey, and the Erdogan government too, which sees Assad’s Syrian regime as an enemy to be destroyed, along with the Kurdish nationalism that threatens the very territorial integrity of Turkey in its Eastern provinces, the same Kurdish nationalism that is a lynchpin of American strategy in Iraq and Syria. Into that tangled skein Erdogan has now sent his troops across the border into Rojava to perhaps crush the PYD and YPG there, and at the same time both challenge Syrian claims to sovereignty, as well as Ankara’s traditional enemy Russia, the protector of Assad. And, at the same time Russia and the US are seeking a “ceasefire” in Syria, which it hopes would permit Russia to attack IS, even as Assad, with Russian aid, seems to be reclaiming Aleppo, and now perhaps Idlib too, thereby turning the tide in that protracted civil war through the mass killing of their civilian populations by relentless Russian bombing. History is replete with dramatic turns in inter-imperialist conflicts, and we just might be on the cusp of one now.

Whatever turns there might be, however, one thing is clear: those who insist on seeing Rojava through the lens of social revolution are blinding themselves to the ongoing inter-imperialist slaughter which quite literally shapes events there on the ground. When you’re supporting the same side as the CIA, do you really need Google map to tell you that you’ve crossed the class line?
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Re: Rojava

Postby liminalOyster » Fri Mar 09, 2018 12:33 pm

Thanks. I've seen similar stuff on libcom periodically. But less lately I guess. A lot of it is overly polemical - ie, IME practically everybody knew about EZLN's ideological roots from day one.

You'd have to be a straight fool to not have a skeptical approach to Rojava (or any capitalism-alternative project like Mondragon, etc) but you'd have to be a deadly dangerous cynic to discard the whole thing based on hearsay or polemic.
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Fri Mar 09, 2018 4:20 pm

Yeah, I'm cautiously hopeful about the YPG personally- I just don't put a whole lot of energy into it, as for me the most important struggles start from where I live....
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Re: Rojava

Postby liminalOyster » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:14 pm

Worth noting that our own RT analogue, VOA have enjoyed referring to a Stalinist undercurrent to both Ocalan and Bokchin. This piece categorized under "Extremism Watch:"

EXTREMISM WATCH
Writings of Obscure American Leftist Drive Kurdish Forces in Syria

January 16, 2017 1:18 PM
Sirwan Kajjo

WASHINGTON —
Could the writings of a little-know leftist from a rural American state help to reshape the political structure of the nation that emerges from the Syrian civil war?

That could be the case if the Kurdish YPG — one of the most effective forces in the U.S.-backed struggle against Islamic State extremists — succeeds in its goal of carving out a self-governing entity in the areas it controls in northern Syria.

FILE - Kurdish female fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG), operating alongside with the Syria Democratic Forces, walk in northern province of Raqqa, Syria, May 27, 2016.
FILE - Kurdish female fighters from the People's Protection Units (YPG), operating alongside with the Syria Democratic Forces, walk in northern province of Raqqa, Syria, May 27, 2016.
For decades, autonomy-seeking Kurds in Syria and Turkey have been deeply influenced by the published works of Murray Bookchin, Marxist-inspired writer who advocated a radical form of grassroots democracy.

Libertarian socialism doctrine

Though his work has received scant attention in the U.S., Bookchin is so revered by Kurds in the Middle East that memorials were held across the region following his death in 2006.

Bookchin’s self-described libertarian socialism is taught today in Kurdish classrooms and is indoctrinated into Kurdish recruits of the YPG.

Bookchin, who lived and wrote in the state of Vermont, was deeply sympathetic to the Kurds and their sufferings under a series of authoritarian rulers in the Middle East.

“I have a diary entry by him in 1991 in which he writes about feeling ‘tormented’ over ‘the massacre’ of the Iraqi Kurds by Saddam Hussein,” his daughter, Debbie Bookchin, told VOA, referring a chemical attack on Kurds in Halabja in 1988.

“He was very disturbed that the Kurds were so callously and repeatedly betrayed,” she said.

Murray Bookchin. (Photo courtesy Janet Biehl)
Murray Bookchin. (Photo courtesy Janet Biehl)
Bookchin's doctrine, sometimes loosely referred to as “democratic confederalism” or the “democratic nation,” has become a banner for the 2 million Kurds in Syria who have long sought autonomy from Damascus.

Born in New York in 1921, Bookchin was influenced by his sufferings during the Great Depression and dedicated his life to leftist causes. The son of Jewish immigrants from Russia, Bookchin joined the Young Communist League in New York in the 1930s and was influenced by the writings of socialist philosopher Karl Marx and communist theorist Vladimir Lenin.

“He was a consistent anti-statist,” said Janet Biehl, Bookchin’s biographer, who was also his partner from 1988 until his death in 2006.

Grassroots democracy

Biehl said Bookchin was “most influenced by his grandmother who was a social revolutionary back in Russia.”

“He thought that it was necessary for people to be empowered through decision-making at the grassroots level, the level of face-to-face democracy like ancient Athens,” she told VOA.

Beginning in 2004, Bookchin began corresponding regularly with Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is considered a terrorist organization by Washington and Ankara. The PKK has battled Turkish forces decades and has engaged in deadly attacks in Turkey in its push for Kurdish autonomy.

FILE - People hold posters of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and PKK flags as they gather outside the headquarters of pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party, DBP, on the17th anniversary of Ocalan’s expulsion from Syria, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Oct. 9, 2015.
FILE - People hold posters of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan and PKK flags as they gather outside the headquarters of pro-Kurdish Democratic Regions Party, DBP, on the17th anniversary of Ocalan’s expulsion from Syria, in Diyarbakir, Turkey, Oct. 9, 2015.

Lawyers for jailed Kurdish rebel leader made contact with Bookchin in 2004 and the two began corresponding.

Ocalan had read Bookchin’s books while in prison and became captivated by the ideas of the American thinker. From then on, his writings were heavily influenced by Bookchin’s, prompting the PKK and other Kurdish parties to begin to incorporating Bookchin’s ideas into an already left-leaning ideology.

Several months after Syria’s civil war broke out in 2011, Kurdish groups took control of an area in northern Syria where they had lived for decades under Syrian rule.

The Kurds set up a local government through the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the political wing of YPG. The PYD is ideologically influenced by Ocalan and considered by Turkey to be a wing of the PKK.

With the rise of Islamic State in 2014, the YPG emerged as one of the most effective forces against the extremists, drawing the backing of the U.S.-led coalition.

FILE - A Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighter walks near residents who had fled Tel Abyad, as they re-enter Syria from Turkey after the YPG took control of the area, at Tel Abyad town, Raqqa governorate, Syria, June 23, 2015.
FILE - A Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) fighter walks near residents who had fled Tel Abyad, as they re-enter Syria from Turkey after the YPG took control of the area, at Tel Abyad town, Raqqa governorate, Syria, June 23, 2015.
Kurdish military gains, largely made with U.S. air support, allowed them to declare a federal system of governance in 2015 in northern Syria — largely modeled on the thoughts of Bookchin.

Under a locally crafted constitution for the region, the powers of the central authority are strictly limited and the local population is assured of a voice in the decision-making process.

Gender equality

The YPG has also embraced Bookchin’s ideology of promoting equality between men and women. The YPJ, an all-female unit of the YPG, has fought fiercely against the terror group.

“My father would have been elated to see his ideas put into practice,” his daughter told VOA. “The Kurdish communalist movement serves as a model of self-rule that could help dramatically improve the lives of women across the region and that would guarantee freedom of expression to all cultures.”

FILE - Kurdish female fighters of the Women's Protection Unit (YPJ) participate in training at a military camp in Ras al-Ain city in Syria's Hasakah province June 30, 2014.
FILE - Kurdish female fighters of the Women's Protection Unit (YPJ) participate in training at a military camp in Ras al-Ain city in Syria's Hasakah province June 30, 2014.
However human rights groups say the local Kurdish government has not always lived up to its high ideals.

“Although it tries hard to market itself as a pioneer of a new movement in the region, the PYD has not been able to get rid of its oppressive Stalinist practices,” said Hosheng Ose, a Kurdish affairs analyst who writes for the pan-Arab daily al-Hayat.

Other analysts agree that Bookchin’s vision for an environment-friendly society and benign democratic institutions has not been fully realized by the Kurds in Syria.

“From abroad, the Kurdish experiment in Syria seems very attractive and unique,” Ose said. “But at the micro-level, there are many shortages that won’t be eradicated overnight.”

https://www.voanews.com/a/writings-of-o ... 78233.html
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:27 pm

I don't like that word "extremism" as commonly used. Neither do I like VOA. Rojava/YPG I'll withhold final judgement on. Murray Bookchin though- not my number one theorist by any means but I consider him basically a good egg. We could quibble about when, if and how his models are applicable: I contend that they are definitely valid for small town Vermont but that mileage may vary elsewhere. Still, I like him, even though I'm a bit suspicious of any movement with a strongly marxist-leninist/democratic centralist history that appropriates his theories, especially as directed by a leader currently under the power of a brutal carceral/torture regime.
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Re: Rojava

Postby liminalOyster » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:27 pm

American Dream » Fri Mar 09, 2018 7:27 pm wrote:I don't like that word "extremism" as commonly used. Neither do I like VOA. Rojava/YPG I'll withhold final judgement on. Murray Bookchin though- not my number one theorist by any means but I consider him basically a good egg. We could quibble about when, if and how his models are applicable: I contend that they are definitely valid for small town Vermont but that mileage may vary elsewhere. Still, I like him, even though I'm a bit suspicious of any movement with a strongly marxist-leninist/democratic centralist history that appropriates his theories, especially as directed by a leader currently under the power of a brutal carceral/torture regime.


I'm not impressed by Bokchin but there's a fair bit of hearsay informing that feeling so I'll withhold judgment. There was, certainly, a whole generation of crusty punk kids in my vicinity at one time who went to the institute in VT and some became much more serious/rigorous thinkers as a result. My understanding is that Ocalan is in dialogue with other US anarchist thinkers at this time. Have to see what comes of it all.
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Fri Mar 09, 2018 8:36 pm

I should add that Bookchin rarely enters my life in any serious sort of way these days. I have worked with folks from the Vermont Institute in the past and found them to be stand up people. I have little to nothing to do with his theories, though I know that there is a group in Portland OR organizing around his principles, which I hear good things about. I know that Janet Biehl from the Institute is one of the big boosters of Rojava and I simply take that in, along with the competing voices.
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Re: Rojava

Postby American Dream » Tue Mar 13, 2018 7:18 am

Here is a perspective from Antidote Zine:

Love in a Hopeless Place

Image

AntiNote: As Turkey’s so-called Operation Olive Branch continues to steamroll town after town and fortification after fortification in Afrin despite both the YPG’s reputation as a fierce defense force and their having completely debased themselves by accepting support from Assad regime forces, we thought it as good (or as bad) a time as any to unearth this testimony from a German internationalist YPG fighter from the now nearly forgotten battle of Raqqa.

We had been sitting on it for several months, uncomfortable with the prospect of appearing to root for one revolutionary faction over another when there has been so much strife and betrayal among them in northern Syria, since 2016 and the fall of Aleppo if not before, with powerful fascioid imperial players—Russia, the US, Iran, Turkey, Israel, and others—imposing their own dubious visions and interests on vulnerable and desperate local forces and pitting them against one another in ways that always somehow benefit the one entity which in a perfect world would be the singular focus of all righteous hostility: the genocidal Assad regime.

Without re-litigating any of this history, we simply want to emphasize the value of these sorts of street-level accounts, especially ones displaying as much simultaneous ambivalence and resolve as this one, and encourage our readers to seek out these voices wherever possible amid the fog of state media disinformation (whether Syrian, Russian, Turkish, PYD-Kurdish, KRG-Kurdish, American, Israeli, or any other). It seems imminently possible that both Afrin and the Eastern Ghouta will soon be fully back in the hands of fascist mass-murderers. May the stories and legacies of those who resist continue to persist even as the “victors” attempt to erase them.


https://antidotezine.com/2018/03/13/lov ... ess-place/
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