Rojava 2015 - A Review
The following article was written by somebody who currently resides in Rojava for the Crimethinc Ex-Worker podcast’s review of the year 2015…
a friend told us you‘re collecting impressions and reviews on the year 2015 out of a emancipatorian, revolutionary perspective, which seems quite a good idea to us. It’s always good to strengthen our collective consciousness and awareness; to understand the unity of all the revolutionary processes, the great story we‘re in – the global struggle for a new world, in which all worlds fit.
We‘re writing you from Cizre Canton, Rojava, Syria, as some friends, who came here from central europe. We wanted to learn from the Kurdish struggle and connect our different backgrounds to its great treasure of experiences, its philosophy and its methods of organizing.
This year there have been some great progresses for the democratic project of Rojava. As you may know, here three things are happening in the same time – a social and mental revolution, an experiment of radical democracy; military defense and diplomatic entanglement with external powers. As you may know, the revolution is based on establishing a communalist system, like described by Murray Bookchin, and started to organize openly since Assad drew back his troops needing them in the west against the Free Syrian Army. For Rojava, the Civil War turned into a fierce war not only against the regime, but before all against an outer enemy, who has lost all ethical substance and who wants to establish a fascist regime of political islam – the so-called Islamic State.
Since last year Kobane was under military siege and the military situation in general was really difficult, this year the YPG / YPJ reached to free not only Kobane itself and all the villages in the Canton, but also established a corridor between Cizre and Kobane. Also Shengal was freed from IS, so that we now look at a state-free territory under people’s self administration from the Euphrates River in northern Syria in the West until the Shengal mountains in northern Iraq in the East – a historical step in renewing the Middle East.
So, this year started with really good news. After the military victory over IS the rebuilding of Kobane town began, and now life is flourishing again in Kobane Canton as well with many refugees coming back to their villages and to the city. After the Shengal mountains were liberated in beginning of spring, the democratic autonomy was proclaimed and self-defense forces established.
As you know, there is a strange international spotlight on the Middle East, dealing with the new order of this region, with all global players involved you can imagine – the US and the other NATO-states, Russia and its alliances like the political Islam of Shia, such as Iran and the old regime of Damascus. And, not least, the forces of political Sunni Islam, with Turkey isolating itself while supporting militant djihadist groups, and the more pragmatic Arabic states on the Persian Gulf supporting whoever represents their goals. Their game entangles Rojava and the improvised self-government in this game of hegemony. Altogether, even in this strange situation of chaos this year brought up some good things – a lot of external forces now accept the Kurdish movement and Rojava as dialogue partners. Arab opposition forces fought alongside with YPG / YPJ against jihadist gangs, and accepted the achievements of the revolution. While before, the Kurdish society was really isolated within Syria, now there is a process of common understanding and exchange going on. We even heard rumors from small Drusian cities in the south of Syria, which got in contact with the rojava councils in order to learn methods for communalist self organizing. So the system of Democratic Autonomy spreads, and together with the effective way of self defense the YPG / YPJ established, this year brought a good piece of hope to the Middle East and the people, now having an example for an alternative to nation states and neoliberal invasion.
The biggest problem this year turned out to be the huge wave of refugees leaving Rojava. Even though there is a revolution going on, the situation is quite hard for living. Rojava, even though it became larger and much more secure within its territory, is still isolated by an embargo from all sides: in the north by the Turkish border becoming highly militarized, in the east by the Kurdish Regional Government of Kurdish Democratic Party of Barzani, an ally of Turkey and western capitalist states, and in the south and west by the Islamic State. In terms of infrastructure like water and electricity the situation got better, and there is no lack on food and basic needs. But the problem is, that, when you weren‘t much involved in the process of building up the society from anew until now, it may be that the hope for an easy and prosper life in Europe is stronger than your faith in the achievements of the revolution and the friends working for social progress. The last month the wave of emigration decreased again, and for a lot of people it got clear, that Europe won‘t be the answer for the problems of the Middle East. The image of Europe as a secure place of welfare and pluralism is a big threat for an experiment like Rojava, for it drives away the counsciousness about actual need of mutual support and common work in the place you are, and which for sure isn‘t lost – it’s a dangerous hope facing the Rojava societies, being rescued in another place or by external force.
For us as internationalists and activists this year turned out to be a huge progress in personal and collective experience. Essentially we came here for learning about what it means when a society wakes up from long oppression under a regime which tried to hold it unconscious and helpless. Also for us this year we got an impression what it really means to get granted political asylum not in a nation state, but by a society which takes it as given to be responsible and to help everyone who asks for help. Understanding is a long process, and as the story of this revolution is still unwritten, we are willing to stay here also in the year coming to fight and work alongside with the friends who started all this and gave us and a lots of others again new hope for a global revolution and a free Kurdistan. The friends here never distinguish between those prospects.
Probably the year coming won‘t tranquilize the Middle East and Rojava. For sure IS will get hit really hard, and sooner or later they will lose their territory. Then it comes to talks for a new Syria, and as it turns out already, Rojava will play its role and be able to serve as an impressive example of decentralized basis democracy, where people really get involved. Also there will be more and more people coming to Rojava willing to learn and fight together. As far as how things are done here, we can be curious about the opportunities for revolutionary forces in all the world once it becomes clear what this revolution could mean. Until now, it has already abolished borders, and given a new perspective for the whole Middle East and beyond.
We hope that we were able to put another piece to widen our horizon about these interesting times we stumbled in. We look forward to meet at events and occasions coming up, to exchange the secret word of conspiracy against their world, and for fighting together with you to create something better.
With revolutionary regards,
an internationalist committee, Rojava, Syria.