View Full Version : Rojava: Syria's secret revolution ...

Sam Lord
23-02-2015, 07:20 PM
I came across a somewhat decent BBC documentary from last November on Rojava ... one of the few good news stories that one comes across in the Middle East.

Is the Middle East’s newest country a territory called “Rojava”? Out of the chaos of Syria’s civil war, mainly Kurdish leftists have forged an egalitarian, multi-ethnic mini-state run on communal lines. But with ISIS Jihadists attacking them at every opportunity — especially around the beleaguered city of Kobane, how long can this idealistic social experiment last? From the frontlines to the refugee camps, Mehran Bozorgnia filmed in Rojava for the BBC's Our World and has gained exclusive access and a revealing snapshot of Syria’s secret revolution.


Volunteers mobilised by a Turkish Marxist Leninist Party (the MLKP) have been going to Rojava since 2012 to support the revolution and they are apparently working on developing an International Brigade.

The MKLP has reportedly been sending volunteers to Syria to fight in the People's Protection Units of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) since 2012. At least four of these fighters have been killed in battle as of February 2015—one during the Battle of Ras al-Ayn, and three during the Siege of Kobanţ. The MLKP has also declared its intention to form a leftist international brigade within the YPG, modelled after the famous International Brigades who fought on the side of the Second Spanish Republic in the Spanish Civil War.[1] The party released a video in late January 2015 purporting to show several Spanish- and German-speaking communist volunteers from Europe among its ranks in Jazira Canton.[2] MLKP fighters have also joined Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) formations fighting in northern Iraq in defence of the Yezidi minority of Sinjar, who have been subjected to persecution and genocide at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist%E2%80%93Leninist_Communist_Party_%28Turkey %29

Website of the MLKP:


MLKP Video from Rojava:


Sam Lord
24-02-2015, 08:03 PM
The Lions of Rojava facebook page is worth a look:


C. Flower
24-02-2015, 08:18 PM
At least 20% of the Lions are Lionesses.

This fairly hostile but informative account of the YPG is embellished at the end by thumbnail pics of some the legendary "home made" Kurdish tanks.


Is it true that the YPG has looked for an alliance with the US ? How would this sit with their socialist politics ?

C. Flower
24-02-2015, 08:31 PM
From Roarmag

On the politics of the PKK and YPG - followed by a sharp debate on the PKK, its politics, and whether it is backed by the US or not.


The Theory of Democratic ConfederalismAt the turn of the century, as the lifelong US radical Murray Bookchin gave up on trying to revitalize the contemporary anarchist movement under his philosophy of social ecology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_ecology), PKK founder and leader Abdullah Ícalan was arrested in Kenya by Turkish authorities and sentenced to death for treason. In the years that followed, the elderly anarchist gained an unlikely devotee in the hardened militant, whose paramilitary organization — the Kurdistan Workers’ Party — is widely listed as a terrorist organization for waging a violent war of national liberation against Turkey.In his years in solitary confinement, running the PKK behind bars as his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, Ícalan adopted a form of libertarian socialism so obscure that few anarchists have even heard of it: Bookchin’s libertarian municipalism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libertarian_municipalism). Ícalan further modified, rarefied and rebranded Bookchin’s vision as “democratic confederalism,” with the consequence that the Group of Communities in Kurdistan (Koma Civakŕn Kurdistan or KCK), the PKK’s territorial experiment in a free and directly democratic society, has largely been kept a secret from the vast majority of anarchists, let alone the general public.Although Ícalan’s conversion was the turning point, a broader renaissance of libertarian leftist and independent literature was sweeping through the mountains and passing hands between the rank-and-file after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. “[They] analysed books and articles by philosophers, feminists, (neo-)anarchists, libertarian communists, communalists, and social ecologists. That is how writers like Murray Bookchin [and others] came into their focus,” Kurdish activist Ercan Ayboga tells us (http://new-compass.net/http:/new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism).Ícalan embarked, in his prison writings, on a thorough re-examination (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=2ZYaX07cEUAC&pg=PT3&lpg=PT3&dq=Prison+Writings:+The+PKK+and+the+Kurdish+Questi on+in+the+21st+Century+Abdullah+Ocalan&source=bl&ots=xlmCeHiqMH&sig=1Gcb0TZHyK4JxuZ38TBnO4cxR-g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Tk57U92zB9iLqAbLrYCIAg&redir_esc=y#v=snippet&q=futile%20separatism%20and%20violence&f=false) and self-criticism of the terrible violence, dogmatism, personality cult and authoritarianism he had fostered: “It has become clear that our theory, programme and praxis of the 1970s produced nothing but futile separatism and violence and, even worse, that the nationalism we should have opposed infested all of us. Even though we opposed it in principle and rhetoric, we nonetheless accepted it as inevitable.” Once the unquestioned leader, Ícalan now reasoned (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=2ZYaX07cEUAC&pg=PT3&lpg=PT3&dq=Prison+Writings:+The+PKK+and+the+Kurdish+Questi on+in+the+21st+Century+Abdullah+Ocalan&source=bl&ots=xlmCeHiqMH&sig=1Gcb0TZHyK4JxuZ38TBnO4cxR-g&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Tk57U92zB9iLqAbLrYCIAg&redir_esc=y#v=snippet&q=Dogmatism%20is%20nurtured%20by%20abstract%20trut hs&f=false) that “dogmatism is nurtured by abstract truths which become habitual ways of thinking. As soon as you put such general truths into words you feel like a high priest in the service of his god. That was the mistake I made.”Ícalan, an atheist, was finally writing as a free-thinker, unshackled from Marxist-Leninist mythology. He indicated (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy) that he was seeking an “alternative to capitalism” and a “replacement for the collapsed model of … ‘really existing socialism’,” when he came across Bookchin. His theory of democratic confederalism developed out of a combination of inspiration from communalist intellectuals, “movements like the Zapatistas (http://new-compass.net/http:/new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism)”, and other historical factors from the struggle in northern Kurdistan (Turkey). Ícalan proclaimed himself a student of Bookchin, and after a failed email correspondence with the elderly theorist, who was to his regret too sick for an exchange on his deathbed in 2004, the PKK celebrated him (http://new-compass.net/articles/bookchin-%C3%B6calan-and-dialectics-democracy) as “one of the greatest social scientists of the 20th century” on the occasion of Bookchin’s death two years later.The Practice of Democratic ConfederalismThe PKK itself has apparently taken after their leader, not only adopting Bookchin’s specific brand of eco-anarchism, but actively internalizing the new philosophy in its strategy and tactics. The movement abandoned its bloody war for Stalinist/Maoist revolution and the terror tactics that came with it, and began perusing a largely non-violent strategy aimed at greater regional autonomy.After decades of fratricidal betrayal, failed ceasefires, arbitrary arrests and renewed hostilities, on April 25 of this year the PKK announced an immediate withdrawal of its forces from Turkey and their deployment to northern Iraq, effectively ending its 30-year-old conflict with the Turkish state. The Turkish government simultaneously undertook a process of constitutional and legal reform to enshrine human and cultural rights for the Kurdish minority within its borders. This came as the final component of long-awaited negotiations between Ícalan and Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan as part of a peace process that began in 2012. There has been no PKK violence for a year and reasonable calls (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-l-phillips/pkk-terror-group-status_b_3289311.html) for the PKK to be delisted from the worlds’ terrorist lists are being made.There remains, however, a dark history to the PKK — authoritarian practices which sit ill beside its new libertarian rhetoric. Raising money through the heroin trade, extortion, coercive conscription and general racketeering have been claimed or attributed to branches at various times. If true, no excuses can be made for this type of thuggish opportunism, despite the obvious irony that the genocidal Turkish state (http://www.kurdmedia.com/article.aspx?id=13491) itself was in no-small part funded by a lucrative monopoly (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-top-opium-producer.aspx?pageID=238&nID=35024&NewsCatID=345) on the legal export of state-grown “medical” opiates to the West and made possible by its conscription and taxation for a massive counter-terrorism budget and oversized armed forces (Turkey has NATO’s second largest army (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marietje-schaake/nato-and-turkey_b_1433661.html) after the US).As is the customary hypocrisy of the war on terror, when national liberation movements mimic the brutality of the state, it is invariably the unrepresented who are branded as the terrorists. Ícalan himself describes (http://mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/prison-writings-pkk-and-kurdish-question-21st-century?print) this shameful period as one of “gangs within our organization and open banditry, [which] arranged needless, haphazard operations, sending young people to their death in droves.”Anarchist Currents in the StruggleAs a further sign that it is abandoning its Marxist-Leninist ways, however, the PKK have recently begun to make explicit overtures to anarchist internationalism, even hosting a workshop at the International Anarchism Gathering in St. Imier, Switzerland in 2012, which lead to confusion, dismay and debate online (http://libcom.org/forums/middle-east/pkk-political-evolution-17082012), but which went largely unnoticed by the wider anarchist press.Janet Biehl, Bookchin’s widow, is one of the few western anarchists to study the KCK on the ground, and has written extensively about her experiences on the New Compass website, also sharing interviews with Kurdish radicals (http://new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism) involved in the day-to-day operations of the democratic assemblies and federal structures, as well as translating and publishing the first book-length anarchist study (http://new-compass.net/publications/democratic-autonomy-north-kurdistan) on the subject: Democratic Autonomy in North Kurdistan: The Council Movement, Gender Liberation, and Ecology (2013).The only other English-speaking anarchist voice is the Kurdistan Anarchist Forum (KAF), a pacifist group (http://www.indymedia.org.nz/articles/1410) of Iraqi Kurds living in Europe who claim (https://libcom.org/news/interview-anarchist-iraqui-kurdish-05032010) not to “have any relationships with other leftist groups.” While supporting a federated Kurdistan, the KAF declares (http://www.anarkismo.net/article/22396) that it will “only support the PKK when they give up the armed struggle completely, engage in organising popular grassroots mass movements for the sake of achieving the people’s social demands, denounce and dismantle centralised and hierarchical modes of struggle and instead turn to federated autonomous local groups, end all relations and dealings with the states of the Middle East and the West, denounce charismatic power politics, and convert to anti-statism and anti-authoritarianism — only then will we be happy to cooperate with them fully.”Following Bookchin to the BookThat day (minus the pacifism) might not be far off. The PKK/KCK appear to be following Bookchin’s social ecology to the book (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy), with almost everything up to and including their contradictory participation in the state apparatus through elections, just as prescribed in the literature.As Joost Jongerden and Ahmed Akkaya write (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy), “Bookchin’s work differentiates between two ideas of politics, the Hellenic model and the Roman,” that is, direct and representative democracy. Bookchin sees his form of neo-anarchism as a practical revival of the ancient Athenian revolution. The “Athens model exists as a counter- and under-ground current, finding expression in the Paris Commune of 1871, the councils (soviets) in the spring-time of the revolution in Russia in 1917, and the Spanish Revolution in 1936.”Bookchin’s communalism contains a five-step approach:

Empowering existing municipalities through law in an attempt to localize decision-making power.
Democratize those municipalities through grassroots assemblies.
Unite municipalities “in regional networks and wider confederations … working to gradually replace nation-states with municipal confederations”, whilst insuring that “’higher’ levels of confederation have mainly coordinative and administrative functions.”
“Unite progressive social movements” to strengthen civil society and establish “a common focal point for all citizens’ initiatives and movements”: the assemblies. This cooperation is “not [perused] because we expect to see always a harmonious consensus, but — on the contrary — because we believe in disagreement and deliberation. Society develops through debate and conflict.” In addition, the assemblies are to be secular, “fight against religious influences on politics and government,” and an “arena for class struggle.”
In order to achieve their vision of a “classless society, based on collective political control over the socially important means of production,” the “municipalization of the economy,” and a “confederal allocation of resources to ensure balance between regions” is called for. In layman’s terms, this equates to a combination of worker self-management and participatory planning to meet social needs: classical anarchist economics.

As Eirik Eiglad, Bookchin’s former editor and KCK analyst, puts it (http://new-compass.net/articles/communalist-alternative-capitalist-modernity):
[I]Of particular importance is the need to combine the insights from progressive feminist and ecological movements together with new urban movements and citizens’ initiatives, as well as trade unions and local cooperatives and collectives … We believe that communalist ideas of an assembly-based democracy will contribute to making this progressive exchange of ideas possible on a more permanent basis, and with more direct political consequences. Still, communalism is not just a tactical way of uniting these radical movements. Our call for a municipal democracy is an attempt to bring reason and ethics to the forefront of public discussions.For Ícalan, democratic confederalism means (http://www.amazon.com/Democratic-Autonomy-North-Kurdistan-Liberation/dp/8293064269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384781139&sr=8-1&keywords=kurdistan%20democratic%20autonomy#reader_ 8293064269) a “democratic, ecological, gender-liberated society,” or simply “democracy without the state.” He explicitly contrasts “capitalist modernity” with “democratic modernity,” wherein the formers’ “three basic elements: capitalism, the nation-state, and industrialism” are replaced with a “democratic nation, communal economy, and ecological industry.” This entails “three projects: one for the democratic republic, one for democratic-confederalism and one for democratic autonomy.”The concept of the “democratic republic” essentially refers to attaining long denied citizenship and civil rights for Kurds, including the ability to speak and teach their own language freely. Democratic autonomy and democratic confederalism both refer to (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy) the “autonomous capacities of people, a more direct, less representative form of political structure.”Meanwhile, Jongerden and Akkaya note (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy) that “the free municipalism model aims to realize a bottom-up, participative administrative body, from local to provincial levels.” The “concept of the free citizen (ozgur yarttas) its starting point,” which “includes basic civil liberties, such as the freedom of speech and organization.” The core unit of the model is the neighborhood assembly or the “councils,” as they are referred to interchangeably.There is popular participation (http://new-compass.net/http:/new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism) in the councils, including from non-Kurdish people, and whilst neighbourhood assemblies are strong in various provinces, “in Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkish Kurdistan, there are assemblies almost everywhere.” Elsewhere, “in the provinces of Hakkari and Sirnak … there are two parallel authorities [the KCK and the state], of which the democratic confederal structure is more powerful in practice.” The KCK in Turkey (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy) “is organized at the levels of the village ([I]k÷y), urban neighbourhood (mahalle), district (ilše), city (kent), and the region (b÷lge), which is referred to as “northern Kurdistan.”The “highest” level of federation in northern Kurdistan, the DTK (Democratic Society Congress) is a mix of the rank-and-file delegated by their peers with recallable mandates, who make up 60 percent, and representatives from “more than five hundred civil society organizations, labor unions, and political parties,” who make up 40 percent (http://new-compass.net/http:/new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism), out of which approximately 6 percent (https://www.academia.edu/3983109/Democratic_Confederalism_as_a_Kurdish_Spring_the_P KK_and_the_quest_for_radical_democracy) is “reserved for representatives of religious minorities, academics, or others with a particular expertise.”The proportion of the 40 percent who are similarly delegated from directly democratic, non-statist civil society groups compared to those who are unelected or elected party bureaucrats is unclear. Overlap of individuals between independent Kurdish movements and Kurdish political parties, as well as the internalization of many aspects of the directly democratic procedure by these parties, further complicates the situation. The informal consensus (http://www.amazon.com/Democratic-Autonomy-North-Kurdistan-Liberation/dp/8293064269/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384781139&sr=8-1&keywords=kurdistan%20democratic%20autonomy#reader_ 8293064269) among witnesses, nevertheless, is that the majority of decision-making is directly democratic through one arrangement or other; that the majority of those decisions are made at the grassroots; and that the decisions are executed from the bottom-up in accordance with the federal structure.Because the assemblies and the DTK are coordinated by the illegal KCK, of which the PKK is a part, they are designated as “terrorists” (http://new-compass.net/http:/new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism) by Turkey and the so-called international community (the EU, United States and others), by association. The DTK also selects the candidates of the pro-Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) for the Turkish Parliament, which in turn proposes “democratic autonomy” for Turkey, in some type of a combination (http://new-compass.net/http:/new-compass.net/article/kurdish-communalism) of representative and direct democracy. In line with the federal model, it proposes the establishment of approximately 20 autonomous regions which would directly self-govern (in the anarchist and not the Swiss model) “education, health, culture, agriculture, industry, social services and security, women’s issues, youth and sports,” with the state continuing to conduct “foreign affairs, finance and defense.”

Continues here -

Sam Lord
24-02-2015, 08:34 PM
Is it true that the YPG has looked for an alliance with the US ? How would this sit with their socialist politics ?

What sort of alliance might you be talking about? Joining NATO?

If you mean would they take weapons from the US ... sure why wouldn't they?

C. Flower
24-02-2015, 08:38 PM
What sort of alliance might you be talking about? Joining NATO?

If you mean would they take weapons from the US ... sure why wouldn't they?

When did that ever work ?

Sam Lord
24-02-2015, 09:17 PM
When did that ever work ?

You have a great penchant for asking totally nebulous questions.

If they need weapons to accomplish certain objectives what does it matter where the weapons come from? It will work as long as the weapons work.

If you are suggesting that they will be beholden in some way by taking weapons this does not necessarily follow.

24-02-2015, 10:35 PM
Is it true that the YPG has looked for an alliance with the US ?

They might already have....
Quote. The attack targeted some 35 mostly Assyrian settlements near the Khabur river, a tributary of the Euphrates, after there had been heavy fighting in the area between Isis and the YPG, the Kurdish militia backed by the US-led coalition that beat back an advance on the border town of Kobani last month. unquote.

90 Christians kidnapped in the area recently..
Quote. Islamic State militants kidnapped 90 Christians in north-east Syria as the jihadis retreated in the face of a Kurdish counter-offensive, a monitoring group has said. unquote. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/24/isis-kidnaps-90-christians-in-syria

Sam Lord
11-03-2015, 10:19 AM
The Guardian is excited about a possible revival of Anarchism. (In an article under a photo of a communist volunteer :))


11-03-2015, 05:17 PM
I don't see how accepting weapons from anyone makes you beholden to them.

Think of all the crazies who have accepted weapons from America down the decades.

Not equating them with the Kurds but the same principle applies militarily it seems if you look at Iraq, Syria and others.

C. Flower
11-03-2015, 07:59 PM
I don't see how accepting weapons from anyone makes you beholden to them.

Think of all the crazies who have accepted weapons from America down the decades.

Not equating them with the Kurds but the same principle applies militarily it seems if you look at Iraq, Syria and others.

I think it is safe to assume that when NATO supplies weapons it is to people who are going to do what NATO wants.

The Kurds want a separate Kurdish State and this happens to coincide with US strategy for breaking up Iraq.

You can bet your bottom dollar that once such a state existed, if it tried running itself on socialist or anarchist lines, NATO would be pointing weapons at it, not arming it.