A Letter to ‘Rojavist’ Friends

A Letter to ‘Rojavist’ Friends

This letter is not addressed to those militants who surf the net from one movement or struggle to the next, according to the direction of the media, with the goal of constructing a party or an organisation. It is addressed to you, friends and comrades of different cities, with whom we often share positions, and whose critical sense and reflexion we appreciate, but nevertheless with whom we are sometime in disagreement.

Yet even then, during those early years of my apprenticeship in life and revolt, the rare news that reached us [from Russia] sometimes contained disturbing news.
Ngo Van

This letter is not addressed to those militants who surf the net from one movement or struggle to the next, according to the direction of the media, with the goal of constructing a party or an organisation. It is addressed to you, friends and comrades of different cities, with whom we often share positions, and whose critical sense and reflexion we appreciate, but nevertheless with whom we are sometime in disagreement .

In particular it is the case of Rojava to which we want to address ourselves. Unlike you, for the past year and a half we have had more than simple doubts about the use of the word ‘revolution’ to describe the situation that is happening in this region. Our doubts are concerned equally with the way in which this ‘process’ is presented and supported in the West.

The goal of this letter is not to be exhaustive on this question. Neither is it to ‘shut-down’ your positions or to try to convince you of the contrary — especially not by stringing together into a different reading sources and references you already have access to, nor by using examples of Russia 1917 and Spain 1936. Our goal here is to lay the foundation for a debate, and to avoid some readers enlisting in and enclosing themselves in a war of positions, which would be regrettable.

For us what seems to be in question is the way we perceive a particular movement or situation, and the manner in which we judge and treat them across differences in analysis and geographical distance — differences between discourse and concrete situations. Just as with our engagement in our immediate struggles (which are always partial and often reformist or defensive), our positions on struggles taking place thousands of kilometres away depend neither on a particular norm or of a sense of revolutionary ‘purity’, nor upon the application of pre-established models . Our goal is not to reject this or that movement because they do not appear radical enough, but rather to examine the contents, above all from the perspective of class relations.

The experience in Rojava should not be treated differently. Like all social situations in the capitalist world, this experience is also entangled in class contradictions. Although such situations may be difficult to measure, to know exactly who is involved and what the dynamics are, certain questions must be proposed: What are the transformations which are taking place? Where are the main contractions crystallising, and who are the main figures involved? What relations of power have been established? What contrast is there between discourses and genuine interests? Between our desire for revolution and the limits which they encounter? What about the proletariat? What is our vision of revolution? And etc.

Alone against everyone?

The ‘revolutionary experience’ of Rojava is often presented as being confronted by general hostility and threats from ‘fascist’ and imperialist armies of the region, if not from the entire planet.

Let’s remember first of all the agreement of non-aggression in 2012 which confirmed that the armed forces of Rojava and those of Damascus cohabited peacefully (except a few rare clashes) and even sometimes tactically collaborated (battle of Al-Hasakah in 2015, Aleppo and the Azaz corridor in 2016), in addition to the quasi co-administration of certain areas (Al-Hasakah or Al-Qamishli). An agreement which fed many debates and polemics.

In 2014, some militant revolutionaries protested in France so that Western military forces would provide air-force support and the supply of arms to the YPG . At this time they proposed to collect a few thousand euros in support of the YPG, notably for the purchasing of arms. Since then the United-States, followed by other states, has delivered them tonnes of arms and ammunition. The militant revolutionaries are aware of it, but reproach the West for not providing the YPG with heavy arms .

On the ground, the military campaign forming a territorial continuity between the cantons of Kobane and Jazira (October 2014 to June 2015) has demonstrated the close collaboration between the YPG and Western air forces (and inevitably also with US Special Forces on the ground). Thus in a political and military alliance (known as the SDF ) the YPG has surrounded themselves with several groups of armed Arabs whose libertarian character we can doubt.

The battles from February to March 2016 around the Afrin canton have demonstrated that there exists at the very least an operational coordination between the YPG, the Syrian Loyalist Army and the Russian air force. That being said, some rebel groups up until then allied with Al-Nusra (the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda) have on this occasion decided to join the SDF as well.

Given such alliances, a much larger territory has been taken under control in addition to greater population diversity. The ‘pragmatism’ of the Kurdish command is in no danger of being dropped.
With regards to their diplomatic agenda, the representatives (sic) of the YPG are regularly sent to Western countries with the goal of establishing new contacts. The days in which they were represented as totally isolated, as victims of their revolutionary position (despite their commander being received at the Élysée Palace) have passed. Their presence at the negotiations in Geneva was prevented by the efforts of Turkey, whilst Russia’s presence there was favourable. Since then the government of Rojava opened a diplomatic representation in Moscow in February [2016], which was the occasion of a lovely little celebration (ditto in Prague in April).

From a political, diplomatic and military point of view the leadership of the PYD /YPG (wooed as much by the United-States as by Russia) has known how to opportunistically play its cards right, that is to say, reinforce its political weight by obtaining military support and quasi-international recognition.

With respect to media support, it is very widespread and particularly positive. In France, the combatants of the YPG (and above all those of the YPJ ) are presented as models of courage, of feminism, and of democracy and tolerance. Such is the case with ‘Arte’ to ‘France 2’, passing by ‘LCP’. Likewise with the Radio, where from ‘Radio Libertaire’ to ‘Radio Courtoisie’ and ‘France Culture’ one hears the praises of the combatants of freedom.

It is logical that the PYD looks for support and that it takes advantage of communication services and efficient propaganda, but this nevertheless raises questions. Indeed the PYD presents itself to the world as the stronghold of democracy, a responsible collaborator, and a champion of the struggle against terrorism and Islamism. Is this a camouflage? Have the diplomats and soldiers of the imperialist countries been consciously swindled the whole way over these years? Has imperialism so little awareness of its interests that it tolerates, even supports in Kobane a ‘revolutionary process’ in the making, with direct democracy, ‘equality of the sexes’, ‘self-management’ of resources, etc. — all the things that they evidently forbid in London, Paris or Chicago? Is there no other choice for the West?

What about the War?

The resistance of the Kurds in the ruins of Kobane has touched the planet and brought about a wave of international support. As a result, the YPG has achieved - thanks to the US and Russian air forces – a long series of victorious offensives, permitting Kurdish control over a vast territory.

Enthusiastic fighting or political will? The YPG cannot escape the general criticism that one can make of any army on a campaign: villages raised to the ground, populations displaced, Arab homes torched, unpopular police, conscription, youth without legal identity papers forcibly sent to the barracks for military service, etc. The Syrian organizations opposed to the PYD (sometimes Kurds themselves, and generally members of the SNC ) regularly denounce these abuses and errors. Indeed international human rights organizations have confirmed some of these abuses but recognize that amongst the belligerents of the region it is the Kurdish militants least of all that we can reproach for these kinds of actions. With respect to the authorities of Rojava, they recognize a part of these ‘abuses’ or ‘flaws’ and have promised or put in to place inquiries and corrections (for example, on the enrolment of child soldiers) with the goal of responding to Western standards of democracy, human rights and the conduct of war. Incidentally, the creation of a ‘genuine’ army has recently been announced (the Autonomous Protection Forces, APF).

It is difficult for us to see in these ‘misbehaviours’ the work of proletarians confronting the difficulties of concrete struggle… it is rather the necessities of war which explain the ‘errors’ of the YPG combatants.

Nationalism?

The present situation in Syrian Kurdistan finds its origins in the defeat of the Syrian revolts in 2011, in the evolution of a regional situation marked by military chaos, and in the dynamics of the Kurdish Nationalist Parties (both in their specific interests and in contradictory alliances). The PYD, a Kurdish organization, is the political force which has imposed itself in this zone. Its discourse is not that of the nationalism of former times, that of the PKK . In reality the vocabulary has changed. The cadres and militants of the PYD-PYG do not seem to be very aware because their remarks are still tinged with Kurdish patriotism, boasting about the special qualities of their ‘people’ to the ‘millennial’ culture — rebellious ‘by nature’, etc.

The fact is that the question of the people and of Kurdish identity (their language, culture, history, customs etc.) remains inseparable from the political project of Rojava. Much like its territory, Kurdistan — that is, the zones defined as having been at some stage populated by a majority of Kurds. And even if the Kurdish leaders are very insistent about the protection of ethnic and religious minorities (in speech and in their Social Contract ), they do this as representatives of the majority.

The project of the PYD is thus presented on the one hand as not specifically Kurdish and on the other as being applicable to both Syria or to the Middle East together. Incidentally the YPG has conquered zones around the cantons of Kobane and Jazira, where Kurds are the minority. Nevertheless tensions between the Arab population and militant Kurds still remain.

This territorial expansion, in addition to the necessity of recruitment, of war and of propaganda, explains why the YPG has integrated Arabs into their ranks, fostered the creation of ethnic unities or specific religious groups (Syriac speaking, Yazidis) and why they have allied themselves since October 2015 with Arab militia (in the heart of the SDF).

Authority and Democracy

We will note in passing that the PYD (the Syrian branch of the PKK) was once known for its authoritarian character, but this has apparently changed. For the moment let’s accept this. However it should be noted that this type of organization, which would normally suffer the attacks of anti-authoritarians, has in fact benefited from a strange goodwill. Perhaps it is because the PYD has announced its desire to challenge the power of the state and to assist in a sort of modernization of the old theory of the ‘withering away of the state’ [dépérissement de l’État ], of its police and its army.

As the PYD itself argues, the organization is in the process of constructing in Rojava a political and administrative autonomous region whose philosophical inspiration is derived from the works of Murray Bookchin, and whose juridical inspiration is found in the international treaties of civil and political rights. This structure would ultimately aim to overlap with the Syrian state, which would recognise the legitimacy and integrity of its borders.

In fact this is what is proclaimed in the Social Contract and by the leaders of Rojava, that which the major powers are discussing, and which seems to be concretely taking shape. Since 2012-2013 the Rojava administration has been strengthening and normalizing itself, its justice system and police, and perfecting its training and army (notably in the most protected cantons up till now, Jazira and Afrin), thus assuming a number of responsibilities which up till now were reserved for the Syrian state.

Nevertheless, one should note that in the case of a definitive rupture with Syria or the declaration of independence, the administrative structure put in place in Rojava would be almost completely that of a state (what would be missing of course is monetary sovereignty).

Evidently, Rojava is not simply just that. The word ‘revolution’ or at least the adjective ‘revolutionary’ has often been uttered and tapped out on keyboards in order to describe what is currently unfolding, and whose basis is twofold:

• On the one hand what we are dealing with is a popular movement of revolt, of resistance, of self-defence and of survival in a situation of war.
• On the other hand there is the implementation of the project of the PYD, which in theory combines centralized power (based on Western democratic models) with local self-organization of daily affairs.
• The question remains as to how these two projects link together, and what this corresponds to — concretely on the ground .

There has been no shortage of Western visitors with lively testimonies later appearing in militant newspapers and blogs. One can see generally described there:

• A friendly and warm atmosphere with lots of details, and spontaneous discussions in full freedom (rare things in this world).
• Little about the economy, other than that the disruption of capitalist social relations has been postponed, and that private property has been sanctified by the Social Contract. At best, a handful of agricultural cooperatives are alluded to .
• The information on the democratic functioning of Rojava, such as it can be read on Wikipedia: almost nothing, just one or two modest examples of the actual functioning of hundreds or thousands of popular assemblies supposedly covering the country (in the villages and the suburbs). But let’s put it simply: if in a given district the inhabitants meet up each week to discuss and decide to create a collective vegetable garden, or to repair a street or construct a meeting space, and can find the financial support within a comprehensive municipal administration, this is very great thing for them. Let us note however that it is not in this manner that political, diplomatic and military decisions are made.
• The inauguration of a formal equality between men and women. The fact that women participate in discussion and in combat would be a shock and would lead to inevitable modifications in the social relations between sexes. Here as well we can ask ourselves what the real scope of this phenomenon is beyond the propaganda (particularly strong on this question), from which large sections of society seem to escape. Ditto on the perhaps caricatured vision of the situation of Kurdish women in Syria before 2012.

It would be particularly surprising if the PYD or the administrative organization of Rojava were to organize their own disappearance in favour of an assembly of popular assemblies, considering that the dynamic of an organization is above all to insure its own survival, role and power.

If in the end a democratic regime is in place in this region, drawing its inspiration from Western models but with a dose of local consultative assemblies, it would be a great innovation for the region, and a much lesser evil for its inhabitants. The PYD would be without doubt hegemonic for a long time in the region, but in time things could change. Is this a pessimistic or and optimistic vision?

Tomorrow?

We hear of a popular dynamic, admittedly paralyzed by war, but nevertheless one that could reappear again, later. We are told that it is necessary to remain hopeful and above all to believe that humanity (or the proletariat) will emancipate itself by making war first and only afterwards the revolution. This seems crazy to us. This is the choice allegedly made by the PYD, and which corresponds to the old ‘revolutionary’ schema (the classical transition phase that is limited to a ‘political revolution’).

We do not believe that the revolution (this great upheaval that will abolish class society) can follow from a list of strategic choices to be made in the correct order. We don’t know what the revolution will be like, but without denying its likely violent character, permit us an affirmation: the revolution will not be a military confrontation, a series of victories of the proletarian army (postponing till tomorrow the radical transformations of society) over those of the capitalists. Revolution is not war. And if occasionally periods of war can lead to political destabilization — generating tensions and social decomposition — it is on the contrary no longer the case here.

It does not seem to us suitable to use the word ‘revolution’ to describe the situation in Rojava, unless you use the fashionable and accepted sense of the word, emptied of meaning and rendered innocuous. Not ‘revolutionary process’ either, even if it is only ‘potential’… because why would there be more potential here than in China or Algeria? In Rojava it is war that dominates — a popular war if you want — but war all the same.

We are thus faced with the question of support . Who are we to support? (Beyond a supposed millennial ‘people’, exempt from class division and by its very nature revolutionary?).

Are we to support the ‘movement’? The ‘struggle’? The ‘proletariat? How does this translate itself concretely? The most pertinent thing would be, as in most cases, to struggle locally against our own bourgeoisie — but we already know what this is all about. Thus, beyond the symbolic, what solidarity is possible from 4,000 km away?

So far the most involved and enthusiastic revolutionary militants have above all praised the merits and actions of the YPG-YPJ , the armed branch of the PYD (even occasionally omitting the acronyms). If there has been support, hardly critical and above all financial, it is to this organization that it has gone (or eventually to the structures which it controls). And it is here that we believe there is a major concern .

This party which dominates the political scene of the region and pretends to represent the interests of the Kurdish ‘people’ is the force which is currently structuring the society. Thus it would be completely illusory to hope to support one radical tendency against another moderate one in the heart of the PYD. It would be equally illusory to support a regime in the hope that autonomous proletarian action would overwhelm it.

As you know, or as you have understood — and to say it bluntly: we think that the administration which is being put in place today in northern Syria guarantees in this zone the tasks of a failing state, preserving from chaos the foundations of capitalist society (value, wage labour, classes, private property, production). And tomorrow, from the bases negotiated between Rojava and the United-States, this society will assure order, and will manage the population and classes. As progressive as such a society may be, it is surely this administration which will thus be confronting Kurdish and Arab proletarians. The forces which will repress them will be the Asayish , and if necessary the YPG.

On this perhaps abrupt ending, but in expectation of your responses, we send our kind regards.

T.K.G.V.
tkgv@riseup.net

Translated by Pete Dunn with help from Anthony Hayes, August 2016

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Comments

loveletters
Aug 13 2016 17:00

I'd very much like to hear answers from 'Rojavist friends' to the question 'what does support for a movement 4000km away look like' other than donations or symbolic demonstrations. Symbolic demonstrations can have real practical effect, but they would generally have to be on a scale far surpassing anything rojava solidarity campaigns are now capable of -- something on the level of the international anti-apartheid movement. Given that Rojava is VERY far from the easy good/evil binary people could mobilise against systematic racism in South Africa and the Ghandi-like pseudo-pacifist fairytale that generated such saintly approval of Mandela, such an eventuality seems unlikely to say the least.

So what, practically speaking, is the point of talking about events from afar, if not to propagate a practical discussion on the abolition of capitalism, the state and patriarchy that would have to by nature involve 'a ruthless critique of everything that exists' (including everything that calls itself revolutionary) -- precisely the type of discussion that Rojava friends seem so to resent as dogmatic/defeatist/outdated[!]/abstract (insert pejorative of choice)?

Devrim
Aug 15 2016 07:32

I'm not a supporter of nationalist movements, but I think I can answer the last posters question of what does it mean to support someone from afar.

I don't think that the fundraising that lefty groups might do means very much in itself to the PKK. The PKK is a massive organisation, which could probably buy and sell most of these lefty groups. It is important though as it raises awaresness in these countries. What the PKK wants is for people to put pressure on their governments to have the PKK taken off various lists of prescribed organisations. If you listen to want they say, they are quite clear about what they want.

Devrim

baboon
Aug 19 2016 12:28

The Times reports yesterday that the US allies of the YPG have taken the Arab town of Manbij from Isis and that this area is now to be incorporated into the Kurd's de facto autonomous area in northern Syria close to the Turkish border. Despite US State Department fictions or grossly exaggerated statements about "joint Arab and Kurdish forces" of a "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF) this is a further twist to the ethnic cleansing of Arab areas and their absorption into the Kurdish administration. The report quotes a spokesman for the YPG, Colonel Talal Sello, as saying that "YPG forces don't exist in that area" but the paper reports that a local council has been set up and Kurdish commanders have appeared on TV saying that the area will be 'absorbed'. Sectarian divisions are likely to increase within whatever Kurdish?Sunni alliance there is and not only will Turkey be alarmed but so too will be Iraq and Iran.

On other developments in the war, Syrian fighter bombers have hit Kurdish positions in Hasaka and Damascus received a visit from the Chinese military at the weekend promising more co-operation (Chinese "advisors" are already in the area backing Assad's forces) meaning that the war is only expanding.

Flint
Aug 28 2016 05:44

Manbij is a mixed city.

Quote:
"The residents of Manbij are ethnically diverse, including Kurds, Arabs and Circassians, and many practice Naqshbandi Sufism... Owing to the tribal and ethnically mixed population and social structure, the milieu in which Manbijis grow up is substantially more diverse and open than one might expect in a peripheral Sunni city."

The Struggle for Syria's Regions, Kheder Khaddour, Kevin Mazur, MER269, Winter 2013

SDF is a mixed force. Kurdish super-majority, yes. The Arab component has grown considerably. The Syriac component has remained about the same (and thus is a smaller part now overall). The number thrown around now is 30% of SDF is Arab.

As to a Kurdish/Sunni alliance... most Kurds are Sunni. Most Kurds in Syria are Sunni. What you probably mean is a Kurdish/Arab alliance that you are skeptical of, and that you are skeptical of Arabs being involved.

Talal Sello is actually a Turkman. He is the primary spokesperson for the SDF.

There are Kurds in other military organizations that participate in SDF. Jabhat al-Krad is part of Jaysh al-Thuwar. That said, there were YPG and probably YPJ in the Manbij campaign. There are probably still some there.

The NDF (Assad loyalist militia) did get in a fight with Asayis (TEV-DEM's Kurdish and Arab security). It escalated. Syrian airforce conducted some airstrikes in Hasakah neighborhoods. The nearby Syrian army artillery base shelled Hasakah neighborhoods. The YPG also got involved.

The NDF was largely routed in the city. There was a ceasefire. The Assad regime agreed to disband the NDF in Hasakah and gave most of what they controlled in the city to Asayis/YPG. The Assad regime retained a few blocks that included the Goveronate Palace, the Baath HQ and some parks. It largely seems like a face saving gesture. The Assad regime is done in Hasakah.

Turkey's Armed Forces (Türk Silahlı Kuvvetleri / TSK ) has invaded northern Syria in northern Aleppo, taking the Jarabulus with minimal resistance from Daesh. Operations is called "Fırat Kalkanı"--Euphrates Shield. The TSK presence is said to consist of 20 tanks and 350 soldiers, and thousands of rebels who depending on who you talk to are Free Syrian Army, Sultan Murad, Ahrar al-Sham, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, etc... some even go so far as to say it includes some rebranded Jabhat al-Nusra (Jabhat Fath Al Sham) or even that Daesh folks have joined up. Idea is that these folks came from either the Azaz pocket or even Idlib transporting through Turkey's territory. The incursion is also aided by artillery and airstrikes.

The resistance to the TSK incursion is lead by the Al-Jadir Family. Its named after Yussuf al-Jadir (alias Abu Furat), a FSA commander, killed in 2012. They were previously called "Furat Jarabulus" and were FSA rebels. They have six batallions called Min Katibat Fursan Jirabls, al-Shshahid Zaki Jadir, Maeid al-Jadir, Jamieat al-Jadiri, Shuhada' Jawadir Wakatibat Dire al-Furat. They joined SDF about seven months ago, but their relationship goes back farther. When Daesh took over Jarabulus, they expelled them. They relocated to Kobane. They helped defend Kobane during the Daesh seige. They were part of Burkan al-Furat (Euphrates Volcaon) as Saraya Jarabulus. They were then part of the Tel Abyad campaign, then Manbij campaign.

Video of al-Shshahid joining Furat Jarabulus

They recently destroyed two tanks that were part of the TSK incursion were destroyed by rocket attack by Al-Jadir / Jarabulus Military Council. Right now, the fighting is mostly around Ayn al-Bayda and Amarnah, south of Jarabulus near the west bank of the Euphrates. There is video of one of the tanks being destroyed that is easy to find on the internet but I won't share here--the video has people cheering in Kurdish in it.

Al-Jadir is being reinforced by Liwa al-Seljukiya, Kataeb Shams al-Shamal and Jaysh al-Thuwar.

Some more on Family of Jadir (from not a PYD or SDF source) and then there involvement in Kobane.

Speech from Yussuf al-Jadir/Abu Furat against sectaraianism:

Quote:
We want to send a message to the regime, Bashar al-Assad. This man is our brother. This man is a Alawite. I lived in Lattakia for 22 years. Why did you plunge your own sect in a battle for you and try to make them hate Sunnis? Why? Don’t you think about how we are going to live together? Well, despite you, we are going to live together. I know Alawites are a generous and nice people. Many of them are poor too. And you use these people to achieve your own malicious goals. And these are the children of villages. Bread probably takes a year to finally make its way to their villages. They are poor, they don’t have food, they don’t have bread, if one of them gets sick, they will die because they can’t afford medicine.

But I want to ask from you my Alawite brothers–and you know me, I have sat among you and drank matté with you before–be careful: We are not your enemies, we are your brothers, we are participants in the nation, and we lived together. And Saleh al-Ali (anti-colonial Syrian Alawi leader during French colonialism) refused to work under the French flag, and refused to separate into a Alawi state, just like his sons and grandsons will also refuse such a thing. The plans have been exposed, and our Alawite brothers will come back to us, for we are the same.”

Remembering Abu Fura, December 15, 2012, Darth Nader

More on Jadir

Daesh destroyed his tombstone

A couple photos from a protest in Deir Jamal where residents call for SDF to libeate the area. That banner on the left side with the three hands is from the Al-Bab Council. The yellow flags are SDF flags.

At the end of July 2012, Rebels controlled Deir Jamal. January 2014, the town was controlled Daesh. Then Jabhat al-Akrad and YPG took control. Then 12/1/2015: the Mare Operations Room (rebels) took control. Then 2/8/2016 the SDF/YPG/JAT took it back. It's a mixed Arab-Kurdish town.

Now that the U.S. seems to have condoned Turkey's incursion and ordered either the YPG (or the SDF) to go back across the Euphrates, perhaps baboon can call SDF's opinion of its own ethnic demographics as as SDF/PYG/PYD/YPG/PKK/Kurdish fictions or grossly exaggerated statements instead of U.S. State Department's fictions or grossly exaggerated statements.

Only an idiot would think that this incursion by the TSK is actually to fight Daesh. The target is the SDF and will be part of plan to stop them from moving on al-Bab and connecting the Rojava cantons into a contiguous territory and the SDF sealing the border between Turkey and Aleppo city. There are dozens of mainstream articles that state this and these objectives are openly talked about in the press in Turkey as well.

Even before the Euphrates Shield operation started, TSK artillery were shelling SDF positions in northern Manbij.

The SDF strategy seems to be to slow the Euphrates Shield advance along the Sajur river. Beyond that? We may see SDF rush towards al-Bab. SDF is only 18 KM east of Al-Bab. Unlike Manbij which is an ethnically mixed city, al-Bab is an Arab city (though the surrounding al-Shahbaa countryside has a large number of Kurdish villages). (Izady maps show where ethnic group has a larger % than the country's average for that group, so that highlights ethnic minorities where they may not be majorities)

In October and November 2013, the YPG and Jabhat al-Krad controlled much of the Northern Aleppo area north of al-Bab and Manbij that Turkey has always wanted for its "Safe Zone" to shove refugees into. That's the area that the TSK and its allies are now trying to invade.

The SDF may just dig in to Manbij. There has been increasing mobilization across the Rojava cantons for a TSK invasion.

---

Do folks on Libcom want this sort of content posted here by me?

bakuninja
Aug 28 2016 10:45

Hi Flint, thanks for interesting updates. Please keep posting

Khawaga
Aug 28 2016 14:33

Yes, please keep posting such analyses!

baboon
Aug 28 2016 16:40

“Now that the U.S. seems to have condoned Turkey's incursion and ordered either the YPG (or the SDF) to go back across the Euphrates, perhaps baboon can call SDF's opinion of its own ethnic demographics as as SDF/PYG/PYD/YPG/PKK/Kurdish fictions or grossly exaggerated statements instead of U.S. State Department's fictions or grossly exaggerated statements.”
I don’t understand what this means. I know that Flint is some sort or spokesperson, supporter and advocate of Kurdish nationalism and a “revolution” made in some areas by some elements, but I don’t understand the meaning of the quote above (I only raise this because it seems to refer to me).

What is “exemplary” about this whole imperialist war in and around Syria at the moment is the number of competing factions and elements that are at each other throats and that’s just on the Kurdish side. It is the hallmark of the situation that the elements of Kurdish nationalism should be in military and political opposition one against the other, which quite simply and effectively reflects the overall imperialist free-for-all which is taking place here along with its component parts. Mutual suspicion, intimidation, harassment, kidnapping imprisonments and military rivalries are historical and present factors in inter-Kurdish “relations”. No wonder the bigger powers are always able to manipulate and use these elements as proxies and cannon-fodder for their wider imperialist aims. And every time the Kurds play into them.

The Times (yesterday) reports that 3000 Rojava peshmergas are stranded in northern Iraq because of a feud between competing Kurdish forces on either side of the Iraqi/Syrian border. The YPG, regarded by many as the most reliable allies of the US (how long before they get stitched up?) appear to be disputing the Kurdish chain of command for their own military strategies.

In the byzantine world of Kurdish politics, the Rojava peshmergas, who were trained by the west and regularly fight under US, British and French “advisers” and special forces appear to be at odds with the YPG. In similar tragic circumstances of division and factional oppositions within a major imperialist war, a civil war broke out between the Kurds in the 1990’s in Iraq. Any talk of a proletarian “revolution” and its defence here is a complete mockery of the working class and its fundamental opposition to ethnic divisions and imperialist war..

Flint
Aug 28 2016 19:01

If you think the YPG and the "Rojava Peshmerga" (KDPS/Barzani) a part of some shared "Kurdish Command", you have no idea what you are fucking talking about and should just stop.

baboon
Aug 29 2016 17:04

No. They are competing factions in an imperialist war.

dubvictim666
Aug 31 2016 22:56

I as well do not really believe in this "revolution", having done my homework regarding the Paris Commune, Russia 1917 and Spain 1936, taught me enough to filter news. I had a "dispute" with Workers Solidarity Movement Ireland some weeks ago, a few days ago, they posted this raport at the bottom. I find it rather disturbing, the PKK, infiltrating social centers in Europe for gathering funds, their discourse, at least the one i have heard in Amsterdam, being "our boss turned anarchist, we want no state(hmmm..), look at this women fighters, democracy!, ecology!". I asked him where is the anti-capitalism in all this and he turned evasive. Private property is the root of all evil. Great presentation about the situation made by WSM Ireland, still I think that in a not that diatant future, less and less people are going to call this movement revolutionary.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1493527970673011&id=132000150159140

baboon
Sep 2 2016 15:17

There are now around half-a-dozen wars and several major insurgencies in and around the Middle East with imperialist fault lines aggravated further afield, along the Caucasus for example. The war in Syria alone has been described by one senior diplomat as "a nine-sided chess game with no rules". The military escalation from post-coup Turkey adds another serious and dangerous dimension to the war threatening further destabilisation (to Turkey also) in an increasingly chaotic free-for-all, not least raising the possibility of a wider confrontation between Turkish and US forces. In fact the latter is already taking place between Turkish and US-backed Kurdish proxies. The appearance of a de-facto Kurdish state on the Turkish/Syrian border poses the question of Turkey greatly escalating the war including its current policy of "scorched-earth" against certain Kurdish areas and major problems for the US in the region.

China, which has quietly been building up its presence in Lebanon for some time now has progressively entered the Syrian war hoping to put further spanners in the increasingly fragile US military works.

Flint's posts remind me of an armchair general with posts and maps of battlegrounds and troop deployments that are only temporary snapshots of the unfolding war, mainly out of date as soon as they are posted. His front-line communiques of the manoeuvres and movements of the witting and unwitting Kurdish cannon fodder that he supports contains, as far as I can see, very little if any, analysis of the situation but are limited and partial.

The Kurdish factor within all this is, as always, a limited factor, limited by the major powers and internicine in itself, in the whole morass of war. The narrow perspective of Flint comes from his cheerleading of a non-existent "revolution" from one small but important element that is overwhelmed by and a component of the generalised imperialist war that is engulfing the Middle East and its peoples.

Flint
Sep 6 2016 18:48
Quote:
Flint's posts remind me of an armchair general... The narrow perspective of Flint comes from his cheerleading of a non-existent "revolution"

Piss off baboon. Not my fault you don't want to discuss TEV-DEM cooperatives or feminsim.

Try not to make this about me. You'll be more convincing.

baboon
Sep 8 2016 20:09

A short point on a fundamental question:

Can a genuine proletarian revolution emerge from an imperialist conflagration?
It’s probably not the best conditions but, undoubtedly, yes – the Paris Commune and, to a greater extent and depth, 1905 and 1917. More than that, albeit for a brief period, this latter revolution stopped an imperialist war more or less in its tracks and was able to threaten the very basis of capitalist society.

The “revolution” in Rojava is not a revolution at all nor is it any sort of independent expression of the working class. It’s based on some sort of nouveau-stalinism which is perfectly compatible with the militarisation of society. It’s based on a particular ethnicity, nationalism and mobilisation for and participation in an imperialist war.

The difference between the two is a class difference.

Marx-Trek
Oct 9 2016 19:51

The Letter seems very dated by the questions it is asking and I find some of the concerns listed within the letter to have already been discussed at length on about two or three different threads here on Libcom. The Letter is pretty repetitive of the previous discussions and questions concerning Rojava/PYD/YPG(J)/PKK and its relationship to local groups, nation-states, and geopolitical happenings in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and the larger area known as Kurdistan. The Letter appears to do what it set out not to do, instead of discussing the "proletariat's" relation to the political and economic structures that are being created in Rojava, as stated to be the intent, the Letter re-lists the theoretical-political-idealistic issues concerning Rojava and asks for answers to the same old questions. The answers are out there.

There are plenty of resources, reports, and books out there that addressed these questions and concerns and I again recommend looking at those sources in order to get a more updated and nuanced understanding of what has happened and is happening in Rojava and throughout Kurdistan. At this point, as a way of qualifying myself to comment, I do not agree with everything happening and developing in Rojava, in the same way that I do not always agree with what is happening or has happened within Western-leftist movements, and this gut response is also problematic, yet seems required to be stated and restated.

Some of the more theoretical and idealistic concerns of what is happening in Rojava, again, has already been discussed at length on various threads on Libcom and some issues have been dealt with from within. And so here we go again, old critiques of behaviors and directives being opposed and supported, the very polemic we were not supposed to fall into.

Conscription has been discussed, critiqued, and seems to have already been dealt with by PYD and the YPG(J) on its own, it has been stated that people within the Cizire Canton have a right to refuse service by being conscientious objectors.

As stated by the Cizire Assembly,

Quote:
In Rojava, where a many years-long struggle is being waged against ISIS, the government of the Cizre canton has recognized the right of conscientious objection – reports an article from IMC.

According to Welat News, a new decision passed by the Cizire Canton General Executive Assembly has recognized the right to conscientious objection.

Last year a Monthly Mandatory Military Service Law went into effect which conscripted people between the ages of 21-30 for short periods.

However the Cizire canton has removed this provision and recognized the right of people to conscientious objection.

(source: The Rojava Report, https://rojavareport.wordpress.com/2016/04/20/right-of-conscientious-objection-recognized-in-rojava/)

The raising of ethnic minority villages and claims of forced displacement has also already been discussed at length on various threads on Libcom and interesting accounts can be readily found. First hand accounts, reporting, and many back and forth discussions have already taken place concerning these issues by Rojava combatants having or not having committed such acts.

Concerning both conscription and ethnically motivated actions are very interesting issues and such accusations are concerning. It seems that within this talking points manner of discussing Rojava, we either fall on the side of ignoring the accusations or repeatedly bring it to the forefront. Whether you find evidence of such actions convincing and damning seems to be a conclusion based on what is found and where it is found on the internet. Again these issues have been discussed at length. I find it interesting that the need to have these same questions and issues discussed at length over and over again, in a very similar manner without a new angle, appears to be so exciting.

Class composition, re-composition, and class organizing in Rojava is a very interesting discussion to have and it is really interesting to read the reports, interviews, and discuss the available information coming from Rojava concerning the people's relation to things like "economic development" and the creation of daily life as it relates to "work," "value," and the creation of something claimed to be something stuck between capitalism and the future. Again, there is plenty of material to read in regards to the Rojava "economy" and how people within the Canton relate to their economic and material daily realities.

I hate being a hater, but it seems that this Letter failed in its attempt. And instead of having the discussion that seems to be wanted to be had, the Letter, questions, and the answers leaves us all in the same entrenched positions as before writing the Letter and answering the Letter.

I end with some questions myself.

After having read the information available on the economic conditions and class dynamics that are ongoing in Rojava, what is similar and what can be differentiated from Western attempts to organize against capitalist class relations that are created and re-created in Rojava?

What can we learn from class dynamics, class organizing, and class activity for itself and in service of the material and economic needs of the Rojavan "society?"

What do the attempts at class organizing against the creation of exchange-value within Rojava look like?

What are the economic contradictions as experienced by the people of Rojava in relation to creating the Rojava Revolution?

Are the class activities of the people in Rojava similar or even relateable to current class organizing activities happening in Europe and the United States?

Is it possible to critique the ongoing class activities in Rojava without falling into eurocentism, what does that look like, and is there a difference between how "we" critique Rojava and "ourselves"?

Can critique of Rojava's political-economy be possible without demanding the impossible - utopia (and what does that look like)?

Guerre de Classe
Dec 6 2016 17:09

Here is Tridni valka's critical presentation of this text as published in the bulletin #5:

Quote:
After reading the second text presented here, “A Letter to ‘Rojavist’ Friends”, some will say that it brings nothing new to the debate. It is possible. But from our point of view it represents an excellent summary of the so far developed argumentation. Published in May 2016 under the name TKGV it attracted our attention for its clear reasoning and well-structured critical point of view to the currently so fashionable support to the “autonomous region of Rojava”. As we share the positions developed in it and as it is neither the first critical text about this issue we publish, nor the first introduction we write on it, there is probably no need to explain our posture further. We refer our readers to older posts on our blog that will give them a more complex idea about the problematic.

Instead of that we would like to put into question two points from the text, two themes connected with the “Rojava question” but more general and therefore in some way more important.

The first one concerns the “Rojavist friends”, that is to say those to whom the letter is addressed. The authors presuppose that there are some groups or militants in the revolutionary movement that are mistaken about the question of Rojava, while on other questions their positions remain communist/anarchist.

Well, that is not exactly what we can see around us. In reality most of those groups or individuals who back Rojava are neither badly informed nor mistaken in evaluation of this particular question. On the contrary, their support to Rojava follows the logic of their positions as a whole. It is their lack of understanding of the essential matters of the revolutionary movement – what is capital and state and therefore what is the goal of the revolution - that makes them supporting the Rojava project.

In the ideological corpus of most of those “Rojavist friends” (the few exceptions will excuse us) the state is at best an equivalent of a modern national state rather than the way how the capital organize itself as a force what obviously allows them to describe Rojava as a non-state. The democracy is associated with a way how the “people” can participate to the decision making (and therefore the problem is that our society is “not democratic enough”) rather than to a way how the capital makes us alienated to ourselves through a false community of citizens what allows the Rojava supporters to admire the “participative democracy” as a model for the future society. And we could continue on and on...

The second point we would like to put forward is the authors’ remark that “there is not just revolution in life” and that there would be some cases escaping the logic of the communist understanding of the world, some events where we can do only a citizen choice between “bad” and “lesser bad”, where we have to accept the logic of capital, to participate on its game on one or another side.

Comrades, what cases are you talking about? Let’s not fool ourselves! As capital controls a totality of our lives– starting the way we earn means of living up to intimate relationship – there is nothing where we could escape the double role we play in its game – the role of its slaves condemned to feed its damned profit with our flesh and our blood on one hand but one the other hand its gravediggers, those who will destroy it through abolition of wage labour and establishing a real human community.

As individuals, proletarians, workers as well as a group we are indeed confronted with situations, in local or international struggles that are sometimes labelled ecologist, unionist, humanitarian or whatever else where we ask ourselves how to act, to position us, who or what is to be supported, what is to be done? And however our reply may vary in concrete details according to this or that particular case, the essence is always the same. It is neither the poor, nor the oppressed or proletarians as such on which side we are. We always stand by the communist tendency, however weak, confused, hidden or untold its expression can be in this or that struggle, we try to support it, to develop it, to push it into its final consequences... Wherever the proletarians struggle for better living conditions, for diminution of exploitation, wherever they try to put forward their real demands and to get organize outside and against the structures of capital...

Source: https://www.autistici.org/tridnivalka/class-war-052016-on-the-margins-of-fidel-castros-death/