Anarchists join fight against IS to defend Kurdish autonomous areas

Taken from a report by the French Anarchist weekly paper Alternative Revolutionaire this short article gives a taste of developements on the ground in the fight against Islamic State.

Submitted by Glimmer on October 3, 2014

On Friday 26th September Alternative Libetaire reported that "Istanbul anarchists along other leftists and feminists, have managed to cross over into Syria and the northern town of Kobane which is currently threatened by ISIS.”

“For several days at the Syrian-Turkish border, the city of Kobanê is besieged by forces of the Islamic State (Daesh). Kobanê is a strategic turning point. If the city falls, the whole of Syrian Kurdistan is threatened, and with it a political and social model, that of "democratic autonomy" and "democratic confederalism" built since July 2012.

More than 100,000 inhabitants and residents have become refugees on Turkish territory.
The city is defended by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), militias linked to the PKK, and in which alongside the majority of Kurdish fighters, are also Arabs, Turks, Muslims, Yazidis, Christians or atheists, united against the fanatics of Daesh/ISIS.

Thousands of young people, socialists, trade unionists, revolutionaries, feminists, libertarians have poured in from all over Turkey to Kobanê. They go there to support the refugees and defend the city.
The Turkish army tries to disperse them, yet is accused of being much more permissive with the jihadists who are also trying to cross the border to join Daesh/ISIS

Despite the blockades of the Turkish army, hundreds of activists and militants have managed to cross the border. Among them, the comrades of the Revolutionary Anarchist Action Group, who made the trip to Istanbul to join the defence of Kobanê.

Comments

kurekmurek

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on October 29, 2014

Marx-Trek:

Yeah Rojava Report is good. I guess it is made by some supportive but independent people (otherwise it would not be a word press) Anyway, ı bookmarked it. I read the article in Turkish. I am glad they translated it into English.

I think the TEV-DEM is group of (kurdish) parties who agree on democratic autonomy in Syrian Kurdistan. (I think total of 6 parties). Duhok agreement is very new. Constitution was old. Duhok agreement is agreement between TEV-DEM and Barzani. However effectively this means agreement of PYD (as main supporter of TEV-DEM) and KNP (ENKS Barzani's party, it is also the second biggest party in Syrian Kurdistan) . And if I understood correctly it is an agreement on the basis of TEV-DEM's demands to include KNP opposition (who formerly rejected to be part of communes, democratic self-assembly etc.) into a consultative assembly. This further means KNP will now have to be part of democratic autonomy and recognize their legitimacy in full.) (See the second article of agreement)

Entdinglichung

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Entdinglichung on October 29, 2014

kurremkarmerruk

KNP (ENKS Barzani's party, it is also the second biggest party in Syrian Kurdistan)

not a party but a coalition of up to 15 parties of which the KDP-S (which is close to Barzani) is the most important

kurekmurek

9 years 7 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on October 29, 2014

You are right. ENKS is a coalition. KDP is a party and it is most dominant in the coalition.

klas batalo

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on October 29, 2014

Marx-Trek

TEV-DEM is the collection of political representatives who agreed on the Duhok Agreement (which is basically or is the same thing as the Rojava Constitution right?) I got a little mixed up on words and names meaning the same thing.

no tev dem is the democratic movement of councils and committees below the DSA (a sort of parliament) the DSA is what created the Social Contract/Constitution. the Duhok Agreement is outside of all of that and is an agreement made between Tev Dem and Iraqi Kurds forces.

klas batalo

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on October 29, 2014

kurremkarmerruk, thanks for sharing that report btw!

Spikymike

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on October 29, 2014

I don't deny the basic humanitarian responses of anarchists and others in Turkey or the formal 'democratic' elements in Rojava, but the interview with the DAF linked above hardly goes very far in answering the many doubts expressed by critics on this site about the Kurdish movement as it just makes repeated references to the ''Rojava revolution' without any real explanation, as if it's revolutionary significance were self-explanatory, but we are promised something more detailed in response to 'the critics' so that will be more interesting and will hopefully be posted here.

kurekmurek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on October 30, 2014

You are all welcome. Yeah let's wait what they will wrote next. I checked the Turkish and Kurdish news today: Peshmerga is at the border (Suruc), some IS members were killed, some are captured, except these all seems quiet in the Kobane front for today...

tw_

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by tw_ on October 30, 2014

Sorry the link on the below is only in Turkish, it's a critical analyse on Rojava.

Rojava’ya dair hayaller ve gerçekler

http://www.servetdusmani.org/rojavaya-dair-hayaller-ve-gercekler/

boomerang

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by boomerang on October 30, 2014

Spikymike

I don't deny the basic humanitarian responses of anarchists and others in Turkey or the formal 'democratic' elements in Rojava, but the interview with the DAF linked above hardly goes very far in answering the many doubts expressed by critics on this site about the Kurdish movement as it just makes repeated references to the ''Rojava revolution' without any real explanation, as if it's revolutionary significance were self-explanatory, but we are promised something more detailed in response to 'the critics' so that will be more interesting and will hopefully be posted here.

Agreed. They said they'd send me the article when it's ready, and I'll post it.

Marx-Trek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Marx-Trek on October 31, 2014

Gonna be exciting to read the DAF post once you post it!

AntiWar

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by AntiWar on November 2, 2014

Some Thoughts on the PKK and the Rojava 'Revolution'

Patrick Cockburn, perhaps the most well informed journalist in the Middle East, has written that: 'Whatever happens at Kobane, ISIS is not going to implode. Foreign intervention will only increase the level of violence and the Sunni-Shia civil war will gather force, with no end in sight.' ('LRB' 6/11/14)

In these circumstances it is tempting to look to the Kurdish guerrilla group, the PKK, as a bulwark against this horror. But if the experience of the wars of the 20th Century is anything to go by, then it will be impossible for any guerrilla group to survive without becoming dependent on one or other of the capitalist powers presently devastating Syria and Iraq. Some individuals may need to join militia groups just in order to stay alive. But their best bet is probably to get out of the war zone if they possibly can.

The fact that for 20 years the PKK could only survive by allying with Syria's murderous dictatorship, is further evidence of the impossibility of any militia group remaining independent of one or other capitalist power.

The PKK could also only survive by becoming a semi-religious cult that both eulogised its dictatorial leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and murdered many of its left-wing opponents and dissidents.

Some say that the PKK has changed and Ocalan's views certainly have changed. But these changes have always had one purpose, that is to maintain Ocalan's personality cult in a rapidly changing world. Having at first modelled himself on Stalin, and even on Jesus, in the 1990s Ocalan suggested that Kurdistan could become 'the cradle of international Islam'. He then changed his mind again, saying that 'the war on behalf of borders and classes has come to an end' and that the PKK should become Turkey's 'most powerful ally'. When that approach failed, he then, even more bizarrely, began recommending that the 'anarchist' author 'Bookchin must be read and his ideas ... practised'. (A.Marcus, 'Blood and Belief' ch.5-7; M.Gunter, 'The Kurds and the Future of Turkey' p30-7, 141-2, and 'Kurdish Spring' p176; A.Ozcan, 'Turkey's Kurds' p204-6; H.Tahiri, 'The Structure of Kurdish Society' p223-4, 241-4.)

If it is unclear what is going on in Ocalan's mind, it is even more unclear what is going on in Rojava, the Kurdish area of Syria. There seems to be a level of local democracy in the region. But the PKK faction that controls Rojava, the PYD, also seems to be making all the important decisions, including those concerning compulsory conscription. The PYD leader, Salih Muslim, has been reported as saying that 'those Arabs who have been brought to Kurdish areas will have to be expelled'. And, there are numerous accusations that the PYD is violently repressing those Syrian Kurds who oppose its rule. (See: KURDWATCH.org, reports human-rights violations against Kurds in Syria, especially 'Report no.9'; 'PYD Rounds up Conscripts', rudaw.net; D.Romano, 'Conflict, Democratisation and the Kurds' ch.4 and 11; M.Gunter, 'Out of Nowhere' p90-128.)

If these reports are true than this probably means that the only genuine revolution in Rojava would have to be a revolution against the PKK/PYD, not one controlled by them.

The only real hope for the region is a revival of the Arab Spring and an eruption of mass uprisings across the world - but especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This is the only way to stop the Saudi and Gulf ruling classes from continuing to fund fundamentalist Islam and ISIS.

Such a prospect may seem remote. But the Arab Spring and the international occupy movement also seemed remote prospects before they happened and the capitalist crisis that created both movements is bound to create more opportunities for revolt.

Counter-revolutionary periods, like the present period, are always challenging. But the last thing we need to do is to repeat the mistakes of the left in the 20th Century by becoming recruiting sergeants for yet more futile wars.

kurekmurek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on November 3, 2014

AntiWar

What you wrote above is discussed in forums of libcom. Please read them.

But their best bet is probably to get out of the war zone if they possibly can.

Please do not bet on behalf of people you don't know anything about.

The PKK could also only survive by becoming a semi-religious cult that both eulogised its dictatorial leader, Abdullah Ocalan, and murdered many of its left-wing opponents and dissidents.

This is relatively true. however this was true for nearly all the left in Turkey. There is books about it. I even summarized some of this in one discussion. This is not just related to Ocalan, this was realted to harsh political conditions and violence leftist groups need to face in Turkey even to survive. There is nothing to be proud of in this, however condemning these from afar is just bullshit.

Ocalan's views certainly have changed. But these changes have always had one purpose, that is to maintain Ocalan's personality cult in a rapidly changing world.

So he adopted bookchin to be popular, what kind of logic is that? When was bookchin popular ? If he stayed the same would kurdish population would hate him? If he did not adopted Bookchin would imperial powers or Turkey would not love him?? This part is really bad and makes no logic. Please do not try to think issues as one person dominating all stupid people below it. Kurdish movement and its dynamics are much more complex than that (Well actually nothing is that simple anyway)

If it is unclear what is going on in Ocalan's mind, it is even more unclear what is going on in Rojava, the Kurdish area of Syria. There seems to be a level of local democracy in the region.

So you think if Ocalan's mind was clear, everything would be clear in Rojava? Why don't you consider the possiblity that people in Rojova are what they are "a people". They have minds and desires of their own. Those who support Ocalan do not act under direct orders by Ocalan (which would be impossible anyway as he is in prison) They try to act according to ideological principles they share with Ocalan (and interpreting in their own way) and also try to produce a strategy that will work in the conditions they are experiencing. (These conditions include: 1) IS 2)FSA 3) Assad Regime 4) Barzani and his supporters in Rojova 5)Ethnic Arabs living in Rojova 6)Christians in Rojova 7)Need of heavy arms to beat ISIS 8) survival of population etc...)

The PYD leader, Salih Muslim, has been reported as saying that 'those Arabs who have been brought to Kurdish areas will have to be expelled'.

This is again discussed. Please o read it somewhere. He means Arabs who are brought to Kurdish lands after 2000's. He also said "I am misunderstood I meant only arabs who support the fighters of opposing force." If you read constitution of Rojava you will see that Arabs are considered as a founder ethnicity of Rojava. If you read more you will see there are quotas to ensure the representation of Arabs in self-government. Rojava is possibly the only place that has such non-mono-ethnic political tendency among the conflicting groups (and wishes to support all ethnicites as parts of political constitution.)

(See: KURDWATCH.org, reports human-rights violations against Kurds in Syria, especially 'Report no.9'; 'PYD Rounds up Conscripts', rudaw.net; D.Romano, 'Conflict, Democratisation and the Kurds' ch.4 and 11; M.Gunter, 'Out of Nowhere' p90-128.)

These news websites are close to Barzani (Rudaw is directly belong to Barzani) He is an "authority" he is the leader of Iraq Kurdistan. He wants to weaken the PYD so he could control Rojava. He is pro-western and nationalist and authotarian leader. Unfortunately as he is powerful and have a lot of resources so he kind of persuade naive western people on the evils of PKK very easily.
Anyway on the book. I did not read it but its first text is written by Michael M. Gunter. He is like the official foreign scholar of Turkish state on many issues. For example see these: http://www.amazon.com/Armenian-History-Question-Genocide-Michael/dp/0230110592 I did read one of his text on Kurdish issue in Turkey and it was like "well a lot of Kurds killed in the war but what you can do Turkish state is getting democratic day by day TOTALLY BY ITS OWN WILL so cheers for everyone!" I would not trust that book.
About conscription: This is true unfortunately I just wish it to end after the war ends.

If these reports are true than this probably means that the only genuine revolution in Rojava would have to be a revolution against the PKK/PYD, not one controlled by them.

As I said most of these reports are untrue and based on accounts of different political actors who want to control Rojava (or Kurds) This is also discussed. If I summarize, kurdish people are not stupid. They are not mindless zombies. PKK/PYD has a bloody history, However it also has the most democratic programme in the region, and it has mobilized people with it. It is actually the best possible option currently for communalism, federalism, multiculturalism, secularism etc to develop in the region.

The only real hope for the region is a revival of the Arab Spring and an eruption of mass uprisings across the world - but especially in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. This is the only way to stop the Saudi and Gulf ruling classes from continuing to fund fundamentalist Islam and ISIS.

Yeah let's sit here and hope for beter future to come. and systematically ignore local people's movements which sometimes take progressive paths.

boomerang

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by boomerang on November 3, 2014

An article responding to criticisms of DAF participating in Rojava has been written by DAF member Hüseyin Civan. It was emailed to me today with a previous request to share it here: http://libcom.org/library/response-article-rojava-anarcho-syndicalist-perspective

Marx-Trek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Marx-Trek on November 4, 2014

Boom,

Just read DAF's response. thank you for posting it and it is brilliant!

Reddebrek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 4, 2014

This thread has bloated but this comment really stood out to me as the advice it gives is not only naive in the extreme but incredibly irresponsible and potentially dangerous if followed.

And while you're there you can encourage people to start seeing things through the lense of class struggle, and encourage a break with these hierarchical parties.

No you can't, why on earth would the PYD let anyone go around undermining their authority? This isn't just a defiance abstract logic we know the PKK doesn't tolerate dissent even amongst its own membership. Leaving the PKK aside for a second I honestly can't think of a single paramilitary group that would tolerate such behaviour.

The PYD's Iraqi friends are just the same in 1991 they didn't let Arabs go around encouraging Kurds to see things beyond Kurdish nationalism.

http://libcom.org/history/articles/iraq-south-kurdistan-uprisings-1991

The nationalists stopped Arab deserters from joining the "Kurdish" uprising, disarmed them, and sent them back to Baghdad to be arrested. They did all they could to prevent the uprising from spreading beyond the "borders" of Kurdistan which was its only hope of success.

Anyone who goes to Syria to fight ISIS and doesn't have to like the PYD, though if they value their lives I'd advice pretending you do.

Flint

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on November 4, 2014

The PYD's Iraqi friends are just the same in 1991 they didn't let Arabs go around encouraging Kurds to see things beyond Kurdish nationalism.

Even with the arrival of KRG peshmerga in Kobane, it would be a stretch to regard the KDP and PUK as friends of the PKK or PYD.

klas batalo

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on November 4, 2014

they are playing nice with the duhok agreement but that's probably balance of forces stuff...both are hoping they win out the majority or more in the elections.

Reddebrek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Reddebrek on November 4, 2014

Flint

The PYD's Iraqi friends are just the same in 1991 they didn't let Arabs go around encouraging Kurds to see things beyond Kurdish nationalism.

Even with the arrival of KRG peshmerga in Kobane, it would be a stretch to regard the KDP and PUK as friends of the PKK or PYD.

Its called a figure of speech mate.

boomerang

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by boomerang on November 4, 2014

And while you're there you can encourage people to start seeing things through the lense of class struggle, and encourage a break with these hierarchical parties.

That was me who said that.

Reddebrek

No you can't, why on earth would the PYD let anyone go around undermining their authority? This isn't just a defiance abstract logic we know the PKK doesn't tolerate dissent even amongst its own membership.

[...]

Anyone who goes to Syria to fight ISIS and doesn't have to like the PYD, though if they value their lives I'd advice pretending you do.

I hadn't thought of this, and when I first read this comment, I was like, "Shit, Redderbrek is right." But I thought about it some more and I'm not so sure. From what I've heard, there are opposition groups to the PYD that are active within Tev-Dem, and in Zaher Baher's article, that he wrote after visiting Rojava and having long discussions with members of the opposition, they (the opposition) say that they have not been persecuted.

Also, how are anarchists supposed to respond in situations like this? Like if you were transported back to Russia during or just after the October revolution, wouldn't the right thing to do to be to agitate and organize for a break with the Bolsheviks? Obviously Russia back then is very different from Rojava today, but just saying as an example when a party has too much control over a movement. Resisting the Bolsheviks in Russia back then was done by anarchists, and it was dangerous, but also the right thing to do. In Rojava 2014 it's much less dangerous.

But for anyone who is there in Rojava now, I say keep in mind Reddebrek's warning, because whatever choice you make it's better to be mindful of possible risks... and I certainly wouldn't judge anyone for wanting to take the risk. (Already taking a big risk by being in a war zone, and I have a lot of respect for those who've chosen to fight in solidarity there.)

klas batalo

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by klas batalo on November 5, 2014

Actually opposition is banned in Tev Dem other than civil society groups, at least at first. Now that opposition will be allowed in DSA it might have opened up, I'd have to read reports again.

boomerang

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by boomerang on November 5, 2014

I don't see why the opposition would be allowed in the DSA but not Tev-Dem. I hadn't heard of them being banned in Tev-Dem. Can you tell us where you read about that?

This is from the article/report by Zaher Baher

Our meeting with the opposition parties lasted for over two hours and the majority of them were present. We started by asking them how they got on with the PYD, DSA and Tev-Dam. Do they have freedom? Have any of their members or supporters been followed or arrested by the PDU and WDU [YPG and YPJ]? Do they have freedom to organize people, demonstrate and organize other activities? Many more questions were asked. The answer to every single question was positive. No arrests were made, no restrictions on freedom or organizing demonstrations.

kurekmurek

9 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by kurekmurek on November 5, 2014

I think the situation is as follows (the quotes are from zaher: https://libcom.org/news/experiment-west-kurdistan-syrian-kurdistan-has-proved-people-can-make-changes-zaher-baher-2 )

1) People formed Tev-Dem (with support of PYD). Tev-Dem is a network of local communities, organizations (so basically the councils of neighborhoods and villages) Tev-Dem is where ordinary people from all ethicities get actively involve in politics. It has no barriers for participation (except being living in that particular place) Tev-Dems seem to be the focal points of social bound and order.

The Tev-Dam’s programme was very inclusive and covered every single issue in society. Many people from the rank and file and from different backgrounds, including Kurdish, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Assyrian and Yazidis, have been involved. The first task was to establish a variety of groups, committees and communes on the streets in neighborhoods, villages, counties and small and big towns everywhere. The role of these groups was to become involved in all the issues facing society. Groups were set up to look at a number of issues including: women’s, economic, environmental, education and health and care issues, support and solidarity, centers for the family martyrs, trade and business, diplomatic relations with foreign countries and many more. There are even groups established to reconcile disputes among different people or factions to try to avoid these disputes going to court unless these groups are incapable of resolving them.

Also Tev-Dems are politically:

It must be a social, cultural and educational as well as political revolution. It must be against the state, power and authority. It must be people in the communities who have the final decision-making responsibilities. These are the four principles of the Movement of the Democracy Society (Tev-Dam).

2) Tev-Dem's decided that they should organize DSAs (The Democratic Self Administration) in each canton (so there must be three of them) DSA is a cantonal self-government it organizes bigger major projects of cantons.

The DSA is made up of 22 men and women with each of them having two deputies (one a man and the other a woman). Almost half the representatives are women. It is organized so that people from different backgrounds, nationalities, religions and genders can all participate. This has created a very good atmosphere of peace, brother/sisterhood, satisfaction and freedom.

I think these representatives are representatives of Tev-Dems sent to DSA. DSA decide on some issues related to Canton so it also effects councils (Tev-Dems) For example they formed a social contract whish Zaher summarizes as following:

There are many decrees in the Social Contract. A few are extremely important for society, including:
A. Separation of state from religion
B. Banning marriages under the age of 18 years
C. Women’s and children’s rights must be recognized, protected and implemented
D. Banning female circumcision
E. Banning polygamy.
F. The revolution must take place from the bottom of society and be sustainable
G. Freedom, equality, equal opportunity and non- discrimination.
H. Equality between men and women
I. All languages people speak must be recognized and Arabic, Kurdish and Syrian are the official languages in Al Jazera
J. To provide a decent life for prisoners and to make prison a place for rehabilitation and reform.
K. Every human being has the right to seek asylum and refugees may not be returned without his/her consent.

3) All municipal or local decisions are made in Tev-Dems and DSAs. Their decisions are conducted, realized by municipalities etc. (so there is also municipalities)

4)

In Al Jazera, there are more than twenty political parties among the Kurdish and Christian people. The majority of them are in opposition to the PYD, the Tev-Dam and the DSA for their own reasons (a point I will come back to later on) as they do not want to join either Tev-Dam or the DSA.

I think it is decision of opposing parties to refuse to participate in Tev-Dem or DSAs. It is not prohibited in anyway. Opposition parties politically oppose PYD and see Tev-Dem and DSA as their political organizations (with a certain degree of truth I suppose) so do not participate in them (as these are mostly nationalist or pro-Barzani parties, they are propably also uninterested in direct democracy) however there are also 5 other parties that joined Tev-Dems and DSAs (one of them is green party I guess).

5)This situation is possibly changed after Duhok agreement. as according to my reading, it signals Barzani baked a bit from its anti-PYD position. So now it is possible more parties recognize Tev-Dems as legitimate and more people join to Tev-Dems or DSAs. I hope this will convert them to direct democracy. I hope they will not in the end just use the democracy provided to them to end the democratic rule.

6) All of the above is where direct democracy structures exist. However there is a second power structure that is established by appointed people by parties (both PYD and pro-Barzani and other parties) That is representative and it is planned to make elections to organize it in the future. The line between these two is not very clear to me. However I suppose as long as PYD is active they will continue to exist as important parts of Rojava society. (More on this in: http://new-compass.net/articles/revolution-rojava)