The Rojava resistance: rebirth of the anticapitalist struggle - Salvador Zana

The Rojava resistance: rebirth of the anticapitalist struggle - Salvador Zana

An article by Salvador Zana, a volunteer with YPG in Rojava.

The problem that we face today is not a new one. Its roots lie more than 6000 years ago with the roots of civilization itself. It was then that some ideas took hold which attacked society like a deadly virus and after a long struggle managed to infect the very core of human communities everywhere. These ideas are essentially opposed to the very nature of humankind and of life itself: that oppression and slavery are necessary, that they are right and that humans deserve them. The subjugation of nature paved the way for the subjugation of women, the subjugation of women in turn enabled the enslavement of men by other men. We have since lived under the yoke of these evils inflicted on us, being aware of their presence without ever truly understanding them. I will not elaborate this point, as one of the great things about Ocalan is that he has developed a more thourough analysis of these issues than I or any other human could hope to perform in our times (although I hope on this prognosis I will be proved mistaken). Much more urgent is to emphasize that he has published these analyses of the development of state and civilization and suggested solutions to our most pressing problems.

Countless wise, passionate and courageous persons have since taken on the fight against this system, ever changing its outer manifestation but leaving its core intact. Instead of overcoming it they gave the system powerful new weapons, their movements' strenghts were absorbed by the insatiable Leviathan. This has been the fate of all revolutionary struggles through history that were capable of challenging the global hegemony.

These movements have a common basis. They appear in next to all imaginable forms – as religions, struggles for autonomy and independence, philosophical schools, cultural movements, ideologies calling themselves socialism, communism or anarchism. As different as they may seem, they are fueled by the same universal desires for freedom, peace and siblinghood. However advanced and successful the system may be, nowhere has it been able to quench the longing for these goals that exist in every human society. It has however managed to channel the energies which arise from the stark contrast between these wishes and the societal reality for its own purposes. The people's struggles moved against singular governments or priviliged groups in the best and against social minorities and other kinds of arbitrary scapegoats in the worst case. The divide and rule credo has brought the oppressed to fight each other while the means of achieving unity remain in the hands of the oppressors, based more than anything on the hegemonial privilege of knowledge.

Most struggles fail because they lack an analytical basis, an understanding of the dynamics of society that is necessary to target the true origins of the crisis humankind has fallen into. This is what makes Ocalan one of the most outstanding revolutionaries of all time. He has managed to present a profound analysis of the crisis, developed an alternative to the current dilemma and brought in motion a movement that is willing to fight for this way out of the crisis, targeting its roots and not just symptoms of the problem. The establishment of the autonomy of Rojava as a confederation of stateless democratic communities can today be seen as the greatest success of more than forty years relentless revolutionary struggle.

The Rojava project is now at a crucial stage. If it stays isolated the military and economic necessities along with the ideological pressure of the hegemonial capitalist paradigma will force it to develop into some kind of liberal socialist state at best. To be successful the liberation of society needs to expand into the bordering parts of Kurdistan and, even more importantly, the societies of the wider Middle East. The model of autonomous communities administrating themselves and interacting in decentralized confederations can only thrive if it expands. The Rojava revolution promises the liberation of society, ecological development and the freedom of women as its basic mechanisms. It is vital for its success that all three points are wholeheartedly put into practice.

The current socio-political quarantine as well as the exhausting war are poisonous to the development of revolutionary ways of life in a society to which they are still very new. Nothing leads to dangerous compromises with the system like the pressure of war.

To avoid making unforgivable mistakes at this stage we need to learn from the examples of similar revolutionary projects in history. It surprises how staunchly similar the Spanish civil war situation 1936-1938 is to what is now happening in Mesopotamia. A communal, anti-state revolution brought in motion by a people's organization (PYD, CNT), the tensions between the central state and a people (Kurds, Catalans) within it striving for autonomy, a revolutionary fighting force (YPG, FAI) defending the country against a clerical-fascist counter-revolution (Daesh, Franco) in alliance with opportunist groups (Peshmerga, PSUC) who enjoy the support of the international powers (NATO, USSR)... Without doubt there are also mayor differences between both situations, most notably maybe between the Catalan anarchists and the Ocalan movement (the analytical comparison of these two revolutions is definitely material to fill more than one book), but the Catalan example is indispensable to understand about the great dangers we are in now.

The revolutionary transformation in Catalonia was compromised more and more under pressure from the communist and right-wing-socialists in the unity government. While the revolutionary anarchists were bound to the front by the fascist attacks, the opportunists step by step took over the control of the cities behind the frontlines, preparing to betray the revolutionaries. Citing the necessities of the war they drove the workers' councils out of the factories, reinstated repressive mechanisms and formed a mandatory 'People's Army' (corresponding to Rojavas Erka Parastina, service in which is mandatory for all able young men for six months) until finally they betrayed first the revolutionary socialists and then the anarchists, storming their centres in the cities and murdering thousands of them. The result was that the fascists overran what was left at the time of the Spanish republic.

We must never forget how easily everything we fight for can be lost if we are inattentive for one moment. It is so tempting to ease the long and difficult road to freedom by making concessions and arrangements with the system. Only must we realize that, if we take another way, this road will be lost. The war has caused us to pull all our energies and resources to the front, causing a dangerous stagnation in the revolutionary development in society. Achieving our goals requires a change of very deeply rooted ideas, a revolution of mindsets. It will take more than one generation. We must set it in motion now if our fight shall lead to more than a mention in textbooks fifty years from now.

Rojava has yet to prove that it can realize its vision of a republic without a state. It owes this effort not only to its own people, but to all those around the globe who today look to Mesopotamia with the hope that there is now an idea taking hold more powerful than all fascists of the world. This hope and this idea might be able to lead to something that is bigger than Kurdistan or the Middle East. It can lead to a new beginning in revolutionary undertakings around the globe.

It is wrong to merely criticise the establishment of the Erka Parastina without looking to the reasons of its formation. There is simply no alternative to resisting against Daesh at all costs – and YPG/YPJ alone can hardly muster the necessary numbers. Forced recruitment is never acceptable. But why did it become the only option? All internationalist revolutionaries have to give a hard self-critique about this. The defence of the Rojava revolution is our indiscussable responsibility. If we had filled up the ranks of our comrades in time they might never have had to resort to one of they most despiccable instruments of the state – forcing boys and young men to go to war.

It is not to late to take the right steps. Rojava has become a revolutionary center for people from all continents who have come to help. This gives us a great shot at the unity we so desperately need to win. At the moment our enemies know us better than we know each other. Rojava can be more than an example. It can be the common ground on which we come togheter to march as one against nation, state and oppression. And towards a new future.

Salvador Zana is an internationalist revolutionary with roots in Europe and Africa. He is currently with YPG in Cizîre canton of Rojava.

Originally posted: April 7, 2015 at ANF News

Posted By

Apr 7 2015 20:47


  • The hope and idea in Rojava might be able to lead to something that is bigger than Kurdistan or the Middle East. It can lead to a new beginning in revolutionary undertakings around the globe.

Attached files


Apr 15 2015 00:05

Whatever the PYD is... it is ambitious.

Jihad Ghazal coordinator of security relations in the Alshamia Front, which consists of severalt factions of freeSyrian armyin north eastren of Aleppo told Hawar news today Saturday 04/04/2015 and continued Ghazal The nation-state has failed over the past forty years in Syria, pointing out that the reality and the facts proved that self-management in the Kurdish areas experience a successful experience, adding that the draft of the Syrian democratic solution can serve as a solution for Syria, "a condition that the Syrian regime falls a whole "...

a group of Free Syrian Army factions in Aleppo north and north-west and east have formed a joint military council a few days ago under aLShamia front YPG has sent a cable of congratulations , includes Alshamia front and Alhazim movement that stood and rejected agendas of the Islamic state and all extreme battalions and north storm and other moderate combat battalions in the Free Syrian Army

Coordinator of security relations in the Alshamia front: Blessing the YPG and the nation-state has failed in Syria and self-management is successful experience, 4/4/2015

Apr 15 2015 12:31

Based on the flag behind Ghazal, this is Levant Front. Curious that he is using such TEV-DEMish rhetoric for a front of so many Islamists. And, listed on the PYD site. This is the only place I've ever seen his name. The specific reference to Hazim is curious since they were largely wiped out by Al Nursa. Prior to that, they were one of the groups to get U.S. TOW missiles.

Commentary about this front has been "it's all the rebels in Aleppo except the jihadis"

Apr 15 2015 02:03

It's really very weird for someone presumably influential in Levant Front to be mouthing Tev-Dem's program. A cynic would say its because Tev-Dem's program is so meaningless, even a coalition of "moderate" Islamists and "moderate" secular U.S./Qatari proxies could get behind it. An optimist might say that the shared defense of certain neighborhoods in Aleppo against the atrocities of the Ba'ath (which, body count wise, is as bad or worse than Daesh), against Daesh and the multi-ethnic outreach PYD has been doing brought Arabs rebels who were previously skeptical of the PYD/YPG/Tev-Dem into considering their program seriously. The YPG seems to have treated Arab refugees in Aleppo right. A middle position might be that these statements are atleast lip service that Levant Front will respect Rojava democratic autonomy for now and perhaps after the defeat of Assad. It may be that all of these are true, depending on who is saying it.

It certainly is a change in situation from when the FSA executed the military commander of the YPG in Aleppo.

Here is an article shared by the usually pro-KCK KurdishQuestion from Green Left Weekly that contrasts the YPG/YPJ from Levant Front, making the argument is worthy of "Green Left" support and that the Levant Front is not.

the Levant Front’s ideological underpinnings range from the “hard-line Salafism (of Islamic Front groups), across Muslim Brotherhood and other mainstream Sunni Islamist tendencies, to more or less apolitical factions linked to the Western and Gulf-backed exile structure that is loosely referred to as the Free Syrian Army

the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the Hazzm Movement had received some heavy weapons from the US and, describing the group as “a moderate/secularist faction, not an extremist/jihadist group,” recommended it as “a model for the type of group the United States and its allies can support with meaningful, lethal military assistance”.

Al Akbar reported on May 22 that many of the brigades forming the Hazzm Movement were explicitly Islamist. They had ties to Qatar and Turkey, the latter being the conduit for US-supplied optically-tracked, wire-guided missiles... Al Akbar said the Hazzm Movement was competing for Western aid with “the Syrian Revolutionaries Front … the Saudi candidate for explicit Western support”.

By comparison, the values of the Rojava resistance consist of grassroots democracy, ecological socialism and feminism. Moreover, not only is the Rojava resistance committed to freedom of religious belief and a separation of religion from politics, it is committed to full equality and the inclusion of Rojava’s non-Kurdish minorities, which include Chechens, Armenians, Aramaeans and Arabs.

The history of Arab chauvinism both under the Assad regime and from the opposition groups has meant that the resistance has had to work carefully with the Arab population in Rojava. In an interview published on Ecology or Catastrophe on February 1, Peoples Defence Units (YPG) spokesperson Huseyin Kocer said, “Hundreds of Arabs take part in the YPG and YPJ (Women’s Defence Units) … many of the Arab villagers support Daesh (IS) but we don’t try to harm them. Many of the villagers feel they have to support Daesh out of fear…

“We try to create consciousness of freedom and liberation. We try to communicate the need for self-organisation. Not only to sustain daily life but also politically.

“In places that we have liberated, the people’s council … goes there and helps them organise … We help and support them in creating councils where they live. We discuss with them and propose to them our democratic project.”

With the odds stacked against them, the YPG and YPJ have taken back 20 towns from the IS in the past year — which is a greater achievement than the Levant Front, the Hazzm Movement and Al-Nusra put together. What sets Kobane apart from other fighting militias is that their fight is more ideological than it will ever be physical — a fight not just for the liberation of Kurdistan or Syria but a fight for human liberation.

Syria: Why Rojava is Different, 2/6/2015

That last bit about the YPG/YPJ being more successful than Levant Front, Hazzm and Al-Nursa combined is arguably true. Aleppo is the largest city and the YPG has held its neighborhoods and its probably the most peaceful part of the city, further the population of its neighborhood swelled because of its security and it has taken in an ethnically diverse population. Al-Hasakah and Qamishli were the 8th and 9th largest cities in Syria before the war and they are in the Cizre canton (the "capitol of Rojava"), they have grown as well through refugees. The YPG has some 45,000 soldiers.

Hazzm was thought to be destroyed by Al-Nursa is is supposedly down to 400 soldiers. All the groups making up the Levant Front are considerably smaller than the YPG with the exception of the Islamic Front... but supposedly ONLY the Aleppo section of the Islamic Front is part of Levant Front. However, its also described as virtually defunct.

It maybe the Levant Front only really exists because different rebel groups were getting too small to operate on their own and they have teamed up together for survival against the Ba'ath; and the YPG happens to be the next biggest game in town and seems to have held to its position on incorporating Arabs.

The Levant Front: Can Aleppo’s Rebels Unite?12/26/2014

At the start of this conflict, noone would have guessed that the YPG would have come to lead Aleppo.

May 28 2015 13:08

Judicial Agreement in Aleppo between Levant Front and YPG , 2/5/2015

Maybe more importantly, it acknowledges YPG control over not just Sheikh Maqsud but also the Ashrafiyah and Rusafah neighborhoods of Aleppo.

Apr 15 2015 12:26

Flint, Our different takes on the events on Syria/Rojava aside I appreciate the flow of information you are providing - especially the 'extracts' as I don't always have time to dig into all the fuller linked texts - and as I'm taking a short break I will try to catch up with all this later.

Apr 15 2015 12:55
In the past two days, Syrian field sources have confirmed the arrival of huge military reinforcements to Aleppo, ahead of the “zero hour” for a major operation, which may extend beyond the “siege” on the city. Most notably, the sources referred to a “main role by Kurdish fighters in the prospective [military] act,” which (at least apparently) contradicts the recent talk about a rapprochement between the Kurds and the “Sham Front,” which includes the major armed groups in Aleppo affiliated with the Turks. In the last two days, the “Sham Front” tried to achieve new gains in their battles against the Syrian army and its allies on the Bureij and al-Mallah fronts, two key fronts in the “Aleppo siege” battle. Despite the significant progress made by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the north-eastern Aleppo countryside, which might lead to their control of wide parts of the Syrian-Turkish border, disagreement between the YPG and the Sham Front will put the latter in a critical situation.

The success of the “freeze of hostilities” initiative — albeit on a small scale, since it will be initially implemented in the Salah al-Din neighborhood — will likely affect other areas, given that the YPG and “Sham Front” have power over most areas that are outside the control of the Syrian state in Aleppo.

Aleppo Siege Back in the Spotlight Ahead of Renewed Push to Freeze Hostilities, 2/17/2015

Apr 15 2015 16:39

In the 8th edition of Islamic State’s magazine Dabiq, the group condemns Islamic rebel alliance the Levant Front, for working with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Levant Front, active in Aleppo, agreed with the Autonomous Democratic Administration and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) – the armed branch of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian party with close links to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – to implement an united judicial system, and work to crackdown on crime in February 2015.

The Levant Front is an ally of the Al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al- Nusra. (Flint: Levant Front specifically did not invite al-Nursa to join it)There has been limited cooperation between Islamic groups and the PYD since fighting broke out between IS and other rebel groups in January 2014. The article blames Nusra for working with secular and nationalist rebel groups. (Flint: this is probably Daesh pissing on Nursa and not true.)

IS criticized the Kurdish rebels in the magazine. “How exactly the nationalist ‘Islamists’ plan to implement Sharī’ah alongside Marxist and democratic secularists is unfathomable,” the terrorist group said.

“One question to ask them is whether or not the crusader planes backing the PKK in Ayn al-Islām (Kobani) will aid in the implementation of Sharī’ah,” IS suggested.

IS Condemns Islamic Rebel Alliance with Kurds in Aleppo, 4/9/2015

Sharing this more because its Daesh confirmation of YPG and Levant Front cooperation and mention of that judicial agreement. Its Daesh's propaganda, so its not a very reliable source.

Apr 15 2015 17:10
On the plans to secure water, it is of interest to note the local council's mention of the Midanki Dam, which is located in the Kurdish PYD autonomous canton of Afrin. Northern Storm and the PYD were once enemies, and tensions between the two sides meant that water, which before the civil war would come from the Midanki pumping station two days a week, was subsequently cut off.

Securing water from Afrin would therefore require greater outreach to the PYD, which may be one of the underlying reasons behind the agreement publicly announced in February between the PYD's military wing the YPG and the Levant Front, stipulating a united judicial system, establishing joint Shari'a and da'wah offices in Aleppo and Afrin, and working together to crack down on crime. Of course, Jabhat al-Nusra is opposed to any such arrangements with the PYD/YPG, which it considers to be apostate entities.

The Administration of the Local Council in Azaz, 3/21/2015

Apr 16 2015 04:29

Al-Monitor: In a previous interview you called on the Turkmen to join forces against ISIS. Did they respond?

Muslim: We are acting together in areas where Kurds and Turkmens live within close proximity. Mostly around Afrin. A new agreement was reached between the YPG and the Turkmen forces there, uniting them under the umbrella of a newly formed group called Shams Shemal, or the Northern Sun.

Syrian Kurd leader urges Turkey to join fight against jihadists, 5/6/2014

Apr 16 2015 06:00

Flint FYI Green Left Weekly is the paper of a weird ex-Trot group in Australia the Democratic Socialist Party aka Socialist Alliance. They love national liberation to an extent that would make even Connor blush including supporting the "left wing" of the Croatian fascist exiles here in Australia in 70s and 80s.

Apr 22 2015 21:41

Levant Front dissolved. Apparently the Islamists quit the group.

We'll have to see if the YPG picks up the secularists involved.

Key Islamist group Shamiya Front resolves itself