The grim reality of the Rojava Revolution - from an anarchist eyewitness

Police in Rojava

In 2014, when David Graeber and others began claiming that a genuine anti-capitalist revolution was occurring in Syrian Kurdistan, the healthy reaction was scepticism. After all, the initiators of this revolution, the PKK, had a long history of Stalinist politics and brutal repression.[1]

Today the evidence is building up that, unfortunately, the sceptics were right. For example this article - apparently by an anarchist living in Rojava - claims both that the PKK ‘seized power’ and that most of the people in the Rojavan government are from outside Syria.[2]

The anonymous author also says that Rojavans have little interest in either anti-capitalism or cooperatives and instead just say: ‘tell us what to do and pay us a salary.’[3] Their plea for activists to go out to Rojava not just to help rebuild society but to, somehow, rescue the revolution is simply depressing.

But we should not get depressed. There still must be some genuine class and gender struggles going on in Rojava. And, of course, this whole situation merely confirms what we’ve known for a very long time: you cannot build socialism in one country.

How we might build a movement that can overthrow capitalism in a world revolution, is another question. But such a movement will, evidently, not be initiated by the PKK.[4]


I’ve been in Rojava since half a year working in various areas of society which has given me the unique opportunity to get a good overview of the system in action. My libertarian philosophy and practical experience puts me very close to the revolutionaries of Rojava and they like to hear my ideas or criticism.

I’m writing this article after seeing the article titled: ‘We should not let Kobane and the rest of Rojava to be defeated by the big corporations and the international financial institutions.’

To which my response is: then what are you doing in the West? Rojava is better than the West. When you stay in the West, you are helping capitalism. You are part of the machine. If you live in the city, consume products or participate in life there, you are a hypocrite.

There are not enough people here of radical disposition. We need people here who can work. Once you are here, it is not stressful. It’s a fertile space and people are listening to you and your ideas. In Europe or America, projects for autonomy are blocked, but here the government listens to you and provides the resources they can. But things can go slow.

The revolution is not certain and Rojava needs the strong spirit of foreign revolutionaries giving their support here on the ground. It’s not enough to make some token gesture. If you are a revolutionary, then enough with your joke excuses, you have work to do.

Rojava happened because experienced revolutionaries came from Bakur (the PKK in Kurdish Turkey), organised their own underground military force and then seized power when the Syrian civil war started. Most of the people in the government are from Bakur. They formerly spent years in the mountains organising and studying philosophy. They know about freedom and politics, and are not stupid.

These are revolutionary people with a deep mind trying to organise a society that only has a mindset of submission and respect for authority. In Rojava, normal people don’t care about politics (like in Europe). They really don’t care. They just want nice clothes, clean streets and good schools. They just want to go to work and have their life sorted out for them without extra effort. If they like Ocalan, it’s because he helps them.

Some Kurds in Rojava don’t understand why they are helping Arabs. Some people like Barzani (from Iraqi Kurdistan) despite him being a crony capitalist of the West and a corrupt racist dictator. They see him as helping his own people because all the corporations are coming to Bashur. They say that Erbil is clean, that there are nice buildings and good shops. Very bourgeois things. But this is what normal people in this society desire.

For instance, one difficulty in Rojava is that the economic groups are trying to organise worker cooperatives that serve the needs of people’s lives. However people are often saying just tell us what to do and pay us a salary. They just want to work and be given a salary. They don’t want to take charge of their lives, manage a business or think about anything. They just want to be organised and serve their role. This is the old system of Bashar Al Assad and the oppressed mentality it has created in many people here.

However there is a lot of support for Rojava and Ocalan, even if normal people have no idea what they’re talking about, many people are behind ‘their leaders’. Not everything is perfect and problems exist. It’s tough to get people thinking for themselves. This revolution’s main aim is a cultural transformation.

Rojava is organising grand projects in education and their task is momentous. However parents simply want respectable looking schools where the children are well behaved. People talk with nostalgia about the old Assad schools which were well equipped and looked good.[/b

[b]On women’s participation, there are some very strong women in important roles in the society. The relations between men and women are unique and special, something I haven’t seen even in Western society. However normal girls are still very much sticking to their old gender roles, being obsessed with makeup and clothes. I went to a cooperative meeting, half the members women, half men and yet for three hours only men were talking. The women only sat and didn’t participate.[5] They have a lot to do here to overturn an antiquated culture, but there are real things happening here. There is some very good work with women here.

It’s all well and good when outsiders from Rojava are saying there shouldn’t be corporations, but the fact is that people have their needs to live. It is the responsibility of the system of Rojava to provide for its people. If the administration cannot provide the needs of the people or a decent life, then people will turn against them regardless of ideology. So they are under pressure. Here are some adverts in Rojava:

‘Summer production usually exceeds the needs of this region. To benefit from the overabundance of food, we need to reactivate a factory for canned food which has not been working for a long period.’

‘We are looking for $60,000 for the repair and maintenance of a fodder factory. The central of economic development considers it necessary in order to provide sheep farmers with fodder.’

‘Project of modern spaghetti factory for production of different shapes and sizes from 200g to 1kg with a capacity more than 7-10 tons per day. Estimated cost around $2 million, with 25 workers.’

‘Al Jazeera has significant livestock characterised by good quality pasture. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, a dairy factory is needed to produce sterilised milk in glass or plastic bottles.’

So where are all the skilled people? We don’t need your show of solidarity or outside help. We need people here on the ground. We need people that can teach, start and manage projects and provide real solutions. You cannot do anything from outside that is actually effectual.

The people in power here say many things like that there’s no state, there’s people power … but the fact is if this were a real democracy, normal people would immediately recreate a normal state system because they see Barzani. The YPG is an army, the Asayish is a police force and despite what people say, there is a central government, central economics group and central ministries of health, education … and a growing bureaucracy. Now Rojava is sending diplomats to Western countries asking for help and 70% of their money goes to the army.[6]

Yet, in positions of power, there are many revolutionary people with a strong anti-state philosophy.[7] So there is an opportunity here. We have a unique space where we can organise, carve out our own projects and implement our ideas. We are at an advantage in this space with access to a lot of resources (think oil fields and country of three million people) rather than your little commune or squat.

Maybe that’s cool for you and you like the lifestyle but don’t call yourself a revolutionary. I’m disappointed that there’s less than a dozen libertarian type revolutionaries here. They are desperate for solutions here and if we don’t give them, they will go to the corporations rather than allowing their people to starve.

ISIS became strong when they announced to the world their project for a revolutionary caliphate. Revolutionary Muslims came from all over the world with the strength of their conviction and made ISIS powerful. If Rojava fails it will be because of the lack of international solidarity and I will personally disown the anarchist movement as a joke movement incapable of practical change. Now the revolution has happened but people don’t seem to want to know about it. Cool.

Here are some excuses I’ve heard from friends I’ve invited:
‘I have to look after my dog.’
‘I can do more from here advocating and protesting.’
‘I don’t know if Rojava is real’ (i.e. I will stay comfy in a capitalist state rather than risk a revolution).
‘I have important work here’ (maybe your work is more useful in Rojava).

History is made by people that leap into unknowns. If you are satisfied with the status quo, stay where you are. But this revolution is the biggest libertarian project of this century. This is a chance to be a better person that swum against the tide. The more of us that do this, the stronger we become. And we don’t even need to be that great in number.

The time of theory is over. Now is the time of action.

- from Rojava Reality

Additional Notes

1. It has been claimed that the PKK executed 1,500 of its own members. This may be an exaggeration but one former member insists that Abdullah Ocalan ‘demanded absolute submission to his person from the people in his surrounding and unrelentingly pushed this through. Another has said that
‘you’re not allowed to question Ocalan’s orders. You’re not free. … If there was Kurdish state it would be like the PKK.’
Yet another PKK dissident has said: ‘One man decides everything, nobody else can say what they think. … To become a member of the PKK is like joining a religion.’

2. This claim is backed up by Abdullah Ocalan’s brother, Osman, who says that the PKK still has a Stalinist ideology of ‘one party, one leader’ and that the PKK ‘orchestrates 90% of what is happening in Syrian Kurdistan.’ The Rojava regime, apparently, has even tried to ban the display of pictures of politicians other than those from the PKK such as Abdullah Ocalan. They have also banned overly critical journalists.

3. Workers’ ‘uncooperative’ attitude is hardly surprising considering that selling your labour to a cooperative in a market economy gives you no real control of your life anyway.

This refusal of workers to cooperate with the regime may also explain why one of Rojava’s finance ministers has recently declared that ‘all workers must work in the communal projects’. As well as this apparent advocacy of forced labour, the minister also said that private property is ‘sacred’ and that ‘the market is a main part of social economy.’

4. The PKK leadership gave little support to the Taksim Square uprising during the Arab Spring. In his recent book, despite his sympathies for Ocalan, Paul White suggests that PKK leader may also try to oppose the spread of any revolution from Syria to Turkey. Paul White, The PKK, Coming Down from the Mountains p157.

5. This observation is consistent with Paul White’s claim that ‘there is no indication that [the PKK’s feminism] has affected traditional societal values - especially in the rural areas that comprise most of Kurdistan, which largely continue to be bound by customary Islamic standards regarding women’s role.’ He also says that ‘most women in conservative Kurdish society value their traditional role.’ (White p149)

This conservative attitude is not surprising considering that the PKK have some way to go in terms of promoting a wider social and sexual liberation. For example PKK fighters still seem to be ‘forbidden’ from having sexual relationships. As Ocalan said, female fighters should maintain ‘the refusal of any other love than that of the homeland.’ (White, p136.)

Unfortunately, the PKK’s feminists go along with this fervent nationalism by, for instance, saying that the first principle of the ‘Women’s Liberation Ideology [is] Patriotism: Our leader Apo [Ocalan] says “Before everything women’s ideology cannot exist without land. … This means that the first principle of the women’s ideology is a woman’s connection to the land it is born on; in other words, patriotism.”’


6. The extent to which the Rojava regime relies on its alliance with US imperialism is shown in this map. Even though the US has allowed its main ally in region, Turkey, to bomb the PKK, the Rojavan authorities are still begging for more US support. As the commander of the Rojavan militia says:

‘We have been collaborating with the United States in the war against terror with great success. … We hope to expand on this anti-Jihadi terrorist collaboration and establish even closer relationships. … We wish to have a stronger alliance with the United States.’

7. This claim that the Rojava regime has a 'strong anti-state philosophy' is rather contradicted by numerous statements by Ocalan himself. For example, he says: ‘It is not true, in my opinion, that the state needs to be broken up and replaced by something else. ... [It is] illusionary to reach for democracy by crushing the state.'

The picture at the top of the page of Rojavan police in front of a ubiquitous portrait of Abdullah Ocalan indicates that the state in Rojava is far from crushed. (Click HERE for a video of the Rojavan police.)

Posted By

Anti War
Aug 14 2015 16:23


  • The YPG is an army, the Asayish is a police force and despite what people say, there is a central government … and a growing bureaucracy.

    An anarchist eyewitness in Rojava

Attached files


Petros At FreeLab
Aug 15 2015 17:48

Anarchists are prone to depression, I see.

While I am happy that libcom is linking to the website I maintain, I am deeply unhappy that the whole original message of this article says:

Their plea for activists to go out to Rojava not just to help rebuild society but to, somehow, rescue the revolution is simply depressing.

But we should not get depressed. There still must be some genuine class and gender struggles going on in Rojava. And, of course, this whole situation merely confirms what we’ve known for a very long time: you cannot build socialism in one country.

How we might build a movement that can overthrow capitalism in a world revolution, is another question.

Let me tell you what I see in Rojava. I see a social system in the making. I see a situation that can be changed by contribution, not by detached judgment. I see an opening and a learning situation for everybody who thinks of any social revolution.

I would never expect anarchists, revolutionsts, pretending to be innocent bystanders. Saying "another attempt failed, but let us not be depressed. Let us wait until we somehow know how to run global revolution" -- and saying it from a very comfortable distance. No, folks, you will not go away with that. Rojava is not an anarchist project, and it never meant to be. But what is its future -- it depends on your actions. OR lack thereof.

For those who are ready to leave their comfort zone, there are two small texts I wrote, which may inspire you to quit that grim, depressive attitude and assume a bit proactive position.

The bottom line is: those people are doing revolution as they can understand it. You either help them do it properly or not. But whatever you chose, you are co-responsible for the outcome.

Have fun.

Aug 15 2015 19:29

Hi Petros at Freelab,

Welcome to Libcom.

The user "Anti War" exclusively posts pieces critical of Rojava. They don't usually engage in discussion. Other folks who frequent these forums will engage in discussion. With a variety of opinions on Rojava: from folks who agree with "Anti War" to folks who participate in the movement in Bakur and we're survivors of the Suruc bombing.

I invite you to participate. Check out the "Rojava News" and "Turkey News" threads in particular.

Aug 15 2015 21:18

Yeah I also wished to say hi!

Anti-war is engaging in a misinformation campaign by deliberately using misquoted texts, misused quotes and using irrelevant pictures to discredit Rojava in any possible way. Moreover it repeats the same images and misquotations (and his critical remarks) to write "new" articles. So they always look high on recent posts section. This very "honest" attempt of his to inform the public only about "the distrustful and outright evil nature" of Rojava Revolution is interestingly seen as a form of free discussion of communists by libcom moderators (as this was discussed earlier)

Anyway I hope you stick around and contribute to a real discussion on goods and bads of Rojava with us on this website to help formulate a proper position for communists and anarchists towards it.

Aug 15 2015 22:44
Anti War wrote:
(Click HERE for a video of the Rojavan police.)

Actually, that's not "the police"--the Asayîşa. The video is of the Yekîneyên Antî Teror (YAT) which is part of the YPG, not the Asayîşa. The Asayîşa do now have an anti-terror force called Hezen Anti Teror (HAT), HAT video

I know the distinction between one group of people in uniform with guns compared to another group of people in uniform with guns is indistinguishable to you--but it means something to the folks involved. The Asayîşa (and HAT) will be in the secured areas like Hasakah, Qamişlo, Kobane, Afrin, while the YPG (and YAT) is usually at the fronts.

Anti War
Aug 20 2015 18:56

Thanks for the correction - details ARE important.

As for the 'misquotes', I've included links, so, as I've said before, please check the original quote sources and decide for yourself.

Aug 20 2015 19:34

So why don't you also correct wrong pictures at the top of your other articles? Are they just look so good to be changed? I think you are very amused seeing kurds waving stupid Ocalan flags, so you do not want to change that even if they are totally unrelated to Rojava?

Guerre de Classe
Aug 22 2015 13:57

This text also exists in FRENCH and in RUSSIAN.

Anti War
Aug 27 2015 13:55

Here is an even grimmer description of the Rojava regime and its repressive aspects:

‘Between PYD and Daesh - Perspective on the Syrian Kurds after the Arab Spring: the Pressure and the Penalties’ by Jana Muhammed

Unlike the above article, this is by a political opponent of the PKK/PYD; so, like the interesting, it should be read with that health-warning in mind.

Aug 27 2015 14:33

Its hard to take this author's opinion seriously: "the PYD has shown itself to be more tyrannical than the Ba’ath regime itself."

Aug 29 2015 05:21

The article on "Rojava Reality" is really awful. But thanks to putting up a link I got to see something even worse, which is this VERY SHADY Polish site. I mean, there is literally an article on it that is entitle "We don't want any refugees" which says stuff like refugees are a problem, they can't assimilate, etc. and says that if you help Rojava they will stay put in Syria.

For example (but there is more of this crap): .... Ale to wszystko sprowadza się do jednego: większości z nas, z różnych powodów, zależy na tym, żeby do Europy trafiało jak najmniej uchodźców. A – na razie jeśli chodzi o Syrię – najskuteczniejszym, najbardziej etycznym i najmniej kontrowersyjnym sposobem na to jest, aby znaleźli miejsce u siebie. I tym sposobem jest Rojava. Więc weźmy się za to, po lewej, po prawej i w centrum. Oszczędźmy pieniądze, uchrońmy Polskę i Europę przed najazdem obcych, pomóżmy tysiącom ludzi – wszystko w jednym pakiecie.
All comes down to one thing: the majority of us, for different reasons, want that the least amount of refugees as possible come to Europe. And, for now, if we are talking about Syria - the most effective, ethical and least controversial way to do this is that they find a place at home. And this is Rojava. So let's get busy, on the left, the right and the center. Let's save money and protect Poland and Europe against a flood of foreigners, let's help thousands of people - all in one package.

So Petros, you are a fucking piece of shit with your nazi friends with their shady Rojava business.

Guerre de Classe
Sep 2 2015 14:12

The introduction of this text on Tridni valka's blog is as follows:

Once again this contribution emphasizes the denunciation of idolaters who mistake social revolution, destruction of private property and economy, anti-capitalist and anti-state struggle (even at a minority and embryonic level) on one hand, and on the other the bunch of Social Democrats, reformers of the old world who repaint in red (and black) the vile and revolting exploitation of our class and who pretend thus to act as revolutionaries whereas they are only emptying our struggle of its subversive substance in order to better take over leadership of it.

To this end the author(s) quote(s) in extenso an article written by an anarchist “living in Rojava” published on a blog that doesn’t make big mystery out of its entire and wholehearted adhesion to the political forces that contain the struggles in this region. It’s a bit a “reductio ad absurdum” about the unconditional support given by some sectors of “anarchism” (and we even do not talk here about other expressions of leftism like all the Marxist-Leninist chapels that stand on the same position) to groups, organizations, structures they brazenly and falsely present as being anti-state and anti-capitalist…

As for us we continue to denounce the charlatans of class struggle and their countless impostures. In the same time we address all our militant solidarity to proletarians in struggle against the current, in Rojava particularly, in Kurdistan and in Middle East generally, and everywhere else in this disgusting world of exploitation. We wish also to develop the communist critique together with them. Because we know that behind sociological analyses and political labels our enemies are sticking on our struggles, it’s still and ever class struggle, class war that is materializing.

Indeed struggles of the exploited were historically, still are nowadays and will continue to be easily labelled as being “national liberation struggles” not on basis of the deep breeding ground that nourishes them (the struggle against misery and exploitation, against repression), but rather on basis of capacity of certain bourgeois factions to exploit for their own ends, to contain the weaknesses and the lack of perspective of these struggles, as well as their isolation, in order to bring them back in the framework of a reform of the mode of production and exploitation, through here for example “the liberation of the people and the nation”.

History will judge, history already judged…

Guerre de Classe
Sep 2 2015 14:14

Russian translation of this text is presented and introduced this way by KRAS anarcho-syndicalist militants:

Commenting on an article written by some “anarchist”, who went to Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava) to help the local nationalist “revolution” (in reality, this pseudo-“anarchist” apologetic assessment allows to evaluate his views more like a pro-Bolshevik and avant-gardist one), the author of the material published on site, debunks the myth of the “libertarian revolution in Rojava”. It is obvious that all the transformations in Syrian Kurdistan (typical for many national “liberation” and pseudo-socialist movements in the “Third World”) is not due to the self-organization and self-activity of the local population, and are conducted “from above” by the authoritarian regime of former Kurdish Stalinist party PKK.

Petros At FreeLab
Sep 10 2015 08:29

Good people on Reddit just pointed me to this comment -- I do not visit libcom frequently.
Here, let me paste my answer originally written there. If you wish to throw some more shit on me, feel free to go to

If I am expressing my wievs, I usually make it rather clear -- as MY views. I do not hide behind ambigous "we". The article "No More refugees" -- it is not translated, it was written in parallel in both languages, thus certain differences in style and wording -- was an is addressed to the right-wing readers. And its goal is simple: to find a reasoning suitable to make a typical xenophobic, shitless scared Pole (and other European) SUPPORT Rojava. As we see, they are not really interested in supporting revolution. They admire YPJ because they are fetishists. They will be happy if Rojava die for them -- crushing ISIS on the way. But if I want (and I do want) them to help Rojava bloom, they need quite a different set of motivations than you or I. I wrote this text during huge wave of hysterical online discussion in Poland -- about admitting refugees, of course -- there was not a grain of analytical discussion from any of sides. So I took a risk to add SOME thinking to that sentimental-resentimental frenzy. And if somebody calls me "fuckin piece of shit" because of that, well, I was called "dirty leftist", "Jewish scum", "antisocialist element" -- I will just add another piece to the collection.

Sep 10 2015 13:58

I think it is clear that you are using right-wing logic to convince right-wing people so you write a text in Polish for right-wingers and in English something else.

This modus operandi is quite typical among certain people in Poland --- to try to convince right-wing people to SUPPORT them, by using their logic instead of really getting to the issue at hand. The only thing that tactic brings is some moves towards a cross-front and involvement of right-wing people in social movements, without really getting them to change their ideas.

Let me just say, the anti-immigration hysteria is awful, but I have seen enough people making some sense to right-wing people without pandering to them. Save Poland? Save Europe? That's fucking AWFUL.

Would be happy to throw shit in real life, not virtually.

Anti War
Sep 12 2015 15:26

Much of the above account has now been confirmed by another resident of Rojava on the ‘Lions of Rojava’ website.

This pro-PKK/PYD eyewitness complains that in Rojava there is ‘not nearly enough’ belief in the revolution and that ‘many look longingly to Turkey, or to Basur [i.e. to Iraqi Kurdistan with its capitalist development].’

This eyewitness also says that ‘the political awakening and transformation that has shaken Bakur (Turkish Kurdistan) … has never really happened [in Rojava].’

In other words, even the ‘Lions of Rojava’ website seems to be saying that the Rojava Revolution is something of a myth!

This eyewitness further confirms that, in Rojava, there is 'a strong personality cult around Abdullah Ocalan' and that non-Kurds are unconvinced by the PKK/PYD regime because ‘the imagery, art and music, as well as the characters driving the revolution, are almost exclusively Kurdish.’

Unsurprisingly, this predominance of Kurdish nationalism has helped create a situation in which Rojava’s Kurdish militia have been ‘attacking civilians’, ‘looting villages’ and inflicting revenge on ISIS captives even though the PKK/PYD officially oppose such abuses. (Significantly, Amnesty International has also recently criticised the PKK/PYD for ‘using a crackdown against terrorism … as a pretext to unlawfully detain and unfairly try peaceful critics and civilians believed to be sympathizers or members of alleged terror groups.’)

Another highly credible source, a German fighter with the PKK/PYD militia, has also complained of ‘looting, destruction and mistreatment of prisoners’ by his fellow militia fighters.

This German eyewitness has further confirmed the extent to which the Rojava regime has depended on US imperialism by saying that ‘without [US air support] the offensives wouldn’t have worked’ and that ‘we never attacked without bombardment before.’

Moreover, the leader of the PKK/PYD, Salih Muslim, is now openly calling on the US and its coalition ‘to operate from Rojava'.

In order, presumably, to encourage Western military forces to move into Rojava, Salih Muslim is even claiming that: ‘America is a superpower that fosters democracy globally, and tries to develop and disseminate it throughout all parts of the world.’

He also says that the Kurdish people ‘are strong defenders of the democratic values that the American people spread throughout the world. For these reasons we must solidify our relationships with the American people and their government.’

In line with this enthusiasm for the US, the PKK is, of course, also willing to embrace capitalism. For example, this Trotskyist article, based on German sources, quotes Ocalan arguing that capitalism is ‘not to be rejected outright’. This same article then points out that the Prime Minister of Cizire canton in Rojava is one of the wealthiest capitalists in Syria!

Meanwhile, in Turkey, the PKK’s turn to parliamentary democracy has totally failed to prevent the Turkish state from reviving its long-standing war with the PKK.

Of course, none of this means that people in Rojava should be abandoned to the depredations of ISIS. We still need to oppose Turkey’s terrorist policies and to open all borders to all refugees.

But, clearly, the peoples of the Middle East need something much more radical than the PKK - much more radical than either democracy or nationalism - to inspire them to end the seemingly endless wars in the region. Tragically, such a genuinely revolutionary anti-capitalist and internationalist communist movement has yet to arise.

Guerre de Classe
Sep 16 2015 15:36

A personal account of Rojava (

Politically Rojava is social anarchist, and economically it is market anarchist.

The ultimate level of "anarchist" confusion about capital...

Anti War
Sep 17 2015 19:36

This video talk includes interesting stuff on Kurdistan from someone who knows the Middle East:

'The US and wars in the Middle East' by Yassamine Mather.

Guerre de Classe
Sep 21 2015 14:42

Here is a very interesting text in Spanish about Rojava, written and published by comrades in Argentina of the BIBLIOTECA Y ARCHIVO HISTORICO-SOCIAL "ALBERTO GHIRALDO".
I am translating this text in ENGLISH (and in FRENCH) and hope to upload it here into some days...

Sep 21 2015 15:37
(1) Tridni Valka, Rojava, fantasías y realidades
(2) Tridni Valka, Rojava: la guerra popular no es la guerra de clases
(3) Gilles Dauve, ¿Kurdistan?
(4) Tridni Valka, Rojava, fantasías y realidades

LOL! You're in your own vortex now.

Anti War
Nov 2 2015 20:00


The US has now agreed to Salih Muslim’s request for US troops ‘to operate from Rojava’. This extremely dangerous escalation appears to be in response both to the Russian bombing campaign and to the Rojavan regime’s call for ‘Russian air support’.

It is possible that the US, Russia, Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia will all now join together and agree to impose a stable peace on the Middle East. But this seems somewhat unlikely considering that, as Patrick Cockburn says,

'Shia states across the Middle East, notably Iran, Iraq and Lebanon, have never had much doubt that they are in a fight to the finish with the Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, and their local allies in Syria and Iraq.’

Sipan Hemo, the commander of the PYD militia, the YPG, also accepts that the whole situation is extremely dangerous. He even claims that the present conflict is ‘like a Third World War … [that] may take dozens of years. … The war will not stop in Syria but will extend to all the Middle East and may extend more than that’.

It would, of course, be a tragic error for any revolutionary to support this descent into a potential ‘Third World War’ in the deluded hope that this war will, somehow, spread the Rojava revolution across the Middle East.

This is especially the case as, according to Cockburn, the YPG’s ‘effectiveness is limited outside Kurdish majority areas’. Indeed, as one Western anarchist fighter admits, ‘Really it's the US airstrikes that are doing the major damage and YPG is just rolling into villages planting flags.'

This anarchist eyewitness also challenges other myths about the Rojava regime, including the idea that the militia is highly democratic. As he says, he ‘never saw any voting in the militias,’ only Maoist 'self criticism in every unit’. And, as a pro-market anarchist, he also points out that: ‘There's a good dose of market-oriented thinking, which is great.’

Another commentator who challenges myths about Rojava - and who has personal experience of the Kurdish struggle - is Yassamine Mather.

Mather points out that, historically, Kurdish Stalinists have often set up popular assemblies and that what is happening today in Rojava is not that different from what such Stalinists have done in the past. Significantly, she also says: ‘I can assure you that carrying a gun does not necessarily mean that the organisation you belong to has given up sexist attitudes!’ (14m)

Unfortunately, the recruitment of women into the YPG has also not eradicated human rights abuses. As one Arab eyewitness said in a recent Amnesty International report:

‘Ten YPG soldiers dressed in camouflage uniforms arrived in a four-wheel drive. They had women with them and had yellow [YPG] flags on the car. They were carrying weapons. They started shooting in the air and the children began crying. They came to my house and told me we had to leave the next day … [even though] the closest frontline is more than 25 km away.’

This Amnesty report concludes that 'by deliberately demolishing civilian homes, in some cases razing and burning entire villages … [the YPG is] brazenly flouting international humanitarian law, in attacks that amount to war crimes.'

ISIS are still a deadly threat in many areas and these shocking accusations are contested both by the YPG and by some Arab leaders in Rojava who say it is ISIS who ‘blow up houses’, not the YPG. However, another very critical report has also been published by anti-PYD Kurds in Rojava. The most shocking - if true - quote from the report is the following:

Another group critical of the YPG is the Syrian Network for Human Rights. They claim that the YPG have burned crops, have expelled people from over 70 villages and have killed 47 civilians.

Furthermore, other oppositionist Kurds, the Kurdish National Council, have accused the Rojava regime of ‘causing hunger, restrictions in all areas of life, conscription at gunpoint, persecution, arrests, the confiscation of homes and property as well as the forced implementation of an ideological curriculum.’

Even if some of these allegations are untrue, the evidence is building up that the Rojava regime is far from what it claims to be.

Indeed, it is hard to disagree with Yasmine Mather’s conclusion that nationalist struggles, like that in Rojava, can achieve very little and that the only solution is for there to be a revolution in the major working-class centres of the Middle East, especially Iran.

Sep 14 2018 22:12

Just an clarification for those who don't know; Lions of Rojava has been taken out of the air because it was run by a bunch of macho's who were spreading dangerous ideas and in a dangerous sense motivated people to travel to Rojava. It is not a reliable source for anarchist views...