Arthur on the ambivalent relationship between the local population and the SDF. After defeating Daesh, the real challenge will be to establish democratic confederalism.
East front of Raqqa, Septembre 20th 2017
Follow up of my previous post.
Less than fifteen minutes after the cars of the jihadists were out of our sight the city of Mansoura all of sudden came back to life. People came out of their houses, got together with their neighbours, and started to wander through the streets, carefully. In the beginning, they were carrying a white flag with them.
Some time later the inhabitants that had fled to the border of the city in makeshift camps came back to move into their houses again. People seemed to be happy. Hard to know if this was because Daesh was gone or because the fightings were over, without having lasted too long and without having caused too much damage.
A few came towards us to invite us for tea, or simply to tell us what Daesh had done to them. They were far from being the majority though. Most people simply greeted when passing by close to us… hard to know if these gestures were signs of complicity or rather precautions one takes towards the winners of a war.
The challenge to establish democratic confederalism
We have a huge political responsibility towards the liberated populations.
War is only the continuation of politics by other means (Clausewitz, worth reading!). By the end of the day any military action only makes sens if it is linked to a political objective. This is a principle that the FDS have fully integrated. We have heard it all along our training: the real challenge of this revolution will only begin with the defeat of Daesh.
And Daesh has already, virtually, been defeated. It is only a matter of time. The destruction of its troops is only secondary, and this is why we preferred to negotiate their departure from Mansoura.
The real challenge is to establish democratic confederalism in the region of Raqqa where the jihadists have managed to gain popular support.
If we succeed, not only will the revolution have made a huge step towards an anti-state and egalitarian model of society, but we will also have eliminated a fertile ground of a possible resurgence of jihadism.
From this point of view, the victory over Mansoura is a great move. The SDF have to the highest degree avoided destruction and civil victims which has shown to the population that we care about them. Secondly, by limiting urban fights, we have protected our own troops, which was absolutely necessary before the battle around Raqqa.
As far as the Islamic State is concerned, it has been defeated on several points in Mansoura. Firstly, it had to abandon quiet a lot of material – tens of tons of explosives, tanks etc. Secondly, it cant’ count with discontentment of the population. Thirdly, as the fighters chose to save their lives rather than to continue the fighting – just as any ordinary mortal would have done – it won’t be able to produce its habitual mystical narrative about the martyrs.