Rojava revolutionary leader warns escalation could lead to World War III

February 8, 2024
man's face
Saleh Muslim

In an exclusive interview with Green Left's Peter Boyle on February 6, Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the leading party in Rojava's revolution in North-East Syria, warned that the current escalation of military conflict in the Middle East could be the beginning of a “third world war”.

“All the world's hegemonic powers, as well as local powers, are on alert and fighting each other from time to time. It is a very dangerous situation not only for us but for all the Middle East.

“Nobody can guess what is going to happen next because there are many powers with their own agendas in the region,” Muslim said.

“We are in the middle of this conflict in North-East Syria so we have to be very careful.

“All these powers are pursuing their own interests. Some are after the energy resources, such as gas and petroleum, and others want the other sources of wealth in the region,” he added, while the Kurds are simply fighting for “our existence”.

“We are just trying to have a quiet place to live, without fighting.

“But we have to prepare ourselves for the worst.

“The Syrian conflict has continued for 13 years without any solution because Turkey, Iran and other local powers have their own plans and the international hegemonic powers have their different plans.”

Muslim told GL the Kurds in Rojava put forward their own solution to the conflict, but it was not acceptable to the other powers.

Meanwhile, Turkey has taken advantage of the conflict in Gaza to step up its attacks on Rojava, with the declared aim of “destroying our infrastructure and making our lives difficult”, said Muslim.

Turkey is also using Daesh/Islamic State (ISIS) to “stab Rojava in the back” by funding and arming its sleeper cells.

The recent drone attack by Iranian-backed militias, which killed six fighters from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Deir ez Zor in Syria, was not connected to the war in Gaza, Muslim said.

He declared his support for the Palestinian people and condemned the genocide they were being subjected to in Gaza by Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu's regime.

Netanyahu wants to “eradicate the Palestinians” but Muslim believes Hamas does not offer a real solution.

A real solution in Palestine could be “one that is similar to our [democratic confederalist] project” that allowed Arabs and Jews to live together peacefully, he said.

“The mentality of Netanyahu and Hamas is going to destroy all the people of the Middle East…

“In the 1980s there were Kurdish people who joined the leftist Palestinians in the struggle for democratic rights. But they were Palestinian leftists, not Hamas. Hamas does not represent the Palestinians.

“We are still trying to have relations with leftist Palestinian groups but they are weak [today]. That is a big loss for the Palestinians…

“We cannot deal with Hamas, which has the same mentality as Daesh in wanting to establish an Islamic state.”

Muslim said Tayyip Erdoğan's regime in Turkey was totally hypocritical about the current conflicts in the region.

“He condemns Israel for what it is doing to the Palestinians in Gaza, which is right, but he is doing the same thing to the Kurdish people in our areas.”

Muslim said Erdogan’s constant attacks on Rojava have destroyed many oil and gas facilities and electricity stations so “now most of our areas are without electricity” in the middle of winter.

“If there is no electricity, the bakeries cannot operate, so we have a very difficult situation.

“Turkey wants to make life so difficult that our people are forced to leave this area.”

In short, Erdogan wants to ethnically cleanse North-East Syria of Kurds.

These are “war crimes and crimes against humanity” that the world should condemn, Muslim said.

“We will keep organising to defend ourselves. We are now stronger than before and continue to unite with the other components of the population in North and East Syria — the Arabs, Assyrians and others.”

In January, Rojava celebrated 10 years of its democratic confederalist system of administration and changed its official name to the Democratic Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (DAANES) and approved a Social Contract that has been in development since 2013.

This Social Contract represents the revolution’s commitment to building a democratic system that includes all sections of the population, empowers women and young people and respects the environment.

Despite all the challenges, Muslim said the situation in Rojava was incomparably better than the situation in the territory controlled by the Bashar al Assad regime and the Russian and Iranian forces that are propping it up — effectively dictating its course.

“We have now about one million people who have escaped this hell and are now living in our areas.”

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