In largely Kurdish Rojava in Syria's north, a profoundly democratic and revolutionary experiment is underway. A multi-ethnic, feminist and socialist-oriented society is being built from the ground up, organised around communes and other bodies of participatory democracy.
The experiment began with an insurrection in 2012 that freed the area from the Assad regime and established a “liberated zone”. Rojava's armed militias, the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Women's Protection Units (YPJ), have had to fight off the genocidal terror gangs of ISIS to survive as a democratic model and inspiration for the war-torn region.
In October last year, the Rojava revolutionaries formed a broader alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces. The SDF unites the YPG and YPJ with a range of militias based on Arab and other ethnic communities.
The liberated zone has also faced hostility from Turkey, which it borders. The Turkish government, which fears the example Rojava sets to its long-oppressed Kurdish minority, has been accused of aiding ISIS in government.
On August 24, with US air support, Turkey invaded Rojava — on the pretext of defeating ISIS forces controlling the northern Syrian city of Jarablus. However, Turkey explicitly stated it was also targeting the YPG and YPJ.
Below, Hawzhin Azeez, a women's rights activist and former politics lecturer at Newcastle university and member of Kobane Reconstruction Board in Rojava, looks at what is at stake with Turkey's invasion.
Turkey is currently attacking the northern Syrian city of Jarablus with the aid of Turkish backed Islamist groups and US air support. Not only are the Kurds and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in Rojava surrounded in the south by Russian supported regime forces, ISIS in the centre along with an amalgamation of other wannabe Jihadists vying for power and land grabs, but now in the north the US endorsed invasion of Syria by Turkey and its ISIS clones is unfolding.
Even worse, though not surprising, is the widely held belief that Massoud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq, endorsed the invasion after a meeting between him and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan yesterday.
Betrayed, surrounded, suffocating amidst the stifling stench of treachery, the YPG-YPJ-SDF — weary from the recent liberation of Manbij and then the conflict with the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in Hasakah — and Rojava will remain indefatigable.
The problem that Turkey, Assad, the US, Iran and cronies face is no longer the "Kurdish Question", which their fascist, imperialist, violently colonial Orientalist minds have always seen as the "Kurdish Problem".
What they face is the “Kurdish Alternative”, an ideology that saw thousands of these freedom fighters to climb Mount Shengal to liberate the Yazidis and fight armies a thousand times better equipped than them, the ideology that was more powerful than any guns or bombs that ISIS and Turkey could throw at Kurds, and ultimately led to the liberation of Kobanê.
The same ideology which burns brighter than the Made-In-USA bombs that are fired by Turkish hands on Jarablus and its innocent civilians right now, and which will act as the guiding light that will lead the displaced to flow into Kobanê, Cezîrê and Afrin.
The free, autonomous zones of liberty, humanity, and resistance continue to exist. They occur and occur and occur and persist and burn bright despite the closed borders, the secret meetings, the alliances made and broken. No longer can we even rely on the mountains, for even they cannot protect us against such wholesale treachery, just as we have never been able to rely on certain Kurds among ourselves.
But the source of our liberation is already within our grasp. In young hands that hold weapons of liberation and freedom, and ideologies of inclusiveness and multiculturalism on the other.
As the imperialist, bloodthirsty vampires of capitalism help each other destroy Syria and Rojava, bombing children into terror and trauma, we rebuild. We take in the hungry, the weary, the displaced and the dispossessed. We take in the very people who were responsible and in charge of our torture, rapes, massacres and oppression in not so long ago yesterdays, and we place the warm cloth of inclusive democracy on their tired, hunched shoulders.
And this is the greatest weapon, the greatest threat, the greatest explosive device of profound change and humanity that they are attempting to suffocate with their terrorist tactics in the pretence of destroying other terrorists that their terrorism birthed.
But our weapon is far greater: Kurdish revolutionary Abdullah Öcalan — the now fragile old man deemed so dangerous that they have forced him to sit alone in a cell for 17 years on İmralı Island — birthed an ideology and a revolution so profound that it destroyed thousands of years of racism and sexism so that weary Arab women can flee willingly into the safe liberating arms of Kurdish women.
The ideology that drives Armenian, Assyrian, Arab, Christian, and others to join hands with the Kurds — willingly, organically, with the blood of their bodies that they place together at the frontlines — to form the alternative.
The legend of Rojava, of Kobanê lives today — breathes, exists, forms and reformulates. Rojava will not be conferred to the past, will not be like the Camelots, the Avalons, nor Homer's Ithaca of yesteryears because too many people have come to know its name and too many are willing to die for it. Not for the Utopia it could be in the distant, unforeseeable future, but the Utopia that it is today.
They don't even know what they are fighting with their war-producing, bomb-manufacturing based alliances: you can kill people, destroy buildings made out of the toughest reinforced cement and metals, but you cannot destroy ideas and free minds.
[Reprinted from Kurdish Question.]