The scene is one as old as the long history of the Middle East. A child mixes straw and dung to light a fire, some of the straw on his knee. His face is obscured by a beanie so that this child – not an infant but still young – could be any child.
Behind the child is a wall. Such structures are common throughout the Middle East, but it seems symbolic. The dribbles of concrete from its construction make the wall, in rural Homs, seem to weep, for this child and for Syria.
After Turkish forces took the previously ISIS-held town of al-Bab on February 23, clashes have intensified in northern Syria between Turkish forces and local proxies occupying an enclave in northern Syria, on one hand, and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the other.
The SDF is an alliance of progressive armed groups — the largest of which are Kurdish-based Peoples Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ) — that is subordinate to the grassroots democratic structures of the Democratic Federation of North Syria.
Amid the horrors of Syria’s multi-sided civil war, a ray of hope has broken out in the north.
Led by left-wing Kurdish forces in Rojava following a 2012 insurrection that liberated the area from the regime’s control, the Rojava Revolution aims to build a new system on the principles of women’s liberation, a multi-ethnic participatory democracy, ecology and solidarity.
Revolution in Rojava: Democratic Autonomy & Women’s Liberation in Syrian Kurdistan
By Michael Knapp, Anja Flack & Ercan Ayboga (translated by Janet Biehl)
285 pp., $38.95
Rojava, which is Kurdish for the “west”, is to be found in Northern Syria. In the middle of a conflict zone, marked by the war against the Assad regime, a Turkish invasion and ongoing conflict with the brutal jihadists of ISIS and al-Nusra, the Kurds and their allies are creating a new kind of democratic system.
New international talks aimed at ending the Syrian conflict may be unlikely to succeed, but they do mark shifts in the alignment of competing forces.
The United Nations Security Council unanimously voted on December 31 to support a ceasefire in Syria that started the previous day. The latest round of international peace talks are scheduled for January 23 in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana.
Aleppo and the humanitarian crises has dominated international media in the past weeks. News articles with exceedingly dire headlines have increasingly dominated and many heart wrenching images have emerged of Regime brutality.
The Kurdish people are an oppressed nationality without a state, whose homeland is currently divided between five countries in the Middle East. Despite this, the left-wing Kurdish movement in Syria’s north is not fighting for a separate nation state. Rather, it is seeking to unite all ethnic groups and religions to fight for an autonomous, participatory democracy as part of a profound social movement that puts women’s liberation at its heart.
The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on December 18.
The capture of formerly rebel-held East Aleppo by the forces of the Bashar Assad dictatorship and its foreign allies has been hailed by Assad and his Russian and Iranian backers as a decisive victory over their opponents that will end the war that has devastated the country since Assad used military force against a civilian protest movement in 2011.
The statement below was released by the Party of the Labouring Masses (PLM), a Filipino socialist group, on December 14.
The bombs are falling on Aleppo as we issue this statement and the people of Aleppo are sending their final messages and last minute appeals to avert what can only be described as genocide by a brutal regime against its own people.