Middle East

Thu
26
May

Rojava: Democracy and Commune

CrimethInc blog
May 19th, 2016

In the latest installment in our series exploring the anarchist critique of democracy, guest author Paul Z. Simons offers us a meditation on revolutionary forms of organization. Drawing on his experiences in Rojava in 2015, he contrasts conventional democratic practices with what he has seen of democratic confederalism and evaluates the federation of communes as a model for North American anarchists. At a time when the ruling order has been discredited but there are very few proposals for how else to shape our lives, Simons suggests some much-needed points of departure.

Lessons from Rojava, Part One:

Mon
16
May

Challenging the Nation State in Syria

by Leila Al Shami
Fifth Estate #396, Summer 2016

Syria's current borders were drawn up by imperial map makers a hundred years ago in the midst of World War I as part of a secret accord between France and Britain to divide the Mideast spoils of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. As the colonial state gave way to the post-independence state, power was transferred from Western masters to local elites.

The three major discourses which grew out of the anti-colonial struggle—socialism, Arab nationalism, and Islamism—all fetishized the idea of a strong state as the basis of resistance to Western hegemony. In the case of Syria, it led to the emergence of an ultra-authoritarian regime where power is centralized around one man in Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, bolstered by the state bureaucracy, and security forces. But today, new ways of organizing have emerged which challenge centralized authority and the state framework.

Thu
18
Feb

Iraq: Yazidi women take up arms against ISIS

Hundreds of former ISIS sex slaves have formed an all-female battalion to join an assault against their former abusers in northern Iraq. The battalion—the "Force of the Sun Ladies"—is made up of some 120 women who escaped ISIS captivity, and are now being trained for battle by the Kurdish Peshmerga. Another 500 are waiting for training. Cpt Khatoon Khider of the Sun Ladies told reporters: 'Whenever a war wages, our women end up as the victims. Now we are defending ourselves from the evil... We will do whatever is asked of us... Our elite force is a model for other women in the region. We want everyone to take up weapons and know how to protect themselves from the evil." The Sun Ladies are part of the Yazidi militia now preparing an offensive on ISIS-held Mosul with Peshmerga forces. The UN says ISIS still holds some 3,500 people captive in Iraq, the majority women and girls from the Yazidi community.

Thu
18
Feb

A Commune in Rojava?

by Alex de Jong
New Politics
Winter 2016 Vol:XV-4 Whole #: 60

The siege of Kobani by Islamic State (ISIS) brought worldwide attention to the Syrian Kurdish PYD (Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat, Democratic Union Party), the leading force in the Kurdish-majority areas in northern Syria. The PYD calls this region Rojava—literally meaning “land of the sunset” but also translated as “West Kurdistan.”

The discourse of the PYD, revolving around terms like democracy and equality and stressing women’s rights, exercises a strong attraction on the worldwide left. Likewise, the struggle of the YPG/YPJ fighters (Yekîneyên Parastina Gel, People’s Protection Units/Yekîneyên Parastina Jinê, Women’s Protection Units), organized by the PYD against ISIS, receives widespread sympathy.

Mon
01
Feb

In Yemen, the US finds itself fighting alongside al-Qaeda

by Soapy (Libcom.org)

The US claims to be fighting a war on groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, but you wouldn't know it by looking its actions in countries like Yemen.

Wherever the US intervenes, al-Qaeda seems to prosper. Just take a look at the quickly growing group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) based in Yemen.

Prior to 2011, AQAP was little more than the ragtag remnants of various al Qaeda groups who had fled to Yemen after being nearly destroyed in their home countries. As of 2011 AQAP had a meager 300 members, its low membership reflected the fact that across the Middle East al-Qaeda had been nearly decisively defeated. By around 2010, al-Qaeda in Iraq had been almost completely destroyed, Afghanistan was home to a mere 100 al-Qaeda members, and seeing the writing on the wall, the al-Qaeda affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group had publicly denounced al-Qaeda and cut its ties with the group.

Mon
01
Feb

Our attitude towards Rojava must be critical solidarity

Previously I have written so many articles in Kurdish and English about Rojava but this one is different. In this article I am not talking about the positive sides of Rojava only, in fact, I cover the negative sides as well. And also the article is not just about Rojava, it is also about Bakur ( the Turkey part of Kurdistan) .

I know it is difficult for many people to accept criticisim about both movements Rojava and Bakur for different reason. However, I am trying to assess both fairly and I am happy and open to receive different opinions and criticism.

By Zaher Baher
January 30, 2016

Thu
21
Jan

This One Small Book Explains the Inspiring Rojava Revolution

by Steve Rushton
Occupy.com

Rojava’s social revolution deserves more global attention and solidarity. The Kurdish autonomous region in Northern Syria is a working experiment creating a society based on direct democracy, with women’s empowerment central in that model. It is being organized beyond and outside a state-centric capitalist system; mutual aid and cooperation are challenging structural exploitation and inequality. Remarkably, all of this emerges out of the Syrian crisis where the predominantly Kurdish Rojava experiment continues despite an existential fight against ISIS, the fascist and genocidal caliphate.

Fri
15
Jan

The Sieges in Syria

from IRIN

LONDON — At precisely the same time as aid lorries pulled into the besieged Syrian village of Madaya on Jan. 11, too late to save those who had already starved to death, convoys also entered the besieged areas of Fua and Kefraya. The timing was no coincidence. Last week's deal to allow aid into Madaya, which is surrounded by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, including Hezbollah fighters, was more of a swap by warring parties than a humanitarian gesture: the same militant group inside Madaya surrounds Fua and Kefraya.

That this was the only way the war's belligerents could agree to rescue the estimated 42,000 civilians of Madaya, who had reportedly been eating spiced water and tree leaves, points to the complications of delivering aid through a blockade.

Fri
15
Jan

Rojava 2015 – A Review

The following article was written by somebody who currently resides in Rojava for the Crimethinc Ex-Worker podcast’s review of the year 2015…

Dear friends,

A friend told us you‘re collecting impressions and reviews on the year 2015 out of a emancipatorian, revolutionary perspective, which seems quite a good idea to us. It’s always good to strengthen our collective consciousness and awareness; to understand the unity of all the revolutionary processes, the great story we‘re in – the global struggle for a new world, in which all worlds fit.

We‘re writing you from Cizre Canton, Rojava, Syria, as some friends, who came here from central europe. We wanted to learn from the Kurdish struggle and connect our different backgrounds to its great treasure of experiences, its philosophy and its methods of organizing.

Sat
19
Dec

Kurdish Resistance Against the Curfews in Bakur

From a comrade in Turkey:

After the stalling of the peace process between the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Kurdish freedom movement (in short, the KFM, which supports the legal political party called the People’s Democratic Party [HDP]),  a new phase of oppression has begun through the imposition of draconian curfews. According to HDP Co-Chair Figen Yuksekdag, the curfews have so far affected 1.3 million people, with 200,000 forcibly displaced. Resistance against the curfews are emerging in Kurdish cities in Turkey (in the region called Bakur in Kurdish). Anarchists and libertarian socialists should give global support to this resistance.

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