Rojava, Syria: A revolution of hope and healing

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John Restakis
April 19th, 2017
Vancouver Observer

With images of chaos, conflict, and a seemingly endless parade of horrors dominating the mainstream media, the image of Syria that dominates the popular mind is a kind of hell on earth.

But Syria today is also the site of a remarkable experiment in peace, co-operation, and progressive political change that has profound implications not only for the Middle East, but also for the rest of the world. As someone who has studied co-operative economies for the past two decades, I travelled to northern Syria in November to witness this work first hand.

What I saw there was a beacon of light and promise that belies the gloom and doom we normally associated with the area.

Rojava is a narrow band of Kurdish territory that stretches across the northern rim of Syria bordering on Turkey to the north and Iraq in the east. Home to about 4.6 million Kurds, Rojava is an enclave whose inhabitants have fashioned a place of security, gender equality, economic cooperation, and a unique form of localized direct democracy that has no equivalent elsewhere.

When the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, the besieged Assad regime was forced to withdraw from the Kurdish regions of the north. ISIS and other Islamist militias were making inroads into Syrian territory, aided and armed by Turkey and the gulf states of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

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