Turkish Anarchists on the Fight for Kobanê

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CrimethInc

In summer 2013, we interviewed the Turkish group Revolutionary Anarchist Action (Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet, or DAF) about the uprising that began in Gezi Park. At the end of summer 2014, we learned that DAF was supporting the fierce resistance that residents of the town of Kobanê in northern Syria were putting up to the incursion of the fundamentalist Islamic State.

During the civil war in Syria that began with the Arab Spring, the Kurdish region of northern Syria, known as Rojava, asserted its autonomy and began carrying out experiments in horizontal organization. Rojava is surrounded on all sides by hostile forces: Assad’s beleaguered Syrian government, which lost control of the region a couple years ago; the Turkish government, known for oppressing its Kurdish minority; other revolutionary Syrian forces, including Islamic fundamentalists and the US-backed coalition known as the Free Syrian Army; the Kurdish regional government in Iraq, a longtime rival of Syrian Kurdish organizations; and, most pressingly, the Islamic State, also known as ISIS—an unrecognized state entity that has gained control of much of Iraq and Syria over the past two years using captured armaments originally brought into the region during the US military occupation.

In the United States, we read corporate media accounts of refugees from Kobanê shouting “Long live America!” from across the Turkish border as US airstrikes aimed at Islamic State militants destroyed their city—a chilling re-legitimization of US military intervention in the Middle East, after the colossal failure of the occupation of Iraq. US Secretary of State John Kerry hinted that Kobanê would inevitably fall to the Islamic State, and maintained that rescuing the city was “not a strategic objective.” Yet in the end, it was not the US military, but the courage of a few ill-equipped autonomous fighters from Rojava that halted the advance of the Islamic State across the Middle East.

With firsthand reports from the region in short supply, there were bitter polemics between English-speaking anarchists about whether to doubt the allegedly libertarian character of the resistance or extend critical support. In hopes of gaining more insight into the situation, we contacted our comrades of DAF once more. After months of waiting, we are finally able to present these two interviews—one offering general background on the struggle in Kobanê, the other delving into analytical detail about the geopolitical implications.

Interview with a member of DAF on the Slovenian anarchist radio show Črna luknja in early January, 2015

Can you give us an overview of the situation in the border region of Turkey and Syria, describing the militias and other key actors that are operating there?

The people living in the region are mostly Kurds, who have been living there for hundreds of years. This region has never been represented by a state. Because of that, the people of the region have been in struggle for a very long time. The people are very diverse in terms of ethnicity and religion: there are Kurdish people, Arabic people, Yazidi people, and more. One of the major Kurdish people’s organizations in Turkey and Iraq is the PKK, and the PYD in Syria is in the same line with the PKK. As for military organizations, there are the YPJ and YPG, the men’s and women’s organizations.

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