Since 2012, Rojava (NE Syria) has become a beacon of hope for the democratic left both in the Middle East and around the world. But how did this happen during Syria’s brutal civil war?Rojava (NE Syria) — Phoenix Media Co-operative
Indigenous communities in Mexico say ‘no’ to political parties and demand self-rule — Phoenix Media Co-operative
Mexico held local elections on 6 June. But some Indigenous communities refused to participate. The party-political system, they insist, has not benefited them; so they want to govern themselves. 27 more wordsIndigenous communities in Mexico say ‘no’ to political parties and demand self-rule — Phoenix Media Co-operative
Some apparently pro-Israel commentators have recently spoken about Rojava (positively). But there’s a big problem. They fail to mention the PKK’s longstanding support for (and from) Palestinians, while also failing to mention its criticism of Israel’s alliance with the Turkish state, and of the ideology of Zionism. That shows either their dishonesty, ignorance, or wishful thinking.
These were the scenes in Palestine when the PKK’s leader was arrested in 1999:
In recent years, volunteers in Rojava have been consistently clear that ‘Free Palestine = Free Rojava’ – that all oppressed people deserve freedom, and that they must unite to further their common cause.
PKK founding member Mustafa Karasu wrote in 2017 (just to make decades of policy totally clear):
Since the emergence of the PKK, we have been against Zionism. We compared the genocide of the Kurds in Turkey with Israeli Zionism and the apartheid regime of South Africa. Since its founding, the PKK has fought side by side with the Palestinians. In 1982, 13 of our cadres fell in the fight against the occupation of Lebanon by Israel. The Israeli state also participated in the international conspiracy against Abdullah Öcalan, and murdered four of our comrades in Berlin. No doubt, we will never forget the support the Palestinians gave to the Kurdish people in the 1980s.
Our attitude towards Zionism has always been ideological. Until today, we stand on the side of the Palestinians and all those who are fighting for a democratic solution in the region.
what is tragic, in addition to the tragedy of Iraq itself, is the fact that the United Nations Security Council member states … are maintaining a program of economic sanctions deliberately, knowingly killing thousands of Iraqis each month. And that definition fits genocide
– Former UN official Denis Halliday, speaking in 1999
We are now in there responsible for killing people, destroying their families, their children, allowing their older parents to die for lack of basic medicines…
Let the Arab world begin to address its own issues and concerns.
Early on in Lexit the Movie, the late Tony Benn says:
In Europe, all the key positions are appointed, not elected.
I’m inclined to trust Benn, and distrust all large, powerful governments. But it seems the above claim requires a bit of context.
The BBC said in 2016:
The [EU] Commission… proposes new legislation, draws up the EU’s annual budget and manages and supervises EU funding… Its president is nominated by the national leaders and then elected by the European Parliament by majority vote. Based on member states’ suggestions, the Commission’s president selects 27 other members of the Commission for a five-year period, each with a specific policy portfolio…
any new legislation proposed by the Commission still has to be agreed by the member states and passed by the European Parliament, which is directly elected by EU voters.
The statement of unelected bureaucrats making decisions in the EU is therefore somewhat misleading.
I would be one of the first to acknowledge that the EU does not feel as democratic as it could or should be… [but] the Commissioners and the Commission are more scrutinised and more accountable than British cabinet ministers…
And he stressed:
it is easy to claim that the EU is run by ‘unelected bureaucrats’, but the reality is quite a long way from that.
That’s certainly what South Africa’s representative told the UN in 2018:
Electronic Intifada reported days later:
during a regular review of Israel’s record at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva last week, the South African representative Clinton Swemmer asserted that “Israel is the only state in the world that can be called an apartheid state.”
(Note: the below comes from my previous Canary article here.)
- Very real frustrations with the Assad regime escalated into civil war in 2011. The interference of Assad’s regional and international foes (Turkey included) contributed to this, as did the regime’s own authoritarian response to protests.
- The Syrian government dug in and the anti-Assad opposition (sponsored by Turkey and other Western allies) became dominated by Daesh and other jihadi forces.
- Fighting against Daesh soon became the (stated) focus of Western intervention in Syria, and deposing Assad became less of a priority.
- The most effective opponents of Daesh, in northern Syria at least, were the progressive Kurdish-led YPG/YPJ of Rojava. Western allies in the region had isolated these forces for years, but they gained international media attention because of their resistance to Daesh. So the West gave them limited strategic support in this fight from late 2014 onwards.
- The Turkish regime, which was soon cracking down on Kurdish rights and democratic opposition at home, became increasingly frustrated with YPG/YPJ-led successes (which it feared would boost the pro-democracy cause in Turkey), along with its own failing efforts to oust Assad. So it shifted its priorities to focus on fighting the YPG/YPJ, and invaded Syria in late August 2016.
- The YPG/YPJ and their allies defeated Daesh in Raqqa in late 2017. And with Daesh effectively out of the way, the West had little use for the YPG/YPJ and allowed Turkey to launch a cross-border attack on them in January 2018.
In short, Turkish involvement has been a given at every stage of Syria’s conflict.
(Note: the below comes from my previous Canary article here.)
As the BBC has noted, Turkey has been a key part of Syria’s ongoing war:
The Turkish government has been a staunch critic of Mr Assad since the start of the uprising in Syria…
Turkey is a key supporter of the Syrian opposition…
its policy of allowing rebel fighters, arms shipments and refugees to pass through its territory has been exploited by foreign jihadists wanting to join IS [Daesh].
And as the Century Foundation thinktank wrote in late 2017:
Weapons had begun trickling into Syria as early as 2011, through backdoor channels organized by Islamist networks, smugglers, merchants, and Bedouin clans, but also with increasingly overt support from Turkey, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia…
Qatar, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia delivered thousands of tons of military equipment delivered to Syria from 2012 onward…
In early 2015, the Gulf States and Turkey sent a stream of no-questions-asked ammunition crates into northern Syria, alongside quality anti-tank rockets released by the United States.
In fact, Daesh (Isis/Isil) commanders previously spoke about relying on “full cooperation with the Turks”. Jihadis reportedly had safe houses in southern Turkey where they stayed before crossing into Syria. There was [paywall] also a “porous” border, through which a “steady stream [paywall]” of jihadis went into Syria. And Turkey consistently failed to cut off Daesh supply lines.