The middle-east has become a selective nightmare of drone strikes, obvious propaganda, civilian deaths, blow-back, Islamic fascism, Saudi money, a massive refugee crisis and imperial strategy. What can a progressive do?
The Syrian civil war, funded by the Saudi and Qatari Wahabbists against their religious opponents, the dictatorial Alewite government of Bashar Assad, has seen any progressive content in the rebellion subsumed by the Al Nusra front and various ‘good’ jihadis. The ‘Free” Syrian Army is now under Sunni jihadi control, while Daesh controls the other half of the rebellion. At the present, it looks like a later version of the imperial crusade against Saadam Hussein, but this time with the U.S. letting proxies do the fighting and the religious affiliations switched.
Rolling Stone has just published an article that will peak the interest of anyone interested in actual fights for socialism in the middle-east. The article is titled “The Dudes vs. ISIS.” In spite of the stupid title, it is straight reporting. In Kurdish-controlled sections of northern Syria, the Kurds are carving out an egalitarian society led by the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). The YPG is mostly Kurdish, but also contains Christian Assyrians, some Arabs and a group of western leftists. It is led by a former Marxist-Leninist, Abdullah Őcalan, who has now become a supporter of the writings of the anarchist Murray Bookchin. THIS is unique.
The Kurdish people have been denied national self-determination and are now trying to achieve it in the form of “Rojava,” in a multi-sided fight with Daesh and sometimes with the Turkish military, with little help from the purely nationalist Kurdish Peshmerga in Iraq. Kurds live in Turkey, Iraq and Syria and have been denied national independence since the colonialists drew the boundaries of the middle-east. According to the article, they have liberated an area the size of Massachusetts of 4 million people, and are instituting a secular, social-democratic government run by peoples assemblies, which protects the rights of women, advocates ecological sustainability and limits capital. This is unlike almost anything else in the middle-east – which is for the most part a bastion of theocracy, the bazaar, military dictatorships and failing states.
Young anarchists, communists and independent leftists from European countries like Italy, Britain and Spain and also from the U.S. have been traveling there, some to the socialist-controlled city of Sulaymaniyah, Iraq, and then on into Rojava to take up arms. Since Spain and perhaps some deserters in Vietnam or volunteers with the Sandinistas, this is one of the rare instances of American leftists who have no love for bourgeois pacifism to be able to directly fight for what they think is a socialistic society. The internationals in Rojava formed a sniper group, then their own company, but are still far below the numbers of internationals that went to Spain to fight the fascist Franco. Some 60,000 went to fight in that war. The article in Rolling Stone personally profiles some of the young men, mostly disaffected with their lives under U.S. capitalism. Some have been killed, some have returned a number of times, some are still there. But the number of internationals in Rojava may grow.
Daesh is afraid of women fighters and both the YPJ and now the Yazidi religious minority have women under arms. According to the article, presently the YPG is moving on Raqqa on the Euphrates in northern Syria, along with other forces. Raqqa is the ostensible capital of Daesh’s brutal ‘caliphate.’
Three cautionary points here. One, the U.S. government can prosecute anyone who goes to fight for groups the U.S. might deem ‘terrorist.” The PKK is still declared a ‘terrorist’ organization because of U.S. anti-communism and Turkish pressure. The Feds have used this law to jail Somali teens who traveled to link up with the Islamic fundamentalist El Shaabab in Somalia. They could use it to prosecute those who go to fight for Rojava if they change policy. Two, the U.S. government has military embedded with Kurdish forces besieging Raqqa. However, those advisors can be withdrawn at a moments notice, as leftist Kurds are only being backed because they are actually effective against the anti-working class elements in Daesh. Once the reactionary Turkish government and the U.S. decide the Kurds are dispensable - boom! Three, Raqqa, while having some Kurdish civilians living there, might be a trap to exhaust the YPJ/YPG and the PKK in a bloodbath, with other factions pick up the pieces.
Nevertheless, the article is an eye-opener and shakes the view that the middle-east is a hopeless ‘mess’ of bad possibilities. This opening in the middle east is based on the collapse of the colonialist 'state' system imposed by the West. It also reflects the weakness and decline of the U.S. military and government, which has failed time after time to impose their will on the middle-east and in places like Afghanistan. Support Kurdish independence and socialism. Support Rojava.
February 23, 2017