Kobane is the Kurdish Thermopylae: We are all Kurds now

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As I’m writing these words this morning, the situation is becoming direr for the Kurdish resistance in Kobane. So far, the resistance has bravely faced the 22 days long assault lead by ISIS. Meanwhile, here in the West, there are a lot of conflicting views regarding the supposed defeat or victory of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). One thing is for sure, though. The struggle of the PKK and the YPG will go down in history and may have the opportunity to mobilize the whole of Kurdish people in a renewed struggle for “national’’ liberation.

Protests erupted yesterday in the Northern Iraqi Kurdish Autonomous Region, Turkey, in Rojava (the Syrian portion of Kurdistan), and Iran in support of the Kurdish resistance in Kobane, but also in support of what has come to be known as the Rojava Revolution: the struggle to establish a network of autonomous communes, which function within a framework of radical direct democracy.

Unfortunately the spontaneous uprising of thousands, if not tens of thousands of Kurds throughout Kurdistan and beyond was met with tear gas and violence by the Turkish authorities. The clashes between Turkish law enforcers and protesters claimed several lives as of the latest news.

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“ISIS murderer, AKP complicit.” From a protest in Istanbul, Turkey on September 21, 2014.

Meanwhile, the United Nations called for direct action in support of the Kurdish combatants to prevent a massacre. Several Western government officials have also voiced their concerns about what they think will definitely be a major military setback, if ISIS were to overrun the Kurdish forces in Kobane. So what’s preventing the Western powers from attacking ISIS? Wasn’t that exactly the main reason for our intervention?

Many of the proponents of an intervention against ISIS have championed the idea, that without the support of the Turkish government, the long-term defeat of ISIS seems implausible, and that in order to defeat ISIS any international coalition needs Turkish support. This being said, however, think, for instance, of the picturesque moment, when Turkish tanks turned their backs on Kobane. If the non-involvement of the Turkish forces is an indication of anything, it is that the Turkish government has no interest in stopping ISIS’s assault against Kobane.

Little is known of the Turkish “non-involvement” in the past three years during the war in Syria, but one thing is certain. The policy of “non-involvement” was merely a façade. There is strong evidence that the Erdogan administration, in a strategic gamble to topple both the Assad regime and prevent the establishment of a Kurdish autonomous enclave in Syria, allowed the smuggling of weapons and of jihadists through Turkey to ISIS. There are also allegations that Turkey was complicit in helping ISIS find commercial outlets to sell its oil. Isn’t that amazing? Somehow, all major contributors of this so-called coalition of the willing, United States, Britain, Qatar, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, have contributed in some shape or form directly in establishing ISIS’s hegemony in the region.

Given that the Turkish government has for decades fought the PKK (the Kurdish Workers’ Party, the Marxist wing of the Kurdish resistance) and oppressed the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination, in Turkey and throughout the region, it’s not surprising that as of today Turkey has no interest in saving Kobane.

It is my firm belief that that not only do global left-wing movements have a lot to learn from the Rojava Revolution, but the fate of these movements is undeniably linked to the struggle of the Kurdish forces in Kobane.

The revolutionary thesis of Rojava is the overcoming the paradigm of the nation-state. The theory of democratic confederalism, which was theorized by the previous and now jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Öcalan, in the first volume of his prison notebooks entitled the Roots of Civilization. Drawing extensively from the theories of libertarian municipalism, social ecology, and communalism, notably elaborated by Murray Bookchin, the PKK have succeeded in creating a radical new blueprint not only for left-wing movements in the region but also throughout the world.

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The PKK, through the KCK (Group of Communities in Kurdistan), has created a unique synthesis of eco-socialism with an important emphasis on the aspects of the notion of ungrowth; decentralized libertarian socialism, with the setting-up of a unique structure of decentralized and communal direct democracy; and of feminist and alter-globalization theories through the deconstruction of the theory of the nation-state, the participation and citizenship of all of the diverse array of ethnic groups enshrined in their constitution.

It is my heartfelt wish that it won’t, but Kobane may fall, like the workers’ councils of Barcelona fell to the hands of Franco’s fascist thugs during the Spanish Civil War, but its memory and the project will live on. For the sake of humanity, it is our duty to support and to remember the awesome struggle and ideal of the Rojava Revolution. It is my wish, that through the lessons learnt from Kobane and the Rojava Revolution, we will see the dawn of a reinvigorated Kurdish struggle, and also the dawn of a new chapter in left-wing movements.

Amidst the chaos unleashed by the opening of the Pandora’s Box that is neo-liberal capitalism, Kobane is the Thermopylae of the Kurdish people and of everyone who dares to dream a better future for all of humanity.

A luta continua.

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