ROJAVA: A Utopia in the Heart of Syria’s Chaos

 
   from KDN  with thanksWhile battling the Islamic state, Kurds and other ethnic groups in Northern Syria are trying to install a political project. They call it the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria”.

This project is at opposite to the religious project of part of the Syrian opposition, but also to the Arab nationalist project of the Syrian government. And it’s also opposed to an independent Kurdistan.”

We don’t want a Kurdistan for Kurds, but a democratic federation for everybody,” they say. From Qamishli to Kobane, from Membij to Raqqa, this story describes the difficult implementation of a new political experience in Syria, despite the obstacles of a the war and a suffocating embargo.

A written version of this report can be found in the September 2017 issue of Le Monde Diplomatique: “Une utopie au coeur du chaos Syrian” and “Experiment in self-rule in Rojava” in their English-language version (partly reproduced  here below). a film made by Chris Den Hond and Mireille Court Duration: 45 min. Filmed in July 2017



Below is the first part of the script  for the above video from the English version of Le Monde Diplomatique

Experiment in self-rule in Rojava

Autonomous enclave amid violence of Syrian conflict.

The now autonomous (and multi-cultural) territory of Rojava is attempting localised, egalitarian government in Kurdish regions won back from ISIS in northern Syria.

We arrived at night, but the heat in Qamishli was still oppressive. As soon as we left the city’s small airport, still under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s soldiers and police, we entered the territory of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, or Rojava (‘west’ in Kurdish). At least two million people (60% Kurds) live here on land reclaimed by force from ISIS. The territory, along Turkey’s southern border, is bounded by the Euphrates and Iraq.

Since 2014, Syrians living here have been part of a political experiment inspired by Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), imprisoned by Turkey since 1999.

The PKK and its Syrian ally, the Democratic Union Party (PYD), abandoning Marxism-Leninism, have taken inspiration for over a decade from the libertarian communalism of the American environmentalist Murray Bookchin (1921-2006). Rojava’s foundational text, the Social Contract for the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. was adopted in 2014.

It rejects nationalism and advocates an egalitarian society with equal representation, and respect for minority rights.YPJ Spokeswoman Nasrin Abdulla

Rojava is now de facto autonomous. Apart from the tiny Damascus-controlled enclaves of Al-Hasakah and Qamishli airport, the region is run by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), made up of Kurdish fighters from the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ) and contingents from Sunni Arab, Yezidi and Christian militias.

There are huge YPG flags at Qamishli’s many checkpoints, where the (autonomous) Rojava police carefully inspect vehicles. Suicide attacks by jihadists are a permanent threat; an attack on 27 July 2016 killed 44 people and injured 140. And Qamishli’s dark streets contrast with the bright lights of the Turkish cities of Nusaybin and Mardin just over the border.

Energy solutions

In this region with abundant natural resources, the issue of energy illustrates the challenges the new authorities face. In Rumeilan, (…)

complete script , in French original HERE.,. https://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2017/09/COURT/57879

1) An English translation is available at civiroglu.net/the-constitution-of-the-rojava-cantons/.

(2) Abdullah Öcalan, ‘Democratic Confederalism’.

(3) Press release, 31 July 2017.

(5) ‘Syria: Abuses in Kurdish-run Enclaves’, Human Rights Watch, New York, 18 June 2014.

(6) ‘Human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations in the Syrian Arab Republic, 21 July 2016-28 February 2017’, United Nations Human Rights Council, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, Geneva, 10 March 2017.

(7) See Vicken Cheterian, ‘The destruction of the Yezidis’, Le Monde diplomatique, English edition, January 2017

 

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