Whither Rojava?

Rojava in Northern Syria was a desert flower, a bastion of liberty surrounded by tyranny and oppression on all sides. However did this come to be? Freedom and democracy in Northern Syria of all places? It seems by all means to be a miracle. This makes the recent Turkish war or aggression against Rojava all the more criminal.

Impossibly amidst a bloody civil war in the heart of the Middle East the Kurdish people with their Syrian sisters and brothers laid the foundations for a genuinely free democratic society from the ground up. They did what the United States has allegedly been trying to do for ages in the Middle East: build a stable and genuinely free democracy. The armed forces of Rojava fought against and defeated ISIS in the region, and proved themselves to be a worthy and valiant ally of the United States. They secured their borders against a fascistic minded Turkey to the North with a (very recent) history of genocide against the Kurdish people and from aggressors on all sides.

The people of Rojava attempted to resolve not only the question of democracy in the Middle East, but also to address the problems of oligarchy, corporate domination, and alienation inherent to Western liberal democracies. They did this by building democratic confederalism, a form of social ecology— a grassroots, ecologically sustainable, libertarian socialist, stateless democracy that did not deprive its citizens of their rights but sought to expand them. They guaranteed the oppressed Kurdish people a homeland and a right to self-determination. They threw off the yoke of authoritarianism so prevalent in the Middle East and did what liberal philistines said was impossible: they made an ethnically and religiously diverse, feminist, anti-authoritarian, secular democracy in the heart of the Middle East that was not subservient to foreign capital. They did what no invading army ever could. And all around the world volunteers came over to join them in their just fight against ISIS, in their fight to build a genuinely free stateless democracy and a homeland for the Kurdish people. In this they not only achieved the stated goal of the United Stated in relation to democracy in the Middle East, but they transcended it altogether. They laid the foundations of a society more free, more democratic, and more open that those of Western liberal democracies, including that of the United States. In 1000 years I suspect that we will speak of Rojava as we speak of the first Greek democracies today.

How then has the United States shown its support of Kurdish democracy? True to its principles, it would have naturally given as much support to the Kurds as it could afford to give, but in truth this is a tragic story of betrayal and treachery on the part of the United States. Today I am ashamed of my country.

In the struggle against ISIS, American soldiers fought with Kurdish soldiers as sisters and brothers. America provided much needed military support, and on the ground it was overwhelmingly Kurdish and Syrian blood that was spilled in this struggle. As allies they fought because they knew the day after the war they would have won their rights, when ISIS was expelled from Syria. Who would have thought they would have been thrown to the wolves by their friends without warning or apparent reason? Of course in return for their alliance it was expected that, as allies, the United States would maintain the minimum military presence necessary to maintain the peace and prevent the inevitable genocide that would come about from a Turkish invasion. In effect, this is all the United States had to do in order to defend freedom and democracy in the Middle East: honor its duty to its allies by maintaining a small military presence on the border capable of deterring what would be a genocide. Trump however, seemingly could have cared less.

Just when victory was won, when ISIS was defeated, the commander in chief of the United States, having used Kurdish forces to defeat ISIS, pulled all troops out of the region signaling to Turkey that it would not interfere if Turkey continued their genocide against the Kurds. The world reacted with shock and horror, even Republicans, at least those Republicans who had not sold their soul to the uncompromising defense of their demagogue Donald Trump, reacted with shock and horror, begging Trump not to make such a decision and begging him to reverse it after he did. Not a single country supports this Turkish war of aggression or the decision Trump has made, apart of course from the tyrant Erdoğan and his lackeys.

This is a crime against humanity. With the stroke of a pen and the tapping of his thumbs on a screen Donald Trump made it abundantly clear that the United States does not support freedom or democracy in the Middle East, only American business interests, that he does not have a single fiber of honor, courage, decency, valor, or compassion in his being. The innocent blood spilled by Turkey in Northern Syria today is on the hands of Donald Trump. For this, he as just as guilty as Erdoğan in this war of aggression against the Kurdish people. This alone should be an impeachable offense.

I have only been able to study Rojava from afar but in spite of my distance I think I can nonetheless speak for the revolution as I see it. On these crimes I have this to say:

Honor means nothing to those who betray their friends on a whim. This is precisely what the United States government has done time and time again to the Kurdish people. It has attained a level of treachery and cowardice unheard of in even the lowest circle of hell. With that the character of the Trump presidency in regards to the Kurdish question cannot be doubted for a moment longer. The American people who know the just cause of the revolution repudiate the actions of their government as the crimes they are. It is a terrible day, my heart is with the people of Rojava and I will support whatever just action they take in response to this invasion. For I am not in Rojava, though a supporter from afar, and I cannot imagine what I would do if I was in such a position.

I ask those fighting against tyranny in Rojava, what can we in the United States do to help?

Even if today it falls and tomorrow the flag of tyranny flies over Northern Syria, Rojava will live on in the hearts and minds of those fighting for a better world for generations to come. It’s green, yellow, and red flag will be flown by a liberated humanity with the same reverence and respect as the red flag of the Paris Commune of 1871. It’s revolution is of no lesser significance than that of the British, American, Haitian, French, Russian and Spanish revolutions, and its cause is no less just.

Though today it may fall, the people of Rojava will not forget the sweet taste of freedom. Though it will take perhaps even years of struggle, they will be free again because they are willing to fight for it, and to die for it. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it –always.”

Rojava can be crushed by tanks and bullets, but it can never be taken out of the hearts and minds of its people. In this, the seed of Rojava will live on in them, and in time it will be planted again, and its planting will bear much fruit.

To Turkish aggressors the spirit of the revolution will say:

In overthrowing me, you have cut in Rojava only the trunk of the tree of liberty. It will spring up again by the roots for they are numerous and deep, and they will bear much fruit.

Death to fascism, freedom to the people!

Down with Turkish war of aggression and tyrant Erdoğan!

Long live Rojava!

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