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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL Décembre - international, Syria: The Kurdish left at the hour of truth (fr, it, pt) [machine translation]

Date Fri, 5 Jan 2018 08:23:43 +0200

As the armed opposition is on the wane and Daesh temporarily eliminated, diplomatic dealings intensify to decide the country's future. Without waiting for their results, the federation constituted de facto on the liberated territories must raise several economic and democratic stakes. ---- Since the fall of Raqqa and Deir Ez-Zor, the Syrian civil war has entered a new phase. The level of violence has dropped significantly in the country, now divided between three rivals. ---- First, the Assad regime with its Russian and Iranian godfathers, has regained confidence. ---- Secondly, the armed rebellion, without unity, released by its Turkish, American, European and Saudi support, is circumscribed to a few regions in the west. ---- Tertio, the Arab-Kurdish coalition of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which has supported most of the fighting against Daesh with the support of Moscow and Washington, is trying to play its card.

The SDF now holds all Syria east of the Euphrates and eliminates the last jihadist pockets, with the support of US and French special forces. On the other side of the river: the army of Bashar al-Assad, its Russian chaperones and the troops coordinated by Tehran: Hezbollah, Iranian troops and Afghan mercenaries. Some armed skirmishes have already taken place around Deir Ez-Zor but, as long as Russians and Americans are there, the " armed peace " will certainly continue to prevail.

YPJ militiamen on the front line against ISIS, in the Serê Kaniyê (Ras Al-Aïn) region, in 2014. * Yann Renoult
Russia favors a federal state
How, now, to end the war ? After a year and seven rounds of talks in Astana and Sochi, the trio Moscow-Ankara-Tehran, which now presides over the destinies of Syria, gradually approximates its views on the political transition and maintenance (provisional ?) Of Bashar Assad in power.

The main stumbling block is finally Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), whose fate divides the partners. Damascus, Ankara and Tehran would willingly scratch the map, if there were the dissuasive presence of Russian military units in Afrin, and the United States in Kobanê and Cizîrê.

Neosultan Erdogan has put Anatolia on fire since the summer of 2015 to crush the Kurdish intifada. Turkish tanks now occupy northern Syria, have almost encircled the township of Afrin and regularly threaten invasion.

Read the review of Olivier Grojean's book, The Kurdish Revolution. The PKK and the fabrication of a utopia.
Damascus and his Iranian godfather are in the same mood. Since the summer of 2017, the pro-Iranian media have come out of their reserve and spread slander against the YPG and the SDS, accused of being handled by the CIA, by the Mossad - a classic rhetoric in the Middle East - but also to do ethnic cleansing and be accomplices of Daesh, which does not lack spice ! [1].

In reality, these three nationalist regimes can only withstand a historically subordinate people, now intends to enforce their rights. As a result, Ankara and Tehran still blocking the invitation of the PYD party talks in Astana and Sochi on the future of Syria [2].

Russia, on the other hand, considers that the inclusion of the Kurdish left is necessary for the success of a possible peace process, and advocates a federalisation of Syria, respecting the autonomy of Kurdistan, even regions east of the Euphrates [3]. The United States would also be in favor, because it would allow them to maintain military bases in the region, for all purposes - the anti-jihadist struggle, of course, but also the containment of Iran, which has become the obsession of the axis. Riyadh-Washington-Tel Aviv.

From the point of view of the Kurdish left, the options are therefore limited: there are imperialists who want to destroy it, and imperialists who want to use it. It is a non-choice, and it is fraught with danger.

While diplomats are working far from Syria, the Kurdish left is giving priority to consolidating democratic confederalism in the liberated territories. It means getting local people to participate, which is a huge issue.

The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria in December 2017 (click to enlarge)
Advance with and despite the feudal
Recall that the project of the PYD and its militia YPG-YPJ is not the independence of Kurdistan, but a confederal system that would associate all the ethno-confessional components of Syria on the basis of a " Social Contract " with accents progressive.

In December 2016, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria was formed, which includes the three historic Kurdish cantons - Afrîn, Kobanê, Cizîrê - and a fourth predominantly Arab canton, Shahba, which elected its self-administration in March 2016. This fourth canton, whose main city is Manbij, is currently cut in two by the Turkish occupation zone.

The liberated areas further south - Raqqa, Deir Ez-Zor, the Euphrates Valley - have not yet been formed into cantons, have not held elections, and have not been integrated into the federation. . They are under the provisional administration of the SDS and local councils. The Raqqa Civil Council, for example, includes local activists who have just returned from exile, but most of all ... sheikhs and other tribal leaders.

A paradoxical situation for the Kurdish left, forced to cope with people who formerly collaborated with the El Assad regime, then made a deal with Daesh. Now, they are complying with these Kurdish militia and militiamen who must seem to have fallen from another planet with their " social contract ", their democratic communes and their equality between men and women. Difficult to circumvent them considering their local weight, but there is no doubt that these feudal chiefs will return their jacket at the first opportunity.

The challenge is therefore to support the local development of a left that adheres to the project of democratic confederalism, as was done in northern Syria with the birth, in September 2014, of the Syrian National Democratic Alliance. (TDWS) [4], several of whom were elected to self-administration in Shahba Township.

The list of the TDWS in local council elections in Shahba Canton, in December 2017. Democratic confederalism gains the support of the Arab population.
It is a sign, among others, of a growing adherence to democratic confederalism among the non-Kurdish population of Rojava. As for the Kurdish opposition, it has clearly diminished. In 2016, several small parties distanced themselves from the PDK - Massoud Barzani's " liberal-feudal " party in Kurdistan, Iraq - and stopped boycotting the confederal institutions.

Still, some events worry. Thus, on November 4, in Manbij, dozens of traders led a protest strike against compulsory recruitment - each family must send a son into the armed forces. The militia and militia of the PYD are accused of trying to break the strike force by reopening shops, and have arrested several protesters who wore banners hostile to the SDS [5]. The Daesh threat now being ruled out, conscription goes badly. And it will not go better with authoritarian methods.

In a school in Qamislo, in 2014. After decades of prohibition by the nationalist regime, residents of Rojava know how to speak Kurdish language, but not to write it. * Yann Renoult
Still no energy autonomy
But the main problem remains the lack of economic autonomy of Rojava. The region still lives under Turkish embargo ; trade with the regime in Damascus and with Iraq is precarious. Damascus, which still pays the salaries of civil servants, has suppressed those of most teachers, under the pretext that the schools of Rojava, now bilingual and applying a different pedagogy, are " anti-national ".

The agricultural sector (wheat, cotton, market gardening) is doing well, but energy production is struggling. The hydroelectric dams of Tichrine and especially Tabqa turn into under-regime, because they were damaged by Daesh, but mainly because Turkey, which controls the Euphrates upstream, deliberately divided by three the flow of the river.

Finally, the region, which has oil wells, but no refinery, suffers from a shortage of fuel [6]. More generally, the question of hydrocarbons engages the future. While the Kurdish left says they want to build an ecological and autonomous economy, what to do with the oil fields of Eastern Syria ? Their exploitation could quickly bring back the necessary currencies for the reconstruction of the country. But, to obtain the logistics, it would be necessary to accept the intrusion of the multinational oil companies [7]... and the massive corruption that goes with it. In this regard, Iraq's Kurdistan, led by Massoud Barzani's KDP, is a counter-model.

William Davranche (AL Montreuil)

Oil extraction in the region of Dêrik. * Yann Renoult

Rojava only has small-scale refineries (here, near Hassakê), which causes additional pollution. * Yann Renoult

[1] The Voltairenet.org website is the main French-language channel of the Iranian state. For those who doubt the fabulist talents of his boss, the charlatan Thierry Meyssan, do not miss his articles where he explains that Saleh Moslim, the co-chairman of the PYD, is in fact a " spy " Erdogan. Both want to create a Kurdish state in Syria so that Turkey will deprive its Kurdish population. This diabolical plan would have been concluded during a " secret meeting " at the Elysee, with the complicity of François Hollande, in full battle of Kobanê !!

[2] " Syria: the postponement of Sochi, revealing the obstacles that Moscow must overcome ", East-Day, November 18, 2017.

[3] " The text of the draft Syrian constitution proposed by Russia revealed ", Sputnik, January 26, 2017.

[4] His website: Twds.info .

[5] " Residents of Manbij protest against conscription in Kurdish militias " , on Zamanalwsl.net, November 5, 2017.

[6] Mireille Court & Chris Den Hond, " A utopia in the heart of Syrian chaos ", Le Monde diplomatique, September 2017.

[7] Some Russian, American and French emissaries (Total) are already on the alert in Qamislo, according to the testimony of Raphaël Lebrujah (Initiative for a democratic confederalism).

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