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(en) France, Union Communiste Libertaire AL #299 - Interview, Francophone fighters: "The Rojava is illustrated by an incredible resilience" (fr, it, pt)[machine translation]

Date Tue, 3 Dec 2019 08:35:55 +0200

Military situation, health, state of mind of the populations, resilience of the democratic institutions, strategy of the command of the FDS ... These militants engaged in the International Battalion of liberation give us their point of view on the period of uncertainty that currently lives the Rojava. ---- In Syrian Kurdistan, the political situation has dramatically changed since October: Turkish offensive with the US green light, then entry into the running of the Russian army and deployment of troops of the Damascus regime. A month later, the autonomous Administration of North-East Syria is living a more than precarious situation: besides the canton of Afrîn, occupied since March 2018, the border towns of Tall Abyad and Serê Kaniyê fell under the cut of the Islamist supplementives of the Turkish army. And on a strip of 5 kilometers deep on the Syrian-Turkish border, the Russian military police and the Turkish army are jointly patrolling.

Nevertheless, armed clashes continue in certain areas, such as Tell Tamer (Girê Xurma in Kurdish). A group of French comrades involved in these fights responded to the questions of the libertarian Alternative. All operate in the framework of the Revolutionary Antifascist Front (RAF), part of the International Liberation Battalion (IFB) [1]of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

Libertarian alternative : Hello comrades, greetings from France and Belgium. Can you tell us a few words about this new group, the Revolutionnary Antifascist Front ?

RAF Francophones: Let's say that our itinerant revolutionary itineraries have crossed at the right place at the right time. We found ourselves together in the International Liberation Battalion, then our personal ffi nities and our common political perspectives logically gave birth to the RAF. We fought together during the Serê Kaniyê battle and then on the Tell Tamer front. We are many autonomous militants, as many communists as anarchists. Among Francophones, there is also a certain post-situationist tendency, but here it does not matter much for us. Our presence in Rojava necessarily leads our political thinking to restructure.

The RAF was founded in November 2019 as part of the International Liberation Battalion.
Although the front is "frozen", clashes persist south of Serê Kaniyê. Who opposes whom ? What is the attitude of the Russians and Turks to this ?

Francophones of the RAF: Effectively there is a stabilization of the military situation. The fighting continues but the intensity is lower. They oppose essentially the FDS to the "Syrian National Army", the Islamic militants of the Turkish army, which it supports with air strikes and shelling. Soldiers of the Damascus regime sometimes pretend to support the SDS with artillery fire, more for the form than anything else. Our operations are therefore reduced, but remain substantial. Last night, one of our IFB friends was injured in an assault. Meanwhile, Russians and Turks build military bases face to face, a few kilometers from each other.

Images of intifada along the border were seen with villagers stealing Turkish military vehicles. What is the prevailing feeling in the population ?

RAF Francophones: The people are enraged to see these patrols on the roads. This is the ultimate event on the part of the Turkish fascist state, which decimates the population and then claims to come and check that it is not arming itself to defend itself. The revolt of civilians is also not without risks: a few days ago, Turkish tanks fired on the crowd and journalists in the area of Kobanê. On 18 November, in the same area, Turkish and Russian armored vehicles saw civilians throwing Molotov cocktails at them.

There is also a certain apprehension, mainly in cities like Manbij, to see the Damascus regime regain control. Hostility is less in Hassakê, where he had retained control of a neighborhood since his withdrawal in 2012.

The regime's soldiers behave like cowboys, refuse to pay shopkeepers, and stage themselves as new saviors. Alas, these saviors are fleeing faster than they arrive on the battlefield. They are calamitous, despite their firepower superior to ours. With such "friends", no need for enemies.

The regime of Damascus symbolizes this contradiction to which every revolutionist confronts one day: that of compromise. Between survival and annihilation, the Kurds have made the choice of survival, and as internationalists, we understand it despite our disgust for the Al Assad clan.

But overall, hostility prevails over the Damascus regime.

In general, there is fairly good cohesion between ethno-religious groups, and particularly between Kurds and Assyrians. Enemy propaganda is attempting - hopefully unsuccessfully - to present this war as the legitimate reconquest of Arab lands, and would like to exacerbate the opposition between Kurds and Arabs. Fortunately it does not take, or little. Even if, obviously, there is a beginning of "religious" war promoted by the Turkish state against the Kurds designated as "disbelievers". This racist speech is supported by attacks orchestrated in close collaboration with the MIT, the Turkish secret services, both north and south of the border.

Russian military police deployed along the Syrian-Turkish border.
Tass Agency
And vis-à-vis the Americans who park around the oil wells, what is the feeling ?

RAF Francophones: Guess. For us revolutionaries, there is no surprise about the utilitarian attitude of the United States with the Kurdish movement. The withdrawal of American support only increased our bitterness about the role of the "international community". For the civilian population, on the other hand, it was felt as a betrayal, and almost a killing, since Trump literally abandoned the people of Rojava to a certain invasion. The US tanks also got their lot of stones and rotten vegetables as they were leaving for the Iraqi border. Finally, with regard to the general command of the SDS, we sometimes have the impression that he hopes in vain for a saving intervention ...

Read also: "Syria-Kurdistan: A drama, a mourning, a changeover", Alternative libertarian, November 2019.
The Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria [2]now. Does it seem appropriate to say that it includes three main poles of power: the Tev-Dem and the elected assemblies [3]; PYD [4]; SDS [5]? Do these poles have a common strategy vis-à-vis Moscow and Damascus, or are there any tensions ?

RAF Francophones: No, that does not seem so relevant to us. The PYD gradually melted away, giving birth to new smaller parties and local organizations, until partly to be confused with the Tev-Dem. We observe above all two poles of power within the rojavi society: a military pole, with the SDS, and a civilian and political pole with the diplomatic representation of Tev-Dem at its head. The latter is dramatically striving to count on the help of the imperialist states since ... the invasion of Afrîn. A deplorable strategy that has obviously not paid off, and on which the FDS have aligned their own strategy, also deplorable. The diplomatic representation of the Tev-Dem is one of the first responsible for the current debacle.

Damascus and Moscow agree to gradually deprive Rojava of the autonomy he could win. On the other hand, we are surprised by the passivity of the Damascus regime in the face of the Turkish aggression against "the integrity of Syrian territory", a theme that is nevertheless redundant in the speeches of Assad and his people. The regime would be more eff ective if Russia promised it convincing military support, but it seems that no one dares to go back to Ankara.

Turkish soldiers and their ANS Islamist auxiliaries (wearing the ASL flag), on a ruined building in Serê Kaniyê, on 23 October
Do the Tev-Dem institutions hold for the moment ?

RAF Francophones: They hold, and do not fail. Except for diplomacy, it has been understood. For the rest, they continue to brilliantly ensure the organization of society despite the ongoing war. This is one of the strengths of the Kurdish movement: the intelligence of adaptation to the most di ffi cult situations, survival at all costs. Outside the combat zones, the lives of civilians are not altered beyond measure by war. Refugees are relocated with some speed, despite their staggering numbers (300,000 according to the Autonomous Administration).

Turkey bombed several grain silos, the hydraulic station which supplied water to half of the canton of Cizîrê, the Serê Kaniyê hospital, and so on. In short, Turkey applies a logic of ethnic cleansing. And despite this, the health services are good ; nurses work twenty-four hours in a row ; the Tev-Dem tries to overcome the lack of water supply by multiplying convoys of tanker trucks ; the communes share staple food stocks ... It is the individuals who are above all, more than the institutions.

Despite all the criticism that can be made of the Kurdish movement, one can not but admire the dedication of its supporters to find solutions despite the accumulation of obstacles. For a poor and war-torn territory, Rojava stands out for its incredible resilience.

Abdulhamid El Mihbash and Bêrîvan Khalid, co-presidents of AANES, tirelessly denounce Turkish aggression.
What does the Damascus regime say ? Does the Syrian Arab Army (AAS) [6]want to absorb the SDS ? What is the atmosphere within the militias about this ?

RAF Francophones:This assumption was issued by the SDF command a few weeks ago, but it was probably a bluff to speed up the military support of the Damascus regime, and perhaps deter NATO and the United States of abandon them totally. There is no longer any question about it and, quite frankly, we do not want to, no one wants such a merger to take place. If this were to happen effectively, it would be the very existence of the Autonomous Administration that would cease, for without its own self-defense forces Rojava would lose much of its revolutionary identity. The YPG-YPJ militias stand out for many, precisely because of their ethical and political maturity. They are among the initiators of social transformations. To amputate the revolution of his vital organs would be fatal to him.

Interviewed on 21 November 2019
by Guillaume Davranche (UCL Montreuil)

[1] "International Freedom Battalion new formation annonce: Antifascist Revolutionary Front" , www.amwenglish.com , November 17, 2019.

[2] The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) is the new name of the Northern Syrian Democratic Federation, adopted in September 2018, and encompassing seven administrative regions: Cizîrê, Euphrates (Kobanê and Tall Abyad), Afrîn (occupied by the Turkish army), Raqqa, Tabqa, Manbij, Deir ez-Zor.

[3] The Movement for a democratic society (Tev-Dem), is the structure uniting grassroots organizations (local committees, municipalities) in Rojava since 2011.

[4] The Party of the Democratic Union (PYD), the sister organization of the PKK in Syria, founded in September 2003, played a vital role in the revolutionary process in Rojava. The YPG-YPJ militias are linked to him.

[5] The SDS include the YPG-YPJ, many Arab brigades, including several from the Free Syrian Army, the Syrian Military Council, the International Liberation Battalion.

[6] The Damascus Army officially bears this ethnic name.

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