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(en) Italy, Livorno: 2012 - 2022 The example of Rojava (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sun, 22 Jan 2023 08:56:42 +0200

Among the anniversaries that have marked this year 2022 that is about to end, among many historical events, one concerns a fact that ten years ago made little news, but which started a process, still ongoing, which has aroused over the years enormous attention for having released a great revolutionary potential in an area marked by one of the most violent inter-imperialist conflicts in recent decades. ---- On July 19, 2012, what is known as the Rojava Revolution began. In the context of the Syrian civil war, in the power vacuum left by the weakened Assad regime, the People's Defense Units (YPG), a militia of the Democratic Unity Party (PYD), assumed control of the city of Kobanê, along the border between Syria and Turkey, occupying government buildings and access roads to the city. From that moment, in that northern part of Syria which the Kurds call Rojava, Southern Kurdistan in Syrian territory, a real revolutionary process began. The forces of the central authorities are deprived of authority and removed, the YPG and YPJ take control of the territory and the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), an umbrella organization created by the PYD, reorganizes society with the aim of applying confederalism democratic. Democratic confederalism is the new ideological paradigm elaborated within the Kurdish movement and adopted by the Kurdish Community Movement (KCK) in the 2000s. The PYD is part of the KCK but also the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) active in Bakur, the Northern Kurdistan in Turkish territory and the corresponding parties active in the areas marked by the Kurdish presence in Iranian and Iraqi territory. It is the movement that refers to Abdullah Öcalan, founder of the PKK who has been in prison since 1999, and which claims to have abandoned Marxist-Leninist ideology between the 1990s and 2000s to embrace democratic confederalism, an eclectic ideological paradigm, which also assuming libertarian references proposes an ecological, feminist and democratic perspective. But the main cornerstone of democratic confederalism is the rejection of the nation-state, a key issue for a party that is the spokesperson for a minority, the Kurdish, in a region, the Mesopotamian, marked by the presence of states with a strongly nationalist matrix, such as Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. After decades of guerrilla warfare with the goal of independence, for the construction of a new state entity based on the Kurdish identity, the perspective changes radically. The idea of independence through a new nation-state with its own borders is abandoned, and is replaced by the creation of forms of territorial self-government that can represent the cultural plurality of the different peoples of the region, without predetermined borders, without a single linguistic identity, ethnic or cultural. It is in this perspective that the TEV-DEM initiates the establishment of forms of self-government: cooperatives, people's houses, women's houses, a decentralized political system on several levels, from the district council, to the canton, up to the highest level, a system that has never become one-party over the years.

This process took place in a very particular context. In 2011, the Mediterranean is one of the areas where the conflict between institutions and protest movements born in the context of the great global economic crisis of 2007/2008 is strongest. But if in Europe the class movements are unable to scratch the policies of social butchery and the protest of the political class only generates new forms of legitimization of more authoritarian power, along the southern coast of the Mediterranean instead a real insurrectional cycle overwhelms the dictatorships. After Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, Syria is also affected by this disruptive movement which is called the "Arab spring". To prevent these processes from calling the neocolonial order and with it the social order itself into question, the global and regional powers decide to intervene both with direct military engagement and with the support of "new" power groups, or by creating "counter-revolutionary" gangs and armies or in any case charged with ensuring the interests of the government that arms them on the ground. This leads to civil war in Syria. At a time when the war sweeps away from the scenario of Syria any possibility of a social transformation from below, the self-government of Rojava represents, not without contradictions, a space in which to give substance to the aspirations for freedom that animated the movements of those years.

Turkey's internal situation also played an important role. With the bloody repression between the spring and summer of 2013 of the large protest movement that was born in Gezi Park in Istanbul against the authoritarian and business model of the religious conservative government led by Erdohan's AKP, the revolutionary left and the opposition generally seek a strategy for the overthrow of the ruling power bloc. When all margins for peace talks between the Ankara government and the Kurdish movement close, the perspective becomes clear: to join forces for change on both sides of the border, between Turkey and Rojava. Between 2014 and 2015 this perspective grows and matures together with the international solidarity that knows, between the exodus of the Ezida population from the mountains of Shengal and the siege of Kobanê, the moment of maximum attention. From 2015 until 2016, with the massacres and internal war, the Turkish state unleashed a ferocious repression to physically eliminate the opposition and forcibly prevent the concrete development of a common perspective of liberation between Syria and Turkey.

Over the years the revolutionary process has always been under attack from many quarters and many argue that it has effectively stopped. Often even on these pages, as in many public initiatives, we have faced, even on a critical level, the limits and contradictions of what has never qualified as an "anarchist revolution", but which undoubtedly represents an experiment in transformation social exceptional in times like these, and it cannot fail to arouse not only our interest but also our solidarity commitment. The war brought by Turkey, by proxy or directly, with the successive invasions of Afrin in 2018, of Serekaniye in 2019 and today with the bombing of Kobanê. The need to wage war against the Islamic State and the various counter-revolutionary gangs in the region. The military and diplomatic intrigues of the powers present in the field, from the USA to Russia, to Iran, up to the troops of Damascus themselves, have often isolated the experience of Rojava, demonstrating how formally enemy states easily find an agreement when it comes to settling a blow to a dangerous revolutionary prospect. The continuous war has certainly weakened the prospect of profound social as well as political change. It is one of the most classic problems in the history of revolutionary movements, that of the contradiction between war and revolution. But the contradictions, the elements to discuss are many. The question of private property in a predominantly agricultural economy devastated by war, the question of the extraction of fossil resources, the establishment of the Autonomous Administration of North-East Syria and the specter of the crystallization of state institutions which could make forms of self-government, the administration of justice, the management of thousands and thousands of prisoners of war citizens of European countries who refuse to take them back, preferring to leave them as a destabilizing element in Rojava. Elements that could not be summarized in a short article, which would not give due space to such important issues and how they have developed over the course of a decade.

But one thing is certain, even if this experience were to terrifyingly end in war, even if contradictions were to take over and block the transformation process, Rojava would still have an extraordinary example to give to the world. The rejection of hegemony and the recognition of the plural nature of society is probably the most original and important message of this process. One of the most visible concrete implications of this assumption is the construction of forms of coexistence, co-management, cooperation between the different identities, populations and cultures present in that region. This is an aspect that has never failed in the experience of Rojava, it has never gone backwards, on the contrary it has grown and developed over time. Many sympathetic when Rojava began to be talked about, with a gaze not always free from neocolonial lenses, exalted the importance of these practices of coexistence and tolerance in a land that has always been marked by sectarian, religious and ethnic conflicts, by the massacre of minorities, by "tribal" warfare, by the oppression of women, by the blood rule of one group over another. But the true importance of all this I think we have only now been able to understand. While in civilized Europe there is a return to fighting in the name of ethnic and linguistic nationalism, and the lies about cultural and blood identity become, again, a distinction between "friends" and "enemies". In the context of war in Europe, even some subjects among those who politically supported the revolution in Rojava today are lining up to support the "right to defence" of a people, whether they speak Ukrainian or Russian. Overcoming the idea of the people as a linguistic and ethnic unit that constitutes a nation, recognizing the plurality of the cultural composition of a region, the class division of societies, the oppressive role of states, seems to have become difficult in today's Europe. We can find answers precisely in those lands that many considered "tribal". The perspective of democratic confederalism proposes possible paths, rejecting the nation state, recognizing plurality, rejecting the polarization imposed by war and developing a third way. After all, the Kurdish movement arrives at democratic confederalism after the ferocious war that in the early 1990s caused massacres and devastation of villages in Northern Kurdistan in Turkish territory. Democratic confederalism was an attempt to construct a peace strategy. Not understood as the absence of war or as an agreement between governments, but as solidarity between the oppressed and exploited classes. An often overlooked aspect that shows us the revolutionary value of peace.

Dario Antonelli

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