Continuous armed attacks target people and infrastructure
by Laura Sestini
In Syria, the civil war has not yet ended. It works at low intensity and no one talks about it. Why? What interests are behind the continuous Turkish armed attacks against the North-Eastern territories, with a Kurdish majority, where an Autonomous Region and a Democratic confederalism model have been established? Democratic confederalism is the only social model in the Middle East, which distributes civil and human rights to all cultures of the population residing in the territory, an organization of work in cooperatives, which ensures the means of subsistence for families. A model based on direct democracy, gender equality and ecology. A model that “disturbs” the capitalist and neoliberal organization of Western Nation-states, and beyond.
On these assumptions we wanted to better clarify what is happening in the territory of Rojava, in North-East Syria, by submitting our questions to the Internationalist Commune present on site.
The Confederalism of the Autonomous Region – with a Kurdish majority in – North-East Syria appears nowadays as the only democratic social model in the still chaotic and not at all peaceful context of the Syrian Arab Republic, after the civil war and the passage of the Islamic Caliphate. Yet this model is disturbed by multiple actors. What are the reasons?
Internationalist Commune of Rojava: – The region of North-east Syria (NES) is, since almost 12 years, organized according to the principles of Democratic Confederalism, and with the Autonomous Administration as form of self-government of the people. Based on the ideology elaborated by Abdullah Öcalan, this model is seen by millions as the possible solution for the problems of Middle East and as an alternative to the capitalist system in general. Based on direct democracy, women’s liberation and ecology, with the essential aspect of plurality of identities, culture, ethnicity and religion, this system and its administration have given hope to many people in the world and attract their support, as well as it has been seen as a danger by most of the global powers. International organizations (UN, NATO, etc) and Nation-states, are afraid of the spread of this philosophy and its model, because these, would endanger the fundaments of their power and domination, while create at its place a possibility for free life. On the region of North-east Syria many actors have their interests, US, EU, Russia, UN, and Kurdistan it has always been a very influential region for the situation of Middle East, which is in this time the center of what can be defined as the Third World War. While the western countries have accepted to establish alliances with the people of NES in the case of war against Daesh and of oil trade, they have then played a different role when it comes to the genocide that is happening in the Region. The economic interest that connect them with Turkyie leads these States and institutions to stay silent in front of the killings of hundreds of thousand. The situation of chaos in Middle East is the result of these policies. Creating crisis, staring wars, supporting dictators and violent extremists, have the aim of destabilizing the region in order to be able to continue ruling it through power and violence. It has the aim to prevent and hinder the progresses of any democratic process. Low intensity and special warfare, which attacks on civil infrastructure are part of, have exactly this objective. This can be seen in how these attacks target women, active in these transformative social processes, and in the attacks to infrastructure essential for the development of an ecological system. The ongoing destruction, bombings, lead to the need of continuous fixing and reparation instead of leaving the possibility to direct the resources toward making ecological progresses. In this framework it’s important to see that, at the same time, more and more people around the world, and especially in other countries of Middle East, are embracing the philosophy of Democratic confederalism as a basis for their struggle for freedom and democracy. The voices of thousands of women shouting, in protests in Iran but also in many other parts of the globe, is a clear example of the power and hope that this paradigm can be source of.
Among the major disturbers is Turkyie, which, after having managed to invent a “safe-zone”, with the support of the USA, stealing ground not only from the Autonomous Region, but from Syria itself, has never stopped insinuating itself into the territories with armed attacks. With what justifications?
ICR: – First of all it’s important to be clear on what the so-called “safe zone” really is. This is an area that the Turkish state has occupied in several invasions in 2016, 2018 and 2019, with the excuse of “protection for its national security”. What is happening since the moment of the occupation and until today is the attempt of annexation of the areas, the forced migration of hundreds of thousand of people, who have been forced to leave their land, house and everything they had in order to escape from violence, torture, rapes and killings. Demographic change, ethnic cleansing and planned turkization of the areas has been operated. Gangs of mercenaries, Islamist extremists and fascists groups backed by the regime of Ankara have been installed in the Region. An ecological destruction, with burning and cutting more than 2 million trees, has been carried out. In a framework with this reality on one side and the self-organized society of the Autonomous Administration on the other, the justification that the Turkish state mentions as reason for these attacks is that the region of NES would be organized by terrorists. This excuse appears even more ridiculous when thinking about the heroic struggle against ISIS that the democratic forces of NES have carried and are still carrying on, and on the other hand about the evidences of close relation between ISIS leaders and Turkish state. In addition the invasion of the 30-km stripe of land and the attempt to eliminate the Autonomous Administration are part of the broader program of expansion of Turkey, for the creation of the New Ottoman Empire, and this is visible also by the interference of Turkey in Azerbaijan, Armenia.
The armed attacks by the Turkish military are always very targeted: aqueducts, food or fuel reserves, killings of administrative or political representatives of the Region, schools, hospitals, up to the prison where former Daesh militiamen are detained. So it’s not a real security issue.
ICR: – Just in the last couples of years more than 20 sites for electricity production, water purification facilities, more than 50 schools, hospitals, center for dialysis, food factories, bakeries, collective food storage, clothes and paint factories, printing center, agricultural fields and cooperatives have been attacked by the Turkish state. Civilians, children, farmers, teachers, responsibles of cooperative, representatives of the people and personnel of the Autonomous Administration have been killed and wounded. The flows of water of the rivers passing through NES has been blocked, heavily affecting almost 4 million people. What the fascist regime of Erdogan is doing is trying to destroy the basis for life of the people, in order to make them leaving their land, fleeing, aware that until the people will be on their land, its imperialist expansions could not take place. This because it has been proven that the unity of the society, its connection with its own land are able to stop even the second NATO force and its technology. The reason adduced by the regime of Ankara appear completely without any basis, while the same State is violating every kind of respect for the human rights and the right of life for the people of the Region. What is called “security issue” for the fascist Turkish regime, is the fear of the establishment and spread of democratic ideas and their strength.
Turkey has allies among numerous local militias. Can you describe an overview?
ICR: – When the Syrian civil war started, among the different factions there were also militias groups that since then have controlled some areas in the North west of the country, and now are mainly under the name of Syrian National Army (SNA), and (HTS). Since the first Turkish military operation in 2016, the militias have fought at the service of the Erdoğan’s regime. The SNA, established in late 2017 and composed mainly of Turkmen factions, has grown into a constellaton of militias, including former Free Syrian Army (FSA) militias, armed groups from Deir ez-Zor in eastern Syria, as well as some Sunni Muslim extremist groups. Turkey promoted the formation of a joint command center of these opposition militias, not only at a military level, but also in order to manage the newly-settled territories, in the aftermath of its successful first military intervention in Syria. Most of the current SNA’s militias participated in the 2016, 2018, and 2019 Turkish military operations in Syria and continue to control different areas of the North and West of the country. For more information about this we also want to suggest the reading of the dossier “The Syrian National Army: The Turkish Proxy Militias of Northern Syria” published by the Rojava Information center.
What is the current relationship between the Autonomous Region and the Syrian government?
ICR: – The Autonomous Administration is, since its creation, trying to find a solution of democratic coexistence with the Syrian state. This has been shown by the policies adopted by the Administration, in terms of economy, diplomacy, the proposal of the organization of the Syrian country as a democratic conferderation, and it has been re-affirmed in the recently-approved new Social Contract, which does not strive for any splitting of Syria territory but on the contrary advocates for its unity. On the other hand the Syrian regime has never really show the will to find a similar solution and it is changing its position according to its interests of power. Because of this, until now, the relation between the Autonomous Administration and the regime of Damascus has been mainly based on economical and bureaucratic aspects. One example is related to the oil (petrol) extraction, which takes place mainly in the north East ares of the country, while its treatment mainly in the center and south. This comes from the old planning of the Syrian regime, in order to not allow the people of the region to gain autonomy, and leads to the situation of today where oil is extracted by the Autonomous Administration, sold to the regime to be refined and then bought again by the self-administration. The instability in the relation is due to the fact that the Syrian regime looks mainly at its own power and recognition. This lead to the situation where sometimes the regime acts openly against the people of NES, while other times it seems more open to sit at the same table with the Autonomous Administration, but this opportunistic approach, without a real basis of will, prevents from finding a real solution. In this framework also the relation between Assad and Erdoğan, each of them pursuing its own interests of power, affects the dialogue with the Autonomous Administration.
Turkish propaganda, with Erdoğan’s further victory, is loud and clear. But Europe and the West in general seem unaware of how Turkyie is moving with the Kurds and the Autonomous Region, and in parallel with Iraqi Kurdistan. Silence (accomplice) seems to be the best Western strategy, do you agree?
ICR: – The western countries and the international institutions have shown to act only accordingly to their own interests, being ready to easily step on the values they speak about if these become an obstacle for their political and economic power. When ISIS was a threat, these subjects did not hesitate long to dialogue with the Kurdish people, and the same when it comes to buy oil from the Region, but they decide then to ignore the same population when it comes to interests coming from the relation with Turkyie. In particular in the last years the dependency of many European countries on Turkey has increased. Since the money that EU gave for “handling” of the migrant crisis, and the role of Turkyie within the Ukraine war and the energy crisis, Ankara is trying to make itself more and more indispensable for the western powers, strengthening in this way its geopolitical role. In this scenario the western so-called democracies have no interests in raising their voices against the war and genocide that the fascist regime of Erdoğan is carrying on, and in the same way, the government of Başur, Iraqi Kurdistan, is aligning itself with the same regime that is killing their Kurdish sisters and brothers, in exchange for economical support for the strengthening of the Barzani clan’s power. In conclusion we would like to thank the friends from The Black Coffee, and all the readers, and say few other words. We want to highlight and share with everyone that even in the very difficult situation the region of NES is facing, and with many contradictions, the moral of the people and the will to resist remain high, a source of hope, perspective and strength for many democratic movements and struggle in the world. We believe it is essential to understand, remember and never forget that this revolutionary experience of freedom and liberation would have never been possible without the struggle and the thoughts of Abdullah Öcalan, who is now in prison, in isolation, since almost 25 years and since more than 2,5 years without any possibility of visits even for his lawyers, in a condition of torture, against all the conventions on human rights. On this basis the struggle for his physical freedom, the freedom of his thoughts and the de-listing of the PKK from the list of terrorist organizations, need to be understood as one and as indispensable parts of this struggle for democracy. In the same way the fascist Turkish state, with the use of chemical weapons of the mountain of Kurdistan against the guerrilla, and the already mention attacks on civilian infrastructure in NES, is again violating all the international conventions. We, as internationalists that are taking part in this revolution, want to say to the world that another life is possible, that a free and democratic life is possible but for this we need to support and defend this Revolution, this land and the people. Everyone can do something to don’t let the silence covering this terrible war, from demonstrations, to information work, spreading the news from the Region, artistic and cultural performances etc. We deeply believe that the world, and the whole humanity, deserve this revolution to blossom and spread.
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Saturday, December 30, 2023 – n°52/2023
On the cover: children and women, together, planting trees. All the images are copyright© from Internationalist Commune of Rojava