The West has an obligation to protect Rojava

8 months ago I wrote an article on Trump’s plan to withdraw support for the northern region of Syria known as Rojava but a last minute resignation within the US armed forces swayed Trump to reverse his decision. Sadly, trump announced via tweet that support for N.Syria, including Rojava, will be withdrawn, with the absurd assertion they don’t deserve support because they weren’t there at the battle of Normandy. By Wednesday, Turkey had already began to ramp up plans for a ground ‘offensive’, citing a need to protect Turkey from terror threats in the region.

As I write this piece, bombs rain down on the people of northern Syria and Rojava, a people who have been continually at war for the best part of the last decade. Trump has claimed he is withdrawing troops on the basis that the US needs to remove itself from the Middle East entirely. However, he is only moving 50 troops from the north of Syria to protect them from the subsequent Turkish invasion, green-lighting the invasion and inevitable destruction of Rojava and its people. This is nothing less than a betrayal – if not an unsurprising one – of the Kurdish people who have been allies to the US in defeating ISIS. As a consequence, the precariousness of the 90,000 ISIS prisoners that the Syrian Democratic Forces now hold, pose a serious threat to the resurgence of ISIS as a regional power. As well as this, Turkey is using the idea of the resulting Syrian refugees as a political pawn to gain European approval for their invasion, threatening to let 3.6 million refugees into Europe if the EU recognises the offensive for what it is – an invasion. Some, like Spain, have shown their colours and expressed support for the invasion.

What we must not also forget here is that Turkey is a NATO power (the second largest in numbers) and hence is supported and armed by other states like the UK and Spain. In fact, the UK has almost doubled its supply of arms to states on its own human rights watch list, including Turkey. Therefore, the British state is also complicit in this invasion: the ever turning wheel of profits from war spins on.

As discussed in my original article, the area known as Rojava was created out of the ongoing Syrian civil war, underpinned by the ideas of radical feminism, social ecology and democratic confederalism. It was originally conceived of by Murray Bookchin and later developed by the imprisoned leader Abdullah Öcalan.

Since those beginnings the region has developed dramatically. However, we must take into account that although advances have been made on many fronts, there still remain many contradictions and issues that have not be solved, we must be pragmatic and try not to meet this revolution with the starry-eyed enthusiasm some of us previously held; it is not a perfect democracy, free of oppression and suffering, it is a revolution in progress with clear goals and should be viewed as such, supported and encouraged.

Nonetheless, it has been proven as a beacon of hope for a different kind of democracy, a different kind of life, for many around the world. It has inspired many from the globe to its cause under the banner of internationalism, through initiatives such as the Make Rojava Green Again Project, addressing the war of attrition Turkey and Assad have waged on the ecology of Rojava; the very soil and land the people inhabit.

Unsurprisingly this burgeoning society has caused reactionary responses in the so called west, such as the banning and confiscation of the Make Rojava Green Again book in Germany and the removal of passports of internationalists planning to aid the civil society projects.

With the invasion of Rojava by Turkey and the west’s implicit backing, clearly a war of ideas is at play. A war between a proto-fascistic NATO nation with an agenda to wipe out the Syrian Kurdish population and a hopeful political project.

It’s clear that what is really at stake is the lives of many Syrians. With Turkey’s invasion many will die and many more will be displaced (The international rescue committee predict that the offensive could displace 300,000 people living in the area), causing more misery and suffering to a community that has already suffered enough at the hands of autocratic regimes.

There is hope, because as mentioned in the original article, by an international volunteering effort. The Kurdish people and the wider population of Northern Syria have been resisting effectively for years and will not roll over now.

The US should reconsider their decision to dump the people of Rojava and instead use diplomatic pressure along with other NATO allies to prevent the invasion (reinstating the no fly zone on the North Syria border) and most importantly recognise, with support, the autonomy and freedom the people of Rojava deserve. As the citizens of these states we should provide our own forms of opposition and resistance to this injustice because if Rojava falls, we all fall.

If you believe in democracy, read below:

Rise up for Rojava

Information on the ideas behind Rojava

The internationalist commune