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 Sadly, trump announced via tweet that support for N.Syria, including Rojava, will be withdrawn, with the absurd assertion they don’t deserve support because they weren’t there at the battle of Normandy.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

AROUND THE WORLD: Political Prisoners Across Turkey Continue Hunger Strike As Repression Continues

More than 700 Kurdish and leftist political prisoners and 300 Kurdish people worldwide are on an indefinite hunger strike as prison conditions continue to worsen for leftist militants currently imprisoned in Turkey.

The hunger strike was first started by the formerly imprisoned HDP MP Leyla Guven in protest over the increasing isolation of the Kurdish Workers Party leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Guven herself was imprisoned following her public critique of Turkish military actions in the predominately Kurdish town of Afrin.

Worldwide solidarity has been shown to the strike especially within Germany where Left Party and Communist Party of Germany activists joined with Kurdish protesters in numerous cities across Germany. Here in the UK, Imam Sis (a Kurdish rights activist) has been on hunger strike for 52 days and has been supported within his new home of Wales by Liz Saville Roberts MP, of Plaid Cymru. Over in France, Leyla Guven was awarded honorary citizenship of Paris after a motion was tabled and supported by French leftist opposition parties including the French Communist Party and France Insoumise.

The strike has been primarily driven by a desire to end the isolation and horrific conditions faced by Abdullah Ocalan who has been imprisoned since 1999. Since 2011 his lawyers have been refused access to him and have attempted to appeal over 700 times. This is not the first hunger strike in support of Ocalan. In October 2012 several hundred Kurdish political prisoners went on hunger strike for 68 days until Ocalan demanded for it to be stopped.

The hunger strike comes amid a wave of repression by the Erdogan regime and its benefactors against not only Kurdish activists but also against any form of opposition including numerous radical leftists. It also comes as a part of Turkeys long running history of political violence between right wing Salafists and nationalists against communist revolutionary organisations and pro-Kurdish groups.

Turkish politics lives in the shadow of the years of leadership in the late 70’s that cost the lives of around 5000 people from rival left wing and right wing paramilitaries. The scars of the war can still be seen today as this week saw the imprisonment in Germany of key Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front leader Musa Asoglu who is accused of masterminding the bombing of the United States embassy in 2013 as well as numerous attacks against Erdogans right wing Islamist party, the Justice and Development Party.

Asoglu’s Marxist-Leninist revolutionary group (commonly known as the DHKP-C) is part of the numerous armed opposition groups who have long opposed Erdogan and Turkeys authoritarian rightist governance which has been long plagued by numerous military coups and NATO’s stay behind operational forces known as the Gladio Organization. A 38 year old Maoist peoples war has also gripped the country mainly in the east Tunceli region. The current hunger strike can be seen as part of a long running, although not necessarily united, struggle by Kurds and leftists to topple the Erdogan regime.

The ongoing hunger strikes success hinges on the solidarity shown to oppressed groups in Turkey. A hunger strike in the year 2000 by numerous communist organisations with a total of 816 prisoners in 18 prisons against the holding of political prisoners in isolation eventually succeeded after the martyrdom of 122 people, some of whom died by self-immolation. The Turkish opposition faces a formidable challenge against the Erdogan government but its continued resolve will no doubt see it remain committed to ending the authoritarian rule of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Capitalist and The Half Bloody Prince- The West and Saudi’s horrific relationship

In a capitalist world where the warfare and fossil fuel industry marry each other and are ideal for the elite to profit of, there is no doubt that Saudi Arabia proves to be a top customer and provider. Despite the country’s countless human rights abuses in their own country as well as in Yemen and Bahrain, business has carried on as usual. The mysterious disappearance and murder of Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi has once again, fired up the debate of whether countries should continue working with Saudi Arabia.

In 2017, the USA sold $110 billion worth of arms to its Arab ally, the UK sold $1.1 billion and Russia sold $3 billion worth of weapons. In a lot of cases, some of the weapons being sold are illegal to use, transfer or stockpile under international law, for instance, the sale of U.K made cluster bombs and their use in Yemen is a breach of the 2008 Convention of Cluster Munitions (a treaty the U.K is a signee of). Saudi Arabia’s involvement and weapon usage in Yemen has not only intensified the conflict but has been a catalyst to what the United Nations has described as “the worst humanitarian crisis” with between 8,670 to 13,600 people dead, 22 million people displaced, a cholera outbreak as well as a famine caused by the bombing of ports and farming fields. The indiscriminate and ruthless attacks by the KSA has made it difficult for aid to be brought in by aircraft.

The Kingdom’s brutal clampdown in 2011 on anti-government protesters in Bahrain through the use of excessive force and suppression is another example of a lack of regard for human rights.

The stench of human rights abuse doesn’t just stretch to Bahrain and Yemen, it reeks at home too. The Saudi Royal Family rule over their people with nothing but tyranny; from the imprisonment of Safar al Hawali after he attacked the country’s close relation to Israel in a three thousand page book, to the lynching of homosexuals to their involvement in the Khashoggi affair. This has all happened while Prince Mohammed Bin Salman shows the world the illusion of “a progressing Saudi Arabia” with the lift of the women driving ban and the opening of cinemas. To add salt to the injury, the KSA has a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

When confronted with the question of why countries still do business with the Kingdom, many politicians such as Donald Trump have come out with the same answer which is something along the lines of “Saudi Arabia is a key partner in fighting terrorism” however the extreme, twisted and warped version of Islam the Royal Family promote is the backbone of many terrorist groups in the Middle East, including the so-called “Islamic State” and Al-Qaeda (both which have committed attacks on Western soil). In fact an inquiry has gone into investigating allegations of Saudi Arabia financially funding these extremist groups and it seems as if the allegations have rung true because when asked about the inquiry during the Prime Minister’s Questions in UK Parliament, Theresa May responded that the documents contain “information which may be sensitive to the Saudis”.

Surely for any country which wishes to uphold human rights and fight terrorism, this is more than enough evidence to cut all deals with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, right? Under capitalism its economics over people hence politicians and businessmen completely overlook these atrocities. Luckily for Saudi Arabia, it has good relations with the three biggest competitors (The United States, Russia and China) in the international capitalist free market thus it is not seen as an opposition to them but an ally instead. Why not impose economic sanctions on the country in the same way America did on countries like Cuba, Russia and Venezuela? Those countries were/are opposing competitors to the USA, they are a threat to their position in the capitalist markets. Under capitalism, rivers of blood are allowed to run as long as the cash flows.

So should we, the West continue to shake hands and sign deals with the Kingdom? The answer is no, absolutely not. Their disgraceful human rights record should be enough to discontinue relations with them for any decent human. Will the Saudi’s continue being an ally to Western capitalism? Unfortunately yes and it will continue for a very long time. With the country coming close to scraping the bottom of the oil barrel, these “reforms” brought in by the Crown Prince will open the country up to more foreign businesses and building contracts thus saving it from an economic downfall and putting it one step ahead in staying immune in the international capitalist free market.