By Zaher Baher from Haringey Solidarity Group and Kurdistan Anarchists Forum.
Expectation and fears
It is very difficult to know what direction the mass movement of people in West Kurdistan will take, but that does not mean restricting us from expectation and analyzing what may affect the direction of this movement and its future. The complete victory or defeat of this big event/experiment that the region, at least for a long time, has not seen depends on so many factors that can be divided into internal ( internal issues and problems inside the movement itself and with the KRG ) and external factors.
However, whatever happens in the end we have to face it, but what’s important is: the resistance, defying and challenging, not surrendering, confidence and believing in making changes. Rejecting the current system and grabbing the opportunities are more important, in my opinion, than temporary victory, because all these are the key points needed to reach the final goal.
The external factors
The direction of the war and the balance of the forces inside Syria:
It was quite clear in the beginning of the people’s uprising in Syria, that, if it was to benefit the Syrian people, then the expected ending of Assad’s regime would not take that long when people united with great support both inside and outside the country. However, after a while, the terrorist groups got involved and changed the direction of the people’s uprising as we all have seen and still see this through the media. This happened because Assad was very clever in implementing a couple of policies which directly affected the direction of the people’s uprising and making his regime strong.
Firstly, he withdrew all his forces in the three Kurdish regions/cantons of Afrin, Kobany and Al Jazera except for a few thousand in the Al Jazeera region as I explained previously. Obviously, a part of the reason for withdrawal was due to pressure from the Kurdish protesters.
Secondly, he opened the Syrian border to terrorist organizations to do what they wanted. We all know by now what happened then. By doing this, Assad managed to weaken and isolate the protestors against his regime and also sent a message to the so-called “international community” to tell them that there was no alternative to him and his regime except the terrorist groups. Do the US, UK, Western countries and the rest really want that? Of course, to a certain extent, the answer is No. It all depends on their interests. These policies have worked very well and changed the direction of the battle completely.
So, there was a possibility of Assad remaining in power, at least for a short time after negotiating with the US, UN, UK and their agents until the next election. In that case, he might have learnt a lesson to change his policy towards the Kurdish people but on his own terms and conditions and not in the way the Kurdish people want.
If Assad was defeated in the war by the terrorist groups with the support of the US, UK, EU and the “International Community”, and they came to power, certainly there wouldn’t
be any future for either the DSA or Tev-Dam. If the modern forces, like the parties or organizations making up the Free Syria Army (FSA) are still not in power, then there is very little chance for the Kurdish people as they do not have a positive opinion of or a good solution for the Kurdish question, let alone when it comes to power. Of course, there are other possibilities of ending Assad’s power including assassination or through a military coup…
The role and the influences of neighbouring countries in the region:
It was very clear that ordinary people in Syria started the uprising due to existing suppression, oppression, lack of freedom and social justice, corruption, discrimination, lack of human rights, and no rights for ethnic minorities like Kurdish, Turkmen and others. Life for the majority of people was terrible; low incomes, the cost of living continuously rising, homelessness, and unemployment all served as inspiration for the “Arab Spring”.
However, the protests, demonstrations and uprising on the ground have been diverted by neighbouring rulers into a proxy war between Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey with the support of the US and Western countries on one side and Assad’s regime, Iran and Hezbollah on the other. The Iraqi government has not announced their support for Assad’s regime but they wanted, and still want, Assad to stay in power because of the close relationship between Shias and Alawites and also because Iran is Iraq’s closest ally, while Iran is also extremely close to Syria. What was left from the neighbouring countries was the KRG’s attitude towards what happens in Syria, due to KRG closeness, and, particularly, its President, Massoud Barzani, to Turkey in every respect. They announced, from the beginning, their support for the Syrian opposition to Assad’s regime. We must note here the double standards and hypocrisy of the KRG as, on the one hand, they are against Assad whilst supporting the opposition but, on the other hand, against the Kurdish in Syria and their popular mass movement while they are one of the main and constructive forces against Assad.
Obviously each country has a big impact as some of them are supporting Assad’s regime and others support the Syrian opposition. What is important here is to know that none of these countries are friends or close to the Kurdish nation in any part of Kurdistan, whether in Syrian Kurdistan, Iraq, Iran or Turkish Kurdistan. They never had a positive view on the Kurdish question and never,, genuinely,, wanted to resolve this question, but they had a positive view on the Kurdish nationalist political parties when these parties were working and fighting in their interests.
The Role of China and Russia:
Although Russia has become much smaller and less powerful than before, it still has weight and power, in competition with the US and Western countries, over its interests. It is no surprise that we now see that Russia cannot reach agreement with the West over Assad’s regime. There is also the fact that Syria, even when Assad’s father was in power, was always in the Soviet camp. This is in addition to Russia being close to Iran which is the main ally of Syria.
With regards to China, China too has its own interests in the region, especially with Iran. Therefore, China tries to protect that interest as it is not to their benefit to see Assad go because it knows that next it will be Iran. So Russia and China’s interests and support for Syria make the war longer than expected. From the above, we can see how two powerful countries would deal with the Kurdish question in Syria, especially with the DSA and Tev-Dam. In my opinion, business and profits decide, in the end, whether or not they will support the Kurdish people in the future.
At present, there is no support for the DSA and Tev-Dam from China, Russia or from the US and Western countries while the Kurds in Syria are the main opposition and fighters against terrorist forces like Isis/IS, through the forces of the PDU and WDU. These units are constantly fighting these terrorist groups in the Kurdish regions of Al Jazera and Kobney.
We can see here the double standards and hypocrisy of the US, Western countries and the rest. They launched a war on terror while the Kurdish people in Syria are the only ones fighting the terrorist organizations seriously, but the above countries do not support the Kurds there. The major reasons for this, in my opinion, are:
1. They are not serious in fighting the terrorists and terrorism because they themselves or their alliance created and supported them
2. They fight the people who believe in Islam rather than fighting the religion itself and its holy book, Quran.
3. They may need this organization again in the future.
4. They do not want to alter their foreign policy or review it.
5. The US and UK support, financially and morally, all reactionary faiths under the name of equal opportunity, freedom and recognizing different cultures. We can already see more than one hundred Sharia Courts in the U.K.
6. The main point is that the mass democracy movement in Syrian Kurdistan, including the DSA, did not create religions or nationalist or liberal power. They know that people in this part of the world have given birth to people power, that they have proved that they can rule themselves through direct democracy without government and support from the US, Western countries and global financial institutions, like the IMF, WB and CBE (Central Bank of Europe).
The Internal Factors:
By internal factors I mean whatever could happen inside West Kurdistan itself. This includes the following:
The civil war among the Kurdish people. Here I do not mean just a war among the political parties inside West Kurdistan but the war between the KRG in Iraqi Kurdistan and the forces of the PDU, WDU and PKK.
There is a very close relationship between the PKK and PYD who are behind this experiment in West Kurdistan and have been very supportive. I mentioned previously that there has been a history of bloodshed between the PKK and KDP and also a sharp dispute between them over the Kurdish leadership.
However, for some time, Abdulla Ocallan, in recent books and text /messages, has denounced and rejected the state and authority. But until now I have not heard that he has rejected his own authority and denounce those people calling him a great leader and who work hard to give him a sacred position. Ocallan’s attitude cannot be correct unless he also rejects his own authority and leadership.
At the moment, the situation is getting worse and the KRG’s relationship with the PYD and PKK is deteriorating, so there is a possibility of fighting between them especially as the KRG is, day by day, getting closer to Turkey. Once this war starts there is no doubt that Isis/IS and others will take part in fighting on the side of the KRG and Turkey. The only way to stop this happening is through mass protests, demonstrations and mass occupations in Iraqi Kurdistan and by friends of Syrian Kurdish elsewhere.
Tev-Dam becomes weak:
As explained above, it was Tev-Dam that created this situation, with its groups, committees, communes and the House of the People which is the soul and mind of the mass movement. Tev-Dam was the major force in setting up the DSA. In general, it is the existence of Tev-Dam that makes the difference to forcing the outcome of what might happen there and to be the inspiration to the rest of the region.
It is hard for me to see the balance between the power of Tev-Dam and the DSA in the future. I got the impression that as long as the power of the DSA increases the power of Tev-Dam decreases and the opposite could be right too.
I have raised this point with the comrades of Tev-Dam. They disagreed with me as they believe the more powerful the DSA becomes, the more powerful Tev-Dam will be. Their reason for this was that they look at the DSA as the executive body, executing and implementing whole decisions made by Tev-Dam and Tev-Dam organs. However, I cannot agree or disagree with them because the future will show the direction the whole movement and society will take.
The PYD and its party structures:
The PYD , United Democratic Party and PKK are behind the mass democracy movement there and are political parties having all the conditions that a political party needs in that part of the world : hierarchical organization, leaders and lead people, and all orders and commands from the leaders coming down to the bottom of the party. There has not been much consultation with members when it comes to making a decision on big issues. They are very well-disciplined, have rules and orders to go by, secrets and secret relationships with different parties, either in power or not, in different part of the world.
On the other hand, I can see Tev-Dam as being exactly the opposite. Many people inside this movement have not been members of the PKK or PYD.Tthey believe the revolution must start from the bottom of society and not from the top, they do not believe in state powers and authority and they come together in meetings to make their own decisions about whatever they want and whatever is in the best interests of the people where they are based. After that, they ask the DSA to execute their decisions. There are many more differences between the PYD and PKK and the Movement of Democracy Society, Tev-Dam.
The question here is: While that is the task and the nature of Tev-Dam and that is the structure of the PYD and PKK, how can a compromise happen? Does Tev-Dam follow the PYD and PKK or do they follow the Tev-Dam, or who controls who?
This is the question that I cannot answer and have to wait and see. However, I believe the answer is probably in the near future.
The fear of Ideology and Ideologists that can became sacred:
Ideology is a view. Looking at or seeing anything from the ideological perspective can be a disaster as it gives you a ready solution or answer, but does not connect with the reality of the situation. Most of the time, ideologists are looking at the words of old books that were written a long time ago to find the solution while those books are not relevant to the current problem or situation.
Ideologists can be dangerous when they want to impose their ideas taken from what has been written in the old books, on the present situation or on the rest of us. They are very narrow-minded, very persistent, stick with their ideas and are out of touch. They do not have respect for other people who do not share the same opinion as themselves. ideologists have many common points between them from religious people to Marxists and Communists. In short, the ideologists believe that Ideology, or thought, creates uprising or revolutions but for non-ideologists, people like me, the opposite is true.
It is very unfortunate that I found many ideologists among the PYD and Tev-Dam members, especially when it came to discussions about Abdulla Ocallan’s ideas. These people are very stuck with Ocallan’s principles, making them refer to his speeches and books in our discussions. They have total faith in him and, to a certain extent, he is sacred. If this is the faith that people have and put in their leader and are scared of him, it is very frightening and the consequences will not be good. For me, nothing should be sacred and everything can be criticized and rejected if they need to be. Worse than this, there is the House of Children and Youth Centers. In the House of Children and Youth Centers, children are taught about new ideas, the revolution and many positive things that children need to be raised with in order to be useful members of society. However, besides, these children are taught the ideology and the ideas and principles of Ocallan and how great he is as the leader of the Kurdish people. In my opinion, children should not be brought up believing in ideology. They should not have teaching on religion, nationality, race or colour. They should be free of them and leave them alone until they become adult when they can decide for themselves.
The Role of the Communes:
In the previous pages I explained the communes and their roles. The communes’ duties have to be changed as they cannot just be involved in the problems where they have been set up and make decisions about the things going on there. The communes must increase their roles, duties and powers. It is true that there are no factories, companies nor industrial sections. But Al Jazera is an agricultural canton involving many people in villages and small towns and wheat is the major product in Al Jazera. This canton is also very rich in oil, gas and phosphates, although many of the oilfields are not in use due to the war and lack of maintenance even before the uprising.
So these are further areas for the communes to involve themselves in by controlling them, using them and distributing produce to the people according to their need for free. Whatever is left, after distribution, the members of the communes can decide and agree to deal with it; sell it, exchange it for necessary materials for the people or just simply store it for later when needed. If the communes do not step up to these tasks and maintain what they do now, obviously, their tasks will be uncompleted.