The People’s Democracy Party (HDP) leader Selahattin Demirtas, who won nearly 10% in the recent presidential election. The HDP is leading a big campaign of solidarity with Rojava against the IS assault.
By Dave Holmes
September 27, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Besieged since September
15, the northern Syrian Kurdish-majority city of Kobanê (Arabic name:
Ayn al-Arab) has mounted an heroic, all-out resistance to the murderous
'Islamic State' (IS, formerly referred to as "ISIS") gangs.
As of September 25, despite all the superior
heavy weaponry deployed by the IS, it appears that fierce resistance and
determined counterattacks have halted or slowed the assault.
Nonetheless, the IS thugs have pushed closer to the city centre than
ever before and the situation remains perilous.
Kurds flock to Kobanê to join defence
Kobanê, 135 kilometres north-east
of Aleppo, hard up against the Turkish border, is a vital part of the "Rojava Revolution". Its system of "democratic confederalism" is an
inspiring attempt to build a society inclusive of all ethnicities and
religious communities and to empower women. The contrast between this
humane, democratic project and that of the brutal, fundamentalist,
women-hating "Islamic State" could not be greater.
Kurds are the majority
community in Rojava (Rojava means "West" as in West Kurdistan) but many
other ethnic and religious groups are also part of this experiment
(Arabs, Assyrians, Syriac Christians, Turkmen). In this sense, Rojava is
a model for the entire Middle East.
The defence of Kobanê has become a national cause for the Kurdish people.
While tens of thousands
of residents have sought refuge in Turkey, most of the people have not
left. Often residents take the elderly and children across the border
and then try to return to fight.
Workers Party (PKK), which has led a decades-long struggle for Kurdish rights
in Turkey, has called on Kurdish youth to go to Kobanê. Thousands of
Kurds have crossed into the city from Turkey to join the defence effort
led by the Peoples Protection Units-Women's Protection Units (YPG-YPJ). Three-thousand PKK fighters have reportedly left their bases in Iraq's Qandil
Mountains heading for Kobanê.
In the east, a YPG force
is advancing on the IS-held town of Til Ebyad, west of Serêkaniyê (Ras
al-Ayn) between the Kobanê and Cizîre cantons (districts) of Rojava.
This new front is an attempt to reduce the pressure on Kobanê. The YPG
has inflicted heavy losses on the IS gangs but faces stiffening
Kurds have established a
solidarity camp and vigil on the Turkish border opposite Kobanê. It has
been attacked by Turkish police with water cannon and tear gas. The protesters
want to stop Turkey's support to the jihadis and prevent IS wounded
crossing into Turkey for treatment. There are plans to monitor 160 kilometres of
the border to inhibit the Turkish-IS collaboration.
Turkish government supports IS
Turkey, which has long
oppressed its large Kurdish minority, is implacably opposed to the
Rojava Revolution. Without Turkey's support, the IS gangs would be in a
much more vulnerable position.
the Turkish authorities are giving direct support to the IS killers.
Villagers have witnessed trains unloading tanks, weapons and ammunition
at the border opposite IS-controlled villages. Just before the assault
on Kobanê began on September 15, witnesses reported that several
thousand jihadis came in buses and were escorted across the border by
A private hospital,
supported by government-linked entities, has been established in Antep
(Gaziantep, about 90 kilometres from Kobanê) to treat wounded jihadis. It is
hardly a secret, with photos being published in a daily left-wing
And now the Turkish
government is floating the idea of a "buffer zone". The would be
on the Syrian side of the border. Clearly, it would not be aimed at the
IS but at buffering Turkey from the deeply unpleasant reality of a
democratic, self-governing, multi-ethnic, Kurdish-majority Rojava.
Turkey's president Recep
Tayyip Erdogan used to say that achieving a settlement with the
country's large Kurdish minority was his main priority. But Turkey's
flagrant support for the Islamic State would seem to have killed off any
meaningful negotiations with the Kurds.
Arm the defenders of Kobanê
Despite the courage and
commitment of the people, Kobanê faces a tremendous challenge fighting
an opponent backed by state power and armed with superior weaponry. If
the city should fall there will be a massacre and a question mark placed
over the Rojava Revolution. Conversely, if the IS can be checked it
will be a great victory.
The West (including Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott) talks about waging war on the IS but the real
fight against the fundamentalists is being waged on the ground by the
YPG-YPJ and the defenders of Kobanê.
If the West were serious
it would immediately supply artillery, anti-tank missiles and armoured
vehicles to Kobanê to enable it to offset the captured US and Russian
weaponry of the IS. But no one should hold their breath waiting.
Behind Turkey's war on Rojava
By I. Zekeriya Ayman
September 27, 2014 -- Green Left Weekly -- With the US and allied governments, including those in Arab countries, carrying
out air strikes in Syria, Turkey's government is trying to convince
the West it does not support the Islamic State (IS) forces the US is
Newly elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (the former prime
minster) linked the adjective “terrorist” with “IS” for the first
time on September 23 during a US TV interview while attending the United
Nations climate summit.
“Turkey will do whatever needs to be done to stop this terrorist organisation, militarily, and politically”, he said.
But the truth is that IS has received vital support from the Turkish
government. It is known that IS has received crucial support from
Turkey, which include:
- Turkey positioning itself as an easy bridge for IS foreign militants to reach Syria, and Iraq;
Trapped IS militants in Syria and Iraq escaping to Turkey to regroup and train;
IS casualties being treated in Turkish hospitals and even having an hospital exclusively for their use;
Turkey providing basic needs to IS under the guise of “humanitarian aid”;
The Turkish government providing weapons and ammunitions directly to
IS and provided safe passage for arms deliveries from elsewhere; and
- Turkey opening and closing its borders to suit IS.
The main reason Turkey's regime has supported IS, besides its
interest in the toppling the Syrian regime, is the growing Kurdish
resistance in Syria and the creation of a revolutionary “liberated zone”
in the Kurdish territory of Rojava.
The “Rojava Revolution” is the first revolutionary project in the
Middle East not supported by any major political power since the 2011
Arab Spring. This is a real people’s revolution, led by the Kurdish
liberation movement, that is generating hope in the Middle East. It
suggests that revolution may be possible without the backing of the
The Turkish government had a secret policy of maintaining a “buffer
zone” on its border with Syria to stifle the Rojava revolution.
So what has changed? The US has declared its intention to “destroy
IS” and the Turkish government believes this may revive its failed
attempts to demolish the Rojava uprising.
Turkey has been the most enthusiastic government in the world about
the demise of the Bashar Assad regime. At the start of the Syrian uprising the
then-Turkish foreign minister, now Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu,
boldly predicted that “Assad’s days were numbered”.
Turkey's government believed it. But it was the prediction that
collapsed, not the Assad regime. These recent US air strikes have
renewed hopes that Assad may go.
Turkey's government also seems to have calculated that it cannot
rely on the IS to crush Kurdish resistance. Its best bet is actually the
If a ground operation follows air strikes in Syria, Turkey will be
more than happy to occupy Syria from north ― providing an excellent
opportunity to deal with the Kurds.
The US attacks on IS in Iraq and Syria send a clear message to all
that the US is not finished in the region, yet. The US pushed hard for
Sunni Arab countries and Turkey to come on board with the air strikes.
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Jordan and Turkey had no choice but to support the US-led anti-IS “coalition”.
Turkey won’t change its policy to kill the Rojava revolution but will try to kill it from within this coalition.
Turkey's government will pay a hefty price, domestically, for its
support of the US-led coalition against IS. Its religious base will ask
questions. But it is a lower price than it would pay if it went against
Turkey's left is well aware of US plans in Iraq and Syria. The
People’s Democracy Party (HDP), which gained significant support at the
recent presidential elections, is leading a huge campaign in solidarity
with defence of the Rojava city of Kobane against IS attack.
Thousands of Turkish-Kurdish youth trying to enter Syria to join the
war against IS and have clashed with Turkish police at the border ― but many
have managed to join the fight. HDP MPs have visited the Syrian border
to show their solidarity with Kobane resistance and now many other
groups are visiting in solidarity.
[I. Zekeriya Ayman is a Kurdish–Turkish leftist living in Melbourne.]
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From GLW issue 1027
Clashes between the YPG-YPJ forces and the barbarian ISIS [now also known as "Islamic State, or IS] gangs are
continuing around Kobanê. The YPG-YPJ forces are fighting heroically and
inflicting heavy losses on the ISIS gangs. We spoke to commanders
Meryem Kobanê and Meysa Ebdo regarding the latest stage of the fighting.
ISIS advance halted
Meryem Kobanê said that since September 15 the ISIS gangs have been
mounting attacks on Kobanê using heavy weaponry seized in Mosul. She
added that in the last three days the gangs' advance has been completely
halted and that the YPG-YPJ are in control of strategic hills on the
southern and western fronts, where they are continuing to make effective
strikes on the gangs.
We will turn the town into a hell for ISIS
Meryem Kobanê said ISIS was doing its utmost to enter the town,
adding: "we have made a clear decision to resist to the last fighter. We
will not allow them into the town, and have taking effective measures.
But in the eventuality that they do get into the town, we will turn it
into an inferno for them."
We fought for days without food or water
Meryem Kobanê said the YPG/YPJ fighters had put up a stiff resistance
in arduous conditions, “at times we fought for days without food or
water. Since the area is mainly desert and as we don't have armoured
vehicles, a lot of the time we could not convey food and particularly
water to our fighters. The will power and belief of our comrades
overcame these shortcomings. Some fighters sacrificed themselves in
order to get ammunition to the front."
Every inch of Kobanê will be a grave for ISIS
Meysa Ebdo said they would undertake comprehensive operations against
ISIS, adding: "we will of course factor in all possibilities. We are
making our preparations. It will not be easy to take this town. Even if
thousands of ISIS members come into the town, we will turn it into hell
for them and they will be defeated. This is a possibility, but as one of
the commanders here I do not think the gangs will be able to enter
ISIS plans to take Kobanê are a fantasy
“ISIS plans to take Kobanê are just a fantasy. They have yet to learn
of the power of Kurds equipped with the Apocu philosophy." Ebdo added
that the ISIS gangs had aimed to seize the town within a week, but that
Kobanê was not like Mosul.
Allegations of Turkish tank involvement
Ebdo recalled that some of the tanks used against the YPG-YPJ forces
were new, and that it has been claimed they were given to ISIS by
Turkey, adding: "Turkey already supports ISIS. Therefore, we consider it
is highly likely these claims are true."
Turkish state support for ISIS is a betrayal of the peace process
Ebdo emphasised constant Turkish support for ISIS, saying: "We are
aware that Turkey's recent role has been despicable and hypocritical. It
is also a betrayal of peace talks being carried out with leader Apo,
and will have bad consequences for Turkey. The Turkish state should
abandon these policies immediately."
Firat Volkani inflicting heavy blows on gangs
Ebdo said that the Firat Volkani Alliance, established earlier this
month from components of the Free Syrian Army, were fighting determinedly
on the southern and western fronts in particular, adding that since the
attacks began hundreds of young people had been armed, while security
in the town and outside was provided by trained fighters.
The young people should return and join the resistance
Ebdo called on people who had left the town to return and join the
resistance. She said: "there is conflict, so we cannot say anything
about the elderly, women and children having left, as clashes are
continuing around the town. But thousands of people are also returning
every day as they see the stern resistance of the YPG. I want to call on
young women and men to return to Kobanê to join the defence of the
The people of the North must not abandon the border
Ebdo added the following regarding the border protests in North
Kurdistan: "the solidarity protests at the border are a great source of
morale for us. We want these protests that prevent Turkish state support
for ISIS gangs to continue. For us it is important to have something to
rely on as we are encircled on three sides. These actions by the people
from the North should continue with the participation of millions."
Kobanê is invincible
Ebdo concluded by saying: "World public opinion should know that we
have a tradition of never surrendering. We are the successors of the
Beritans and Mazlums and therefore Kobanê is invincible. Kobanê will not
surrender. Even if the gangs take Kobanê it will not be a defeat as we
will not give up. People should know that our resistance and freedom
march will continue."