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By Nick Fredman
March 28, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Sharply different opinions have developed among the radical left in recent years towards the Syrian radical democratic movement led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) — an initially Kurdish-based force which through a series of political and military struggles and alliances has recently formed the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, as a model for a multi-ethnic, non-sectarian, federal and socially just alternative for the nation and the region. Some on the international left have accused this movement of human rights abuses, political repression and collaboration with the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.
I was prompted to write the present notes in response to two articles by Roy Gutman in the US Nation magazine (here and here). But as these articles both sum up and are fairly extreme examples of the left criticisms of the PYD-led movement, it makes sense to discuss some background and previous articles before taking up Gutman.
Dilar Dirik interviewed by George Souvlis, first published at Salvage
George Souvlis: By way of introduction, could you explain what personal experiences strongly influenced you, politically and academically?
Dilar Dirik: As a Kurd, you can never run from your identity, because your identity is essentially political and the level of your political consciousness acts as a self-defense as the only way to secure your survival and existence. That is why insistence on the free expression of your self-determined identity is portrayed as political controversy, nationalism, or terrorism by the capitalist-statist system.
By Davide Grasso
March 15, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from InfoAUT — When Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010 – few of us knew the dimensions of what was about to happen. North Africa and Southwest Asia were ticking time-bombs waiting to explode, waiting to manifest, sometimes rapidly, sometimes slowly, deep contradictions and new paths towards the future. Few among us were aware of how unprepared we were for these events and, initially, for developing a solid analysis of what was happening beyond the Mediterranean.
At the time, a friend told me: "These 'springs' have swept away the Salafis from the history of those countries denying that tendency to be the dominant one among the youth." The following events, up to the present ones, demonstrate how incomplete and one-sided this impression was. We were projecting our expectations on the events. We did not analyze the facts in all their complexity, for what they were, albeit in their ambivalence; we looked at them for what we wanted them to be.
By Tony Iltis
February 27, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Since the Syrian civil war began in 2011, the US has been involved, at first, through arming and supporting groups opposing the dictatorship of Bashar Assad, and supporting allies in the region doing likewise; and since 2014, through its direct involvement in leading an international coalition in an air war against ISIS.
Small numbers of US Special Forces and CIA operatives are also in Syria, supporting different, mutually antagonistic groups in the multi-sided conflict.
The US role in Syria often appears confused and contradictory. This seems set to increase under the new US administration.
By Hawzhin Azeez
February 2, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Kurdish Question — Zahra Shexo bends over her sewing machine and meticulously, but expertly allows the course material to run through her fingers and under the pointed needle of the machine. The sound of over a dozen women’s laughter and conversation intermixes with the repetitive mechanical sounds of the sewing machines in the large room. The sewing room is a Kaleidoscope of different coloured materials, samples, threads and other necessary sewing items. Zahra is the current administrator of the textile cooperative Amargi in Kobane city.
January 18, 2017 –– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from ANF English –– YPJ (Women's Defense Units) Spokeswoman Nesrin Abdullah described Raqqa operation that was launched at the end of 2016 and led by the YPJ as the operation to avenge all women, and said “Raqqa’s liberation is also the liberation of mentalities. Because as the women of the YPJ, we aim not only liberation from ISIS but also a liberation of mentality and thoughts. Democratic culture and fraternal life must be deepened because war is not only the liberation of land. We are also fighting for the liberation of women and men. If not, the patriarchal system will prevail once again.
January 17, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – While I welcome David Bush’s attempt to debate Syria productively, his article reproduces many common mistakes made by socialist activists who have not consistently engaged with the Syrian revolution, and offers little to those on the ground struggling against both the Assad regime, and the various imperialist powers intervening in the country.
Introduction and translation by Richard Fidler
January 7, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Life on the Left with permission – Aided by the bombs of the Russian air force and the bullets of foreign militias organized by Iran, Syria’s president Bashar Al-Assad has finally managed to destroy the eastern sector of the country’s largest city Aleppo, the major remaining pocket of popular resistance to his regime.
In the following article Santiago Alba Rico, a Spanish-born philosopher and writer based in Tunisia, analyzes what the defeat in Syria means for democratic and progressive opinion everywhere, and in particular the far-reaching implications of the failure of much of the international left to identify with and mobilize in support of the people of Syria in their powerful rebellion against oppression and repression. This failure, he argues, was a critical factor that facilitated the efforts of Assad and his reactionary international allies to drown the revolt in a river of blood.
By Roger Annis and Felipe Stuart Courneyeur
January 7, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – David Bush has published an appeal for reasoned and informed discussion in Canada of the war and humanitarian disaster in Syria. He calls for building (or rebuilding) movements in imperialist countries such as Canada to oppose war and foreign intervention in the Middle East. We welcome his appeal and write this essay as a contribution to the discussion David suggests be opened.
We do not agree entirely with David's presentation of the war in Syria. This contribution aims to fill in the gaps we believe he leaves. Hopefully, we can arrive at a better understanding in Canada of events in Syria and from there arrive at a clear path for action by an antiwar left wing.
By David Bush
January 7, 2017 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Socialist Project – The debate over Syria on the Left is toxic. I pulled together 13 points about the situation in Syria I hope can be useful in framing the discussion in a more productive way. The ultimate goal of these discussions in Western countries should be to have a clearer idea about how to strengthen antiwar movements to stop the madness of imperialism.
[Original in English here.]
Par Richard Fidler
23 novembre 2016 — Traduction française par Pierre Beaudet, Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières — En Syrie, les villes rebelles qui se sont soulevées à partir de 2011 contre la brutale dictature de Bashar El-Assad, subissent maintenant un siège génocidaire. Chaque jour, elles sont visées par l’aviation syrienne et les bombardiers russes. Leur combat, s’il échoue, brisera pour une longue période les espoirs du Printemps arabe pour une alternative démocratique et anti-impérialiste dans cette région du monde. Dans ce contexte, les socialistes et les militant-es pour la paix partout dans le monde doivent appuyer le peuple syrien et s’opposer à la guerre.
by Richard Fidler
November 14, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — In Syria the rebel cities that rose up four years ago in revolt against the brutal Assad dictatorship are now under a genocidal siege, bombed and assaulted from the air by Assad’s military aided and abetted by Russian fighter jets and bombers. Their desperate fight for survival, if unsuccessful, will put paid to the Arab Spring and with it the potential for building a democratic, anti-imperialist governmental alternative in the Middle East for an extended period to come. Socialists and antiwar activists everywhere have every interest in supporting the Syrian people and opposing that war.
But where is the antiwar movement?
August 29, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Crisis and Revolt — Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria on 24 August was flagged up as a move to drive the so-called Islamic State (ISIS) out of the border town of Jarabulus. But that is just a cover: Turkey’s not very secret major objective is to crush the 50,000-strong Kurdish YPG (people’s Protection Unit) militia, and overrun the three autonomous Kurdish dominated areas, collectively called ‘Rojava’ by the Kurds.
By Santiago Alba Rico, translated from Cuarto Poder by Sean Seymour-Jones
August 4, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — What many of us feared on the night of July 15 has occurred in the most sombre way possible. If a victorious coup in Turkey would have been terrible, its failure looks set to be no less so. In barely a week, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has detained or purged more than 40,000 public officials: army officers, police, judges, teachers, and journalists. He has declared a state of emergency for three months - which can be extended indefinitely - and has suspended the European Convention of Human Rights, which could open the way – as the government has already insinuated - to the reestablishment of the death penalty and, in any case, normalise repression against all forms of opposition, particularly against the Gulenist forces and the Kurds, who have once again, following the reinitiating of the military conflict a year ago, been converted into the “internal enemy”. In short, to stop or avenge a coup - real and manipulated - Erdogan and his party have at the same time carried out a coup.
Reviewed by Chris Slee
Burning Country: Syrians in Revolution and War
by Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila al-Shami
Pluto Press 2016 London
May 4, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Despite some flaws, this book is a good introduction to the Syrian revolution. It explains why people protested against the Assad regime, and why many of them took up arms. It also shows how the initially non-sectarian popular uprising was increasingly converted into a sectarian conflict.
The main flaws of the book relate to the role of Turkey, and of the PYD (Democratic Union Party) in the struggle in Rojava (the predominantly Kurdish area in northern Syria).
By Ruken Isik
April 5, 2016 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Next System Project -- The struggles of Kurdish women in Rojava Kurdistan (Northern Syria) became known to many people in the world during the brutal attacks of ISIS against the city of Kobane in northern Syria on September 15th, 2014. While Kurdish men and women were trying to defend the city from ISIS militia men with limited ammunition and inadequate weapons, compared to sophisticated weapons in the hands of ISIS, Kurds worldwide took to the streets to be voice for Kurds in Rojava and Kobane. From the battle to defend Kobane onward, Western media and politicians have started to talk about the brave Kurdish women who are fighting against ISIS and its brutal treatment—including enslavement—of women.
But a question still resonates in many ears: how do Kurdish women join the fight against ISIS in such numbers, and why are women on the forefront of the struggle? What is the history behind this remarkable departure from the norm, and what can advocates for systemic change and feminism learn from Rojava?
Tom Anderson and Eliza Egret report from the war-torn city of Kobanê and meet those trying to rebuild what Daesh and US bombs have destroyed
January 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Red Pepper — ‘We have cleared 1.5 million tonnes of rubble,’ Abdo Rrahman Hemo (known as Heval Dostar), head of the Kobanê Reconstruction Board, tells us humbly as we sit in his office in Kobanê city in November 2015. But as we walk through the bombed streets, with collapsed buildings all around us and dust filling our lungs, it's hard to believe that Kobanê could have been any worse. ‘We have estimated that 3.5 billion dollars of damage has been caused,’ he continues.
It's been one year since the US bombing of Kobanê — then partly occupied by Daesh — and most of the buildings are still in tatters. Kobanê is in Rojava (meaning 'West' in Kurdish), a Kurdish majority region in the north of Syria that declared autonomy from the Assad regime in 2012.
Read more about the Kurdish struggle
18th Oct 2015
Amnesty International Report, published on 12 October 2015 and titled, "We Had Nowhere Else to Go – Forced Displacement and Demolitions in Northern Syria" is contradictory and puts the credibility of the organisation at stake.
1. The Basic Argument to Respond
1.1. The content of the report contradicts its title, and this is enough to prove its invalidity and to call for the prosecution of its authors.
1.2. The accusations in the report contradict Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
2. Supporting Arguments
2.1. Hurling unsubstantiated accusations without sufficient evidence.
For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Turkish jets have reportedly launched their heaviest assault on Kurdish militants in northern Iraq since airstrikes began last week, effectively ending a two-year truce. Over the past week, the Turkish military has launched combat operations on two fronts: one against the self-proclaimed Islamic State in Syria (also called Daesh and ISIS or ISIL), another against Kurds inside Turkey and in northern Iraq, where Kurdish groups have been fighting against the Islamic State. This means Turkey is now essentially bombing both sides of the same war.