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Kurdistan

Unfolding revolution in Rojava: Interview with Özgür Amed, journalist and researcher

"We can say that Kurdish women led the Rojava revolution. Women have a part in every decision taken in Rojava. The colour of the Rojava revolution is the colour of women."

[For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people, click HERE.]

Özgür Amed interviewed by Dylan Murphy

January 17, 2015 – Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The following interview was conducted in partnership between the Rojava Report. Özgür Amed is a journalist, columnist, teacher and activist from Diyarbakir, where he gives courses on cinema and works with local civil society organisations as a project coordinator.

He writes regular editorials for the newspapers Ozgur Gundem and Ozgur Politika, contributes to various journals, assists foreign journalists working in Kurdistan and provides analysis of the region to foreign media outlets. He also conducts research on the Kurdish movement and its author of a book of humour, Works of Kurdology (Kürdocul İşler). He can be reached at ozguramed@live.com

Rojava: Syria's secret revolution (BBC Our World)

[For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people, click HERE.]

November 14, 2014 -- BBC -- Is the Middle East’s newest country a territory called “Rojava”? Out of the chaos of Syria’s civil war, mainly Kurdish leftists have forged an egalitarian, multi-ethnic mini-state run on communal lines.

But with ISIS jihadists attacking them at every opportunity — especially around the beleaguered city of Kobane, how long can this idealistic social experiment last? From the frontlines to the refugee camps, Mehran Bozorgnia filmed in Rojava for the BBC's Our World and has gained exclusive access and a revealing snapshot of Syria’s secret revolution.

COPYRIGHT: Mehran Bozorgnia / Bozorgnia Films / 2014

The Rojava revolution's radical democracy

November 10, 2014 -- Tenk, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Saleh Muslim Mohamed (pictured), co-president of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) representing the independent communities of Rojava (Syrian Kurdistan) and its armed wings, the People’s Defence Units (YPG) and Women’s Defence Units (YPJ), visited the Netherlands. Muslim spoke about the fight of Rojava against the Islamic State (ISIS) and the development of democratic autonomy during the Rojava revolution. Jonas Staal interviewed him afterwards.

Germany: Lift the ban on the PKK!

Kurds protest in Dusseldorf.

By Florian Wilde, Die Linke member

November 3, 2014 -- International Viewpoint, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The West has suddenly begun supporting various Kurdish organisations in its fight against the Islamic State.

So why is the largest Kurdish organisation of all, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), still outlawed? This article discusses current developments in Kurdistan and gives a brief overview of the history of the Kurdish liberation movement and the PKK’s illegal status in Germany. It argues for a radical left strategy focused on defeating the ban on the PKK.

Critique of Patrick Cockburn’s ‘Whose side is Turkey on?’

Fighters of the Free Syrian Army

For more on Syria, click HERE.

By Michael Karadjis

October 31, 2014 -- Syrian Revolution Commentary and Analysis, submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by the author -- The November 6 London Review of Books has published Patrick Cockburn’s latest article (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n21/patrick-cockburn/whose-side-is-turkey-on), ‘Whose side is Turkey On?’. Now, as I support the struggle of the Syrian Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its armed militia, the YPG, against ISIS’ genocidal siege, I have no interest in defending Turkey’s shabby role in this, even if I think both the US and Turkey, in their current difference on this issue are both being totally cynical in their different ways. So this critique will not deal with these issues.

Rojava’s autonomous cantons: What a revolution looks like

"A YPJ fighter (right) next to a very similar picture of a female fighter in the Spanish revolution in the 1930s. The comparison is apt. The presence of such a high proportion of female front line fighters is evidence of a profound social transformation that has been happening in liberated Rojava and  within the Kurdish revolutionary movement."

By Tony Iltis

November 1, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On November 1, protests were held worldwide in solidarity with Kobanê. Protests took place in most countries on every continent. Even in Afghanistan, protests were organised in six cities by left-wing anti-occupation groups.

After withstanding more than six weeks of intense siege by the terrorist group that calls itself “Islamic State” (IS), Kobanê (also called Kobani), a small majority-Kurdish town on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey, has become one of the most well-known places on the planet.

The defenders of Kobanê mostly belong to the Syrian-Kurdish militias, the Peoples Defence Units (YPG) and Womens Defence Units (YPJ). The YPG has both male and female fighters. The YPJ is, as its name suggests, all female. Despite having held three cantons in Rojava as liberated zones since July 2012, until recently these militias were as obscure as Kobanê itself.

Emerging Kurdistan: socialist or capitalist?

"The latest developments in the Middle East have had Western specialists-strategists-analysts playing with their pencils, rulers and compasses, doodling all over their maps of the Middle East."

By Giran Ozcan

October 2014 -- Kurdish Question, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The last decade has seen many maps published by "think tanks" and/or "intelligence organisations" in which the Middle East gives birth to "new nations/states". The latest developments in the Middle East have had Western specialists-strategists-analysts playing with their pencils, rulers and compasses, doodling all over their maps of the Middle East; once again hoping to carve up the region to best fit the interests of their imperial masters.

What kind of Kurdistan for women? (+ video)

By Dilar Dirik

October 20, 2014 -- Kurdish Question, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- "Azadî", freedom. A notion that has captured the collective imagination of the Kurdish people for a long time. "Free Kurdistan", the seemingly unattainable ideal, has many shapes, depending on where one situates oneself in the broad spectrum of Kurdish politics. The increasing independence of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in South Kurdistan (Bashur) from the central Iraqi government, as well as the immense gains of the Kurdish people in West Kurdistan (Rojava) in spite of the Syrian civil war over the last year, have revived the dream of a free life as Kurds in Kurdistan.

Malalai Joya: 'Fiery salutations to the brave women of Kobane'

By Malalai Joya, Afghanistan

October 12, 2014 -- Defense Committee for Malalai Joya, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- These days the bravery and resilience of the women of Kobane has amazed people around the world. To defend their soil from the criminal ISIS murderers, they are neither looking at the US and NATO’s support, nor appoint the West and the US to defend their homeland from terrorists and foreigners, like a handful of mercenary analysts in Afghanistan. The noble men and women of Kobane selflessly defend their honour, freedom, and homeland with their own hands and have accepted to make all kinds of sacrifices for this purpose.

Heroines of Kobane,

I deeply support your inspiring resistance against the criminals of ISIS and humbly learn from your patriotism and pride. You are the unconquerable pinnacle of honour and courage. You have turned to symbols of humanity and freedom-fighting by your unrelenting fight against these ignorant criminals.

Kurdish leader: 'We are the only humanist shield against barbarity'

Gharib Hassou.

[For more on the struggle of the Kurdish people, click HERE.]

October 6, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Gharib Hassou is representative in Iraqi Kurdistan of the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekitîya Demokrat, PYD), the main force of Kurdish resistance in Syria. He is interviewed by Stéphane Aubouard in Erbil for the French left-wing newspaper l’Humanité. Translated by Isabelle Métral. (Note: DAESH is also know as "Islamic State" (IS) or ISIS).

* * *

Why is the conquest of Kobane so important for DAESH?

Kobanê: Heroic defence resists ‘Islamic State’ assault; 'Kobanê will be a grave for IS'

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 search for unity amid relentless fight to defeat 'Islamic State' thugs

Kurdish fighters after liberating Maxmur.

By Dave Holmes

September 2, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Across northern Syria and Iraq, Kurdish forces are locked in fierce battles with the murderous “Islamic State” (IS) armed force. Whether directly or indirectly, the whole Kurdish people is being drawn into this struggle.

In late August the Syrian Kurdish resistance forces announced they had defeated an IS push around the town of Jazaa in north-eastern Syria, close to the Iraq border. Hundreds of IS fighters were killed in the August 19-31 battles.

The IS attempted to cut off the YPG-YPJ (People’s Defence Units-Women’s Defence Units — the military arm of Rojava, the Kurdish liberated area in northern Syria) from their forces over the border in Shengal (Arabic name: Sinjar). The IS wants to establish a corridor linking Mosul and its possessions in Iraq with Al-Raqqa, its main stronghold in Syria.

Iraq, Syria: US-caused 'blowback' as violence escalates; Kurds resist ISIS

Kurdish fighters resist ISIS.

By Tony Iltis

August 24, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a shorter version of this article first appeared in Green Left Weekly -- Since August 8, for the first time since officially ending its occupation at the end of 2011, the United States has been carrying out air strikes in Iraq.

The strikes were aimed at the extremely violent multinational terrorist group that was until recently known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but which renamed itself simply the "Islamic State" on June 29, to reflect that its ambitions are global. The group originally emerged in the aftermath of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

International gangs of Salafi Sunni Muslim fundamentalists have been a feature of world politics since the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in 1989. To fight the Soviet occupation, the CIA, working with Saudi Arabia, had recruited a Salafi force from all over the world but having achieved this cut them loose. International groups of Salafi fighters began appearing wherever there was large-scale armed conflict in the Islamic world, while the mainly Saudi leadership of the network (prosaically named “the Base”, or Al Qaeda) engaged in escalating attacks against their former sponsor, the US, culminating in the 9/11 attacks.

Blowback

Kurds mobilise to fight ‘Islamic State’ over vast front

Kurdish YPG fighters, Rojava.

By Dave Holmes

August 12, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly --The Kurdish people are facing an unprecedented challenge. Across a vast swathe of northern Syria and Iraq, the region’s Kurds are locked in a desperate and heroic struggle with the genocidal forces of the so-called Islamic State (IS). Fighting is raging from Aleppo and Kobane in Syria to Mosul and Kirkuk in Iraq — and all points in between. (The “front” is enormous: for example, the direct distance from Aleppo to Kirkuk is over 650 kilometres.)

Kurds in Syria: ‘We don't want to draw new borders’, says Democratic Union Party

Salih Muslim, president of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, interviewed by Thomas Schmidinger

January 29, 2014 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Salih Muslim (pictured above) shares the presidency of the Democratic Union Party (Partiya Yekitîya Demokrat, PYD) with Asya Abdullah. The PYD is a sister party of the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK and shares the same ideological background as its leader Abdullah Öcalan. The party is the ruling force in the Kurdish areas of Syria and took over three enclaves with Kurdish majorities in 2012.

In an interview with Austria-based political scientist Thomas Schmidinger, Salih Muslim tells about the present and future project of Kurdish self-rule in Syria.

First I want to give my deepest condolences on the death of your son Sherwan, who was recently killed at the age of 17 while fighting against jihadist groups.

Thank you. If we are fighting for freedom we have to pay a price. This was my price I had to pay.

Turkey: The Gezi uprising and the renewal of the left

Ender Imrek.

By I. Zekeriya Ayman

August 30, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly --Ender Imrek is a member of the Taksim Platform, the key organising centre during the Gezi Park protests. He is also former vice-president of the revolutionary socialist party Labour Party-Turkey (EMEP) and a central executive member of left-wing umbrella group the People’s Democratic Congress (HDK).

The HDK played a key role during the Gezi protests, when police brutally evicted protesters seeking to stop the destruction of trees in Taksim Gezi Park in May. He spoke to Green Left Weekly's I. Zekeriya Ayman

* * *

Can you tell us about the HDK?

The HDK formed in October 2011. It was preceded by a progressive electoral bloc (the Labour, Democracy and Freedom Bloc), which got 36 candidates elected to the 550-seat national parliament despite harsh repression and electoral fraud.

Most of our MPs were elected in the Kurdish region. We also won three seats in Istanbul, and one each in Mersin and Adana, where there is a Kurdish population concentrated outside the Kurdish region.

Syria: Military and political stalemate

Aftermath of the Assad regime's shelling of the city of Homs.

By Tony Iltis

January 14, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- The latest United Nations figures put the death toll from the conflict in Syria a third higher than previous estimates by the UN and anti-government activists.

“We can assume that more than 60,000 people have been killed by the beginning of 2013,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said in a January 2 statement. “The number of casualties is much higher than we expected, and is truly shocking.”

The UN has compiled a list of 59,648 named individuals reported killed between March 15, 2011, and November 30, 2012.

She said both government and anti-government forces were responsible for what could be considered war crimes, a January 2 Associated Press report said.

On January 9, Al Jazeera reported: “About one million people inside Syria are going hungry due to the difficulty of getting supplies into conflict zones … The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) is handing out rations to about 1.5 million people in Syria each month, still short of the 2.5 million deemed to be in need, Elisabeth Byrs, WFP spokeswoman, said.”

Conflict static

Abdullah Ocalan, the PKK and the Kurdish struggle

Prison writings: The PKK and the Kurdish Question in the 21st Century
By Abdullah Ocalan, translated and edited by Klaus Heppel; preliminary notes by Cemil Bayik
Transmedia Publishing, London, 2011 [Order here.]

Reviewed by Chris Slee

September 6, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Abdullah Ocalan is (or was -- it is uncertain if he is still alive) the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a group fighting for the rights of the oppressed Kurdish minority within Turkey and in the Middle East more broadly. Ocalan has been held in a Turkish prison on the island of Imrali since being kidnapped from Kenya by Western intelligence agencies and handed to Turkey in 1999.

This book was written in prison, as part of an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. It was later adopted as a manifesto by the PKK at its 2002 congress.

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