Duran Kalkan (Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union): 'The revolution in East Kurdistan and Iran brings a change in mentality and lifestyle'
First published at ANF English.
Duran Kalkan, member of the Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union (KCK) Executive Council, speaks about the most important developments in 2022, strengths and weaknesses of the different parts of the global democratic forces, likely developments for 2023 and how "the revolution in East Kurdistan and Iran brought a change in mentality and lifestyle."
We would like to start by asking you what you think the most important event of 2022 for the system was? What kind of a year was 2022, especially for Kurdistan and the Kurds, but also for the Middle East and the world? And what are the possible developments in 2023?
At the end of the year, important events of 2022 are being discussed. Various circles are evaluating the year from their point of view, trying to draw lessons from it. As a movement, we mostly make our evaluations within the framework of the plans for our own struggle. Throughout the year, we have many important days, such as the anniversary of the foundation of our party [November 27], Newroz [March 21], the anniversary of the August 15, 1984 offensive, the anniversary of the International Conspiracy [February 15] and the struggle against it. Therefore, we don't only have one, but many new years in the course of each year. Consequently, we make our evaluation of the year according to the calendar which is based on our struggle.
It is important to evaluate the year 2022: a year of great resistance and a year of war. We can clearly say that in the course of the last year important results have emerged in the world and in Kurdistan, and important experiences have been made. The struggle and the war are now entering a new year. This, of course, is happening on the basis of the results of the struggle in 2022. The new year will unfold accordingly. We can therefore say that 2023 will be a year full of new developments.
The most important event of 2022 for the system of capitalist modernity was undoubtedly the Ukraine war. It started on February 24 and has been continuing for almost a year now. We can say that this war has completely shaped 2022. But it would be wrong to therefore conclude: ´The contradictions and conflicts of the system of capitalist modernity only unfolded in Ukraine. Consequently, the Ukrainian war determined everything and contradictions or conflicts in other areas did not exist´. On the contrary, the center of the system is the Middle East. The center of the contradictions and conflicts, the center of the crisis and chaos experienced by the system of capitalist modernity is the Middle East. Capitalist modernity did not start the Ukraine war after having solved its problems in the Middle East. On the contrary, it began this war after having failed to solve them. In the summer of 2021, the forces of capitalist modernity fled from Afghanistan and were forced to hand over the country to the Taliban. In February 2022, with the help of the Ukraine war, capitalist modernity started to try to maintain itself in the existing crisis-ridden and chaotic environment and transform certain contradictions into new ones. Today, all the contradictions and conflicts of the Middle East still continue. And the same can be said about other parts of the world.
Russia and the United States need to be understood as the driving forces behind the Ukraine war. Even though there is a Ukrainian government, even though it is regarded as an actor in the war and even though NATO, and therefore Europe, has also been involved in various ways, the US and Russia appear to have paved the way for this war. The US-Russia relations, contradictions and conflicts have clearly led to the Ukraine war.
The war started with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. But the original aim of this attack was not to create a state of war like the current one. In fact, the Putin administration had aimed to topple the Zelensky administration. With a one or two-day attack, or even a limited operation, it wanted to overthrow or take over the government and thus put an end to the anti-Russian politics of Ukraine. But Russia did not succeed in this. And this was not because of the Zelensky administration. Rather, the US and NATO have made Russia’s operation fail. What started as a limited operation has now turned into a months-long war. At times, this war intensified and at other times the intensity of the military conflict decreased. The war has concentrated on certain parts of Ukraine and the country has suffered heavy destruction. The NATO states and Russia have tested important weapons in the course of this war. They have emptied their arms depots. Thus, arms monopolies have made new sales. The trade of military goods has accelerated, leading to considerable profits.
In terms of the military outcome, the following can be noted in the case of Russia: Some of its plans have failed. It has so far seized and occupied a few parts of Ukraine close to its own border. It has also challenged the US and NATO. Russia has entered into a war with them and has thus tested itself militarily. The Zelensky administration has not achieved anything. Some say that this administration has proved itself. Yes, it has proved its servitude and dependence on NATO and the US. Most recently, Zelensky had a meeting with US President Biden. This is probably his biggest achievement. In military-political terms, it is the US that has achieved clear results. Besides the gains of the arms monopolies, we can say that the US is the power that has made certain gains.
In the past, French President Macron had said that NATO was brain dead. In fact, NATO had been in a state of disintegration. Through the war in Ukraine, the US reorganized NATO. NATO has now reestablished its effectiveness. With Sweden and Finland joining NATO, this alliance is now being broadened. Also, the US has achieved a confrontation between Europe and Russia to a certain extent. It has created a situation of contradiction and conflict. Previously, there had been contradictions and conflicts between the Biden administration and the Putin administration. Now, the US has involved Europe in this conflict. These are the results achieved so far.
On this basis, the US had actually planned to go even further. Based on the developments in NATO and the war in Ukraine, it wanted to create a Saudi-centered alliance against Iran in the Middle East. It also wanted to form a broad alliance against China in the Pacific. The US tried to take steps in this direction with the Biden administration focusing greatly on both areas. Biden himself made many visits and held various meetings to achieve this. Some have called this ´the 3 NATOs of the US´: by creating a Middle East NATO and a Pacific NATO their plan was to create NATO-like alliances against Russia, China and Iran in all these different regions. This is the point we have reached politically today.
Militarily, the conflict is undergoing a rather slow period right now. The two sides have not reached a ceasefire. NATO says that the war will continue. Russia is in favor of ending the war because there is simply nothing more it can do. But the US wants to continue in order to preserve its above-mentioned achievements. It also wants to involve Europe in all this. This is the outcome of the Ukraine war at the end of 2022. How long will this last? How far will it go? These are issues worth discussing. Will the current state of NATO continue? More importantly, will the US be able to maintain the Europe-Russia contradictions and conflict in this form? This is debatable both at the level of states and societies. Russian society does not approve of war. In the near future, European societies will show a stronger opposition to the current situation, especially due to the gas-energy crisis caused by the Russia-Europe conflict. Therefore, the states will no longer be able to pursue this policy. Europe cannot sustain such a protracted state of war with Russia. If the US tries to impose this on Europe, it will lose. Therefore, the current situation does not seem to be of a permanent nature. Yes, this war has led to certain results, but they are not likely to turn into anything permanent.
Germany’s foreign minister recently went to the United States and offered to ‘share leadership’. Years ago, the US itself made this proposal to Germany. Now, the current German government has responded positively to take over responsibility for the system. Germany has also announced certain decisions concerning its military. It is important to follow closely where this attitude of Germany will lead, because this could have dangerous consequences. If the German capital really started to follow such an approach, this would be the third attempt [after World War I and II]. This could lead to dangerous consequences. Therefore, the contradictions in this area will continue too. The US has already made France a little more active. It has also detached the UK from the EU and made it act more closely towards itself.
On the other hand, the alliance in the Middle East has not worked. The US wanted to create it with the help of the Saudis. But this hasn't worked at all. It has simply failed. There are discussions about whether the US will completely withdraw from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has recently held talks with Iran and, shortly afterwards, with China. In this context, there are people saying that China will further reduce US influence in the Gulf. The US has clearly not been able to create an anti-Iran alliance of Arab states together with Israel. This project also looks like a fiasco.
The Pacific alliance against China has existed for a while to a certain extent. China-US tensions have been a reality for quite some time and will continue in various forms. But China – in contrast to US-American attempts – does not want to confront the US. The Chinese leadership has declared this openly. They are waging an economic struggle. China has also said that it will improve its defense capabilities, but it does not want to pursue the same policy as the US policy of turning China and the USA into two opposing blocs. It wants to prevent various circles from taking sides with the US against China. Rather, China seeks to establish relations with everyone. The country is economically and militarily powerful. And it will continue to increase its influence.
In light of all these developments, what the US seems to have achieved with the Ukraine war does not seem to be of a very permanent, long-term nature. It seems like all this won't last. There are the issues of China and Russia, while the problems in the Middle East continue as well. Germany wants to get more attention and is taking steps accordingly. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) gathered recently. This has made clear the following: Some people calculated that the world would turn into two blocs, like the Soviet-US blocs during the Cold War. But there is no such formation of two blocs because today there exist a great number of powers globally. The primary contradictions and conflicts of capitalist modernity have deepened. There are many centers, and the contradictions between them are increasing. The process that we refer to as World War III continues by intensifying ever more. The system does not possess the strength to get out of its crisis and chaos. For the system, there is simply no way out. Therefore, it is very obvious that the current state of war will continue. The system does not have a solution. It cannot find the exit. Its crisis and chaos are substantial. There is no way to alleviate the system´s state of chaos. Capitalist modernity wants to continue its rule and prolong its life with the help of wars such as the one in Ukraine. It wants to wage wars like the one it started in the past in various areas such as Iraq or Afghanistan, i.e. low intensity wars in different regions. This is the state that the system of capitalist modernity finds itself in today. It does not have the power to get out of World War III. Quite to the contrary, the system can only try to prolong its life on the basis of the current crisis and chaos, i.e. by continuing these low-intensity wars. In this sense, the contradictory and conflictual situation will continue. The system has no way out. It does not seem capable of overcoming this situation with its own strength. This is up to the anti-systemic forces [i.e. the democratic forces]. This has become clear once more. What does this mean? There were the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq. The US and NATO withdrew from Afghanistan. When this happened, everyone expected that there would be no more wars. But what happened in the end? The Ukraine war started shortly afterwards. This means that this system cannot stay alive without war. It rules humanity based on the threat of war. This is how capitalist modernity maintains its hegemony. It constantly produces war. It cannot get out of this circle of war and conflict. Everyone has come to understand this a little better now.
There was also the time before [the Ukraine war] when the system produced diseases. There was coronavirus, and before that there were the bird flu and the swine flu. This system produces all kinds of germs. Leader Apo [Abdullah Öcalan] says [in his 5-volume book Manifesto of the Democratic Civilization] ‘the system is a cancerous system’. This is a very important conclusion. Capitalist modernity produces disease, war and many more threats and dangers for humanity. People have come to realize this more and more. For example, people all over the world have suffered from coronavirus. Some monopolies have made a lot of profit through this and the states have achieved greater control over society. Workers and whole societies have been subjected to even more intense exploitation. They are more oppressed and controlled today. The control of intelligence services and states over people's lives has increased. Under the rule of capitalist modernity, the world is being turned into a prison. Meanwhile, a handful of monopolists are making profits. They benefited from the coronavirus, the war in Afghanistan and are now profiting from the war in Ukraine. The arms monopolies and war barons are making huge profits. But the suffering of societies continues to increase. People are being exploited, their lives have become unliveable and they are leading a life in hunger. This is the current situation of the system of capitalist modernity. These are the consequences of 2022 and the Ukraine war. Basically, there is nothing new on the Western front. Capitalist modernity has nothing new to offer, nothing to alleviate its crisis. It does not have any sensitivity for democracy. Everyone had expected the Biden administration to be a little more open to democracy. Biden made a black woman vice president. People had hoped that this administration would be more open towards women’s freedom, the freedom of peoples; that it would act a little more democratically, or rather be more sensitive to democracy. We also looked at the first images of this administration and thought so too. If these expectations had become true, we would have wanted to use them, to approach this positively. But what we have seen in practice is more war, more diseases and a deepening crisis and chaos. We have seen nothing in terms of sensitivity to democracy. The contradictions and conflicts, crises and chaos of capitalist modernity are deepening. And it is clear that they will continue to deepen even more.
Let's talk about 2022 a little more. What was the last year like for the forces and the movements of democratic modernity around the world?
Yes, this is an important question. In 2022, there were various new developments with regards to the forces of democratic modernity. Not so much in quantity, but rather in the form of increasing ideological depth and qualitative developments. And there have also been certain quantitative developments.
The women’s liberation struggle undoubtedly stands at the forefront of all these developments. The women’s liberation revolution continues to spread around the world. It is spreading in terms of consciousness, organization and action. We have seen this clearly in the past year: women’s resistance and struggles in every field took place all over the world, in almost every country. Even in countries considered backward in relation to modernist standards, there was women’s resistance. Women continued to demand freedom and organize themselves. We saw this in Africa, Asia, North and South America and in the Middle East. The Kurdistan Freedom Struggle is based on the women’s freedom revolution. In 2022, we saw the effects of this on Turkey, Arabia and Iran. Based on the slogan ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘, which spread from East Kurdistan [West Iran] to all of Iran, the women’s freedom struggle has made itself known to the whole world. It has thus given a global scale to the ideological framework of this struggle based on Leader Apo and the revolutionary slogans of Kurdish women. Many people have said before that the 21st century will be the century of women. In fact, the year 2022 has proven this with all its developments and actions. In Africa, the Arab world, Iran, Kurdistan and Turkey and in other parts of the world, from India to Latin America, very effective women’s actions took place last year. There is a development with regard to women’s consciousness of liberation. In the past, they used to demand women’s rights, the struggle against harassment and rape and more women’s achievements. Now the demand for women’s liberation, equality based on women’s identity and the women’s freedom revolution are being expressed loudly. Demands in this direction are being formed into programs. The Jineolojî developed by Leader Apo continues to spread around the world. The man and woman created by the hierarchical and statist system are dissolving. Jineolojî codifications are unraveling them more.
Therefore, it is important to acknowledge that there is a deepening of consciousness and organization. This is not only a reaction to the crisis and chaos of capitalist modernity and the oppression, persecution, harassment and rape by the male-dominated mentality and politics. Rather, there is an ideological attitude, a state of consciousness that strives for a democratic society based on women’s freedom. This is very important. Leader Apo has developed the most comprehensive analyses of this issue. Jineolojî, has unraveled all the codifications of the 5000 year old male-dominated system of power and state, and even of the hierarchical period before that. It has developed a holistic understanding of what women’s freedom means, thus showing how a democratic society based on women’s freedom can develop. These ideas therefore need to be more widely spread.
And there are also processes of organizing. There are women’s organizations in many fields. They are based on consciousness, struggle and organization. In 2022, the rulers of capitalist modernity held their meetings and the UN – although with great difficulties – tried to maintain itself as a meeting place of states. In the case of the forces of democratic modernity, it was the women’s liberation movements that made efforts to organize at a global level by holding several meetings with this aim. World women’s conferences in Tunisia and Berlin took place under the slogan ‘Liberating Life’ and important discussions were held there. Two international meetings were held in a single year with women from 30 to 40 countries. They are all organized in the different places they come from. Today, the women’s movements are discussing the situation of global organizations with a louder voice. They are discussing building a Global Confederalism of Free Women. This is what their current agenda and discussions are focused on. This is the level of organization they have reached today. Other circles are not this far yet. In terms of the forces of democratic modernity, the only force with this level of organization is the free women’s movement. This is very important and meaningful. We attach great importance to this. Indeed: ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘! Women are life and life must be free! Democratic society must be organized around free women. This is the meaning of ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘. We can clearly see a development on this basis. Just as the Paris Commune marched under the slogan ‘Freedom, Equality, Fraternity’, now the women’s liberation revolution, as the vanguard of the 21st century, has made ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî‘ the revolutionary slogan of the 21st century. Thus, women are definitely reaching their true identity. As the representatives of life itself, they are claiming their real place in life and society. Thus, life must be free. Anything not free cannot be called life. Humanity cannot accept any other kind of life. A democratic society can only be formed around free women. It cannot be formed in any other way. This is a global development. It is a development that increasingly defines this century.
At the same time, there is a serious decline in terms of youth. There are several issues in this context that we need to criticize. There are issues that need new initiatives. The youth of the past was different. It is not at that level anymore. It does not have the position it used to have both in terms of consciousness, organization and action; in terms of being a global power.
On the other hand, in terms of the workers and laborers, the class contradiction and the oppressed classes, the following can be said: They are waging a certain struggle at the level of unions, parties and associations. But these class movements are stiff and dogmatic. They have not been able to renew themselves according to today's requirements. For example, they have not developed an ideological and organizational stance that can be an answer to the women’s liberation revolution, to a democratic society on the basis of women’s liberation. Trade unions have not been able to renew themselves, just like the old parties. Therefore, their global relations and alliances are weak. They exist mostly at the level of individual countries. But they need to be renewed. They need an ideological and theoretical renewal and a restructuring of their organizations. It is also necessary to create a global organization on this basis.
In the past, environmental movements played an important role and recently the green movement has made significant progress. They also tried to create a global movement. Thus, they emerged as an important means of struggle against capitalism in terms of protecting nature and drawing attention to climate change. But lately, this movement has been rather weak. A part of the green movement has been integrated into the system based on the approach ‘we will become a political party’. They have turned to organizing in the form of parties and to becoming political, but not based on a democratic society. Rather, in the sense of becoming integrated into capitalist modernity, of becoming a part of power and the state. They can indeed become part of all this. I am not criticizing them for this. I am not saying that they should not take part in state administrations at all. But if they had taken part in this as an alternative force, as a part of democratic society, they would have been able to contribute to the struggle for freedom and democracy. Instead, they do this by becoming a little bit more part of power and the state. Therefore, the ecology movement has made steps backwards ideologically. In this sense, it has become divided. Forces that become part of the system in this way cannot adequately fight against the looting of capitalist modernity and its destruction of nature and society. For example, in Germany, they [Green Party] are part of the government. The German foreign minister is trying to turn Germany into a partner of the leading forces of the global capitalist system. It considers this as a good policy. But we cannot observe any democratic attitude towards the oppressed. Such an attitude is very weak among them. They have features that make them become increasingly part of the state and power system. In this respect, the ecology movement has lost a lot of its strength. This makes it necessary to re-evaluate these movements. The state of the green movements needs to be evaluated and discussed. It is necessary to oppose the tendencies among them that opt for integrating into the state and power, i.e. their tendency towards becoming parties and political. Opting for this tendency should happen based on democratic society.
The ecology movement itself has also shown serious weaknesses. Other movements, parties, and revolutionary democratic forces are limited to their own countries and therefore not in a position to develop a regional or global identity. They are weak when it comes to renewing themselves. They talk by heart, are dogmatic and stiff. They are weak when it comes to evaluating the new world, understanding current developments and producing comprehensive solutions. In terms of ecology and women’s liberation, there is a need for more intellectual depth and a mentality revolution. Current approaches to these issues are superficial and narrow. The approach to women’s liberation, for example, is not revolutionary and comprehensive. So is the approach to ecology. That is why they cannot clarify, deepen and concretize the issues of revolution, power and the state, democratic society and free life. They are thus unable to break away from power and state. Those who cannot do this reproduce the system of power and state. No one can say ‘the other’s state is bad, but mine is good’. What guarantees that your state is good? After all, the state is an instrument of oppression and exploitation. This is how all socialists define the state. This has been the theoretical approach of socialists from the beginning. Eventually, they fooled themselves with approaches like ‘my state is good’. If they had defined the state correctly, if they had stuck to their definitions, they would have understood it as an instrument of oppression and exploitation. They would have realized that the instrument of freedom, democracy and socialism cannot be the state; that freedom, equality based on diversity, sharing and communalism can only be realized on the basis of democratic governance and a democratic society. In this sense, the forces of democratic modernity need theoretical and ideological clarification. Leader Apo’s analyses are very revealing, eye-opening and guiding. Everyone needs to read, study and benefit from them. These analyses are an opinion that has been put at the service of humanity. This opinion cannot be monopolized by anyone. Therefore, there need to be more efforts to read and understand Leader Apo’s views and the theory of democratic modernity, and on this basis reorganize and develop the forces of democratic modernity on a global level. This is what we call for.
Based on your assessment of global developments, what were the most important events and developments in the Middle East in 2022?
There are many different parts of the Middle East and in many of them important developments took place last year. This can also be said about the years before 2022. But last year, this was all the more the case. The development that has left the biggest mark on the region is the struggle in Kurdistan. This struggle is based on the war of the guerrillas. And there is also resistance in Imrali. Leader Apo has enlightened humanity theoretically with his thoughts and Defense Writings [the 5-volume book Manifesto of the Democratic Civilization]. But he did not stop there. He has also put these thoughts into practice with his stance, his way of life and his struggle. He lives what he says. This has had a great impact on everyone who has shown interest. Imrali is a system of genocide but also a place of life that is full of resistance to the very end; a resistance for a free life. This is what Leader Apo´s life is like. The developments in Kurdistan are definitely what has left the greatest mark on the whole year in the region. Recently, the developments in Iran have been added to this. But that only happened in the last three months.
The Iran-US conflict has been affecting the region in the past years. To a certain extent, this effect still continues today, but not at the same level as before. What is new in Iran is the uprising of the people, which is led by women. It is possible to define this uprising as a new event affecting the whole region. But this has only been the case in the last three months of 2022. The struggle in Kurdistan has shaped developments throughout the whole year. The fascist, colonialist and genocidal attacks carried out by the AKP-MHP dictatorship – supported by the USA, NATO and the collaboration and betrayal of the KDP – to crush the Kurdish Freedom Movement and complete the Kurdish genocide continued in 2022. Against this, the resistance and struggle of the Freedom Guerrilla, Leader Apo in Imrali, the Kurdish youth, the women and the Kurdish people shaped the last year. This resistance was centered on [the South Kurdish areas] Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna, but it also took place in North Kurdistan [East Turkey], the cities of Turkey, South Kurdistan [North Iraq] and Rojava.
Recently, a meeting took place in Amman. The powers that attended this meeting said that they discussed Iraq’s problems and how to strengthen the country. But this meeting was not really about Iraq. It was a meeting to assess the developments related to Kurdistan. The Iraq problem is a Kurdistan problem. The situation in Iraq has systemic aspects. This is the area where the power and state system was established. The crisis of the system is most severe there. The country´s riches are a reason for today's crisis, but the most important issue is the Kurdish question. All these problems arise around the Kurdish question, on the basis of the division of Kurdistan and the genocide there. These are all problems connected to the Kurdish question. It is important to understand this.
Iraq held elections but was unable to form a government for a long time. Eventually, it did. In fact, this is not a problem of the government. Iraq’s problem is a problem of humanity. The power and state system has created these problems and societies now need to solve them. In this sense, the actual problems are very different in nature from the ones that the meeting in Amman dealt with. The problem is not Iraq itself, which is unable to change. Rather, Turkey and Syria are today´s current problem. The crisis of the system is mostly centered in Turkey and Syria. The system cannot change or renew itself. It is unable to take a step forward. There are the Assad regime and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria. And then there is also Turkey’s occupation. Turkey is constantly carrying out air strikes. Many Islamist proxy forces have emerged in the area, from al-Qaeda to IS. They have taken control of a significant part of Syria with the help of Turkey. Currently, no one can take the slightest steps that could lead to a solution. The AKP-MHP fascist dictatorship is against any such steps and threatens everyone. But no one can change this regime. The system has organized the opposition [in Turkey] to replace the AKP-MHP government. But the all-out fascist, colonialist and genocidal attacks unleashed by the AKP-MHP and the PKK-led resistance of the guerrillas and the Kurdish people have prevented this. The system is unable to change the Erdoğan-Bahçeli administration. They are afraid to really change it, because they fear that the guerrillas and the PKK will become stronger and that Turkey will be democratized. The system has promoted something they call ´The Table of Six´. But the AKP wants to remain in power with the help of its war. And it continues to receive the support of the system by pointing at the PKK as a threat. The US seemed to be against this regime for a while, but in the end it had to go along with the Erdoğan-Bahçeli fascism. And Russia supports this regime with all its might.
We need to acknowledge the following: If the AKP-MHP had succeeded in the war, they would have become able to dominate everything. They would have intensified the Kurdish genocide and thus overcome the current deadlock. But this did not happen. And the system cannot change this regime either. The AKP-MHP have lost this war. Now, it is the PKK, the HBDH and the revolutionary democratic forces that are in the position to bring about change.
These forces are pushing for a stronger democratization which frightens the system. The system finds itself in a deadlock today. The press is discussing ‘Tayyip or Kılıçdaroğlu?’ as if they are trying to tell fortunes. In such a situation, the important point is that the revolutionary democratic development led by the guerrilla war is turned into politics; that this democratic politics develops into an effective governing force. This is an important development. In fact, this is the most important development that shows the power to overcome the current deadlock that exists.
So at the end of 2022, a very important level with regards to this issue has been reached. The AKP started its renewed attacks [on the Medya Defense Zones, South Kurdistan] on April 14, 2022. Its plan was to defeat the guerrillas in a week or two. Then it was going to attack North and East Syria and destroy the Rojava Revolution. Thus, as a victorious power, it wanted to win the elections in 2023. This was the plan of AKP-MHP fascism. In a way, they [international powers] supported and encouraged this policy. At the same time, they calculated that the PKK would resist this.
Certain forces made the following plans: ‘Let the AKP-MHP attack and the PKK resist so that both of them are weakened. In the meantime, we will bring another force – the so-called opposition or `Table of Six´ – to power and thus bring about a soft change’. They pinned all their hopes on this. Thus, they wanted to take advantage of this state of conflict. And what is the result? The AKP-MHP’s plans did not work. Neither in two weeks, nor in two months. 9 months have passed, but they have still not been able to crush the guerrillas or occupy the Medya Defense Zones. More than that: they have suffered enormous blows, i.e. thousands of casualties. They are now suffering from Zap syndrome. Turkey’s state, police, army and contras are finished.
The balance sheet for the last nine months was announced recently by our headquarters. The enemy had to flee from many areas. The guerrillas captured these areas as a result of its attacks in November and December. These developments can go even further. The plan [of the AKP-MHP] did not succeed. For a short while, those who wanted the `Table of Six´ to take over power were quite enthusiastic. But now, not only the AKP-MHP’s plans have come to naught. All those who came to crush the guerrillas have themselves been defeated. Zap has become the grave of Turkey´s fascism, colonialism and genocide. The recent attacks by the guerrillas and the point the war has reached show this very clearly. Consequently, there is neither an environment in which the AKP can remain in power or celebrate any victories, nor can the CHP replace the AKP. On the contrary, the defeat of the AKP-MHP in Zap actually means the defeat of the Turkish state and its fascist, genocidal and colonialist mentality and politics. This also means a defeat for the system [of capitalist modernity]. It means the defeat of capitalist modernity – the system that created the Kurdish problem – against the guerrillas.
As a result, the democracy movement is now the element that will bring about the biggest changes in 2023. The guerrillas lead this movement. There is popular resistance. And there is the domain of democratic politics. Recently, the attacks by the AKP-MHP fascism have been very intense. They have used chemical weapons, tactical nuclear weapons and all kinds of other weapons whose use constitutes a war crime. In order to crush the guerrillas, they have resorted to these kinds of methods. They have repeatedly threatened Rojava and killed many civilians there. The aim of all this was to prevent their defeat in Zap. Since the AKP-MHP has realized that it cannot prevent this, it is now trying to destroy all the forces of democracy in North Kurdistan and Turkey. They put Şebnem Korur Fincancı in prison when she demanded an investigation into the use of chemical weapons. This is how much the AKP-MHP is against such investigations. Journalists who report on this issue are in jail. Artists who talk about Kurds and democracy are in jail. Women who fight for freedom, who unmask this system that rapes 6-year-old children are in jail. They have filed a closure case against the HDP and hold it over the HDP like the sword of Damocles. Recently, they also attacked DBP and other parties. They don’t want to leave a single person that fights for democracy. This is the level these attacks have reached. What do all these attacks show? They show that AKP-MHP fascism has been defeated in Zap, Avaşîn and Metîna. If this had not happened and if the AKP-MHP had succeeded there, they would not have been carrying out all these attacks. They are doing all this because they have been defeated. The system [of capitalist modernity] supports all this. No one made a sound. While AKP-MHP fascism carries out such attacks, Germany does the same. They support this policy. Why? They saw the defeat of the AKP-MHP and know that democracy will grow stronger. Turkey will become the most democratic country in the world. It will go through a democratic revolution. 2023 will be the year of a democratic revolution in Turkey. The forces of capitalist modernity are afraid of this. They want a fascist oligarchic dictatorship to prevail in Turkey. That is why they support fascism against the current democratic developments. They support the fascist dictatorship and all kinds of genocidal attacks.
In such a situation, there can be no solution in Syria. In other words, this will continue in 2023. There is a defeated AKP-MHP. And there are very serious developments in terms of the question of how the governments in Turkey and Syria will be renewed.
At the end of this year, the guerrilla resistance and the democracy movement find themselves in a strong position. They are the forces of change and transformation that determine the direction of Turkey. The circles that are afraid of this continue to attack and try to crush them. This also has an effect on the Middle East, e.g. on the developments in Iraq. Apart from that, Iraq does not have any other problems. They invited the AKP-MHP – the friends of IS – to the recent meeting in Amman. However, the peoples of North and East Syria have waged the biggest struggle against IS. They have established an autonomous administration. If Amman had been a meeting of anti-IS forces, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria should have gone there. But they weren't invited. Instead of strengthening Iraq, the Iraqi side is exploring ways to support the AKP-MHP. This is dangerous. We would like to warn them. If there was a democratic approach, if they really envisaged solving the Kurdish problem and democratizing the region, we would attach great importance to these efforts and would want to participate in them. This is what needs to happen. We appreciate such efforts. But approaches aimed at sustaining AKP-MHP fascism, Turkish colonialism and genocide are dangerous. They must be opposed and fought against.
So what will 2023 be like? It will be a year of an even more intense struggle. And certain results will be achieved as well. With regards to the Kurdish question in Turkey, Syria and Iraq, new results will definitely come to light.
There are also current developments in Iran and East Kurdistan. What meaning and importance do they have for the anti-system forces and the region?
Yes, since mid-September, a strong women-led movement and uprising has emerged around the slogan ‘Jin, Jiyan, Azadî’. This has spread throughout Iran, especially in East Kurdistan. This movement deserves to be considered as one of the most important developments in the Middle East in 2022. As a result of its ideological depth on the basis of women’s leadership, as well as its effectiveness and widespread influence, it has succeeded in rapidly transforming itself into a regional and global movement.
This uprising, which started after the murder of Jîna Emînî, a young Kurdish woman from East Kurdistan, has not only demanded women’s freedom in a very concrete way. It has also become a movement aiming to democratize Iran as a whole and to live social freedoms within a democratic system. This is very meaningful and important. The uprising has turned Iran back into a revolutionary arena worthy of its history. Thus, it has completed the revolution in the Middle East. It is noteworthy that when the revolutionary movement in Iran was weak, the revolutionary reality of the Middle East was somewhat incomplete. This movement has made up for this incompleteness and turned the Middle East into an arena of a democratic society movement and a democratic revolution on the basis of women’s freedom. In the same way, it has completed the Kurdistan revolution and the Kurdish women’s revolution. East Kurdistan’s uprising under the leadership of women has therefore not only spread the women’s liberation revolution in Kurdistan to all Kurdish women, but also spread the Kurdistan Freedom Struggle in general to the whole of Kurdistan. East Kurdistan’s strong potential of society and women has thus been won for the revolution. These are among the most important events of the last three and a half months of 2022.
On this basis, I would like to salute the struggle for freedom and democracy of the people and women of Iran and East Kurdistan. They are waging this struggle with their very unique methods and without resorting to violence. They struggle with persistence and determination. I would like to commemorate their martyrs and express my strong belief that they will be successful.
It is important to mention that Iran has been one of the areas where the struggle between the forces of capitalist modernity and of democratic modernity has taken place most clearly and concretely. When he assessed the Iranian revolution at the end of the 1970s, Leader Apo said that the most concrete battles of modernity had taken place there. Now we see the forces of two modernities clashing in Iran in the same way, but much more openly. The current struggle needs to be understood in this way. The women, young people and people who want freedom and democracy definitely represent the forces of democratic modernity. We can even say that they are the vanguard of the forces of democratic modernity. It is indisputable that the forces that oppose, obstruct and respond with massacres are the forces of capitalist modernity. These are the forces that want to reconcile and integrate Iran into the system of capitalist modernity.
We can see that the contradictions and conflicts of 40 years ago are continuing in this form. The forces that want to take over the revolution and integrate Iran into the system of capitalist modernity and the forces of democratic modernity are struggling against each other. This means that the forces of democratic modernity in Iran have not disappeared or been liquidated. They have not stopped insisting on freedom and democracy. With their current struggle, they want to ensure that Iran does not become a part of capitalist modernity, but of democratic modernity instead. That is what they insist on. First and foremost, this is important for us to understand. We need to understand well the libertarian and democratic content of the revolution against the Shah’s rule 40 years ago. Today, this revolution is being represented by women, youth and peoples who want freedom. They keep alive the ideological content of the revolution that was won against the Shah and want to make it prevail. In fact, they are fighting against those who deviate from this content of the revolution, those who compromise and reconcile themselves with the system of capitalist modernity and the capitalist order. This is very important and meaningful. The current struggle has such a historical meaning and significance. The great revolution against the Shah’s rule is very much alive today in the form of the women-led ‘Jin. Jiyan, Azadî’-uprising. This revolution is seeking to expand its influence today. For 40 years, the goals of the revolution have been kept alive in society for this purpose. This has become very clear now.
On the other hand, we have to say that Iranian society is the most democratic, conscious and organized society in the Middle East. It really has such a history. Iran is where – historically speaking – the most movements for freedom and democracy developed. From the Mazdakis to the Khurramites, from Rustemê Zal to the Babakis, the strongest freedom movements in history existed in Iran. Iranian society has always been a society seeking freedom and democracy. Therefore, the social fabric is very strong there.
Social life is strong there. The French are considered to be the society in Europe that has contributed the most to the development of the civil society movement and democratic life. In the Middle East, we definitely need to understand Iranian societies in the same way. Therefore, the current movement of this uprising and the quest for freedom and democracy have a strong historical basis. Today, this historical basis has actually taken the form of a reckoning. The results of this struggle will give an answer to the following question: ´Will the revolution that has been continuing for more than 40 years be a revolution of democratic modernity, will it ensure the democratic life of the peoples under the leadership of women, or will it be integrated into capitalist modernity, the capitalist order, as it was under the Shah?´
It is worth adding here that the current Iranian system can reform itself. It can renew and change itself according to the demands for freedom and democracy voiced by the women and the other social segments. It is necessary to understand the current Iranian system accordingly, but this requires an appropriate mentality. There is a need for a change in mentality and style. If Iran shows the ability to undergo such a change, the system can reform itself and solve the current problems. It can transform itself into a strong Islamic democracy movement by renewing itself and becoming one with the beginning of the revolution without resorting to violence. Democratic Islam can exist in Iran in the strongest possible way. We have also made calls in this direction. We wanted there to be no conflicts in this regard. We have also stated that we would provide whatever support we can. But it seems that the forces that are open for democratizing themselves are weak. The forces that are more inclined towards capitalist modernity are currently trying to become dominant in the administration. Yes, they opted for a careful approach at first. Harsh measures were not used in the beginning. But this still did not lead to a solution. Gradually, things like arrests, executions, etc. were carried out. We certainly do not find these measures right. We have said from the very beginning that violence should not become a part of this. We have also called on women and society who want freedom not to use violence and to struggle with democratic methods based on their legitimate framework. We have made similar calls on the Iranian government as well. We have said publicly that it would be better not to resort to violence, not to try to crush the demands with oppression, but to seek reform solutions, and that we would support this. But it seems that this approach has not become strong enough. There has not been an all-out suppression, but the use of violence has increased recently. And so has the death toll. There have been executions. This is the wrong thing to do. We therefore call on the Iranian government to refrain from such practices, to stop the executions and the use of violence, to try to understand the women, youth and people in Iran who want freedom and democracy.
In fact, the sensitivity and dynamism of Iranian women and society is a source of progress and strength for Iran. It is definitely not a factor of evil, but a factor of goodness, positivity and beauty. These developments turn Iran into a rich, revolutionary and socialist country and make life there meaningful. Therefore, as a government that tries to oppose the system of capitalist modernity in certain ways, the Iranian government should be happy about the development the Iranian women and youth have gone through. It should consider this as an element of wealth and greatness for itself. Accordingly, it should develop understanding for them and develop reform solutions based on discussions and debates. We believe that this kind of attitude will make the current Iranian rulers strong and effective. We therefore renew our call: We want the executions and the use of violence to stop. The increase of violence and executions will harm Iranian society, the Iranian system and the current Iranian leadership more than anything else.
The latest developments in Iran, i.e. the women-led uprising and the current Iranian revolution, should not be understood as a revolutionary movement within the narrow political and military struggle over sovereignty or power. Such an approach would be too narrow. The Iranian revolution, the revolution of East Kurdistan is far more than that. It cannot be explained in the narrow molds of politics and the military. It is not a revolutionary movement in the sense that ‘so-and-so’s rule is overthrown and another person takes over just to rule in a very similar way. This could not be called a revolution anyway. The Iranian Revolution has a historical foundation and at the same time a very broad contemporary meaning. First of all, it is a great revolution of mentality, lifestyle and ideology. This revolution of mentality and ideology is very deep. It has direct effects on the way people live their lives. People want to live in freedom. Therefore, they demand the development of a democratic society and the democratization of governance. The demands of the Iranian revolution, the demands of Iranian women and young people are not simple demands. These are not minor interests. The issue here is not the pursuit of material interests. On the contrary, these demands express a search for truth. It is a powerful revolution of truth. What is a revolution of truth? We know very well that this means a revolution of mentality and lifestyle. The essence of the latest developments in East Kurdistan and Iran actually constitutes a change in mentality and lifestyle, that is, an ideological change and development. This is how we need to understand this issue.
The social content of the revolution in Iran and East Kurdistan is very deep. It is a revolution that encompasses many social dimensions. That is why it cannot be understood or defined in narrow political or military terms. It is a revolution that takes place moment by moment in people’s souls, emotions, consciousness, behavior and lifestyles. It is a revolution that creates itself every moment through the changes in all of these areas. In this sense, a great revolution has been taking place in Iran for the last three and a half months. We can clearly see that women, young people and society are experiencing a strong change in mentality. They are breaking apart the old patterns of mentality, developing new understandings and measures, making changes and innovations with regards to their way of life. In other words, they are experiencing an ideological development. The Iran of three months ago and the Iran of today are very different. No one can return to the previous conditions. Iranian women, youths, workers and laborers and the Iranian peoples have experienced a radical change of mentality, an ideological change. This is a very important development. Therefore, it is not possible to force the people and the current revolutionary developments to return to previous times. A great revolution is taking place. We need to understand the Iranian revolution as a revolution of democratic modernity. In other words, we need to understand it as a revolution of mentality and lifestyle, as an ideological revolution. This is the essence of the women’s revolution. Women’s leadership has given this revolution its character. And we believe that this will continue. Consequently, we renew our calls on women, youths and peoples: We salute their resistance. Their demands are legitimate. They can and should be persistent in their efforts, but they must be careful never to opt for violence. We demand that the current Iranian government acknowledge this reality and refrain from violence, try to understand the demands of women, youth and society and make efforts to make reforms to meet these demands. We believe that this will also be in their own interests. On this basis, we invite everyone to understand the developments in Iran correctly, to adopt the right attitude towards them, and to fulfill their duties and responsibilities adequately in the face of these developments.