For democratic working people’s defence and mass struggle against capitalism
The canton of Kobanê, which is part of Rojava, has been under siege since 16 September and has become one of the centre points of resistance to the advance of ISIS. A lot of news is coming in about defenders of Kobanê taking the wind out of ISIS’ sails, when many were thinking that Kobanê was about to fall. But the danger hasn’t gone away, and there are still thousands of people facing the threat of a massacre.
The barbaric organisation ISIS is attacking Kobanê with tanks and missiles like a medium-sized state military force. The Turkish state and AKP government have been giving tangible support to ISIS and trying to blockade all support going to the YPG, the armed fighting forces in Kobanê. They have also terrorised the masses who are holding solidarity demonstrations for Kobanê, putting obstacles in the struggle against ISIS, including by strengthening repressive legislation in Turkey itself.
The people of Rojava have moved to take control of the region where they live – a process which started in Kobanê in 2012. They have tried to establish an autonomous region based on a proclaimed model of secularism and self-governance, across religious and ethnic divisions. This situation has been an important step forward for the biggest stateless nation in the world, the Kurds, but it also stands in stark contrast to the dark agenda of reactionary groups like ISIS and others in the Middle East.
ISIS is using the most brutal methods to create an atmosphere of fear and is trying to establish a theocratic state based on the most reactionary laws. Among its many targets, ISIS wants to wipe out the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) and the PYD (Democratic Union Party) from this region, because both of them, with their secular ideology, have antagonistic policies to ISIS and represent a threat to their aims. Besides this, ISIS wants to enlarge their self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ by taking over the strategic town of Kobanê, and increase their power in the region.
On the one hand, the Turkish regime wants to smash all the achievements of the Kurds to smithereens and on the other hand, it wants to be an imperial power in this region by pioneering a military intervention against the Assad regime with, they hope, the support of the major western imperialist powers. These western imperialist powers are gradually losing ground in this region, so they want to restore their control too, by creating a perception of being the saviour of the peoples of the region.
Are imperialists saviours or not?
Especially after the attack of ISIS on Shingal, many people started demanding military intervention and weapon support from imperialist powers. Similar demands were raised just after the Kobanê siege started. But the idea of stability for the imperialists and for the Turkish and other regional governments has nothing to do with the genuine desire for stability on the part of the mass of the working class. Stability for these regimes means continuous pumping of oil, looting of the region’s resources and preservation of their balance of power; it doesn’t mean the end to the bombings, deaths, oppression and exploitation. Those organisations or states which are in favour of capitalism want to hijack the demands of humanitarian and military aid for people who are in danger of being massacred in order to pursue their own interests.
It is easy to understand why the people, who are threatened by massacre, are demanding the bombing of ISIS trenches around Kobanê or the opening of an aid corridor to assist the Kobanê resistance from within Turkey. But recent events have shown how the different powers are moving to defend their own interests and curb the movement of the masses. The US have started limited arms supplies to the Kobanê defenders but the US is already demanding political payment in terms of the resistance movement not threatening the US’s interests in the region.
Despite always cloaked under humanitarian aims, all imperialist-backed military interventions in the region have not only ended up in bloody disasters (Iraq, Libya…) but are, for a large part, the origins of the present nightmare experienced by the Kurds as well as other peoples in the region.
The decision of the AKP government to allow its corrupt ally, the Barzani regime (President of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region of Iraq), to send its own forces into Kobanê has the aim of both holding back ISIS and attempting to control the movement in Rojava by trying to sideline the more left-leaning fighters of the PKK and PYD.
This is why the fight against ISIS has to be part of a revolutionary war that appeals to all workers and oppressed, that strives to unite them in struggle against oppression and for a real alternative to all the rotten, corrupt pro-capitalist governments and dictatorships throughout the region. This is the way both to undermine ISIS’s support and to unite all working people, whether they be Kurd, Turk, Arab, Sunni, Shia, Christian or others, in common struggle.
Defending Rojava is very important in many respects. The fall of Kobanê would not only mean the possible massacre of many people still living in Kobanê, but also the crushing of a struggle which has inspired many Kurds, youth and workers internationally. It would also reinforce ISIS geographically and logistically. In that sense, the fall of Kobanê would mean a defeat for all the people who are fighting ISIS elsewhere and striving for a better world.
In the past, the Stalinist regimes in the former USSR and Eastern Europe, despite their monstrous dictatorial features, exercised a counterweight to the policies of capitalism and imperialism internationally. After their collapse in the ‘90s, the working class movement internationally faced big setbacks because of the disillusionment of workers in an alternative to capitalism and its renewed offensive against them. Socialist organisations in the Middle East melted away or turned to the right. The mass of the working class and peasants in the Middle East suffered further oppression through poverty, imperialist interventions and dictatorial regimes. These masses started looking for an alternative and a layer of them turned towards right-wing Islamist or even Jihadist organisations. This doesn’t solve the problems of ordinary people; on the contrary, the situation has only worsened and got more complicated.
However, the era of capitalist triumphalism has ended; now capitalism is in an historical crisis. At the same time, massive revolts of workers, poor people and youth against capitalism have shaken the world. The Tunisian and Egyptian masses brought down dictators almost four years ago. The defence, and ultimately the success, of the struggle in Rojava could positively influence these struggles and help unblock them. But these mass movements have also shown how vital it is to hold a course independent from any pro-capitalist forces in order to build the most effective struggle.
Also, the model of rule in Rojava cannot be successful if it is based on capitalism and confined to these small cantons. Rojava has a very limited industrial infrastructure so these isolated zones cannot be sustainable if they don’t become poles of attraction for workers and poor peasants living in the broader region.
For that to happen, it is all the more necessary that the mass of the population is involved in the resistance and the defence of Rojava. Taking its inspiration from the best examples of working class military resistance, such as the struggle of the working people of Barcelona against the fascist coup in Spain in 1936, mass and democratically-organised committees and militias of volunteers must be built, and strengthened where they do exist, to involve the bulk of the population and build the most powerful resistance against the threatening offensive of ISIS.
This should be done with the conscious aim of building a mass and international struggle to overthrow the profit-driven economic system of capitalism in the Middle East, carried through by the mass, independent and non-sectarian action and organisation of the working classes and poor of the whole region.
That is why Sosyalist Alternatif fights for the development of a socialist Rojava as a voluntarily and equal part of a socialist confederation of the Middle East and a socialist world.