A Note on Rojava and Solidarity

In theory, I am with the Rojava autonomy project, although I think the evidence is not there yet over what that project looks like in practice. I get the sense that there is some tension between the old guard, still clinging to the authoritarian tendencies of the old PKK, and the newer generation, trying to implement a radically democratic politics. But in any case, Rojava and the Kurdish militias deserve all the solidarity they can get against the gangs of Baghdadi, and in the implementation of their political project, which is certainly more progressive than anything else we’ve seen in the region lately.

But when I think about this, I also think about all the others who have been fighting ISIS who weren’t able to implement any political vision. They didn’t have the same space to operate: the Syrian Army largely withdrew from Rojava in 2012 (in a “we’ll deal with you later” move). This gave the PYD the opportunity to fill a political vacuum. So now, when they repel ISIS, they do so with a coherent political vision. But there are hundreds of other Syrians who have died fighting ISIS who didn’t have an implemented political project. They didn’t have one because they didn’t have that space Rojava had, they had to deal with barrel bombs from the sky and ISIS on the ground. It’s not because they are apolitical: it is power that didn’t let them build a new politics, and we should not penalize them for that. They are just as deserving of solidarity, even if they don’t have a radical political project.

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