The battle for Kobanê is both strategically imperative and symbolic in shaping the future of the Middle-East. The conflict between ISIS and the People’s Protection Units (YPG) enters its twenty-seventh day. Despite YPG’s numerous calls for weaponry from the international community, the US-led coalition, including Turkey, have followed a rather distant approach; remaining ignorant to the demands. Kurdish leaders have voiced their fears of a massacre should Kobanê fall to ISIS.
As the attacks intensified, Kurds took to the streets in many provinces and cities in Turkey on Monday night. Clashes between the protestors, ultra-nationalists groups, police and security forces have resulted in a death toll currently around 40. Six Kurdish cities, including Diyarbakir, faced curfew. Social media reports denote the Turkish police forces showing support for ISIS and arming ultra-nationalist and fundamental groups with means to kill protestors. Many Kurdish homes in cities have been set alight. The situation in Turkey looks almost like a repetition of the 1990s, whereby the Turkish Hezbollah murdered hundreds of Kurds; cases of which remain unsolved. Numerous protests around Europe, occupying public places, are also taking place. Kobanê has glocalised.
What one seeks to understand is why the Kurdish forces and their plea for assistance is being ignored? Why is Turkey navigating the threat with lose border controls? Why is the world ignoring a humanitarian crisis? Is there an internationally substantial concept upon Kobanê?
Amidst the Syrian Revolution, the resistance of Rojava organically flourished. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) along with the YPG and YPJ (Women’s Protection Unit) has exhibited sensational opposition to the threat posed by ISIS, especially in the case of Shengal where they prevented a greater atrocity against the Yazidi population from taking place. The forces, with the right weapons, have proven and articulated that they could exterminate the threat that is ISIS within days.
The ideological position of the Kurdish resistance bases itself upon concepts of democratic autonomy, gender equality and ecological considerations. The chaotic scenario of a war however, often leads us to forget why conflicts exists in the first place. What the media tends to forget is that ‘struggle’ is not novel to the Middle-East. The resistance of the Kurdish people did not just occur with the rise of ISIS, nor will it end upon its defeat.
The Constitution of the Rojava Cantons is the manifestation of an alternative system to that the Middle East is used to. It speaks of democratic autonomy in the region and the political involvement of all those in society. It highly values the concept of motherhood and maternal paediatric care. Religious freedom along with social, economic and cultural rights is vowed to be granted. Gender equality, the freedom of expression and a right to a private life are all components specifically underlined in both the preamble and sub-contents. Intriguingly, the charter also displays acceptance of many international treaties involving further inter-cultural and economic rights.
The clear practical application of the charter can be showcased with various examples. The existence of the YPJ forces is one area connoting to the equal treatment of women. The ranks of the YPJ contain women from all branches of society regardless of age, sexual preference, religious and ethnic background. Most importantly, the women joining do so out of their own free will.
The Arab Shemmar tribal leader, Sheikh Humeydi Dehham el Hadi and former Guerrilla fighter Hediye Yusuf are the co-chair persons of the Cezire canton. Resembling two opposites of an ideological spectrum, they congregate to represent interests that they firmly believe in. Sheikh Humeydi and Yusuf both know of the differences they and their people hold, however, this does not stop them from acknowledging the strength of pluralism and cultural navigation in the strive for a truly democratic and free region.
The Kurds have expressed that they do not seek military intervention and that they are capable of protecting Kobanê given the right resources. Rational thought would assume that the US-led coalition would support the local forces by providing them with weapons and avoid the disaster that is literally awaiting to happen.
The Rojava Cantons have re-defined the rigid imposition of nationalism and political centralisation tainting minds in the region. It offers – both in theory and practical application – a potential alternative in world-systems. It challenges western imperialism, is self-sufficient and infrastructures an economy which is ecologically considerate. Could this model for a future decentralised system of federal governance in Syria, which has proven to be working in both the political and social spheres, be the cause of international bias?
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