As they have driven ISIS back in northern Syria / Rojava the Kurdish YPG and their allies in the SDF have won increasing visibility in western media. While such reports often mention the key role in this fight played by women in the YPJ, there is otherwise little examination of the revolution happening behind the front lines in Rojava. That revolution is why they stood and fought ISIS rather than fleeing. This can be true of a lot of alternative media coverage. In part this is due to the limited amount of information on what this revolution involves. but it’s also in part because photographs of women with guns are judged to be more striking than women workers in a co-operative bakery or a community assembly.
We’ve tried to address this imbalance somewhat, both in our coverage and through bringing a number of Kurdish and other speakers over to talk at the Dublin Anarchist Bookfair. They spoke about what is happening behind the front lines. What is it that is being constructed that so many have judged is worth going to the front lines to defend against ISIS? Our speakers this year included Erjan Ayboga author of ‘Revolution in Rojava’ and US academic Janet Biehl who has visited the region twice since the revolution to investigate what is happening on the ground.
17th May and ISIS capture Ramadi and with it another huge stock of modern US weaponry. Something like 6000 US trained Iraqi soldiers have fled the city without putting up much of a fight. From all accounts the ISIS force was considerable smaller and reliant on a waves of suicide car bombs for its final attack. It’s not hard to see why ISIS had been successful in establishing the idea that it was indeed an unstoppable force carrying out gods will.
But on the same day to the north west ISIS suffer yet another major defeat at the hands of the YPG and YPJ in Rojava. The YPG/J unlike the Iraqi army is a force almost starved of heavy modern weaponry. Photos have circulated online of self constructed armoured vehicles, often tractors with steel boxes bolted on, that for all intents and purposes are identical to the home made anarchist armour of the 1930s Spanish revolution. And no match at all for the captured US armour ISIS have.
Revolutions are seldom made in favourable circumstances. Russia 1917 emerged from the mass slaughter of WWI and the disintegration of an economy under the pressure of the supply demands of that war. Spain 1936 emerged from a well planned and executed fascist coup amongst a powerful military backed and armed by international fascism. Schemas for revolution that depend on quiet times and plenty may well be doomed from the start.
That said it’s hard to imagine more impossible conditions for revolution than that of Rojava. A brutal civil war, 3 small areas of territory that were kept in a state of low development by the previous regime and are not even linked to each other. A fanatic army of barbaric religious extremists armed with captured looted US heavy weaponry attacking from one side, a hostile state quietly backing that army and closing its borders to the good guys on another and waiting in the wings the old regime and its long history of brutal counter insurgency. And above all this the tactical and strategic intervention of an imperialist power whose manipulations have devastated the land to the South East over a period of almost three decades.
The text below is translated from the poster at the centre of this image of the destruction of Gaza by the Israeli state. But it refers not to this horror but another in 1943 when the Nazis crushed the Warsaw ghetto, wiping out the poorly armed organised resistance that operated out of a warren of bunkers & sewers hidden beneath the ghetto. This poster was by one of the armed factions that defended the Ghetto, the Jewish Combat Organization (ZOB)
All people are brothers;
Yellow, brown, black, and white.
Talk of peoples, colors, races -
Is all a made-up story
For the size of its population Ireland has seen very large Gaza solidarity demonstrations. It is also one of the few places in the world outside the USA where there has been public displays of support for the Israeli military assault. Internationally there are many variations of this map where activists present to their population what the expulsion of the Palestinians from much of the land they once occupied would look like in a local context. One of our members prepared this but we soon realised its an impossible image to post without some reflection on our own settler colonialist past.
The sudden end of the Gaddafi regime some 6 months after the start of the Libyan revolt leaves some difficult questions unanswered for the left. Gaddafi’s determination to physically crush the revolt quickly transformed it into a civil war, a civil war that saw considerable imperialist intervention on the rebel side, intervention that was essential to their eventual victory. This and Gaddafi’s historic record led to some on the left taking his side in the civil war while other organisations tried to balance support for the ‘Arab spring’s’ arrival in Libya with opposition to imperialism. This question of where the balance lies between international solidarity with pro-democracy movements and opposition to imperialism could well rapidly return to the top of the agenda in a very much bigger way as the regime in Syria continues its months long military suppression of the democracy movement there. [Italian translation]
This collection of articles covers the attack by the Israeli military on the Freedom Flotilla which was attempting to break the siege of Gaza. The muderous attack resulted in the deaths of at least ten activists and the wounding of dozens. More of the hundreds kidnapped off the high seas by the Israeli pirate action were injured when they were beaten in jail. These articles also include coverage of some of the protests that then took place in Dublin. All were originally written as the stories broke for the WSM site.
10 years after the Gulf War offically ended Britain and the US continue to bomb Iraq. It only occasionally gets into the headlines, normally when civilians are killed. It is ironic that it is the Western soldiers who carried out the mass killings in that war who have become its most prominent victims in the media.
George Bush may have declared major combat operations over in Iraq on May 1st but resistance to the US occupation forces goes on. The killing today of one more US soldier at a petrol station in Baghdad means 42 have been killed in combat since that date, almost one per day. And every week US soldiers coming to and from Iraq continue to fly through Shannon airport.
In Workers Solidarity 105 we reviewed David Simon's 'The Wire'. His follow on project 'Generation Kill' which features some of the same actors is a 7 episode series following the United States Marine Corps' 1st Reconnaissance Battalion during the invasion of Iraq . It's based on the book published by Rolling Stone journalist Evan Wright.