Democracy Invades Islam

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About — civilians have been killed so far. Yes, there have been confirmed reports and video footage from the Syrian Observatory showing this execution. She was thirty-five years old — after her studies she had come back to Rojava to contribute to the social change that was happening. Talking about her execution is painful, because she stood personally for all that Rojava had imagined for the future — for the Kurds and all other peoples.

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She was well-known for her achievements in terms of diplomatic ties between various Kurdish, ethnic, and religious groups. She fostered Kurdish-Arabic friendship and was actively working on a joint future in a postwar Syria. When I heard the news about her, my thoughts turned to the Turkish interior minister. That would mean a reign of terror for women and for all who stand for a different form of coexistence. For a long time, it was said that Turkey had tolerated or even helped build the IS in northern Syria — what is happening to them now, especially the prisoners from the Kurdish-controlled areas?

Much similar evidence has been accumulated in recent years, such as how the Turkish border corps have allowed IS to cross borders or supported them. The IS was simply a proxy, which fought for Turkish interests in northern Syria. There are also unconfirmed reports that guns have been dropped to equip them.

And there are also reports of IS flags flying again. This is really unbelievable: The Kurds lost 11, fighters in the fight against the Islamic State, 24, were seriously injured, and now this NATO ally is making bombing raids against these Kurds. At the moment, I think the whole Western reaction is hypocritical. Today, the German government has prevented there being any European Union arms embargoes. There are embargoes by individual states such as Spain, the Netherlands, or the Scandinavian countries — and Germany could follow suit.

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But the weapons stores of Turkey are full of Western arms — indeed, the German federal government has delivered about Leopard tanks to Turkey. Second, over the past fifteen years, the AKP has largely succeeded in putting the Turkish arms industry on its own footing. This means that 80 percent of Turkish weapons are produced there, as they are also attentive to knowledge transfer and can now produce German rapid-fire rifles themselves.

So, there is no longer any dependence on foreign weapons. The sanctions which Trump is talking about are ridiculous — they will do nothing. That is clearly their strategy. We, for our part, have to take to the streets, demonstrating and mounting civil disobedience, rather than relying on governments. For the West itself has no interest in the Rojava project.

We should look to Rojava and be inspired by it. What the people have done there is to demand their own right to codetermination, for human liberation. If, in our outrage, we simply look to the international community and trust in the ineffective sanctions imposed by foreign governments, that will just mean more people will die, Kurds will be displaced, Turkey will deepen its authoritarianism, and Rojava will not survive. This will mean the death of a project through which many people across the world retrieved their hope for a better future.

On the streets, and wherever we are, we have to show how interconnected the injustices of our times are. There are also more practical things one can do, like boycotts. SH Tell us what Rojava is, and what has been going on there over the last few years. SH I often read it discussed in terms of democratic self-government — a grassroots democracy that upholds the rights of women and minorities. RB Rojava is the natural response to the rise and breakdown of nation states in the Middle East.

SH So why did Turkey invade now?

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KS Rosa said something important: the foundation of the Turkish, Syrian, and later the Iraqi nation-states, did not pay attention to the multiethnic diversity in the region, but only to a dominant national identity: namely the Turkish, the Syrian-Arab, and the Iraqi-Arab identity in each respective country. SH Is Turkish now being taught in Afrin? KS Yes, exactly — not like during the period of self-government, when lessons were adapted to the respective areas and their languages. RB One should not forget Turkish history, here.

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SH What exactly is happening on the ground, especially against the civilian population? RB Yes, there have been confirmed reports and video footage from the Syrian Observatory showing this execution. SH And how does the West react to such a blatant injustice? KS At the moment, I think the whole Western reaction is hypocritical. RB We should look to Rojava and be inspired by it. Motivated largely by the aim of containing Syrian Kurdish power, Turkey already has troops on the ground across an arc of northwestern Syria, the last stronghold of anti-Damascus rebels.

Democracy Invades Islam

Turkey has two main goals in northeast Syria: to drive the Kurdish YPG militia which it deems a security threat away from its border, and to create a space inside Syria where 2 million Syria refugees currently hosted in Turkey can be settled. A rare case of a winner in the Syrian war, the Kurds and their allies have set up their own governing bodies while always insisting their aim is autonomy, not independence.

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All of this could unravel in the event of a major Turkish invasion that would plunge the area into warfare. For the SDF alliance, in which the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia is the dominant force, much will depend on whether the United States continues to keep forces in other parts of the northeast and east.

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A full U. Confronted by the prospect of U. The talks made no progress, but such negotiations could be an option again in the event of a wider U. The northeastern border region, currently controlled by Kurdish-led forces, stretches km miles from the Euphrates river in the west to the Iraq border to the east. Although under the control of Kurdish-led forces, that part of the border has historically had a strong Arab presence. Turkey has not spelt out the scope or the initial focus of its planned operation. Russia and Iran, the other two major foreign powers in Syria, strongly support President Bashar al-Assad - unlike Turkey and the United States which both called for him to stand down and supported rebels fighting to overthrow him.