Statement in Solidarity with the Syrian Democratic Forces

Statement in Solidarity with the Syrian Democratic Forces

Greater Baltimore DSA 10/8/2019

SDF Solidarity oriole

"Finally, let me state again, that the fundamental problems of the Middle East are deeply rooted in the class civilization. They have intensified with the global crisis of capitalist modernity. This modernity and its claim to dominance do not offer any solutions here, not to mention a long term perspective for the middle-eastern region."

- Abdullah Öcalan

On Sunday, President Trump announced the immediate withdrawal of U.S. Forces from the autonomous region of Northeast Syria - Rojava - and opened the door for a Turkish invasion. Apparently the result of a single phone call, this decision marks yet another in a long line of shameful betrayals to our allies in the region.

If Turkey is permitted to cross the border, no one can claim ignorance of their intent. Turkey is an ultra-nationalist, neo-fascist state animated by fantasies of cultural hegemony enacted through brutal oppression of any attempt at self-determination among its various ethnic and religious minorities. Many of the Kurds on the Syrian side of the border are the stateless descendents of those that fled Turkey's genocidal campaigns over the last 100 years. The Kurds, Armenians, Alevis, and Assyrians that remain in Turkey today are treated like second-class citizens unable to speak their own language, celebrate their own culture, practice their own religion, or democratically elect their own mayors.

But Erdogan's fascism, like many of the examples that preceded it, is restless and longs for outward projection. In 2016, Turkey invaded Rojava in the province of Manbij under Operation Euphrates Shield. And last year, under Operation Olive Branch, Turkish forces and auxiliary Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (T-FSA) attacked Afrin in Northwest Syria. In mere days, the T-FSA killed thousands and forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of the region's historic Kurdish population along with Alevi and Yezidi religious minorities. They looted houses, burned shops, killed children, and raped women before selling them into prostitution. Within Turkey, Erdogan's government imprisoned activists, journalists, and politicians who spoke out against these atrocities. Afrin is still illegally occupied by Turkey and armed groups that are sympathetic to Turkey's goals in Syria are still actively targeting Kurds for war crimes. To the world, Erdogan justified these operations as a fight against ISIS when, in fact, the actual target were the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). And all waves of Turkish aggression, going back decades, have been underwritten by U.S. support and arms sales.

The SDF is an ally of the U.S. that we never deserved but are fortunate to have. It is constituted of Kurdish, Arab, Syriac, Turken, Circassian, and other local forces that united to fight ISIS and then to protect Rojava. It's backbone is the majority-Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG and YPJ). The SDF took back more land from ISIS than any other group, at one point controlling more than 1/3rd of Syria.

Rojava is home to a diverse community of over 2 million people. Kurds make up the majority of the Rojavan population, but it is also home to Arab, Syriac, Turkmen, Circassian, and other minority communities. Rojava is governed by the socialist doctrines of democratic confederalism (a grassroots direct democracy model that promotes multiculturalism) and jineology (a revolutionary approach to women's liberation in which women are integrated into every level of government as equal authority to the men). Democratic confederalism derives from the philosophy of Abdullah Öcalan, "Apo", who was kidnapped in 1999 by the CIA and Turkish intelligence and remains in a Turkish prison to this day. According to Noam Chomsky, in Rojava the Kurds have "succeeded in sustaining a functioning society with many decent elements."

Last year, the U.S asked the SDF to pull back from Afrin under the conditions that we would help protect Rojava and deter a Turkish incursion. The SDF consented. This year, we asked the SDF to pull back from the Turkish border in order to maintain peace with Turkey, and they complied. Then we asked them to stand by while Turkish patrols dismantled their defensive fortifications, and they did not resist. And now we tell them, with no warning, that we are leaving. We could have facilitated peace talks between the Kurds and Turkey, but we did not. We could have asked the U.N. to send peacekeepers to take our place, but we did not. There are any number of ways we could have pulled our forces back in a responsible way that would not virtually guarantee a large-scale atrocity and regional conflagration, but we did none of them.

Yesterday the Women's Movement of Rojava, the Kongra Star, called upon "the forces of democracy and all revolutionary women around the world to take to the streets in struggle and solidarity". Greater Baltimore DSA stands in solidarity with the Kongra Star and with all of Rojava. As socialists, we call upon the U.S. to end its weapon sales and military aid to Turkey. We call upon the international community to end the counter-revolutionary economic blockade of Rojava. We ask all of those sympathetic to Rojava to take action. Call your congressperson. Talk about this issue with your friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors and inspire them to act as well. Look for any way to assist your local Kurdish solidarity groups.

Solidarity forever.