Kurdish dreams, visions, and reality

January 2, 2018

Disclaimer: The following text is written from the viewpoints of anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, environmentalism, and direct democracy. If you don’t share these views, you shouldn’t proceed, for you will only get annoyed.

A glossary of the maybe confusing, if not bewildering abundance of acronyms is at the end of the text.

This is about politics, not about philosophy, and yet:

To look for universal rules and guidelines about when violent resistance is permissible may be as futile as to look for an all-encompassing theory which could replace the Standard Model of particle physics. Real life is complicated and diverse, which means that rules and guidelines can never cover every possible case, every possible scenario.

Self defense, to save ones own life, is legitimate, no doubt about it, but the term self defense means different things to different people, ranging from hiding away to systematically exterminating ones opponents.

Is the bombing of Islamic State, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, and other Islamic terror groups self defense?

Is Syria’s fight against invading Islamists and “moderate rebels” self defense?

Is Israel’s occupation of West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights self defense?

Is the PKK insurgency in Turkey self defense?

Is Turkeys bombing of PKK in Iraq’s Qandil Mountains self defense?

Are NATO bombing wars against Yugoslavia and Libya self defense?

Are US invasions into Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria self defense?

Is deterrence self defense? Are preemptive wars self defense?

Are 15,000 nuclear warheads in waiting self defense?

One could resort to Kant’s Categorical Imperative: “Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law.” Or reformulated: “Treat others how you wish to be treated.”

One could resort to the inner feelings of compassion, empathy, kindness, and avoid harm and suffering of fellow living beings.

One could resort to ancient, time proven wisdom:

Quidquid agas prudenter agas et respice finem (“Whatever you do, do it with caution, and look to the end“), as the Romans already said.

Or to more recent wisdom:

Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love (Martin Luther King 1958 https://mlk.wsu.edu/about-dr-king/famous-quotes/).

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and though this well-worn adage is a bit unclear, because terror is a means while freedom is a goal, it nevertheless perfectly fits Abdullah Ocalan, vilified as a monstrous criminal by Turkey, yet adored and glorified by Kurds all over the world.

Ocalan not only symbolizes the Kurdish struggle for independence, he also initiated a social and political model which right now is tested in northern Syria by three million people. A good thing certainly, as only a “real-life trial” will prove, that a utopian vision actually works.

A god thing also because diversity is the key to evolutionary progress. Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection includes group selection, meaning that various types of social and economic structures competing against each other will see the most efficient and beneficial ones on top. Outside interference could of course skew the result.

Which points to the need of decentralization, federalization, local independence. Lifting a central governments straitjacket from the communities will let them find their own appropriate solutions. The communities will learn from each other, adopting successful methods, avoiding failed methods. The central government will be mediating conflicts.

Abdullah Ocalan’s vision of an egalitarian society is mainly based on writings of Murray Bookchin, an author and political theorist from the USA. Bookchin is branded as an anarchist, libertarian socialist, anti-capitalist, environmentalist. He called himself a “communalist.”

His most important books are: Our Synthetic Environment (1962), Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971), and The Ecology of Freedom (1982). Ocalan read Bookchin’s books in Turkeys Imrali Island prison, where he is held since 1999, and was intrigued by the ideas of the American thinker. It is also reported that there was an exchange of letters between Bookchin and Ocalan via Ocalan’s lawyers.

Bookchin’s writings propose the decentralization of society along ecological and democratic principles. His texts on libertarian municipalism, a theory of direct democracy via local assemblies, had an influence on the Green movement and anti-consumerism activist groups, and because of Ocalan, it is also the main idea behind the “democratic confederalism of Rojava.”

Rojava is the old but still commonly used name of the DFNS (Democratic Federation of Northern Syria), a de facto autonomous region consisting of three self-governing entities in northern Syria (Afrin, Jazira, Euphrates).

In 2012 the Kurdish cantons of Afrin, Kobane, and Jazira gained de-facto independence when the Syrian army, under heavy pressure in Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Daraa, and pretty much everywhere else, withdrew from the Kurdish areas under the tacit understanding, that the Kurds would fend off the Islamic rebels and remain neutral in the Syrian war.

The Kurds were not on good terms with the Assad-government and there were grievances, but they were secular and adhered to socialist ideals just like the ruling Baath Party. The difference between Kurds and Baath Party is, that the latter is based on Pan-Arab Nationalism (or Pan-Arabism), which sees Arabs as one nation, while the Kurds want independence or at least autonomy in the framework of a federal system. This is also the reason, while the Kurds, rightfully suspected of separatism, were often discriminated against by the Syrian government.

The name Rojava was officially dropped to appease other ethnic groups (Arabs, Syriac-Assyrians, Turkmen), as the Kurdish dominated forces SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) with the help of Western air power and US artillery units wrested more land from the Islamic State terrorist group, land where no Kurds live or where they are a minority.

To enact direct participatory democracy via popular assemblies, people’s committees, neighborhood councils is not a new idea. A hundred years ago Leon Trotsky envisioned workers councils (soviets), and Rosa Luxemburg developed her concept of Basic Democratic Socialism. Yet the concept didn’t gain traction and Switzerland is the rare exeption of a Western country with instruments of direct democracy (at the levels of municipalities, cantons, and the federal state).

Democratic socialism, decentralization, gender equality, and ecological sustainability are dreams and ideals of many people around the world — unfortunately there are just a few places where these ideals are pursued.

The nation which most closely resembled the mentioned ideals was Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya (Jamahiriya), where most decisions were taken by local people’s committees and eight hundred People’s Congresses. Libya had the highest HDI (Human Development Index), the lowest infant mortality, and the highest life expectancy in all of Africa, education and health care were free.

This was surely a dangerous example and a challenge for Western neocolonial powers that had to be destroyed.

Cuba fits partly the ideals, though it is centrally planned and controlled. Costa Rica, Ecuador, Venezuela make laudable efforts, though Venezuela is now under heavy attack. There are analogous attempts in Bhutan and Nepal, there is Kerala in India and there are other remote regions around the world, unreported and laying low not to draw attention of capitalism’s enforcers.

And there is the DFNS or Rojava.

One would assume that a cultural, social, political experiment like the democratic confederalism of Rojava would be vilified, slandered, smeared, ridiculed or at best belittled and ignored, but the Kurds evoke strong public sympathies in the West and supporters on all levels of public life plea for them and further their cause.

This can be explained by a widespread romantic notion about the century old Kurdish struggle for a homeland, by an intelligent media campaign, emphasizing women’s participation in the YPJ militia (pictures of Kurdish women in uniform, wielding weapons, are widely disseminated), and the need of US-America to keep a foothold in Syria after the Islamic proxies failed miserably.

The siege of Kobane by the Islamic State was a turning point for the Kurds. The initial Western plan was, to let Kobane fall and get the Kurds slaughtered, shed a measured amount of crocodile tears, and start a devastating bombing campaign plus a limited invasion after that. This plan would have enabled the USA to establish basis in northern Syria and it would have also pleased Turkey.

The worldwide public outcry though forced the Western planners to support the Kurds in Kobane by annihilating IS attackers in a hail of bombs. IS lost more that 1,000 fighters in the failed siege and never recovered from this defeat.

After the Kurds held out heroically in Kobane, the USA got the idea to use them as their proxies instead of the unreliable and ineffective jihadists. Officially the mission was to eradicate IS, but in the course of military support for the Kurdish dominated SDF, the USA built airfields and established military bases, first at Kharab Ishq near Kobane, than in Rmeilan, then in Manbij, Ayn Issah, Tal Tamir, al-Shaddadi, and in various other locations in Hasaka and Raqqa province. There are at least a dozen US bases in northern Syria, between 2,000 and 4,000 US soldiers are thought to be stationed there. The newest US base is in the Jezra district of Raqqa city.

The Islamists are probably not completely abandoned and weapons are still sent via Turkey and Jorden; Russia claims that the USA is training 750 Islamic militants at the al-Shaddadi camp and another 350 at the al-Tanf base near the Jordanian border.

The US defense spending bill for 2018 (Justification for FY 2018 Overseas Contingency Operations / Counter-Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Train and Equip Fund) includes providing weapons worth 393 million US$ to proxies in Syria. Overall, 500 million US$, roughly 70 million more than last year, are to be spent on Syria Train and Equip requirements.

During the race between the SDF on the eastern and the Syrian army on the western banks of the Euphrates River to grab up as much territory from IS as possible, the SDF advanced with lightning fast speed, encountering little resistance from IS, to occupy crucial oil- and gas-fields, among them the al-Omar oil field, the greatest in Syria. The Syrian army meanwhile had to fight bloody battles to lift the siege of Deir ez-Zor, conquer al-Mayadin, and finally al-Bukamal at the Iraqi border. Syria accused the SDF of having bribed IS-allied tribes to hand over the oil fields.

While there is no more fighting on the western bank of the Euphrates, IS still has a slice of territory on the eastern bank, and the SDF apparently is in no hurry to clean the area. That the terror group is still present gives the USA a welcome excuse to stay a little bit longer. Special envoy Brett McGurk: “As I write this letter, SDF units are engaged in operations to remove IS from the Euphrates River Valley, and we anticipate these operations will continue over the first quarter of 2018.” He continues: “The United States is prepared to remain in Syria until we are certain that IS is defeated, stabilization efforts can be sustained, and there is meaningful progress in the Geneva-based political process.”

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis for his part said, that he expected to see a larger US civilian presence in Syria, including contractors and diplomats, as the fight against Islamic State militants nears its end. “Well, when you bring in more diplomats, they are working that initial restoration of services, they bring in the contractors, that sort of thing […] There is international money that has got to be administered, so it actually does something, it doesn’t go into the wrong people’s pockets.”

This is clearly becoming a stealth invasion and the promised assistance by the USA can only be seen as an attempt to establish the Kurdish controlled zones as a separate entity.

Most Kurds are aware, that the alliance with the USA is a dangerous game, they know, that they are pawns, geopolitical tools. And they know, that it would be not the first time that Kurds have been used as pawns in the great game of the Middle East, just to be abandoned after they fulfilled their purpose.

Mohammed Sheikho, head of the Kurdish Community Movement in the Aleppo district Sheikh Maksoud: “We are against the issue of separation, we are with the unity of the Syrian territories, and what we are trying to do is to turn Syria from a central state into a federal state […] but there is propaganda seeking to distort the reality of our project, told by Turkey and some of the mercenary groups associated with Turkey […] America certainly does not support us because they love us, but America has its interests and objectives.”

Most Kurds are also aware, that their social vision of direct democracy and egalitarianism grossly contradicts US-American beliefs in free markets (the invisible hand), laissez-faire (no government interference), and social Darwinism (survival of the fittest).

US journalists and pundits have for a while defamed the PYD as Marxists or Stalinists, until, after Kobane, it became clear that the Syrian Kurds could be useful to keep the USA in the game. When YPJ fighters put up a huge banner of Abdullah Ocalan right in the center of Raqqa and YPJ commander Nesrin Abdullah dedicated the liberation of Raqqa to women worldwide and to Ocalan, the US Embassy in Ankara declared: “The United States Government works closely with Turkey to fight terrorism and increase regional stability. The PKK is a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, and Ocalan is in prison in Turkey for acts of terrorism as part of the PKK. He does not merit respect.” And Col. Ryan Dillon, an US-coalition spokesman said: “The Coalition does not approve of the display of divisive symbols and imagery at a time in which we remain focused on the defeat of IS in Syria.”

Tev-Dem (Movement for a Democratic Society), the top governing body in the Syrian Kurdish-controlled territories, responded in another statement: “With his ideas and philosophy, leader Ocalan represents hope for all the peoples in the region … the American statement violates democracy and human rights.”

Posters and banners of Abdullah Ocalan have been displayed not only in Raqqa, but also in Kobane, Manbij, Aleppo, Qamishli, Afrin, and various other places. One can hardly overestimate the respect and deference he commands. He has become a mystical figure, a symbol, and his status has been elevated to near sainthood, not at least because his ordeal of 18 years imprisonment, most of it in solitary confinement. Abdullah Ocalan has become the Nelson Mandela of the Kurds.

That Ocalan has changed his ideological basis from Marxism-Leninism to the communalism of Murray Bookchin was surely a clever move, one of the things to be expected from an intelligent man who has plenty of time to think about the ways of the world in his lonely prison cell. The Turkish guards probably thought that books of a US author must be okay, if they had read and understood Bookchin, the books would not have been allowed.

Nelson Mandela was an admirer and close friend of Muammar Gaddafi. He certainly dreamed of changing South Africa like Gaddafi changed Libya, but he ceded to reality and choose appeasement and reconciliation over transformation. When it became clear that a revolutionary transformation was not on Mandelas agenda and that he played to the unwritten rules of the global world order, he was accepted as a great statesman and peacemaker.

US experts are aware how subversive and incendiary the Rojava experiment is, but 1. they have not much choice as the jihadists are expiring, and 2. in the course of the military cooperation they hope to find out which Kurdish leaders can be bribed and turned into stooges.

If Kurds have learned anything from their history of betrayal, perfidy, and broken promises, they will not fall into this trap. Kurds are surely aware that Turkish special forces only were able to capture Ocalan in 1999 after the CIA tipped them off on his whereabouts at the Greek ambassador’s residence in Nairobi, Kenya.

Russia counters the US plans by increasing contact with the Kurds and cutting localized deals (Koneko Gas Field in Deir ez-Zor, Sheikh Maqsoud district Aleppo). Against Turkish objections and red lines Russia isn’t hesitating to display its relations with the Kurds. The latest such display was to invite Sipan Hemo, general commander of the YPG, to Moscow a few weeks ago. Hemo attended a ceremony awarding medals to Russian commanders who fought in Syria and he had a series of meetings with the Russian general staff, foreign intelligence, and defense officials.

According to Hemo, the Russians confirmed that 155 Syrian Kurds will be at scheduled peace talks in Sochi. Asked about the sensitive topic of PYD participation, Hemo noted that the invitation to the congress was not for parties but for the entire Syrian people.

Aldar Halil, a prominent name in the Tev-Dem — the multicultural governing coalition of Rojava in northern Syria — said there has been no change in the Russian position: “In all our talks with Russia, they told us we have to be at the congress. We gave them a list of 155 names who will represent Raqqa, Hasakah, Qamishli, Kobane and Manbij.”

1,500 delegates will be at Sochi for two days with the aim to form a constitutional committee. The Turkish delegates would not sit down with officials from the PYD, YPG, YPJ, but Tev-Dem at least nominally includes Arabs, Turkmen, Assyrians, so the Turks can save face and keep their red lines intact.

Moscow has repeatedly presented drafts of a federal constitution in Syria to accommodate Kurdish aspirations for regional autonomy, but Syrian President Bashar al-Assad at the moment is not ready for compromise and said in December that “all those who cooperate with the USA — including the Kurds — are traitors.”

As mentioned before, the Kurds, suspected of separatism, were often discriminated against by the Syrian government. Arabs were settling in Kurdish areas, the curriculum was Arabic, some 200,000 Kurds lost citizenship in 1962. The latter injustice was rectified in April 2011, when Presidential Decree 49 provided citizenship for Kurds in Hasaka province.

On the other hand, Syria accommodated many Kurdish refugees from Turkey. Abdullah Ocalan himself fled in July 1979 to Syria, where he remained under Hafez al-Assad’s protection until October 1998. He only had to leave because the Turkish government openly threatened Syria over its alleged support for the PKK.

The cooperation between Kurds and USA takes place despite undeniable evidence of close ties between YPG/YPJ and PKK, which Western countries, Turkey, and nearly everybody else considers a terrorist organization.

“Close ties” is even an understatement, in reality the YPG/YPJ militia is a wholly integrated component of the PKK, subordinate to its leadership in the Qandil Mountains, and run by PKK-trained operatives who moved into Syria in large numbers in 2011 and 2012. The YPG’s own casualty figures attest to the substantial number of PKK troops from Turkey.

Syria’s YPG/YPJ, Turkey’s PKK, and Iran’s PJAK are united in the KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union), which is led by an elected Executive Council under Cemil Bayik and Bese Hozat. The two replaced Murat Karayilan, who is military commander of the PKK. The KCK can be viewed as PKK’s transnational political structure. Saleh Muslim Muhammad, longtime speaker of Syria’s PYD, is himself close to Karayilan.

The official branding as terrorists doesn’t mean that one could not have some kind of sympathy for their cause. Turkey has oppressed Kurds for the same reason they were oppressed in Syria, Iraq, and (to a lesser degree) in Iran. The reason is Kurdish strife for independence, undoubtedly one of Turkey’s primary internal challenges and the greatest threat to its territorial integrity.

Regardless of who led it, Turkey’s primary objective over the past century has been to retain the territory that was left to it from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire — separatist movements consequently are countered with utmost brutality.

From the 1980s onward, following the creation of the PKK, the conflict has involved ferocious fighting with tenacious Kurdish separatists punctuated by deceptively peaceful lulls and even hesitant attempts at reaching across the aisle. The most recent such effort ended in July 2015; its collapse must be placed within the context of the AKP’s reduced showing in elections the previous month and the PKK’s expanding fortunes in the power vacuums of Syria and Iraq.

Kurds are, with about 18 percent of the population, the largest ethnic minority in Turkey. They have suffered bloody massacres (Dersim rebellion, Zilan massacre), Kurdish language was for long periods prohibited in public and private life, there were food embargoes on Kurdish villages and towns. When riots erupted in Turkey against the Siege of Kobane and Turkeys collusion with IS, 37 protesters were killed.

Diyarbakir is one of the largest cities in southeastern Turkey and considered the unofficial capital of Turkish Kurdistan. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and the ancient district of Sur was a famous tourist destination. When in August 2015 local Kurdish activists announced autonomous self-rule in Sur, Turkish forces imposed a 24-hour curfew and later a siege. Tanks and heavy artillery was used to root out Kurdish activists. Hundreds died, thousands fled, 80 percent of the buildings in Sur are destroyed, the local economy has collapsed.

Sur is rebuilt, but according to Turkish plans, the Kurdish cultural heritage will be erased and Diyarbakir will be just another Turkish city. When Tahir Elci, head of the Diyarbakir Bar Association and a prominent peace activist, visited Sur to warn about damage to crucial heritage structures, he was shot in the head and killed.

Turkey has unleashed ultra-nationalist vigilante groups on Kurdish villages and towns. “Esedullah teams,” “Grey Wolves,” and members of MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) terrorize the population, while the Turkish police turns a blind eye.

Lawmakers from the Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) were stripped of their parliamentary immunity and arrested (Selahattin Demirtas, Figen Yuksekda, Nursel Aydogan, Faysal Sariyildiz, Tugba Hezer Ozturk). Many Kurdish majors have been arrested (Huseyin Olan, Nevin Dasdemir Dagkiran, Gultan Kisanak, Firat Anli, Mehmet Emin Ozkan, Senaye Ata). There are hundreds of Kurdish officials and intellectuals who linger in Turkish prisons, their names would fill a book.

Kurds in Iraq under Saddam Hussein didn’t fare much better. During the Iran–Iraq War the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), led by the Barzani clan, and the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan), dominated by the Talabani clan, started an open rebellion with the support of Iran. A chemical attack by Iraq against Halabja killed more than 3,000 people, but it was mainly directed at Iranian troops who had taken over the town.

After the US invasion in 2003 and the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iraqi Kurds were able to establish an autonomous administration, called KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government).

In a moment of clear thinking, Turkey’s ruler Recep Tayyip Erdogan counter-intuitively began forging a strategically important economic bond with the KRG in 2007, particularly with its strongest component, the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) of Masoud Barzani. Ankara’s objective was to contain the Kurdish challenge to Iraq’s territorial integrity — and ipso facto Turkey’s own — by drawing the Kurds tightly into its economy while allowing them the kind of autonomy, including the opportunity to exploit the region’s oil wealth, that Baghdad had been opposed since Iraq’s birth but, after 2003, could not prevent.

Yet, after the fall of Mosul to IS (Islamic State) in June 2014, he PKK made major inroads in northern Iraq as well, challenging Turkey’s ally KDP, which preemptively abandoned the district of Sinjar in August 2014 as IS moved in. PKK fighters saved thousands of fleeing Yazidis; many others were slaughtered or enslaved by IS. More than a year later, the PKK and the KDP — moving simultaneously but separately — started to push IS out of the area, leaving the PKK and its local affiliates in an advantageous position because the KDP had lost the trust of the local population.

During the subsequent US-supported campaign to wrest control of Mosul back from IS, Turkey played hardly more than a bystander role, having sent only a small number of troops into northern Iraq to train Sunni forces under Mosul’s former governor and to deter the PKK from taking further advantage of the security vacuum.

Ankara’s post-2008 relationship with the KDP, which had enabled the Kurdish region’s integration into Turkey’s economy, suffered a severe blow as a result of President Masoud Barzani’s decision to stage an independence referendum despite Turkish objections. On the day of the September 2017 referendum, Erdogan went so far as to warn: “If Barzani and the Kurdish Regional Government do not go back on this mistake as soon as possible, they will go down in history with the shame of having dragged the region into an ethnic and sectarian war.”

Masoud Barzani overplayed his hand. After the referendum Iraqi forces chased the Kurds out of the oil-rich province of Kirkuk and took back all territory the Kurds acquired from IS. Iraq also took over all Kurdistan border posts. The KRG has lost crucial oil income and is completely dependent on Baghdad for their civil servants’ salaries. Anyway, salaries were not paid for month because the KRG is bankrupt — maybe this will change now and if salaries are finally payed by the al-Abadi government, it will be the ultimate humiliation of Barzani and the end of his independence dream.

The continued economic hardship led to three days of protests in December in Sulaimania, Rania, and a number of other Kurdish towns, in which party offices, town halls, and other government buildings were set ablaze, six protesters were killed, hundreds were arrested and security police clamped down to impose quiet.

This could be another chance for the PKK to take over from the corrupt tribal clans which until now have ruled the KRG.

Kurds in Iran comprise about 10 percent of the population, they are Sunni as well as Shia. Most Kurds don’t support separatism. The PJAK (Kurdistan Free Life Party), an offshoot of the PKK, is estimated to have 3,000 members, but has not been active for some time. At the moment most of the members, just like their comrades from the PKK, are fighting in Syria with the SDF. The PJAK plays no role in the recent Iranian street protests.

Concluding aphorisms

Taking sides when people are killed in a merciless war is difficult, one often can only sadly watch, assert what is happening, and look for possibilities to deescalate. The peace and reconciliation efforts of Russia and Syria appear to be the best way to end this tragedy.

Preconceptions and prejudices are not helpful. Troopers, fighters, guerrillas, militants, rebels, insurgents, terrorists, they are all brothers of war, distinguished by different uniform badges, unified in the grave.

While jihadists in general seem to be immune to notions of mercy, kindness, grace, forgiveness, tolerance, everyone else deserves a chance. Some psychopaths and criminals will not change their ways, they will have to be controlled, contained, restrained.

As the Iraqi example has shown, military cooperation between USA and SDF doesn’t necessarily help Kurdish aspirations of regional autonomy.

Turkish President Erdogan recently declared Syrian President Assad “a terrorist who is impossible to work with,” disappointing those, who were hoping for a honeymoon between Ankara and Damascus and a deal where Rojava would be eliminated in a concerted effort.

President Assad ultimately will be judged by his willingness to embrace a federal system. If Syrias army and the SDF march together, the Islamists will be crushed and the Syrian war will end in 2018.

The Kurds should earnestly think about ways to politely usher out the USA from Syria.

How many generations will it take to heal the wounds of this war?

Further reading:

Glossary of acronyms:

DFNS (Democratic Federation of Northern Syria) Rojava
Tev-Dem (Movement for a Democratic Society) government of Rojava
PYD (Democratic Union Party) Kurdish party Syria
YPG (People’s Protection Units) Kurdish militia Syria
YPJ (Women’s Protection Units) Kurdish militia Syria
SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) Kurdish, Arab, Assyrian/Syriac alliance

AKP (Justice and Development Party) Islamist Party led by Erdogan
MHP (Nationalist Movement Party) ultra-nationalists Turkey

HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party) Kurdish Party Turkey
PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party) insurgency Turkey
TAK (Kurdistan Freedom Hawks) PKK offshoot

KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government) Iraq
KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) Barzani clan
PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) Talabani clan

PJAK (Kurdistan Free Life Party) insurgency Iran

KCK (Kurdistan Communities Union) Union of YPG/YPJ, PKK, PJAK


  1. On the other hand, Syria accommodated many Kurdish refugees from Turkey. Abdullah Ocalan himself fled in July 1979 to Syria, where he remained under Hafez al-Assad’s protection until October 1998. He only had to leave because the Turkish government openly threatened Syria over its alleged support for the PKK.


  2. I hope the Kurds get their federalism. It is the only sane option that remains… and after following Scotland’s struggle for independence and being a fan, I think both Scotland and Catalonia would do well to follow that model… the problem, of course, is that this is exactly what the powers that be do not wish for. They always push for more centralization. Even in Switzerland federalism has been eroded…

    Great photos, Mato!

    Venezuela, however, sucks. They seem to have followed every damn mistake made by the former satellites of the Soviet Union. A well-meaning system perhaps in the early years, gone insane.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: