Debbie Bookchin. Girls playing in the garden of the Museum of Martyrs in Kobane, the town where some 1,400 mainly Kurdish men and women died fighting ISIS in 2014 and 2015, Northern Syria, March 21, 2019

As the de facto chief negotiator of the liberated region called the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, Ilham Ahmed, the Kurdish co-chair of the Syrian Democratic Council, has much on her mind. In recent months, she has traveled in the US and Europe, negotiating the future of a domain that is home to an estimated 5 to 6 million people, including a substantial portion of Syria’s 6.2 million internally displaced persons, and, now in addition, thousands of families implicated in Islamic State terrorism who are today living in refugee camps. As Ahmed continues delicate talks with the world’s superpowers over the status of this territory, its future is, to a certain degree, in her hands.…  Seguir leyendo »

Kobane, Syria, March 2015. A member of the Women’s Protection Unit defends the city. Photograph: Maryam Ashrafi/The Guardian Foundation

Remember those plucky Kurdish forces who so heroically defended the Syrian city of Kobane from Isis? They risk being wiped out by Nato.

The autonomous Kurdish region of Rojava in Northeast Syria, which includes Kobane, faces invasion. A Nato army is amassing on the border, marshaling all the overwhelming firepower and high-tech equipment that only the most advanced military forces can deploy. The commander in chief of those forces says he wants to return Rojava to its “rightful owners” who, he believes, are Arabs, not Kurds.

Last spring, this leader made similar declarations about the westernmost Syrian Kurdish district of Afrin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les derniers développements concernant le nord de la Syrie n’ont pas manqué de susciter de vives réactions sur la scène kurde. Les déclarations à peu près concomitantes sur un retrait américain de la part du président des Etats-Unis, Donald Trump, et celles de Recep Tayyip Erdogan, son homologue turc, au sujet d’une offensive turque dans le Rojava (Kurdistan de Syrie) ont provoqué au minimum l’inquiétude des acteurs politiques et de la rue kurdes sur place et à l’extérieur.

Les premiers concernés, les autorités civiles et militaires qui administrent le Rojava et une partie du nord de la Syrie – le Mouvement pour la société démocratique (TEV-DEM) et les Unités de défense du peuple (YPG), organisations affiliées au PKK –, annoncent en forme de bravade leur volonté de défendre coûte que coûte leur territoire et d’en découdre militairement avec l’armée turque et ses supplétifs si une offensive se confirmait.…  Seguir leyendo »

Les Français déploraient l’affrontement des superpuissances durant la guerre froide, mais chaque fois qu’un dégel s’amorçait, ils se plaignaient de l’émergence d’un condominium [autorité conjointe de plusieurs Etats sur un territoire]. Ils ont refusé en 1968 d’adhérer au traité de non-prolifération nucléaire. Ils s’élevaient contre la division de l’Europe, mais faisaient la grimace à l’Ostpolitik [ouverture vers l’Allemagne de l’Est et le bloc de l’Est] du chancelier allemand Willy Brandt. L’URSS disparue, ils ont pointé du doigt l’hégémonisme américain, tout en théorisant la naissance d’un monde multipolaire, lourd d’incertitudes.

Déjà en 1996, Jacques Chirac laissait percer sa nostalgie d’un monde bipolaire « critiquable mais lisible ».…  Seguir leyendo »

North-East of Syria, Rojava: The Kobani canton, in the Federation of Northern Syria - Rojava, more commonly known as Syrian Kurdistan or Western Kurdistan, struggles against Daesh. Here, demonstration in a street of Kobani for the release of Apo, Abdullah ocalan, leader of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Young Kurdish women in the crowd of demonstrators. (Photo by: Andia/UIG via Getty Images)

One mild spring day in Vermont in April 2004, my father, the historian and philosopher Murray Bookchin, was chatting with me, as we did almost daily. We’d talk about everything and everyone—friends, family, and thinkers from Karl Marx and Karl Polanyi (whom he admired) to then-president George W. Bush (whom he did not) and George Smiley, the fictional John Le Carré character whom he identified with and was fond of. He paused, and out of the blue disclosed what seemed an odd piece of news: “Apparently,” he said, “the Kurds have been reading my work and are trying to implement my ideas.” He said it so casually and off-handedly that it was as if he didn’t quite believe it himself.…  Seguir leyendo »

a Syrian man rests in the northwestern Syrian city of Afrin on March 31, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Nazeer al-Khatib (Photo credit should read NAZEER AL-KHATIB/AFP/Getty Images)

When Raqqa fell in 2017, after a long siege by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), it was generally thought that ISIS was defeated, save for some mopping up. But in January of this year, Turkey invaded Afrin—one of three cantons in Rojava, also called the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria. This meant that scores of SDF fighters had to leave the battle against ISIS in order to defend their homes, families, and neighbors in Afrin. After extensive air strikes, the city of Afrin fell on March 18—confronting the already troubled region with yet another humanitarian crisis, as thousands fled to escape the Turkish army and its Syrian National Army allies (which include jihadist rebel groups and some fighters who are either openly aligned with al-Qaeda or even recent members of ISIS).…  Seguir leyendo »

IKRG civil servants protest deducted salaries

When I was ten years old, my father came home late one day. I remember how pale he was. He said nothing about why he was late, walked straight to his room, locked the door, and stayed there until the next evening. Later, he told us that he had been detained for over seven hours by the Mukhabarat, the Iraqi Ba’ath Party’s notorious security apparatus under the country’s then-dictator Saddam Hussein (this was in the 1970s). Unlike most of the other people who were detained by the Mukhabarat, my father was never tortured—at least, not physically. Instead, he was given a tour of the building and its torture devices that left him terrified.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army soldiers celebrate around a statue of Kawa, a mythology figure in Kurdish culture as they prepare to destroy it in city center of Afrin, northwestern Syria, early Sunday, March 18, 2018. Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday that allied Syrian forces have taken "total" control of the town center of Afrin, the target of a nearly two-month-old Turkish offensive against a Syrian Kurdish militia, which said fighting was still underway. Erdogan said the Turkish flag and the flag of the Syrian opposition fighters have been raised in the town, previously controlled by the Kurdish militia known as the People's Defense Units, or YPG. (Hasan Kırmızitaş/DHA-Depo Photos via AP)

Mohammed is not his real name. He asked me not to share personal details, fearing retaliation from the fighters he passes when he walks around his city. I can say only that Mohammed is a Kurd living in Afrin, a city in northern Syria that was held for more than five years by Kurdish-led forces until it was, about three weeks ago, overrun and occupied by the Turkish army and its proxy forces fighting under the umbrella of the Syrian National Army (SNA), formerly known as the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA).

To be a Kurd in Afrin, once a majority Kurdish city, Mohammed says, is now to find oneself a member of a despised group, suspected of disloyalty, and liable to be robbed, beaten, put to flight, or worse.…  Seguir leyendo »

La lutte contre les organisations terroristes comme Daech (acronyme arabe de l’organisation Etat islamique) et la gestion des flux de l’émigration constituent les plus grands défis auxquels les pays européens doivent faire face aujourd’hui. La Turquie continue de jouer un rôle majeur dans l’action internationale pour les relever.

C’est la Turquie qui a permis à l’Union européenne (UE) de réguler le flux d’émigrés de Syrie. Elle a non seulement accueilli chez elle 3,5 millions de Syriens, mais également sauvé la vie de milliers d’entre eux, en leur épargnant une périlleuse traversée de la mer Egée pour rejoindre l’Europe occidentale.

C’est la Turquie qui a été parmi les premiers pays à reconnaître Daech comme une organisation terroriste.…  Seguir leyendo »

Civilians run cover from explosions in Afrin, Syria, on Sunday, after Turkish forces and their rebel allies took control of the Kurdish-majority city. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images)

The seizure of the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Sunday by Turkish forces is a rerun of one of modern history’s saddest recurring themes: The Kurds struggle for survival while their friends among the great powers stand aside and watch.

The Kurds’ plight is especially painful for U.S. military commanders, because the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces have been America’s key ally in defeating the Islamic State in Syria. U.S. commanders fear that the decisive gains won against the jihadists since 2014 may be slipping away as the SDF leaves the Islamic State front in eastern Syria to combat the Turkish assault on Afrin in the northwest.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Kurds hold pictures of deceased relatives as they gather in Halabja on March 16 to mark the 30th anniversary of the Halabja gas massacre that killed some 5,000 people. (SHWAN MOHAMMED/AFP via Getty Images)

This week, Kurds mark one of the darkest days in our recent history: the chemical weapons attack on the village of Halabja, launched by Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein as retaliation for Kurdish resistance to his regime. It is the memory of such atrocities, committed against us again and again by the governments of the countries in which we live, that has made Kurds so eager to pursue the long-held dream of a state of our own.

Last year, this passionate longing for a Kurdish homeland backfired dramatically. In September, Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government, emboldened by its success at building its own institutions and cultivating good relations with its neighbors, saw an opportunity to push for independence by holding a referendum.…  Seguir leyendo »

Il y a déjà plus d’un mois que l’armée turque, violant toutes les lois internationales, a envahi le nord de la Syrie pour attaquer les Kurdes de l’enclave d’Afrin et s’emparer de leur territoire. Afin de justifier son agression, le président turc Erdogan a prétendu que ces Kurdes menaçaient sa frontière sud et n’étaient que des terroristes parmi d’autres. Question propagande, Goebbels n’aurait pas fait mieux pour nous pousser à abandonner nos meilleurs alliés dans la région et à jouer contre nos intérêts. Mais peut-on vraiment oublier que les Kurdes nous ont aidés à vaincre l’organisation Etat islamique – notre ennemi commun, responsable des attentats en France – et que nos soldats ont combattu à leurs côtés pendant trois ans ?…  Seguir leyendo »

Los aliados que Estados Unidos olvidó en Siria

El 20 de enero, Turquía inició una campaña de bombardeos aéreos e intenso fuego de artillería sobre el norte de Siria, con el objetivo declarado de neutralizar una amenaza a su seguridad en la frontera sur de Turquía. El área atacada (y Afrin, ciudad desde la que combato) están bajo control de las Unidades de Protección del Pueblo Kurdo (YPG).

Como comandante de las Fuerzas Democráticas Sirias (FDS), que incluyen las YPG, lo diré claramente: las acusaciones turcas de que estamos llevando la guerra al otro lado de la frontera son totalmente falsas. En realidad, es todo lo contrario; con la operación “Rama de Olivo”, Turquía nos está atacando a nosotros.…  Seguir leyendo »

How bizarre that the biggest obstacle to finishing the war against the Islamic State and beginning the stabilization of Syria is America’s supposed friend and NATO ally Turkey.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the latest attempt to mollify an angry Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a three-hour meeting in Ankara Thursday. But this may be mission impossible: Granting Turkey’s demands would make Syria more unstable and prolong the threat of radical Islamist terrorism there.

The U.S. goal is “getting to yes” with Erdogan, says a senior administration official. To that end, the United States has crafted a tentative package meant to appease the Turks by offering them a buffer zone in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin, joint Turkish-American patrols of the Manbij region where Erdogan has threatened an “Ottoman slap” if U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

Une civile kurde turque qui a rejoint les rangs des combattants qui luttent contre l'offensive turque, à Afrin, le 28 janvier. Photo Delil Souleiman. AFP

L’opinion publique occidentale semble l’ignorer mais l’invasion turque du canton kurde syrien d’Afrin est qualifiée de «jihad» ou guerre sainte par la Diyanet, la plus haute autorité religieuse du pays, à la demande sans doute du président turc lui-même.

La fatwa est serinée dans les 90 000 mosquées sunnites du pays où imams et prédicateurs, tous salariés d’un Etat supposé laïc, sont tenus de prier matin et soir avec leurs ouailles pour la victoire de l’armée de conquête turque et de leurs supplétifs syriens jihadistes.

Mimant le cérémonial guerrier des sultans, Recep Tayyip Erdogan a fait accompagner son corps expéditionnaire des tambours de la fanfare militaire ottomane Mehter revêtue des costumes d’époque.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una guerra turca de fabricación norteamericana

Mientras Turquía intensifica su campaña militar contra los combatientes kurdos sirios, es tentador echarle la culpa de la violencia al patrioterismo y a la xenofobia estridentes del presidente Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Después de todo, Erdoğan viene advirtiendo desde hace mucho tiempo que Turquía nunca toleraría una presencia militar kurda en la frontera sur del país; la reciente ofensiva parecería sugerir que sus palabras se están traduciendo en acciones.

Y, sin embargo, si bien Erdoğan puede haber ordenado la «Operación Rama de Olivo», el verdadero culpable es el foco miope de Estados Unidos en querer derrotar al yihadismo regional. Sin una política coherente para Siria, las sucesivas administraciones estadounidenses se han obsesionado con apuntar al Estado Islámico (EI) sin considerar las ramificaciones totales de sus acciones.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syrian Kurds waving Kurdish flags and flags with the logo of the People’s Protection Units outside the United Nations office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region, on Monday. Credit Safin Hamed/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The conflict between Turkey and the Kurds has escalated since Turkey started a military offensive against the Syrian Kurdish enclave of Afrin on Jan. 20. The Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units, which is the United States-led coalition’s top partner in the fight against the Islamic State, controls Afrin. And Turkey is a critical NATO ally.

The Trump administration is floundering. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has ignored President Trump’s appeal to avoid actions that might risk conflict between Turkish and American forces and torpedo the campaign against the Islamic State. Mr. Erdogan has vowed to carry the battle further east to militia-controlled territory stretching all the way to the Iraqi border, where an estimated 2,000 American Special Operations Forces are deployed.…  Seguir leyendo »

A demonstration in Amuda, Syria, this month against the Turkish invasion.CreditDelil Souleiman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

For more than a week, my home in northwestern Syria has been under a full-scale assault by the Turkish Army and thousands of Turkish-aligned Islamist jihadists.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been threatening this invasion for a very long time. The Turkish Army has been targeting our villages with mortars and artillery for many months now.

I and my fellow members of the Kurdish Women’s and People’s Protection Units, often known as the Y.P.J. and Y.P.G., have fought hard for years to keep the Islamic State out of this autonomous region of Syria known as Rojava. We endured Turkey’s barrages and avoided returning fire, even after civilian casualties, so as not to provide a pretext for this invasión.…  Seguir leyendo »

Syrian rebel fighters backed by Turkey at a checkpoint in Azaz, near the Afrin region of Syria, on Saturday. The Turkish military has launched an operation to oust the so-called People’s Protection Units, or Y.P.G., from its Afrin enclave. Credit Ozan Kose/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The United States is bound to the Middle East by interests, but Turkey shares about 800 miles of border with Syria and Iraq alone. In this geography and beyond, Turkey and the United States share the goal of defeating terrorist organizations that threaten our nations. Daesh (or the so-called Islamic State) has been our common enemy, and the victory against the group could not have been possible without Turkey’s active contributions.

Those contributions continue even though the group has been defeated militarily in both Iraq and Syria. The Turkish military was crucial in the liberation of the northern Syrian city of Jarabulus from Daesh in 2016.…  Seguir leyendo »

Des milliers de Kurdes sont morts pour débarrasser la Syrie et le monde du fléau de l’organisation Etat islamique. Ces femmes et ces hommes courageux, soutenus par la coalition internationale, ont brisé le mythe d’invincibilité de Daech (acronyme arabe de l’organisation EI), l’ont chassé village après village, ville après ville de tous les territoires où il sévissait y compris de Rakka, capitale de son soi-disant califat.

Parallèlement aux combats, les Kurdes ont mis en place des institutions, des conseils élus représentatifs des populations locales pour gérer ces territoires. Ils y ont accueilli, avec très peu d’aide internationale, plus d’un demi-million de réfugiés et de déplacés en grande partie arabes fuyant la barbarie de Daech ou celle du régime syrien.…  Seguir leyendo »