The Syrian Revolution and the struggle for Kurdish Liberation

The article linked to below is overall an excellent article. I don’t have a strong position on some of the allegations in this article about alleged past PYD collaboration with the regime; in my view its open position of “neutrality” was already wrong (as was the FSA’s refusal to recognise Kurdish self-determination). However, a number of the allegations seem serious, and the overall weight of evidence suggests that  at least not all was right in its relations with the regime at all times. My view has been that neither the FSA nor the PYD/YPG have ever been angels, both have skeletons in their closets, but that is only to be expected in conditions of revolutionary semi-anarchy and ferocious counterrevolutionary repression. Neither romanticisation nor demonisation will get us anywhere. The tendency of some to demonise the FSA while romanticising the PYD/YPG rests on blatant double standards and highly self-serving.

In any case, the fraternisation that is presumably taking place now between Arab and Kurdish revolutionaries on the ground in Kobani gives us cause for hope for evolution in the thinking of both sides. The heroic resistance of the YPG fighters, particularly their amazing women fighters who challenge the arch-patriarchal views of their barbarian ISIS attackers, have helped lead to this. However, the fact that the FSA units have essentially taken the shirts off their own backs by going to defend Kobani when their people are under continual genocidal siege by the Assad tyranny in Aleppo, Hama, Damascus etc also demonstrates amazing solidarity and is just as important symbolically as the Kurds’ resistance.

Many FSA units in the country have expressed annoyance, or worse, at the decision of some FSA units to aid the YPG given the incredible sieges they are under; they complain that, given the PYD’s “neutrality” (thus this does not even require the allegations of collaboration to be true), they have never had the benefit of YPG cadres coming to fight for them in their breathtakingly heroic resistance against amazingly murderous regime and ISIS sieges. That view is entirely understandable, and underlines the PYD’s political error. However, I believe the politics of those FSA forces who have gone to fight in Kobani is superior, in demonstrating the unity of the Syrian revolution and the power of solidarity, so that the result may well be a PYD/YPG more engaged with the rest of the anti-fascist resistance after this; with the FSA also getting up to speed on issues of national self-determination, and learning from the revolutionary political, social and economic transformations the PYD has been able to carry out in the 2 years since Assad left them alone.

These inspiring transformations are more advanced than, yet in many ways similar to, the kinds of transformative politics of revolutionary councils we saw elsewhere in Syria earlier in the revolution – while they still hang on in places, trying to make comparisons, let alone value judgements, is absurd, as it is clearly not so easy to carry out such revolutionary transformations when you are barrel-bombed, scud missiled, chlorine gassed, besieged, starved, burnt, tortured to death in massive numbers – the lot of the mostly Sunni Arab majority in Syria. “Neutrality” was never an option for those on the receiving end.


FSA and YPG units announce the formation of the Burkan Al-Firat coalition to combat ISIS and defend Kobanê. FSA and YPG units announce the formation of the Burkan Al-Firat coalition to combat ISIS and defend Kobanê.

The Kurdish people have entered a new phase in the struggle to control their future.  The current context is born of the Syrian revolution that emerged as part of the “Arab Spring” of early 2011. The outcome of the Kurdish struggle in Syria (and neighboring countries) is intimately tied to unfolding of the revolutionary civil war in Syria. Their heroic resistance in the northern Syrian town of Kobanê (‘Ayn al-Arab) against the fighters of the right-wing ISIS organization is just one part of it.

Importantly though the need to resist ISIS in the region of Rojava in northern Syria has brought together political groups which previously were facing-off against each other. The success of an allied force combining Kurdish YPG and forces aligned to the predominantly Arab Free Syrian Army (FSA) in…

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