[Marxism] The battles of Kobane, Aleppo and the relearning of solidarity
mkaradjis at gmail.com
Fri Dec 19 18:47:11 MST 2014
Pierre Rousset's article here deserves to be read in full, covering a
great deal of ground regarding the issue of the relationship between
imperialist intervention and the reality of struggles on the ground, the
question of negotiations, and the issues of solidarity between the
Syrian Kurdish struggle in Rojava and the more general Syrian
revolutionary struggle against the regime, symbolised here by Kobani and
Aleppo. This clip bellow focuses in this third element and where some of
the international solidarity, in Pierre's (and my) opinion fell short
and has presented a distorted picture.
The battles of Kobane, Aleppo and the relearning of solidarity
Friday 19 December 2014, by Pierre Rousset
Thus, one of the special features of the ongoing conflict is that on the
same global theatre of Iraqi-Syrian operations, several separate wars
mingle and intertwine. Strategically, the fate of all the peoples
concerned is bound together - and the unity of progressive forces is
needed. Specifically, the concrete details of the combat conditioning
tactics can vary considerably, and even “diverge” at certain times. I am
speaking here only of Kobane and Aleppo, but, more profoundly, conflicts
also evolve according to very specific situations or global alignments
and local alliances, which fluctuate and mingle .
I would like to take three examples of the difference between the
situation in Kobane and that of the popular resistance inside Syria,
personified by the battle of Aleppo. Three examples that have
implications for solidarity.
Visibility. The popular resistance in Aleppo has not benefited from the
same media coverage as that of Kobane, be it only for topographical
reasons: it cannot be filmed from the Turkish “balcony”. In addition, it
does not benefit from a network of associations and movements in Europe
and elsewhere of the same magnitude as the Kurdish left (and singularly
In the case of Kobane, we can say that public opinion spontaneously
influenced Washington as in the same way that a campaign of solidarity
could have. We cannot as things stand replace a “strong” media coverage,
but that implies that we must do everything that we can to ensure
visibility to the Syrian popular resistance: as much as we devote
ourselves to the situation in the Syrian Kurdistan, as we must ensure
that the struggle in the rest of the country is not “forgotten”, while
it continues in extremely precarious conditions and the violence of IS
obscures that of the Assad regime.
Exemplarity. The battle of Kobane is exemplary - but is the resistance
in Aleppo less so? The fighting capacity of the forces of the PYD is
notably based on its popular roots and the social dynamics initiated by
revolutionary measures taken in the “three cantons” which make up Rojava
(Syrian Kurdistan) - but have we not also had numerous examples of
“people’s power” in the Syrian uprising against the Assad dictatorship?
The role of women in Rojava and the resistance of Kobane are rightly
hailed, but they have not been inactive in the rest of the Syria!
There are in various calls for international solidarity with Kobane
certain formulas or “oversights” which seem to me quite unfortunate. Let
us take for example the global call for the day of solidarity with
Kobane on November 1, 2014. The title could have mentioned Aleppo and
not only Kobane, this was not the case. The terrorist violence of
Islamic State was denounced, but not that of the Assad regime. And then,
there is this sentence: “The democratic model of the autonomous
administration of Rojava is an example for all the populations of Syria”
.Which would be greeted with bitterness by the forces and peoples
involved elsewhere in Syria in democratic experiments.
The popular uprising against the Assad regime has experienced its own
social experiences; if they are etiolated, it is because they have not
benefited from the same “window” of peace as the PYD in Syrian
Kurdistan. They were immediately the object of a repressive military
escalation on the part of the government, and then were attacked from
behind by counter-revolutionary fundamentalist forces supported by
regimes which wanted to put an end to the “Arab revolution”.
During this time, the popular movements in Syrian Kurdistan benefited
from a situation of “non-war” with the Assad regime (which had withdrawn
its armed forces from the bulk of Rojava); they were only lately
attacked frontally by the fundamentalist movements, first, in May 2013,
by the al-Nusra Front, then, in September 2014, by IS. The attack was
fierce and the resistance remarkable, the stakes were high, but
international solidarity should not forget the importance of the popular
movement in the Syrian uprising and the tragic circumstances in which it
finds itself: with a lot of mortal enemies and no international support
at the level needed.
Bombing. On the border of Iraqi Kurdistan and Kobane, there has been
effective US bombing without “collateral damage” which the Kurdish
forces have been able to benefit from. This is not the case in Aleppo,
in the Palestinian camp of Yarmuk, in the suburbs of Damascus and so on.
In a general way, in Syria, the Coalition’s air intervention does not
play in favour of the popular resistance. It enables the regime to
ensure that it is done with its agreement and to claim a new
international recognition; its forces benefit from it to concentrate
their fire against the popular uprising. The fundamentalist movements
make much of denouncing the imperialist intervention. Assad, like IS,
draws on a new legitimacy. Militarily, the bombing does not loosen the
vice on the progressive forces, politically, it detracts from them.
One could say that in the case of Iraqi or Syrian Kurdistan, some US
bombing was tactically valuable; but the general situation on the
theatre of operations shows that it remains nevertheless strategically
disastrous. Solidarity must therefore absolutely not align with the
imperialist intervention, including in this area - but it must not deny
the reality of individual theatres of operations. It must also take
account of the different positions of the movements it supports, in
Syrian Kurdistan and in the rest of the country. The latter have
frontally denounced the air intervention of the Coalition, the former
have roundly criticized the non-intervention of US aviation in Kobane,
then actively collaborated in its effectiveness when it began.
Solidarity does not have to align itself with the viewpoint of Kobane to
the exclusion of Aleppo (or vice-versa), but take account of the two.
The problem posed by the above point is not who is the more to the left
(the PKK-PYD or the FSA?), but the relationship between strategy,
tactics and compromise. Of course, the analysis of a tactic or a
compromise depends in part on the perception one has of the movement(s)
involved. That of the PKK-PYD is not self evident. These parties have
certainly changed, but to what point? In many articles, they are today
are presented as a libertarian current, committed to political
pluralism, as armed anarcho-communists; for others, they retain an
authoritarian Mao-Stalinist matrix which prohibits them from recognizing
in practice pluralism on the left: an iron fist in a discourse of
velvet. The war situation and the urgency of solidarity do not help
clarify a reality which is probably complex. But in any case, in the
region, the PKK-PYD current is one of the most radical components (in
its social project and its roots in the far left); probably the most
powerful of them.
We should not therefore see in any compromise the announcement of
betrayal. Very symptomatically, the PYD wants to keep control of forces
on the ground, while using to its advantage the US bombing of IS
armoured vehicles: the Kurdish organizations who are close to it reject
in advance any intervention on the ground by the Coalition.
Similarly, in the rest of Syria, there have been many tactical and
momentary agreements between various armed components combining for a
time against a common enemy. But this situation has never led the Syrian
left forces to change their judgment on the counter-revolutionary nature
of the fundamentalist groups. Any compromise involves dangers; but the
rejection of any compromise also does! It is better to follow the
situation over time, rather than rush to judge each political decision
of the movements whose struggles we support.
In this area, the role of solidarity is to contribute to creating the
best possible conditions for peace talks which allow the victory of the
liberation struggle, of the revolutionary struggle; we are not at the
bargaining table and we do not have as a general rule to intervene on
the terms of the discussions between belligerents; but sometimes it is
demanded of us. This was the case in 1973. The Paris negotiations had
led to the drafting of an agreement that Washington refused to conclude.
The Vietnamese launched an appeal to public opinion and to the movement
of international solidarity to force the United States to sign what
became the Paris Agreements. We responded actively to this appeal,
breaking the rules of secret diplomatic negotiations.
The Paris Agreements were a compromise that could seem risky; but two
years later, the US forces were to literally flee the catastrophe of
Saigon. The crisis which later shook the “socialist camp” has made us
forget the importance of the event. The largest imperialist power in the
world had conducted in Indo-china a total counter-revolutionary war, on
all fronts - a war at the time without precedent; and still without
equivalent today by the magnitude of the effort, by the means
implemented, by its multifaceted character - and it lost.
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