Rojava is the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria.
The people of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava) have built a society based on the teachings of Abdullah Öcalan.
The society is one of Democratic Confederalism, a grassroots democracy rejecting the imposition of the state.
Coalitions between the local Assyrian, Arab and Kurdish populations have created a small society run on the principles of a communal economy, harmony with the environment, and self-governance.
US troop withdrawal
Since defeating ISIS in the region, Rojava has existed as an island of stability of social peace in a very hostile and dangerous environment.
However, in December 2018 President Trump unexpectedly announced the immediate withdrawal of US troops from Northern Syria after a phone call with President Erdogan, and Turkey immediately began preparations for the invasion of Rojava.
Despite the US subsequently qualifying the speed and timescale of the withdrawal, the area remains hugely vulnerable to attack by Turkey. Should that occur, there is no doubt we will see a repeat of the war crimes and ethnic cleansing that took place in Afrin in January 2018.
In October 2019 Trump effectively gave the green light to Erdogan to continue and expand his invasion of Rojava. The Turkish state calls this offensive “Operation Peace Spring”.
This has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe as hundreds of thousands of civilians flee the region. Turkey has used banned white phosphorus bombs on civilians, causing horrific burns, its Jihadist mercenaries have summarily executed countless civilians including the Kurdish politician Hevrin Khalaf and now in this chaos, we face the resurgence of ISIS.
The social contract in action
The ideas of Abdullah Öcalan have taken concrete form in Rojava in the ‘Social Contract’ which enshrines gender equality, freedom of religion and the right to join trade unions among its core tenants. This community democracy is built around neighbourhood communes or committees.
From health to education and defence, these communes ensure that every aspect of society is democratically controlled by the community.
The first ecological society
The Rojava revolution is also a struggle for an ecological society. Destruction of the environment has been used as a weapon against the Kurds for many years, from widespread deforestation by Syrian regimes to the destruction of water soures by ISIS and the Turkish state restriction on the flow of rivers – keeping Rojava at permanent risk of drought.
In Rojava vital work is taking place to reduce overreliance on wheat, pesticides and water-intensive crops and a more diverse harvest is planted each year. They are also establishing tree planting to restore fertility and stability to the land for generations to come.
Rojava: a beacon of light in the Middle East
- religious and ethnic minorities are valued, protected and represented in the decision making bodies
- women’s rights and equality stand at the very heart of the system that has been established
- a system of co-chairs in all committees ensuring gender parity is built into the highest levels of decision making
- each council has a minimum quota of 40% representation of each gender with the remainder of places determined according to votes
- committees also have built-in representation of Christian and Arab communities
- understanding and respect of the environment and ecology our core values
- no ‘state army’ but the people’s and the women’s protection units of the YPG and YPJ
- the people of Rojava stress that they are not a ‘Kurdish’ region but a region with a different approach that stresses gender equality, inclusiveness, tolerance, equality for ethnic and religious minorities and democratic participation for all