by CENTER OF CIVIL DIPLOMACY IN NORTH EAST SYRIA
We publish the speech that the comrades from the Civil Diplomacy in Northern Syria made during the Permanent Assembly against the War plenary within the transnational meeting in Sofia last weekend.
We find ourselves in a third world war, a war which started more as twenty years ago with the occupation of Irak and Afghanistan. A war for a new design of the power-relations. After the collapse of The Soviet-Union and the raise of China and India a shift of power relations took place. This war for the hegemony in a new world order can be seen as the third world war. Although we are in a third world war and this war has killed a lot of people, it is normally not perceived as such. It is war, but nobody is recognizing it as such although the war is a reality.
There are some differences between the first and second world war and the third world war. The first and second world war took place in a relative short time, the third world war has a different character. It started in the Middle East, one of its goals is the hegemony in the Middle East, because the hegemony in the Middle East is very decisive. This war spread in countries like Irak, Iran, Yemen, Lebanon, Palestine, Kurdistan, Yemen, Syria, turkey, Pakistan, Somalia, Egypt, Libiya. This war is a long term war, now already taking place for more as twenty years and it is possible that it won’t end soon. Now spread in Ukraine as well, and it might spread further, including Iran or Taiwan, countries in the Balkan or Latin-America.
Another reason why this war is not so visible is that it has a neo-colonial character. Hegemonic forces want to integrate especially the countries in the middle east, but all others as well inside the capitalist system. In order to enable this the core of the peoples has to be destroyed, their culture, identity, society and language. The hegemonic powers used states as a mechanism to be able to control the middle East. After the first world war, artificial borders were made and 22 states were installed. Only creating states still did not enable the hegemonic forces to integrate these countries in the capitalist world order. Most of these countries were not very open for western liberal capitalism and followed their own course. Hegemonic forces, especially after the fall of the Soviet-Union were urged to find new methods to gain hegemony in the Middle East. Coups, jihadist forces like Al Qaida, el Nusra, ISIS, Taliban, are being used to destroy the will-power and make these countries an object. NATO uses these groups in order to gain power. The hegemonic forces try to hide there role in these occurrences. Also to prevent that peoples who struggle for peace connect together, It is war, but nobody should know it.
We can see in many countries in the Middle East how America and Europe tried to get these countries under their influence. America and Europe strengthened AKP as a ‘soft’ Islamist party, according their goals. Even though since long, it is not ‘soft’ any more and openly supporting ISIS, Al Qaida and El Nusra, but still get supported, because it is defending their interests.
The same happened in Afghanistan, before America and Europe invaded there were many regions in the hands of the people and the people’s organization was strong, even though Taliban was ruling. But after the invasion, the first thing the invaders did was weakening the power of the people. Then when they were weak enough, left handling over to the Taliban. Taliban is less a problem for the interests of hegemonic countries as when the people of the country govern themselves, especially when they object imperialism. That is the biggest threat for hegemonic powers.
The same can be said for the US invasion of Iraq, which was carried out under the pretext that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, but its reasons were economic and political. This war continues until now. Iraq has become a game in the hands of regional countries such as Turkey and Iran on the one hand, and the great powers on the other. Since the recognition of the federal rule of Southern Kurdistan, the hegemony has not stopped in all its dimensions. Using a politics of divisions put Iraq in a situation of long-term chaos.
On the 19th of July 2012 a revolution took place in North and East Syria. The people all together, Kurds, Armenians, Turkmen, Arabs, Assyrians, Yezidians, started to build up their society and govern themselves. They built up a real or radical democracy and organized themselves from below to top in the form of communes and councils. Ecology, the freedom of women and active cooperation with all peoples and beliefs are important principles of this revolution.
First with ISIS, which spread in a short time in Irak and Syria, it was tried to destroy this revolution and break the will of the people. But the people in North and East Syria organized themselves in people defense forces and women defense forces and managed to defeat ISIS. As a result to prevent the people in North East Syria to be able to govern themselves, Turkey with consent of Russia, America and Europe invaded Efrin in 2018 and Serekaniya in 2019. This invasion resulted in the occupation of these areas and an ethnic cleansing. Kurdish people became refugees and Arabic people, often affiliated to ISIS or other Islamist groups took over their houses and lands. Now various gangs connected with Turkey and legitimated by the west are reigning in this area. These gangs have an Islamist ideology and a fascist way of life: killing, plundering, kidnapping and terrorizing the people, especially those who lived in these areas before the occupation.
Turkey, still threatens to invade North and East Syria, in the meantime started a drone war, especially targeting civilians and shelling villages. Each day the civil population gets attacked, with the consent of NATO and Russia. It is war, but not recognized as such.
Characteristics of the third world war
It might be true that what we call the third world war started in the Middle East, it is spread in other places as well, like now in Ukraine and maybe in the future in other countries. But what’s at stake is the same: the ruling states struggling for hegemony in the world. Also it is possible to see some similarities. In the Ukraine you have fascists at one side, being supported by NATO and Europe and Russia at the other side. Although the war is still going on, plans about rebuilding and new laws which will weaken the population and strengthen the corporation are being discussed and dismissed. This war is as well a war against the people.
This war is geographically widespread, long-term and using many methods. Besides military war also economic and information war, like trade embargoes and so on. As well that there are many actors, not just two or three blocks and proxies can be used. In Syria mercenaries are being used as proxy for Turkey and NATO. It’s possible to state that in Ukraine fascists are being used to fight for interests of Europe and NATO. Also allies can sometimes be allies and sometimes fight against each other, according to their interests. For example in Syria NATO and Russia are not directly fighting each other. They are opponents, but in a indirect way, using different allies. At the same time parties who are opponents can sometimes unify, for example all parties, NATO, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Syria who all have different interests and fight each other in a direct or indirect way can unify in the issue that the Kurds shouldn’t be strong and should not be able to build a democratic region together with peoples of all ethnicity and all religions. This is what now is happening in North and East Syria.
The consequences of this war are devastating for the people; thousands of people got killed in Irak, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Kurdistan, Ukraine and other places, millions of people became refugees. Women quite often became subject to sexual violence or trafficking and millions of people got cut off their culture and society, became objects in a capitalist system, working for a loan not enough to support themselves.
The weapon and technology industry play a big role in this war. This war is mostly asymmetric, using high tech technologies, like drones and airplanes, not only targeting so-called enemies, destroying big parts of infrastructure as well. Companies might profit from the rebuilding. For example, in the war against ISIS in North East Syria, America not only targeted ISIS, destroying vast amounts of infrastructure as well.
As with the other world wars the outcome will be fundamental changes in systems. This was the case with the first and second world war. But we can see that the system which has been built up and the institutions which has been made after the second world war are in a crisis right now. For example the United Nations which has been established in 1945 do not have much power anymore. Because of the competition between the powers like America, Russia, China, Europe and India, the UN can’t fulfill its function, states using their veto in blocking another. The same can be said for the European Council or the NATO, not being able to fulfill its function. In the war against Ukraine NATO and the European Union again gained importance. The system using this war to strengthen these institutions, at the same time the outcome of this war might be changes in these institutions.
To gain control, being able building up a new world order and finding a way out of the existing crisis, nationalism, Orientalism, patriarchy, racism, religious radicalism, be it radical Christianity, radical Catholicism or radical Islam are the most used weapons in this war. Without these, it would be difficult to pursue this war.
These tools are being used to systematically attack values and institutions which has been build up by women and democratic forces. We can see all over the world that achievements of years of women’s struggles are now being lost. The same can be said for achievements of worker’s movements and democratic movements. Poverty and non-acceptance of others is everywhere getting strong. So how to find a way out?
How to find a way out? The third way.
The first step to a way out is refusing the solutions the states are proposing, refusing to take the sides they propose: for Russia or NATO, for fascism or the state. The Kurdish movement, with the practice in North East Syria shows that a third way is possible. Getting out of the state logic and finding a third way. States are structures to rule, incompatible with freedom. In that sense there is a need for an alternative.
In North East Syria nor the side of states like Turkey or Syria or the struggle for a own Kurdish state was chosen nor the side of the mercenaries fighting the state but with a radical Islamist ideology and being supported by hegemonic states. But a third way: together with all peoples and religions building up the society in all its needs. Building up education, self-defense, economy, culture, religion, justice, municipalities, health, according the needs of the society in a democratic way.
This could be a chance for all peoples, especially for the ones suffering from crises and oppression. It is imaginable that instead of states, people in the Middle East find their way out together in the way of a democratic federation.
Instead of the state logic, it is possible that people refuse war and struggle for peace together. Instead of divisions, hate and non-acceptance, try to make strong connections together. Instead of searching for a state, building up communes, councils, cooperatives or what ever institutions are needed to fulfill the needs of the society. It is important not to fall in the traps, which the system prepared for us, like not to get in the logic of nationalism. Instead of nationalism, building up strong relations with all people from all religions and ethnicities in the own region and beyond. As well not to get into the logic of the state, instead of striving for a state, trying to build up a democratic alternative. Also to refuse patriarchy or only strive for equality for women inside the system. In North and East Syria we see the freedom of women as the basis of freedom of the society. Therefore we strive for autonomous women’s organization in all institutions and have a co-leadership of men and women in all institutions and have a quota of women, so women are present in all levels of administration. This in order to guarantee a strong struggle for the freedom of women.
In this war, we are not only victims, we are actors as well. There are many ways and levels to struggle. This war is a complicated war, with many actors, not only two. It is possible to say that two forces come across in this war. On the one side capitalist modernity – these forces like hegemonic and regional forces who want to rule the word, at the other side democratic modernity forces- all those peoples and movements who refuse the war logic and try to find alternatives.
The capitalist modernity forces which underlay the laws of the finance capital which prescribe the forces of capitalist modernity to grow and always make more profit are in need of creating a new world order to be able to survive. Therefore long during wars are part of this logic. Wars which devastate societies, ecology and kills millions of people. Wars which are especially hard for women, who in the patriarchal societies are the most vulnerable and become object to all kinds of violence.
In North East Syria, women still face problems, but because there is a consciousness and women are organized, although there is a war situation women can protect themselves and do not fall in the nets of traffickers like in other war-thrown countries.
In times of crises, like we are facing now, there is also a chance for the forces of democratic modernity, for those ones who are seeking for peace, democracy and freedom to develop and achieve their goals.
To be stronger, it helps to connect struggles. When those who refuse the logic of war and insist on peace and plurality try to connect and try to struggle together in the form of common fronts, solidarity, alliances or confederations, there is more chance to succeed. The forms and ways to connect are many.
But in order to be able to succeed there are many things we have to overcome. First we have to be open for connections and for plurality. Second we have to learn from the mistakes which other movements before us have made. We cannot achieve our goals when we are dogmatic and not creative in our thinking. Old socialist and leftist theories very often were very dogmatic and saw only one way, rejecting other ways. With dogmatism, with idealism, we wont achieve anything. With only words and theories we cant make a revolution. These and other blockades in our minds we have to overcome.
There are other illnesses we have to overcome to be able to be a block fighting for peace. We have to overcome the mistrust which the system of states and the system of power has seeded in our minds and hearts. We also have to learn to believe again, because capitalism played so much with our hearts that it is difficult to believe and to have hope. Before we start, we might stop, because of lack of hope and skepticism, but these illnesses can be overcome.
There is a need for another system, a system beyond state and patriarchy. A communal system, a radical democratic system. In North and East Syria this system is being built up. On the basis of the values of the society and the strength in the society, the society builds up its institutions to organize itself in all its fields – education, self-defense, economy, culture, religion, justice, municipalities, health. That is seen as a threat for the ruling forces which insist on a state-model and a need to break the will of people in order to be able to rule. With bombs and drones Turkey, Russia, NATO, Europe try to break the will of the people in North and East Syria, but that is not that easy and the people still resist. When all peoples who are under fire connect and support each other and don’t stand alone, the struggle will become easier and a bit lighter. In this sense we hope that there is a chance to connect stronger with you and together continue to refuse the logic of war and insist on peace,