“Autonomous, democratic, stateless” public order policing in Rojava

According to reports on Syria Direct, over the last week or so, the Asayish, the cops who maintain order in the self-managed cantons of Rojava, have launched a wave of arrests against people associated with the Kurdish National Council, which is linked to Masoud Barzani’s administration in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Several people have been arrested for holding demonstrations without a permit, and the co-president of Jazira canton’s Internal Affairs Entity, in classic neoliberal reasonablespeak, said that “any gathering or demonstration in any city must be licensed” and that “the appropriate legal measures will be taken” against anyone not abiding by that law.

I share this information in the hope of prompting some discussion among the wider radical left circles who’ve been paying attention to developments in Rojava, and particularly among  those of us who are more or less supportive of the social experiment going on there.

Obviously, the PYD is still a much lesser evil compared to Assad, ISIS, or Jabhat al-Nusra/al-Sham. Just as I’d rather live under a Corbynist social democracy than under the Tories, I’d rather live in Rojava, Asayish and all, than under the rule of any of the main forces that control most of Syria. And opposing the Rojavan proto-state’s repression against political rivals should not stop us from opposing the repression carried out by other states against supporters of Rojava. I’d say that we should still support the de-listing of the PKK, not least because the chilling effect of terror legislation actually makes it harder to have a full critical discussion of Kurdish politics.

But still, this is news that deserves to be properly discussed, especially among supporters of the Rojava project. Do people see these moves as justifiable? (After all, Barzani is undoubtedly a scumbag, and even the most libertarian revolution will have to take some measures to disrupt reactionaries.)

If you don’t see these arrests as justified, how do they change your overall opinion of the PYD and the “democratic self-administration”? If you think the arrests are wrong, but the Rojava experiment as a whole is still worth supporting in some way (which, for what it’s worth, is more or less how I feel), what would it take to make you change your mind – what are your “red lines” that the PYD would have to cross before you felt you couldn’t support it, or its allied forces and projects, at all?

I offer these questions not in the hope of tricking people into giving embarrassing wrong answers, or to demonstrate the correctness of some invariant set of fixed truths, but because I genuinely don’t know the answers for sure. An adequate understanding of the situation in Rojava can only come from open and comradely discussion. But that discussion can’t shy away from addressing the uglier sides of the situation, which is why keeping track of things like Asayish repression of the PYD’s rivals is so important.


About nothingiseverlost

"The impulse to fight against work and management is immediately collective. As we fight against the conditions of our own lives, we see that other people are doing the same. To get anywhere we have to fight side by side. We begin to break down the divisions between us and prejudices, hierarchies, and nationalisms begin to be undermined. As we build trust and solidarity, we grow more daring and combative. More becomes possible. We get more organized, more confident, more disruptive and more powerful."
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4 Responses to “Autonomous, democratic, stateless” public order policing in Rojava

  1. @pplswar says:

    What’s more dangerous and alarming is that the fascist Assad regime is now bombing the shit out of YPG in Hasakah. I hope supporters of Rojava join hands with the (admittedly flawed and dysfunctional Syrian opposition) to demand the imposition of a no-fly zone over the whole country before it’s too late. Not that what’s raised in this post isn’t important — it is — but priorities.

    • Yeah, it’s a weird development and one I haven’t fully got my head around. I’d got the impression that relationships between the YPG/YPJ and the opposition had been seriously damaged after the Kurdish participation in the Aleppo offensive, hopefully they’ll be able to restore some co-operation now the situation’s shifted.

  2. ritchiepage2001 says:

    Barzani has repeatedly attempted to send Rojavan fighters, trained as members of Peshmarga into the western cantons as a “show of solidarity,” only to have them, (wisely I think) rejected by local security and paramilitary forces, so it would not be unreasonable to see these “activists” as yet another attempt by Barzani to extend his fiefdom, and it’s neo-liberal model.

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