The Importance of the Rojava Experiment for West Asia

By Dr. Jan Best de Vries:

The social and administrative structure in the three cantons of the secular, democratic state of Rojava in North Syria is based upon the participation of all its inhabitants, Muslim, Christian, Zoroastrian (Yezidi), Kurds and Arabs alike. The difference with Mr. Erdogan’s nearby Turkey is that the latter is an Islamic Sunnite Muslim state in which, at least since 1923, a religious minority like the Shiite Alavites has been discriminated against for being Shiites and an ethnic minority like the Kurds has been persecuted for being Kurds. In Rojava, functionaries are directly chosen in the system of “one man, one vote”. Religious and ethnic backgrounds are not of any significance in the assignment of functions. Women and men have equal rights and duties in all walks of life, the military included. The state form of the three cantons is based upon confederalism, not practized elsewhere so far in West Asia. Rojava is an example in the region how, with the principle of self-determination, Syria and Iraq may be reorganized after the wars in which they are involved at the moment.

However, the enemies of Rojava are many and manifold. There is the dictatorial Assad regime which will not allow a diminution of Syria’s territory; then there is Turkey, whose president Erdogan will not tolerate on the border an independent state in which Kurds live. And last but not least, the Islamic State thugs must try to destroy a state in which women enjoy the same rights as men. Rojava is thus a most vulnerable democracy, and at least one of its cantons will definitely be lost if the Americans will stop bombing the IS positions in Kobane.

The larger territory of the Rojava cantons consists of farming lands; in its many villages indigenous Kurds and Assyrians live peacefully together, whereas the small towns in the area serve as market places. The farmers have decided that they don’t want to live any longer as second-rate citizens under the harsh rule of Damascus; or under the influence of a Turkey that plans to confiscate their lands as a border zone; or under the headhunters and rapists of an Islamic caliphate. That’s the reason that their sons and daughters wage courageously a defensive war against all enemies of Rojava. Although Peshmergas from the autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq and freedom fighters of the Free Syrian Army comprise in all some 500 allies on the ground, it is not certain that the three cantons will not suffer further attacks by jihadists of the Islamic State or Al Nusra.

It is to be hoped that this example of a confederate Rojava may be copied in other areas of West Asia. People die, ideas and ideals don’t.

Dr. Jan Best de Vries is an archaeologist and historian, decipherer of the so-called Byblos Script from Aleppo and Alalakh (‘How to Decipher the Byblos Script’, Aspekt Publishers 2014, ISBN978-946-153-420-0)  

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