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Old 02-25-2017, 02:33 AM   #1
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Rojava

Rojava means "The West" in Kurdish and it's a region in Northern Syria which has been relatively independent since the civil war started. The PKK is a Kurdish group formed in the 1970s and began an armed struggle against Turkey in 1984. It formed as a Statist Marxist group under the leadership of Abdullah Ocalan. In 1999 he was captured and has been held in jail on an island as the only prisoner since then.

While in prison he called for the end of the armed struggle in Turkey and reading Murray Bookchin among others he converted to an anti-state libertarian socialist/anarchist/Democratic Confederalist with a particular focus on feminism which he calls Jineology.

A movement inspired more than led by Ocalan split off from the PKK to form various groups which now make up the Democratic Federal System of Northern Syria.

I think it's very interesting and have been following it. I posted first about it in the anarchy thread, because it's anarchy, but around here anarchy seems to mean anarcho-capitalism, which is most certainly isn't. Shame_Trolley directed me to the Another World is Possible Thread which is about what he calls "Real World Anarchy."

But, I would prefer to have this subject in alpha rather than 7.0 and hope it gets followed at least a little here. I think it's important for people to know about what is happening a little bit. I know there's a lot of propaganda on all sides everywhere all the time and it's pretty hard to know exactly what is happening. But, it seems to be a very very progressive and very very democratic experiment which happens to be very anti-capitalist and, like the anarchists of the Spanish Civil War, it's very vulnerable to being wiped out and virtually written out of history. That's less likely if people know about it.
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Old 02-25-2017, 03:03 AM   #2
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Re: Rojava

Whether or not the West ends up supporting the Democratic Confederalism is going to depend almost entirely on what label they end up with and that boils down to some version of Democratic/Freedom Fighters vs. Terrorists with cause and effect going both directions. Turkey would definitely prefer the terrorist label and in the battle over the narrative scored a victory today in the International Business Times:

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/isis-target...attack-1608360

Now this isn't the thrust of the article, but they slipped this in

Quote:
"Euphrates Shield" sees the Turkish military supporting FSA fighters with artillery and airstrikes. Isis is not the only target of the operation, as Turkish airstrikes have also hit the Kurdish-led forces of the autonomous region of Rojava in northern Syria, supported by the US as they advance against the Isis-held city of Raqqa. Turkey lists groups such as the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) as terrorists affiliated to the outlawed Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK).
"Supported by the US" in there makes it look like we support Turkey vs. the YPG, but that's not true. We have been supplying weapons and training to the YPG, which is part of the Syrian Defense Force (SDF), and also just today a US General visited the SDF.

http://aranews.net/2017/02/top-us-ge...qqa-operation/

Quote:
“It is, in fact, a great honor for the SDF to host the leader of the entire U.S. Central Command. It demonstrates that the SDF is trusted with the General’s life and well-being,” he added.

“It also demonstrates that General Votel considers the SDF to be strong and close enough partners to be willing to personally visit SDF leaders to confer with them on the strategy to deal the death blow to ISIS in Raqqa,” Heras told ARA News.

The visit also comes a day after pro-Turkey rebel groups in Syria threatened to attack the SDF-held town of Manbij, especially after the Turkish army and Islamist rebels captured al-Bab city on Thursday.

US officials fear a Turkish attack on Manbij could significantly delay the ongoing SDF-led operation to isolate Raqqa. If the Turkey-backed rebels would attack Manbij, the SDF would have to send more fighters to protect Manbij from Turkey’s aggression.
The IBT is probably just regurgitating something from Turkey in their story, but who knows?
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Old 02-25-2017, 07:49 AM   #3
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Re: Rojava

The Kurdish forces, especially in Northern Syria, might be one of the best things in the world at the moment. As you say it's incredibly difficult to find trustworthy sources coming out of a war zone, and you can more-or-less find someone saying anything, but it seems clear that in an environment where sectarian hatred and massacre has become a fact of every-day life, there's an effective armed force fighting for democracy and secularism. Genuinely heroic stuff, imo, in a world where that sort of thing is in very short supply.

Worth pointing out that the US has provided support to the 'FSA', which stand for the Free Syrian Army. As far as I can tell that's essentially a fiction these days. In the early days of the Syrian war it was the name for forces from the Syrian Army who opposed the Assad-led regime, but that it hasn't been a stable, unitary force for a long time now - it's more a nice sounding label you can give to anti-regime sunni militia. I think the US prefers 'Rebels' these days, but has used it, as has Turkey, in all probability for units that now form part of Euphrates Shield.

The US also publicly backs the current Turkish offensive as it's ostensibly an anti-ISIS operation, even though most everyone agrees the strategic goal is preventing the Kurds from joining up their territory. They have provided some actual support to the operation as well.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...=.7c1a8dd78138

Quote:
U.S. aircraft have begun regular aerial intelligence surveillance in support of Turkey’s offensive against the Islamic State in northwestern Syria
Although usually the statements of support include statements of support for the Kurds as well.

I agree that the US faces a choice in its support of the Kurdish groups going forwards, and that the signs don't look great. If Turkey and Russia are the real power behind the current 'ceasefire', and if the US is content to follow that initiative as its route back into real relevancy in Syria, then the Kurds are the obvious choice for who'll lose out.

There's also bizarre signs that parts of the American left want to do a number on the Kurds, I guess as part of general support for regime change in Syria and therefore support of the 'Rebels'. The worst so far was this article in The Nation a few weeks ago which tries to imply they're war criminals:

https://www.thenation.com/article/ha...ed-war-crimes/

Its main claim is that the SDF has

Quote:
evicted Arabs from their homes at gunpoint starting in 2013 and subsequently has blown up, torched, or bulldozed their homes and villages.
Its evidence is that

Quote:
the YPG abandoned the outskirts of Kobani to ISIS without a fight, ordering residents to leave the villages they were eager to defend.
This was at a time when ISIS was at its height and the Kurdish forces were some of the only ground forces even trying to effectively counter them. Obviously retreating to a defensible position is just bog-standard, sensible tactics, utterly unremarkable to anyone who thinks about it - though no doubt horrendous to be part of when it's your house. As a result Kobani was just about held and eventually inflicted one of the first serious defeats on ISIS.

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Old 02-25-2017, 10:11 AM   #4
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Re: Rojava

Quote:
Originally Posted by Peace Equality View Post
And yet like I've already mentioned, a similar form of social organizing, inspired by Murray Bookchin's ideas, is purportedly going on in Rojava right now:

"Rojava, in northern Syria, a Kurdish region straddling the southern Turkish border, is now a remarkable experiment of Bookchin inspired autonomous democratic confederalism. In the area's major urban areas-Aleppo, Kobane and Qamishli-popular assemblies and secular grassroots councils call the shots.....Put into practice, Kurdish self-government today has three central planks: the establishment of communes, the assurance of equal participation in all areas of decision-making for all faith and ethnic groups, and the strengthening of the position of women. Communes sort out everyday administration, provide electricity provision and infrastructure, advise on nutrition and liaise around ecological concerns. There are communal cooperatives, too, like bakeries and sewing workshops, like agricultural projects. Delegates from village and neighborhood communes form the basis of bigger city councils, and city councils are made up of representatives from all communes. There aren't any law courts either, but 'peace and consensus committees,' which try to resolve legal issues in novel, consensus-finding ways." Out of Shadows by Andy Merrifield

So what were you saying about "another world"?
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Originally Posted by microbet View Post
I don't know what's real and what's propaganda, but this article from The Nation is very anti-YPG. It doesn't seem like there's any genuine reporting in there though and it's an unchallenged conduit for opposition groups, notably the KNC which is a Kurdish Nationalist organization.

Their insistence that the Federation of Northern Syria (the RWA Kurds) are tools of Assad is very reminiscent of the Spanish Communist's suppression of the Spanish Anarchists/Trotskyists (POUM/CNT-FIA).

Who knows though?
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Originally Posted by microbet View Post
Rolling Stone has a new article on Westerners going to fight in Rojava.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics...-state-w466069
Quote:
Originally Posted by microbet View Post
Yesterday I listened to an interview of Andrej Grubacic on the Letters and Politics show by Mitch Jeserich. It was really good and he talked a fair amount about the IWW. I can't find it online even though you can go to https://kpfa.org/archives/ search the archives and find several episodes with Grubacic...
Quote:
Originally Posted by microbet View Post
This is from 2014 and is about the early days of the organization of the movement in Northern Syria.

Quote:
Originally Posted by microbet View Post
http://www.alternativelibertaire.org...ive-La-voie-du

This is a story from a French Anarchist site today translated...
Quote:
Originally Posted by microbet View Post
A well written and at least somewhat critical (in the sense of being objective or at least not overt propaganda) overview of the background and system of government in Rojava. Unlike most info out there this is focused on civilian life and not the military/war.

http://libcom.org/news/democratic-co...istan-25042016
Quote:
Originally Posted by microbet View Post
https://www.aei.org/publication/u-s-...-syrian-kurds/

The neo-cons are supporting Rojava.
I have taken the liberty of copying over the relevant posts from the Baja "Another World is Possible" thread. I'd like to once again thank microbet for all the excellent linkees. It's surely frustrating here in the interwebs age to have a somewhat effectively and actually a mystery going on somewhere else in the world. I'll be contributing more, likely ITT now, as I learn more.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:16 AM   #5
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Re: Rojava

Why is Democratic confederalism superior to the more conventional democracy of the KRG in Iraq? I love me some gender-equal libertarianism, of course, but in some ways it seems strucurally reminiscent of the first Soviet constitution and in particular to have some risk of having all the real power devolve into some kind of executive committee that can entrench itself and form a dictatorship.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:30 AM   #6
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Re: Rojava

Also, Amnesty seems to corroborate the war crimes allegations:

https://www.amnesty.org/en/press-rel...to-war-crimes/
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:40 AM   #7
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Re: Rojava

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Originally Posted by pyatnitski View Post

There's also bizarre signs that parts of the American left want to do a number on the Kurds, I guess as part of general support for regime change in Syria and therefore support of the 'Rebels'. The worst so far was this article in The Nation a few weeks ago which tries to imply they're war criminals:

https://www.thenation.com/article/ha...ed-war-crimes/

Its main claim is that the SDF has



Its evidence is that



This was at a time when ISIS was at its height and the Kurdish forces were some of the only ground forces even trying to effectively counter them. Obviously retreating to a defensible position is just bog-standard, sensible tactics, utterly unremarkable to anyone who thinks about it - though no doubt horrendous to be part of when it's your house. As a result Kobani was just about held and eventually inflicted one of the first serious defeats on ISIS.
There was a quite a bit more evidence for the claim of forced expulsions than a description of maneuvers in Kobani, including an interview with a family that claimed to have been victims of a forced expulsion. Very odd way to characterize that.

EDIT: interestingly, pyatnitski used to post exclusively about American football, took some time off, and then re engaged with the community as a European of unspecified nationality with a deep interest in slamming Le Pen's political opponents, casting doubt on Intelligence leaks trying Trump to the Russians, and apparently Rojava as well.

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Old 02-25-2017, 11:57 AM   #8
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Re: Rojava

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Originally Posted by bobman0330 View Post
There was a quite a bit more evidence for the claim of forced expulsions than a description of maneuvers in Kobani, including an interview with a family that claimed to have been victims of a forced expulsion. Very odd way to characterize that.

EDIT: interestingly, pyatnitski used to post exclusively about American football, took some time off, and then re engaged with the community as a European of unspecified nationality with a deep interest in slamming Le Pen's political opponents, casting doubt on Intelligence leaks trying Trump to the Russians, and apparently Rojava as well.
Yes, I'm a curious person who has more than one interest and who doesn't spend all of my time trying to construct a coherent picture of myself on this board.

I don't deny they forced people out of their homes, I think it was mostly due to defensible military tactics, but I could certainly be wrong. It would be surprising if a military force in the Syrian war had always acted admirably, but I don't want to use that as an excuse. My concern with my post was that the accusations of war crimes against the Kurds are currently being used to set up their abandonment by the US, which would be a disaster for Northern Syria, in my opinion.

ETA: I've been fairly clear in my posts I'm a British person who lives in France, and who has posted several critiques of Le Pen in the French thread.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:05 PM   #9
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Re: Rojava

Re war crimes

I posted the article from The Nation which as I recall was about the amnesty international report as well as people contesting it. I don't think the info available on the internet is good enough to really have a strong opinion on it. But, I'm pretty sure that there have been war crimes because I think there are always war crimes. There are big differences in degrees, like Americans raped tens of thousands of German women at the end of WW2 while the Russians raped millions, but I don't think there's ever been a protracted war without atrocities beyond the usual of soldiers blowing each other up.

On the scale of evil atrocity filled organizations, It doesn't seem like this group is far on the evil side, but there's not a lot of info coming out so who knows?
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:11 PM   #10
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Re: Rojava

Regarding democratic confederation

First, there are many people criticizing the KRG as fairly authoritarian, so it may not be the best representative of a democracy with strong central power. But, generally it seems to me that a weak central government and a lot of local control allows for more freedom and more authority vested in each individual.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:23 PM   #11
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Re: Rojava

Regarding who does and who doesn't support rojava it's interesting.

The US under Obama pretty heavily supported them and Trump's people look to continue support. The only big source of conflict seems to be dealing with Turkey.

Russia seems to have been supportive as well. Probably they have been more diplomatically supportive than the US, but less militarily supportive.

The Assad regime pretty likely would want things to go back to normal, but they haven't engaged Rojava a lot, probably because the SDF has been pretty successful against ISIS.

Turkey hates all Kurdish organizations, but I think the KRG is much less threatening. The SDF isn't going to attack Turkey, but the Rojava movement was built out of the Kurdish resistance in Turkey.

The American Enterprise Institute (neo-cons) published something supporting Rojava.

Most far left anti-capitalists support Rojava.

Iran may play some role as well. They certainly have an interest as they are supportive of Assad and have a Kurdish population/area themselves.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:36 PM   #12
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Re: Rojava

Regarding the stability of democratic confederation and personal freedom

I think there's a general rule that militarism breeds authoritarianism and that happened in Soviet Russia and is happening in the US now.

Can the cantons of Rojava remain independent? Probably not if they have perpetual war or even the threat from much larger powers.

The role of women here though might make a big difference. If they can maintain the requirement of equal representation in government and women's units and integration in the military, Maybe the old rules don't apply.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:04 PM   #13
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Re: Rojava

http://www.stripes.com/news/middle-e...8#.WLJEK9QrKWg

This is basically a short travel diary of a trip through part of Rojava. The point of view seems supportive imo, but just a little. It's mostly neutral. The most interesting thing about it is it being in Stars and Stripes.
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Old 02-25-2017, 11:32 PM   #14
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Re: Rojava

Subscribed. I'm somewhat cynical about the chances of such a project surviving, but I hope it does.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:52 AM   #15
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Re: Rojava

I was on the fence about posting this because people seem not to like yootoobs too much, but this is a good interview of a journalist who was in Rojava. She writes for the Guardian at least sometimes. The interview is from 7:35-22:35. I decided to post especially for Shame Trolley when at 22:22 she says it's not just that Another World is Possible but another world is here.

The concentration of the interview is on feminism.

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Old 02-26-2017, 02:02 AM   #16
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Re: Rojava

Yootoobz are fine if they're just recommended watching/listening, as opposed to substituting for posts in a dialogue. "I enjoyed this yootoob, I recommend it to those interested" is fine. Answering a question with "here is a 15 minute yootoob that may or may not educate you as to the answer to this question", nope, gtfo.
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Old 02-26-2017, 11:53 PM   #17
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Re: Rojava

McCain went to Rojava last week.

http://thekurdishproject.org/latest-...ilitary-kurds/
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:23 AM   #18
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Re: Rojava

https://soundcloud.com/chapo-trap-ho...granddad-21317

heres an hour long interview with an american socialist who left san francisco to go fight for the ypg. they discuss the society, miltary operations, daily life, that gutman article etc.
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Old 02-27-2017, 11:05 AM   #19
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Re: Rojava

^ Heh, I opened the thread to post that. Incredible interview.
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Old 02-27-2017, 12:46 PM   #20
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Re: Rojava

Cool, I'll listen when I can. I've been reading pisspiggranddad on twitter.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:57 PM   #21
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Re: Rojava

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https://soundcloud.com/chapo-trap-ho...granddad-21317

heres an hour long interview with an american socialist who left san francisco to go fight for the ypg. they discuss the society, miltary operations, daily life, that gutman article etc.
Listening now. It's interesting that he mentions that the Christians are all into the Nazis when you think about Trump's carve out for Christian immigrants.
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Old 03-01-2017, 11:18 PM   #22
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Re: Rojava

Pisspiggranddad was nominated for Rector of Glasgow University

https://www.commonspace.scot/article...versity-rector
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:55 PM   #23
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Re: Rojava

War update: Turkey has been attacking and threatening the SDF (Rojava military coalition). KNG (Kurdish nationalists from Iraq) forces have attacked SDF forces and 80 of the KNG peshmerga were arrested for not fighting the Yazidi forces of the SDF (the Yazidi are the religious/ethnic minority that ISIS had trapped on that mountain and the SDF rescued) and they turned the 80 over to the Turkish police. In Manjib the Turks promised to attack the SDF, the local SDF forces made agreements with Russian and Syrian forces for protection and now US has forces (though it may be a misstatement and it's US-allied forces) just outside town with Russian forces inside and on the other side of town - ostensibly working towards the same goal.

Also, there's been some fighting the last few days and no tweets for a week from pisspiggranddad. His interview with Chappo Trap House is being used in Turkish media emphasizing the Stalinist State and horrors of collectivism.

Once again, everything taken with a grain of salt. Even the stories from outlets like WaPo, which had a story today, are coming from places outside the area like Istanbul.

The Manbij Military Council which is affiliated with the SDF seems to be being forced into Assad and Russia's arms by Turkey despite it not being a Kurdish group.
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Old 03-08-2017, 01:17 PM   #24
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Re: Rojava

Still very murky as to what's actually happening in Manbij - both at a diplomatic and military level.

There's reports that Russian, Syrian state and US forces have been deployed between the Euphrates Shield forces and the SDF (and alleged pictures of all of them in the area), but most of the reports of actual fighting are still about clashes between Turkish backed FSA units and SDF.

It's not surprising that Turkey doesn't want to engage Russia or the US (and vice-versa, I would guess), but mildly strange that fighting still continues if that area has indeed been ceded to Russian backed troops.

Seems like US and Russian ground troops are in close proximity without issue, and probably communicating positions at least via higher command. Honestly don't know how novel a thing that is, but it's impossible to be very certain of that. This is the latest thing I've read from aranews, a kurdish source, but a fairly decent one (imho).

http://aranews.net/2017/03/top-russi...syrias-manbij/

Quote:
On Tuesday, top military officials from Russia, Turkey, and the United States met in the town of Antalya to defuse tensions in Syria’s Manbij, which was threatened by the Turkish-led rebels.

Both the US-led coalition and the Russian Federation deployed troops in Manbij to deter aggression by Turkey against the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on the ground.
Quote:
Washington-based Middle East researcher at the Centre for a New American Security, Nicholas Heras, told ARA News that Syria is now in the stage that powerful actors are dividing the spoils of the counter-ISIS war.

“The Syrian civil war has now entered a stage where powerful state actors are discussing how to divide up the territorial spoils of the counter-ISIS war. The ‘creeping incrementalism’ of the Obama administration’s counter-ISIS strategy, which led to the creation of the SDF, will likely end with an American military mandate over areas of Syria conquered from ISIS,” he said.

“Turkey wants to ensure those areas do not fall under the dominion of the Kurds, and Russia wants the land transferred back to Assad when the American campaign against ISIS is done. The U.S. is just now, under President Trump, understanding the leverage it has over the future of Syria through the tremendous gains made by the American counter-ISIS campaign,” Heras concluded.
It's unclear what the extent of 'the territorial spoils of the counter-ISIS war' would be, but interpreting that as widely as benefits your side certainly seems the diplomatic game at the moment. I did see reports yesterday that Russia now supports Kurdish representation at the next round of peace talks, which is probably a decent thing to be involved in.
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Old 03-08-2017, 01:49 PM   #25
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Re: Rojava

I hope aranews is really decent as they have the most and seemingly best info I've seen.

Turkey really seems to have developed a pretty close relationship with the KNC/Kurdish peshmurga/Iraqi Kurdistan. I guess it's just divide and conquer, but clearly Turkey feels less threatened by Kurdish Nationalism than by a revolutionary movement originating with Kurds by allying with other groups.
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