The Turkish invasion of Afrin

Date:

This is a collection of four pieces we wrote during the Turkish invasion of Afrin and the two month defence of the tiny canton against NATOs second biggest army.  A desperate struggle in which almost 900 SDF fighters were killed by Turkish airpower and military trying to defend the Rojava revolution.  These reports were originally published on our Facebook page and are presented here as published.

24 Jan - Turkish invasion of Afrin face stiff resistance

In the last days Turkey has launched its latest major attempt to crush the feminist Rojava revolution in Northern Syria. They launched a ground invasion using their force of proxy fighters supported by Turkish military armour and artillery. Meanwhile the Turkish airforce has been bombing villages and towns with impunity as the defenders lack effective anti-air weaponry. In a turn that will suprize no one with an understanding of imperialism - despite playing the major role in defeating ISIS in Syria - the SDF defenders were rapidly abandoned by both Britain and the US. Turkey after all has the second biggest army in NATO.

Many anarchists have travelled to Rojava to defend that revolution, including some form Ireland, Rabble recently published a interview with one Irish volunteer who explained his motivations; “Being involved with Shell to Sea was a real eye-opener for me, regarding how the country is run and on whose behalf. What I saw happening in the rest of the world started to make a lot more sense when I realised that state/corporate collusion and violence is more the norm than the exception.
No state, whether Irish or Islamic, is fond of being told no, and the people of Kilcommon know as well as the Kurds that citizens’ rights don’t count for much when there’s coin involved.
There’s a good chance that what’s on offer here in Rojava allows us a way out of the global ecological, economic and political mess of a system we’ve inherited; enough of a chance to make it worth fighting for.”

The map circulated on state friendly media in Turkey suggests the intention is to invade all three of the cantons that comprise Rojava to create a broad zone along the border controlled by the Turkish state. The map shows a total invasion of Afrin the canton currently under attack, Afrin was spared much of the destruction of the Syrian Civil War and ISIS assault. Elsewhere the map appears to show a 30km zone along the border which includes almost all the major cities in Rojava. The map also indicates an intention to completely occupy the Manbij region, liberated from ISIS in 2014 at considerable cost. All of this would fit into public statements made by Turkish president Erdogan.

All has not gone to plan, the initial assault saw the Turkish forces capture a few border villages but at the loss of several armoured vehicles. Yesterday a counter attack by the SDF saw at least a couple of those villages recaptured.

The Turkish army has enormous superiority in weaponry, including the German supplied Leopard II tank and 155mm self-propelled Howitzers. The defenders lack any effective anti-aircraft weaponry meaning Turkish warplanes are striking behind the lines with impunity. But the enormous purges that followed the attempted coup by elite Turkish military units has left the military demoralised and disorganised. Erdogan has worsened that situation by stuffing the high command with yes men, some sources claim that as much as a quarter of the Turkish airforce is currently unable to operate.

Rojava provides the ‘threat of a good example’ to the Turkish regime but also Britain and the US. They are determined to restrict the people of the region to the ‘choice’ between neo-liberal rule of the few, dictatorships or religious sectarianism. But the multi-ethnic, multi religious region that the Rojava revolution is creating is built on women liberation and direct democracy - proving that there can be an alternative. It’s not without it’s problems, contradictions and compromises and is certainly a long way short of anarchism but remains worth defending. 

We will be RTing what we consider to be reliable reports over on Twitter  and where time permits will provide updates here. Follow us at  for these updates

Original FB post

15 Feb - A month has passed

A full month has now passed since Turkey invaded Afrin, an invasion some Turkish commentators boasted would be finished in three hours. Instead as the graphics show the invasion has bogged down in the mountains close to the border with considerable additional Turkish armour re-enforcements sent in this week to replace losses. Although the terrain is difficult the Turkish military have a massive superiority in weaponry as well as an airforce whose fighter bombers - essentially untouchable by ground defences - have operated at will bombing across Afrin. But they are invading an area defended by revolutionaries who have had years to prepare and have a cause in the Rojava revolution that is well worth defending, in particular in relation to the genocidal theocracy the Turkish proxy forces would seek to impose.

Many of the commanders of the Turkish proxy army are ex ISIS or ex Al Queada and so wish to impose the sort of life that was imposed in Raqqa and until it was liberated lin 2016 Manbij to the west of Afrin. As these units advance they have been posting videos of themselves forcing prisoners to recite the opening verses of the Koran, smashing up alcohol shops, singing Al Queada anthems, proclaiming they are going to kill the ‘Kurdish atheist’ etc as well as robbing chickens, tractors and other goods from the civilian population. For PR reasons the Turkish military has issued warnings to its militia not to post such videos although some still appear from time to time alongside more disturbing ones of prisoners being tortured and bodies being mutilated. With the choice being rule by these gangs or the sort of sustainable, directly democratic and gender liberated society the SDF defend its not surprising that the defenders, and women in particular, are putting up such a furious resistance.

Some of the defenders are Yazidi’s and survivors of the genocide and rape slavery imposed by ISIS when it overrun Sinjar in 2014. Afrin includes some Yazidi communities as well as Shia muslims who have also been targeted by AQ and ISIS. Indeed the province is very multi ethnic and multi religious and has been for a very long time. Jindires which saw tank fire yesterday was where the Romans defeated the Parthians over 2000 years ago. The multiple waves of invasion, settlement, conquest and conversion have left a patchwork of towns and villages that are Kurdish, Turkmen, Yazidi and Arab, divisions that Erdogan, Assad and Salafists seek to make use of for their own ends.

We’ve prepared this summary of the last week or so since our last update (see previous post to page) through carefully following online reports, in particular SDF and other Twitter sources that are reliable as well as viewing Turkish media reports and other sources. It’s a best guess obtained from weighing up these sources and their conflicting claims, not an easy task as with most wars both sides tend to exaggerate the other sides losses and report on their own advances but not their retreats. Each town and village often has different Arabic and Kurdish names and multiple spellings within that which can make it hard to match up google maps with SDF media reports. Military reports are hardly our purpose but we present these as it can be hard to fully grasp the political situation without understanding the military threats and opportunities the revolution faces. For more on the revolution see our previous articles, videos and audio recordings at www.wsm.ie/rojava

Our last report ended at a significant moment, shortly after Turkish aligned salafist milita had shot down a Russian plane in the neighbouring province of Idlib and the pilot had died either at their hands or his own after he parachuted out. Russia retaliated in a number of ways, most importantly by imposing a No Fly zone for Turkish placns over all of Northern Syria including Afrin. So from the 5th Feb to the 7th Feb the Turkish airforce was unable to operate over Afrin, this was a time at which Turkish tank losses peaked and a couple of villages were recaptured by the SDF. However a deal of some sort was worked out (the Russians are keen to weaken Turkeys connection to the US) and Turkish planes resumed bombing attacks all across Afrin. According to the SDF media bulletin for the week to 16th Feb “Along with direct attacks on civilian settlements the water purification plant in Metina village (district Shera), the central water station of the district Jinderese, one of the two main bakeries as well as the main market places in the district Rajo and a factory for olive oil production” were bombed as well as 27 schools, hundreds of houses and the “ancient Palace of Betal Aga”

As importantly drone reconaissance flights resumed. Turkish media demonstrated how important these are when it broadcast drone footage of a YPJ crew performing ‘shoot and scoot’ artillery support from an urban area. This is a common tactic used when the other side has vastly super artillery and air support. In this case a truck mounted gun would fire and then rapidly move to fire again. The YPJ crew didn’t sappear to realise the drone was observing them with the result they were tracked back to their base building which was then bombed, apparently killing the crew.

The SDF is not completely defenceless against low altitude drones and helicopters, they shot down at least one drone and one helicopter and claim to have downed a second helicopter . But this appears to have been done with heavy machine guns, as yet none of the footage suggests they have the far more effective Manpads missile systems, one of which brought down the Russian jet in Idlib province. The US weapon supplies to the SDF for the war with ISIS deliberately excluded the sort of heavy weapons that could be serious deterrent against Turkish air power and armour, it appears almost all of the ATGMs fired by the SDF are of Russian manufacture.

Drone observation along with the fighter bombers and 155mm howitzer make it difficult for the SDF to resupply front line positions not to mention engage in any significant offensive operations. Any concentrations of troops or moving vehicles are likely to be suddenly hit by guided missiles, bombs or artillery. Small group ambushes and defence of urban positions are their probable limits as long as Turkey’s airforce cannot be neutralised. This means that all the SDF can achieve is to mount ambushes and give ground as slowly as possible. SDF reports suggest some Turkish armoured vehicles reached Jinderese yesterday. But Jinderese (the lower left white circle on the satellite image) is only 8km from the Turkish border with only two small villages along the road. That it took 28 days for armoured reconnassiance units to reach it underlines the seriousness of the resistance. Afrin city itself is only 28km down the valley from the Turkish border, a distance you’d drive in 30 minutes.

The satellite image in our graphic gives some clues from the landscape as to the probable course of the invasion. Afrin is small and directly borders Turkey on three sides which has allowed Turkey with its vastly larger army to invade at multiple point on that perimeter. However as can be seen Afrin is largely mountainous which gives an advantage to the defence and has also allowed the multiple tank destroying pop up ambushes using portable ATGMs. SDF media claims 52 Turkish armoured vehicles have been destroyed and another 15 damaged, even if there is some double counting these are serious losses for NATOs 2nd largest army to be taking. The mountains mean the most likely route of advance for the Turkish army is down the Jinderese valley from the south west to besiege the city of Afrin but the single road down the centre of the valley is seldom more than 5km from the mountains, and often within range of the more sophisticated ATGM systems. So that advance will be dependent on taking, clearing and then holding against infiltration the mountains overlooking the route.

A lot of the more intense fighting seems to have been at the villages in those foothills overlooking the valley. Jinderese is a small town astride the road about 10 blocks wide by 20 blocks long. As the next settlement of significance is Afrin itself its likely the SDF will make a serious effort to hold Jinderese. On Feb 13th a convoy of a Turkish military unit that specialises in urban warfare crossed the border. On the 15th there was a large civilian demonstration in Jinderese itself but also that SDF media report of tank fire.

All of this highlights that while the SDF may continue to furiously hold out there is no possibility of militarily defeating the far larger and better equipped Turkish army, in particular when it has complete air superiority. An SDF victory must be political in nature rather than military and probably won outside of Syria. The most obvious political victory would be a revolt against the invasion in Turkey itself but the Erdogan regime has arrested and jailed hundreds for speaking out against the war. This includes a lot of the leadership of the progressive opposition party, the HDP, whose June 2015 election success forms the backdrop of Erdogans strong turn back to traditional authoritarian Turkish nationalism. The lack of independent media - huge numbers of journalist have been jailed in the last years - along with the polarisation and bitterness of the long war against the PKK mean his appeals to Turkish nationalism and Sunni religious sectarianism are liable to keep enough of the public onside. And those who do speak up face arrest and jailing alongside being fired from their jobs, losing pensions and healthcare for their families. The cost of speaking out is high but many continue to do so and it might be that the failure to win a quick victory will see nationalist support for the war evaporate and protests emerge.

If the situation were not so serious it would be amusing to watch the bizarre attempts of the US to ride two horses at once. It needs the SDF as the only effective ground force it has in the war against ISIS in Syria. But it also wants to keep Turkey in NATO and maintain its use of the huge airbase at Incirlik in Southern Turkey. So at its most bizarre you have US special forces accompanying SDF units at the front line near Manbij facing off against Turkish military and their proxies while US spokes are suggesting that maybe the SDF can be won to Turkey’s fight against the PKK! Leaving aside their common ideological program large numbers of PKK fighters crossed the border and fell defending Kobane when all appeared lost, the idea of a rupture between the two seems far fetched, to put it mildly. But this weirdness reflects the reality of the ‘big powers’ and their games around the Syrian Civil war and the refugee crisis. Any illusions that the EU, US or NATO have some underlying grand humanitarian concerns quickly evaporates when you see the hypocrisy and opportunism of the games being played. No surprise in all this, especially for the locals, as the methodology of modern imperial game playing has its roots in the post WWI division of the region, a division that left the Kurds out entirely and so played a significant role in setting up the situation that is found today. Its a situation where ‘the Kurds have no friends but the mountains’ seems particularly appropriate.

If nothing useful can be expected from the western governments what about the people? The biggest problem is the cynicism and exhaustion of the Syrian civil war in general and western intervention in particular which has created an atmosphere where the default reaction is to assume nothing good can be discovered so there is no point even looking. This is if anything even more prevalent on the left than in the general population, and a central reason why the extraordinary experiment of ‘Rojava’ (now properly called the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria ) is so under discussed. For all the complexity, flaws and problems its the Spanish Civil War of our generation, the tendency of much of the left and feminist movement to simply look away is extraordinary and speaks to how insular our movements have become or perhaps always were. There is a call from Rojava to make March 8th, International Women’s Day a day of mobilisation against the invasion of Afrin - that could be a good moment to build on what solidarity exists and discuss how it can effectively be extended.

Original FB post

19 Feb - possible deal with Assad regime

Over the weekend as casualties mounted in Afrin and the SDF had to retreat from several border positions stories began to circulate that a deal with the Assad regime was being negotiated to halt the Turkish invasion. The SDF has admitted negotiations are underway although have also said a deal has not been reached. Assad regime TV has announced earlier today that troops will be deployed. There have been constant rumours and contradictory reports over the last 24 hours. What are we to make of this, is it the end of the Rojava revolution?

The first substantial analysis we published on the revolution was titled ‘Rojava - Revolution Between a Rock and a Hard Place’ precisely because of the military reality of a revolution being made in a small area sandwiched between much more powerful military forces. In the heroic 30 day defence of Afrin that reality has sunk home, the invasion has only advanced a few km’s into Afrin but Afrin is so small that even those small advances now place Turkish force overlooking towns like Rojo. The map above (where Rojo is Raju near the western border) reveals that although the Turkish invasion is progressing very slowly they have consolidated their initial pockets by linking them up laterally.

Turkish fighter jets and artillery have bombed and shelled with impunity across the canton, destroying considerable civilian infrastructure including water purification plants, bakeries, olive oil factories and schools. Turkish proxy forces have posted videos from the border villages they have overrun that show them looting animals and machinery, destroying goods and most disturbingly boasting they are going to move their families there to permanently replace populations that, depending on the village, may be Kurdish, Shia or Yazidi. Other videos have shown them torturing prisoners and mutilating the bodes of fallen YPJ volunteers. In short the war is threatening to destroy the ability of the civilian population to remain in the area even after it has passed.

The Turkish state is probably exaggerating when it claims to have killed 1100+ SDF volunteers but it is likely hundreds have fallen. Over the weekend the deaths of two more international YPG volunteers at the hands of Turkey were announced, they appear to be part of a squad of about 8 that posted a photo on social media as they headed to defend Afrin. The number of SDF volunteers killed by Turkey is probably starting to approach the number killed by ISIS in the months long battle to liberate Raqqa last year. As we’ve discussed in previous updates to this page some of the commanders of the Turkish proxy militia are former ISIS fighters. Given the behaviours outlined above its not hard to see why there may be a desire to prevent them capturing any more of Afrin at almost any cost.

But the Assad regime is a brutal dictatorship that has tortured and murdered thousands and even tens of thousands of political prisoners in the course of the civil war. It’s impossible to imagine a situation where any of the gains of the revolution will remain once Assad’s security forces gain full control of Northern Syria. Despite recent regime promises in all probability the cadre of the PYD and many of the core organisers of co-ops, women’s houses, neighboorhood assemblies etc would be disappeared. Or, as so many already have elsewhere in Syria, will have to flee from regime held areas to join the refugee stream attempting to escape to Europe and beyond. That is the rock and the hard place between which Afrin and the rest of DFNS* is trapped.

If this deal with the Assad regime is agreed the detail of it will be important as its unlikely full control would be conceded except in the most desperate of circumstances. The Assad regime is still very weak from the civil war in which many of its troops deserted rather than crush their own population. It’s dependent on Russian airpower and Iranian backed militia to mount any significant offensives. And the civil war is not over elsewhere with ISIS still being a threat in the west and Idlib province still being held by Turkish affiliated FSA groups including many of the jihadi militias**.

When the Kurdish led revolt happened in Rojava in 2012 the regime - which at that point was massively over stretched everywhere - had little choice other than to accept that reality and retreat to a couple of key military/police complexes. These are ofter referred to as regime held security zones and these enclaves remain at Qamishli and Hasaka in the other cantons. There has been occasional conflict between the regime and SDF forces at the edges of these enclaves but these have been quickly settled. But now these enclaves are important for the detail of the deal that may happen in Afrin. The small regimes areas isolated in the other cantons provide the SDF with a weak bargaining chip that along with the weak nature of the regime forces may limit the extent to which they try and reimpose regime rule across Afrin.

There have been two significant deals along these lines between the DFNS and the regime in the last couple of years that may serve as a model of what is being hoped for here. When the battle of Aleppo ended in regime victory at the end of 2016 the YPG managed to retain control of the Kurdish neighbourhood of Sheikh Maqsoud. The most recent report we could find from July 2017 - some 7 months later - still had the Asayish (the security force comprised of locals that exists throughout Rojava) checkpoints controlling Sheikh Maqsoud. And even more relevantly Turkey’s earlier2016 offensive against the SDF - when they tried to take Manbij over after the SDF had liberated it from ISIS - came to an end when a buffer zone was created that included regime soldiers moving into border bases.

Such a situation would still be a loss, it would be unstable in the long term. Yet as we’ve seen from the Zapatista rising in Chiapas, now in its 24th year, an unstable long term can still create the space for revolutionary experimentation and construction for many years. 30 days into holding off the rock of NATOs 2nd largest army - without any effective air defence - that hard place of a deal with Assad may appear the better option to the defenders of Afrin.

The unfolding story is a demonstration of why revolutions in situations of protracted war often fail not only through external defeat but also through the corrosive realpolitik that violent military conflict imposes. Rojava has been remarkable so far in retaining much worth fighting for in the most desperate of conditions and distasteful forced military alliances. But for how long will this remain true with de facto allies like the US and Assad - both intending to end the alliance as soon as they have what they want from it. Hope remains and Rojava continues to provide an example that another world is possible but one that is increasingly fragile and may be snuffed out unless international solidarity is forthcoming.

[Update: see comments but it appears Russia vetoed deal after phone conversation between Putin & Erdogan; A bus convoy from Sheikh Maqsoud did arrive in Afrin but its (mostly?) civilian, see our Twitter for video and more details )

As always follow our Twitter @wsmireland where we RT current updates from the region from sources we've seen to be reliable. Our website currently needs its security certificate renewed but you’ll find background articles on the revolution there at www.wsm.ie/rojava

* DFNS is the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, the official name that was adopted after the Rojavan revolution spread from its three initial cantons with their Kurdish majorities. Rojava simply means West in Kurdish but the geographical spread of the revolution now includes Kurdish, Arab, Syriac-Assyrian, and Turkmen populations; with smaller communities of ethnic Armenians, Circassians, and Chechens. And in religious terms Sunni and Shia Muslims, Christians, Yazidi and Zoroastrians. An added difficulty with following the revolution from afar is that this means many towns have at least four names, Kurdish, Arabic, Syriac and Turkish, and those use three different alphabets.

** The FSA (Free Syrian Army) composition is a lot more complex than just being jihadi groups but the remaining progressive elements having gone through their own ‘rock and a hard place’ leading in Idlib to the alliance with such forces and Turkey as their last resort against the regime. The majority of FSA groups, including the progressive ones, were hostile to Kurdish autonomy from the start and this along with the geographic and military realities of the Syrian civil war meant the seemingly obvious solution of the alternative alliance with the YPG has only happened in exceptional cases. It would be a major piece of work to explain this fully but if you want to explore that aspect the book ‘Burning Country’ is an anarchist account of the Syrian revolution but from an FSA perspective that is very critical of the PYD. Read it with ‘Revolution in Rojava’ which presents much of the same story but from a perspective close to the PYD.

18 March - the fall of Afrin and the turn to 'hit & run' 

Rather then have the city of Afrin face the total destruction visited on other cities in the battle against ISIS the SDF units defending the city evaded the encirclement last night allowing the Turkish army and its jihadi militias to capture the city this morning. Their first action was to tear down a statue of the mythical blacksmith Kawa who overthrew tyranny and to behead two SDF POWs named as Nudem of the women’s YPJ militia and Muhammed of the YPG. Refugees trying to flee the city were not allowed to pass into areas occupied by Turkey and it was reported one convoy trying to reach Jindires was bombed leading to as many as 200 fatalities.

Rojava is a region in which many different people have co-existed for a very long time. The villages were homes to Sunni and Shia Muslims, Syriac Christians, Yazidi and people from these groups who spoke Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic and Syriac. One of the strengths of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria was that it was a serious effort to build a socialist feminist society which would include all those different groups, indeed that’s why it ended up being called the ‘Democratic Federation of Northern Syria’ rather than the more catchy Rojava which simply means West in Kurdish. The name change which was controversial was part of the process of expanding the revolution out from its original overwhelming Kurdish base to one that had an obvious space for all the peoples. Another aspect of this was a co-chair system where each layer of administration had to have two co-chairs. One had to be a man, the other a women and each had to be from a different ethnic/religious group.

Unfortunately there is no shortage of proof that Turkey intended to destroy this system. Videos posted by the jihadi militias who captured the mountain villages of Afrin show them looting homes and machinery, murdering farmers, proclaiming the intention to behead unbelievers and forcing the elderly people who remained to recite Koranic verses. Some of the unit commanders have been recognised as the same men who previously commanded ISIS and Al Qaeda units when such forced recitations were often followed by the murder of those who made errors. If these units are publicly sharing such videos, some of which also include torture scenes we have to assume that much worse is happening off camera. The handful of Yazidi villages in Afrin may even be under threat of extermination similar to that ISIS attempted in Sinjar.

Turkey has made little secret of the fact that part of its reason for the Afrin offensive is to find somewhere to dump the two million Syrian refugees who have found shelter in Turkey. It seems very clear that the intent is the mass expulsion of Kurdish and other peoples living in Afrin giving their land to the jihadi fighters and then forcing the refugees out of Turkey and into their hands.

Turkey is NATO’s second largest army, as we predicted when the invasion started there was no way the SDF could defeat that army and if anything its remarkable it held out for close to two months. Afrin is tiny, and Afrin city was less than an hours drive from the Turkish border on the day the invasion started. The photos from outside Afrin city hall include one where a Leopard 2a Main Battle Tank is in shot, these are supplied by Germany to the Turkish army and are the sister tank of the US M1 Abrams.

The SDF had prepared fortified positions in the mountains which held back the invasion for some 40 days but once those were defeated or bypassed their only choice would have been to engage in vicious urban warfare against an opponent with massive superiority in equipment and a huge numerical advantage in men under arms. Our observations of the drone propaganda footage released by the Turkish military made it clear that without any effective anti-air weaponry the only choice the SDF would have had in such a conflict was to hide amongst the civilian population as ISIS did in Raqqa, leading not only to widespread destruction but also a massive loss of civilian lives. Syria is littered with totally destroyed cities, at least today Afrin did not join that list.

In the last hour the SDF has announced that in Afrin they are shifting from conventional warfare of holding positions to guerilla warfare of striking where possible at the enemy. A major explosion was reported in Afrin this morning which is claimed to have been some sort of ambush resulting in 35 casualties among the occupying forces. The SDF also say that during the two months resistance 500 civilians were killed, 1030 civilians injured, and 820 fighters of the SDF were killed.

The Rojava revolution was born between a rock and hard place. Some are critical because Afrin was not delivered over to the Syrian army under Assad, it is said a deal had been offered which would have included Russian air cover to halt Turkey. But the Assad regime would have just offered a different murderous outcome, if perhaps slightly delayed because of its current weakness. Both paths lead to the destruction of the revolution and the imposition of terror.

Turkey, or rather the Turkish state, has declared its intention to invade all the major population centres of Northern Syria in order to destroy the Rojava revolution. Without effective anti-air weaponry there will be no way of defeating such an effort through military means. Short of gaining effective anti-air weaponry only two things can halt Turkey, an international solidarity that forces the government to back down or a revolt in Turkey itself. The second seems unlikely, Erdogan’s motivation for the invasion was at least in part to provide himself with a nationalist popularity boost ahead of the 2019 elections. Because the Turkish military used the jihadi militia as its light infantry, taking the bulk of the casualties, its own casualties appear light enough to avoid deflating that nationalist frenzy. And the Turkish state has arrested hundreds for expressing any opposition to the war, including simply tweeting opposition. This in a context where tens of thousands had already been arrested in the last couple of years and hundreds of thousands fired from their jobs, losing healthcare and pensions with that. But that level of repression speaks of a need to crush a popular revolt that might otherwise and may still emerge from the half of the population who are deeply unhappy under the Erdogan regime.

2011 and 2012 offered much promise for genuine change in the region, a promise whose very life has been crushed through repression and vicious militarisation of the conflicts. The hope of revolution was drowned in blood, Rojava is perhaps the last anti-authoritarian flame in the region as the dark night of authoritarian rule spreads once more.

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