Aleppo’s agony caused any num­ber of polit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sies, against a back­ground of « com­pas­sion”, com­bin­ing pro and anti Bachar regime pro­pa­gan­da and real ques­tions by legit­i­mate humanists.
Yet, as we approach the anniver­sary mark­ing the begin­ning of the « Syr­i­an upris­ing », this great « I am Alep­po » surge has almost dis­ap­peared from the media and social networks.

Two recent reports have appeared in quick suc­ces­sion. One on « tor­ture and hang­ings in Said­naya prison »* and the oth­er on « chlo­rine bomb­ings » on the pop­u­la­tion of Alep­po. They are bru­tal reminders, as if such were need­ed, that war crim­i­nals, or their rep­re­sen­ta­tives and allies, will sit at the next Peace con­fer­ence being pre­pared in the wings.

And it will be hard to instill for­get­ful­ness espe­cial­ly since oth­er war crimes were per­pe­trat­ed by Jihadist groups, those allied with the Turk­ish regime as well as those armed by the Gulf, intent on con­fis­cat­ing this « Spring » trans­formed into a civ­il war.

The future nego­ti­a­tion table between great « inter­na­tion­al preda­tors », along with local and region­al ene­mies with pre­ten­sions to hege­mo­ny and pseu­do rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the « Syr­i­an rebel­lion » des­ig­nat­ed by them, will have all the appear­ance of a mafiosi round table, where cards will be shuf­fled con­cern­ing the future of a region already divid­ed into Nation-States a cen­tu­ry ago… on the occa­sion of the dis­mem­ber­ment of the Ottoman Empire. The Peace of the Forty Thieves, replayed at a century’s interval.

The hun­dreds of thou­sands of vic­tims, the mil­lions of refugees will have to be con­tent with this geopo­lit­i­cal reshuf­fling… Thus, a process which, at its incep­tion con­tained Mid­dle East­ern rev­o­lu­tions in the plur­al, would end after the blood­bath by a search for impe­ri­al­is­tic and region­al com­pro­mis­es – com­pro­mis­es of which one can’t detect the begin­ning of a begin­ning – with, once again, no con­cern for the fate of the local populations.

One might object that this is a cheap short-cut against a qua­si-con­spir­a­tional background…whereas the top­ic is the search for peace. But no mat­ter how much one may wish to con­vince me that the Islamist State has almost com­plete­ly dis­ap­peared already, that it no longer has any­thing to do with the war in Irak, that Mosul will be its grave and Raqqa it’s final bat­tle, I can’t help but think that ISIS is not only the band of inter­na­tion­al crooks described every­where, but rests on real polit­i­cal foun­da­tions, and both feeds and lives off of them.

And the rad­i­cal impasse it con­sti­tutes for the peo­ples flour­ish­es on the ruins of Mid­dle-East­ern nation-states as well as on those of African ex-colonies, also mired in cor­rup­tion and well-tend­ed « eth­nic » vio­lences. And I’m sup­posed to believe that Putin wish­es to break from all that ?

« Ter­ror­ism » would thus stay sus­pend­ed, like a men­ace hov­er­ing over occi­den­tal­ized soci­eties ? And these same soci­eties would have noth­ing to do with the rot­ten­ness, includ­ing Russia’s, caus­ing and feed­ing it ?
« Your wars, our dead » many rad­i­cal Euro­pean left­ists said and wrote after the Paris attacks in Novem­ber 2016. I still share this point of view.
All right, ISIS won’t have a seat at the table…We are reas­sured. The dis­cus­sion will be among high-class killers, between estab­lished « paci­fist » arms merchants.

But these wars have not only pro­duced polit­i­cal impass­es for the future of the pop­u­la­tions in the region.

If the after­maths of Irak’s dis­in­te­gra­tion — a coun­try for­mer­ly cre­at­ed with a ruler – only results in pri­vate pre­serves where the Iran­ian neigh­bor will exer­cise its influ­ence, and where a Kur­dish qua­si nation-state will take pos­ses­sion of the lands and the fos­sile rich­es — even at the cost of ethnic
“clar­i­fi­ca­tions” — this is not the case for Syr­ia, on the one hand, nor for Turkey, its cur­rent best enemy.

The Syr­i­an war has pushed peo­ples to unite for their sur­vival and to find solu­tions for their defense and their social organization.

The pres­ence on these ter­ri­to­ries of an orga­ni­za­tion trained in armed strug­gle over decades, polit­i­cal­ly strad­dling three bor­ders, and capa­ble of self-reap­praisal has been a deter­min­ing fac­tor in the estab­lish­ment of an orig­i­nal polit­i­cal process in North­ern Syr­ia. To think even for a sec­ond that in the tur­moil of this war it would have been pos­si­ble to envis­age shel­ter zones for mil­lions of peo­ple and rel­a­tive pro­tec­tion for oth­ers with­out the PKK , would be to be blind to the way polit­i­cal Jihadism, the polit­i­cal manip­u­la­tion of Syr­i­an resis­tance by armed groups, the country’s trustee­ship under the pow­ers of the Gulf, Turkey, and Amer­i­can and Euro­pean influ­ences, have had the bet­ter of the extreme weak­ness and divi­sion in the ini­tial uprising.
No mat­ter what crit­i­cism may be adressed to it by one or anoth­er, the fact a polit­i­cal project exist­ed in North­ern Syr­ia has now saved pop­u­la­tions in great num­bers, and allowed for a process of demo­c­ra­t­ic uni­fi­ca­tion between them. And if, in Alep­po or else­where, this has often rest­ed on con­fronta­tion, this is also due to the destruc­tive force of the fac­tions sup­port­ed by Turkey, and of oth­ers sup­port­ed by the regime and its Russ­ian and Iran­ian allies.

No one can deny that. And the « inter­na­tion­al » per­sis­tence in keep­ing the PKK on the black list of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions is the per­fect illus­tra­tion of these States’ polit­i­cal choic­es, as they are aware of the bud­ding polit­i­cal and eco­nom­i­cal stakes.

If Alep­po was a « mil­i­tary » sev­er­ing result­ing in a « cease fire » declared in an ongo­ing war, two cru­cial places of armed con­fronta­tion will prob­a­bly also rep­re­sent break­ing points that could result in the big table of Gene­va thiefs fol­low­ing the par­o­dy in Astana.


Click to enlarge

We mean Bab and Raqqa, of course.

For those who con­sult reg­u­lar­ly the week­ly news bul­letins on Ron­ahi TV, broad­cast in part­ner­ship with Kedis­tan, there is no need for me to do a fac­tu­al « mil­i­tary » update. And this is not the pur­pose of my col­umn in any event.
I can only rely on infor­ma­tion appear­ing in the media and on the web, along with the clar­i­fi­ca­tions and com­men­taries they arouse, be it by the polit­i­cal lead­ers involved, jour­nal­ists and polit­i­cal activists, read and over­heard, here and there. And I am ready to acknowl­edge any exces­sive inter­pre­ta­tion on my part, inso­far as I’m giv­en the rea­sons for my mis­takes and the counter-information.

For the forces in the North Syr­i­an con­fed­er­a­tion, the SDF (Syr­i­an Demo­c­ra­t­ic Forces) and the DUP (Demo­c­ra­t­ic Union Par­ty), the advance on Raqqa does not con­sti­tute per se a will to lim­it­less ter­ri­to­r­i­al expan­sion in Syr­ia. It is most­ly a demon­stra­tion that ISIS can be fought and forced into its last entrench­ments by a Syr­i­an force oth­er than that of the mur­der­ous regime, and one unaf­fil­i­at­ed with Turkey colo­nial aims.

This show of strength is also in answer to the need to lib­er­ate pop­u­la­tions who often have fight­ers in the ranks of the SDF.
It also con­sti­tut­ed a mil­i­tary con­sol­i­da­tion, via the SDF, of a con­fed­er­al­ist pact against the Turk­ish objec­tive to dis­rupt the pos­si­ble ter­ri­to­r­i­al con­ti­nu­ity in North­ern Syr­ia, and to con­tin­ue to cause harm both to Roja­va and in the tan­gled Syr­i­an mess, from posi­tions con­quered after the irrup­tion in Jer­ablus. In this frame­work, an oper­a­tion in the direc­tion of Raqqa is also the best « mil­i­tary » response.

I remind the read­er that this offen­sive began under the pres­i­den­cy of Oba­ma, and with logis­ti­cal com­mit­ments, now more or less « frozen » by Trump. Bab is a strate­gic cross­road. And up until recent days, Turk­ish forces and their var­i­ous sup­ple­men­tary allies seemed to be encoun­ter­ing dif­fi­cul­ties in front of ISIS. This resis­tance and this fac­tu­al tem­po­riza­tion may appear sur­pris­ing giv­en the fact that, in sur­round­ing local­i­ties dur­ing these past weeks, every­one was pro­ceed­ing to « occu­pa­tions » and « re-occu­pa­tions » with the cor­re­spond­ing seiz­ing of weapons. There were even announce­ments of a pos­si­ble « rout » of the Turk­ish forces in mid-week last, and the arrival of gov­ern­men­tal forces at the same time, heav­i­ly sup­port­ed by Russ­ian air cov­er. This didn’t stop these same Turk­ish and sup­ple­men­tary forces mak­ing fur­ther civil­ian vic­tims in the area and pur­su­ing their threat on the can­ton of Afrîn.
Some « unfor­tu­nate » bomb­ings killed Turk­ish sol­diers. The Rus­sians acknowl­edged, the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment yield­ed in abeyance… And we are now wit­ness­ing the recon­quest of Bab, part­ly by Turk­ish forces, part­ly by those of the regime. While gov­ern­men­tal author­i­ties declare their inten­tion not to aban­don their objec­tive of seiz­ing Raqqa, dis­cor­dant voic­es call for con­sol­i­dat­ing posi­tions in Bab… We can sur­mise that Russ­ian bomb­ings have some­thing to do with this, as does the promise to pri­or­i­tize the « safe zone » called for by Erdo­gan. Trump would be study­ing the insane « project » of Syr­i­an refugee camps in the zone…
In oth­er words, every­thing points to “coali­tions” not being a Raqqa pri­or­i­ty, but rather the con­sol­i­da­tion of exist­ing pow­er bal­ances in the per­spec­tive of a « big table », no mat­ter how pre­ma­ture in the absence of an after-ISIS polit­i­cal plan.

And yet, a polit­i­cal solu­tion is pro­posed for one part of Syria.

And what we can point out imme­di­ate­ly is that this pro­pos­al is turned down by all.
Dur­ing the mil­i­tary oper­a­tions, and behind them, the North­ern Syr­ia Con­fed­er­a­tion has widened its polit­i­cal con­sen­sus and refined its « con­fed­er­al » pro­pos­als for a set­tling of the war in Syr­ia, and beyond. The last con­fer­ence of the active forces in the North Syr­i­an Fed­er­a­tion were an impor­tant step in this direc­tion, going so far as dis­cussing the choice of the admin­is­tra­tive cap­i­tal and of the confederation’s name. And if I con­tin­ue to use the term “Roja­va”, the con­fed­er­al deci­sions now go beyond it.
Rus­sia had pro­posed a « fed­er­al » struc­ture for a future Syr­ia, giv­ing « rights » to the Kurds, and also giv­ing the brief impres­sion that Putin had sud­den­ly devel­oped an auton­o­my mind set…while con­sol­i­dat­ing Bachar’s regime.
Roja­va rep­re­sen­ta­tives large­ly turned down this pro­pos­al and respond­ed with the call to an inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ence to exam­ine a con­fed­er­al­ist project for Syr­ia, and more specif­i­cal­ly, that of « Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­fed­er­al­ism » long pro­pound­ed by the DUP. There­fore, the DUP will not be invit­ed to the next rounds of nego­ti­a­tion, replaced by anoth­er ten­den­cy in the Kur­dish Nation­al Coun­cil, one more « con­cil­ia­to­ry » and clos­er both to Barzani and the Sun­ni anti-Bachar opposition.
Nonethe­less, a con­fer­ence was called in Moscow on Feb­ru­ary 15 with the par­tic­i­pa­tion of Kurds from Iran, Turkey, Irak and Syria…
Here, I must admit my lack of exper­tise on this spe­cif­ic top­ic and my need to study fur­ther what are not only « nuances » among the Kur­dish polit­i­cal par­tie in Syr­ia, com­pli­cat­ed fur­ther by the inces­sant involve­ment of an Ira­ki Barzani…
I’m thus open to any ele­ments that might pro­vide me with light on the top­ic, oth­er than propaganda…(Of that, there is a swarm…)

I will con­clude with this open-brain reflec­tion, even know­ing it is par­tial and filled with short-cuts, about the obvi­ous pow­er plays and the dan­gers that threaten.

The North­ern Syr­i­an Fed­er­a­tion, and Roja­va at his heart, while refus­ing the pos­si­ble keys to a Mid­dle-East­ern future, are more than ever at risk of every pos­si­ble black­mail. Mil­i­tary advances will no longer suf­fice. And we don’t see the appear­ance of any inter­na­tion­al sup­port, just as we don’t hear many out­side voic­es raised against Erdogan’s inter­nal poli­cies against Bakur and demo­c­ra­t­ic oppo­si­tion in Turkey.

It thus appears to me more nec­es­sary than ever to doc­u­ment here Rojava’s polit­i­cal project, the peace pro­pos­al it rep­re­sents, and the dan­gers threat­en­ing this frag­ile process. Our role is to present this pos­i­tive demo­c­ra­t­ic expe­ri­ence, bear­ing a peace­ful future for the Mid­dle East, and not only to rehash the mil­i­tary refrains or to be drawn into use­less neg­a­tive dis­cus­sions in a vacuum.
Should it appear tomor­row that Roja­va — and beyond it, the project of North­ern Syr­i­an con­fed­er­al­ism – dis­turb the plans for inter­na­tion­al shar­ing of the spoils and if those threats become more pre­cise, the need for essen­tial sup­port will grow accordingly.

Trans­la­tion by Renée Lucie Bourges.
French ver­sion > 
Bab, Raqqa, la face arrière des enjeux militaires…

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Let­tres mod­ernes à l’Université de Tours. Gros mots poli­tiques… Coups d’oeil politiques…