Seeking a Third Way: Apo’s Rojava in the Shadow of Tito’s Yugoslavia

A handful of historical reference points are commonly deployed to contextualise the Kurdish freedom movement for unfamiliar audiences. The jailed Kurdish figurehead Abdullah Öcalan is represented by his supporters as the ‘Mandela of the Middle East’ – while his detractors opt for less generous comparisons. Meanwhile, the Kurdish-led polity established around the Syrian Kurdish region […]

Enhancing Diverse Democracy: NE Syria’s New Social Contract

Authorities in the de facto autonomous region of North and East Syria (NES) this week made an announcement many years in the making. For several years now, representatives of the region known by the Kurdish metonym ‘Rojava’ have promised a new, updated version of the ‘Social Contract’ which codifies the principles through which the region […]

To Remember is to Resist: The Jiyan Archives & Raz Xaidan

“Resistance. Archiving, documenting, remembering, and referencing is an integral part of our continuing fight merely to exist as Kurds. To preserve is to accept, and in the absence of our own national archive, what we are doing at Jiyan is minuscule in comparison to what could be achieved if we as a collective society placed as much […]

The Kurdish Struggle with Self-Determination

As suggested by the title of ‘Self-Determination Struggles: In Pursuit of the Democratic Confederalist Ideal’, the vaunted right to self-determination is worthy of deeper critical scrutiny. Rather than uncritically surveying historical and international struggles for self-determination, in his new collection of essays and papers then Cambridge University’s Thomas Jeffrey Miley scrutinises struggles about and within movements claiming […]

ISIS, Foucault, and Evading the State

The progressive, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES) this week announced its intention to begin trials of the estimated 2000 ‘third-country national’ male ISIS fighters it is currently holding in its detention centres, along with around 8000 Syrian and Iraqi combatants. The mooted trials are commonly represented as ‘unilateral’ – a loaded […]

Dreams within Defeats: The Kurdish Quest for Meaning

Many of us are familiar with the dictum, attributed to Antonio Gramsci, that socialists should be possessed by “pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will.” In its original context, a prison letter written to an anarchist comrade whom he accuses of simplistically claiming petty victories, the militant Italian intellectual goes on to opine how: […]

The Long March Beyond the Institutions

The Kurdish movement, along with its friends, supporters and fellow travelers, is experiencing a strange and novel sensation – the uncanny sense that a Presidential election might bring about political change worth the name. Albeit that Turkey’s torn socio-economic fabric will not be remade overnight, and the opportunism of opposition candidate Kemal Kiliçdaroğlu’s appeals to […]

Kurdish Thermopylae: Existential Hope in Hopeless Times

Not long ago, on the eve of battle against Turkey’s invading military, Kurdish fighters gathered around a smartphone, tarnished AK-47s slung back over their skinny shoulders. These men are not supposed to use phones, but they all have contraband Alcatels anyway, using them mostly to fill the long, dull interludes between combat by playing simulated […]

Erdoğan’s Earthquake: Corruption Created the Catastrophe

Following natural disasters, wars, and other catastrophes, it has become almost commonplace for Kurdish journalists and activists to condemn the way their homeland is written out of the headlines. Consecutive deadly earthquakes in southeast Turkey (Northern Kurdistan) and north Syria (Rojava) have brought a similar outcry. As the death toll climbed above 50,000, the Kurds’ […]