Rojava, hope in midst of Syria

Section Editor: Malcolm Green

Syria today can be summarized in one word: desolation. The fractured, war-torn nation is constantly undergoing an endless barrage of atrocities and tragedies, seemingly with no side being able to credibly claim the moral high ground.

Therefore, it may come as great a surprise that out of the bottomless gloom that Syria has devolved into, a bastion of democracy, equality, and secularism has risen and it is shining bright.

With their independence declared in 2013, the Federation of North Syria, also known as Rojava, has proven itself to be one of the foremost fighters against ISIS, being the group that has reclaimed the most land from the Islamists.

Syria.png

This map shows the current forces of the Syrian Conflict. (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

 

With no recognition from their surrounding neighbors or the United Nations for a country status, Rojava has received little to no international media attention.

When Damian Senquiz, a sophomore at Woodstock High, was briefly told about the province, he was perplexed, stating “I like to believe that I know and try to keep up to date about the issue, so I wonder why I haven’t heard about it before. It appears to be an important component to whole Syrian issue.”

Despite this, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the military force of Rojava, has forged a strong partnership with NATO and the US in their efforts against the Islamic State.

Since securing the Syrian border with Turkey from ISIS, the SDF has spearheaded the efforts to retake Raqqa, the capital and epicenter of the Islamic State. With the fall of Raqqa, the dream of a peaceful Syria without ISIS will become more and more of a possibility.

Now, aside from its military accomplishments, what sets the Federation of Northern Syria apart from the countless other factions vying for control in the Syrian power vacuum?

Well, in a region with long dark histories of brutal autocracies, religious fanaticism, and oppression based on gender, religion, and ethnicity, Rojava has in its constitution based itself on the ideals of gender equality, freedom for all religions and ethnicities, and deeply ingrained democracy.

Rojava Fighters

With Rojava being a modern champion for women’s rights and authority, they proudly boast of their large number of women in their military force. (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

 

The ideological basis of Rojava is the libertarian socialist system of Democratic Confederalism, promoted by Kurdish freedom fighter Abdullah Ocalan, who calls for direct democracy, feminism, environmentalism, and social justice to be the basis of society.

Both women and men are guaranteed leadership positions in Rojava’s constitution, measures are taken to ensure all ethnic and religious minorities receive representation, education has been emphasized by supporting the building of schools, libraries, and universities, and human rights are defended and based on the International Declaration of Human Rights.

The region consists mainly of Kurdish residents, but they also recognize the importance of their Arabic, Turkish, and other ethnic and religious minorities despite decades of persecution under the Assad regime.

The Kurds had been promised their own state after fall of the Ottoman Empire Post-World War One, a promise the West turned their backs on. With this legacy and decades of Kurds fighting for their freedom, it would have been completely expected for the Kurds to build Rojava as an ethnocentric state.

However, the Federation of Northern Syria has maintained the intrinsic equality of all their citizens.

Rojava’s political and economic decision-making is based around local citizen’s councils, where everyone has an equal voice in the direction of their community and their country.

Rojava Flag

The flag of the unifying force of Rojava, as shown above, has become a symbol of hope for many Northeastern Syrians. (Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons)

 

Despite the great value Rojava has provided in bringing the promise of security to such a desolate region, it has found itself several international enemies. Lately, they have been in direct confrontation with the Turkish military and Assad-based military strikes. Turkey has gone as far as to place a complete embargo on Rojava and prevents many resources from entering, endangering their ability to sustain themselves.

When Jeffrey Topper, a Woodstock High Junior, was informed of the province and its potential enemies, he remarked “It appears promising, and I truly hope that it maintains its success in the future.”

In addition, Russia has been conducting air raids on Kurdish facilities and other rebel groups that oppose the Assad regime.

Due to the promise Rojava is bringing to an area full of such heartbreak, it is important for everyone around the world who wants to see a more democratic, more equal, and more free world to lend whatever support is necessary to maintain this revolution.

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