News from the Revolution in Rojava and Wider Kurdistan
(ANF/Bahoz Deniz) Sipan Hemo, the commander of the YPG, has given an interview to Bahoz Deniz of ANF. In the interview he speaks about the attacks on Kobanê, the goal of the powers behind the attacks, and the recent move by the KDP to dig on a trench along the Rojava-KRG border. The first part of the interview was translated by ANF and appeared in English earlier today. Here is this interview in its entirety.
-The most expansive and intense attacks during the Rojava Revolution have been launched against Kobanê. Why is Kobanê being attacked?
As is known, we as the YPG we displayed a great resistance against all attacks targeting Rojava Kurdistan in 2013. Following the defeat of all attacks, the system democratic autonomy was declared in three three cantons in Rojava. This was followed by the initiation of projects to build this new system in all different areas. This system was realized following long period of attacks and the resistance against them. As YPG we already foresaw that the attacks would take on a different dimension and increasingly continue after the declaration of our system with which the Kurds established their own administration, and which they presented as a democratic model which they want not only for themselves but also for Syria and the Middle East. We were at the same time expecting the colonialist powers in Kurdistan, the states of Turkey, Iran and Syria, and imperialist states to be troubled with the situation, and in the end turned out as we had expected. On 10 March, we faced in Kobanê a wave of attacks which was much greater than those targeting our other regions.
The attack was carried out by groups calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS). But what was this ISIS? This group appeared on our radar and that of Syria in 2013. ISIS was being referred to as a radical islamist group, or as affiliated to the al-Qaeda but it was when we witnessed their practices that we saw that they didn’t resemble the Al-Qaeda that much. Their styles were different. ISIS was an organization formed mainly by those coming from foreign countries. They entered the Syrian lands for different reasons. In fact, they were allowed into Syria by some certain powers intending to use them against other powers. In 2013, ISIS started to attacks Kurds first in Efrin then in the Cizîre region. Some groups within the FSA fed, sheltered and accommodated ISIS groups in their areas to use them against Kurds. Clashes broke out between ISIS and FSA after ISIS failed in its attacks against Kurds and started to impose themselves upon the FSA. It came to such a point that the ISIS started to take control of the areas dominated by the FSA, including some regions close to Aleppo and Cizîre. Claiming to be “fighting against Kurds”, they eliminated all groups affiliated to the FSA and started to dominate their areas. They however failed to do the same against Kurds because our forces were not like those of the FSA. They saw this. After failing to get any result from partial attacks, they changed their tactics in line with a series of plans that involved some international and regional collaborators behind closed doors. Attacks against Kobanê were a result of this change of tactics.
In the Kurdish region, the FSA made the same mistake it was making in other regions. The FSA allowed the ISIS into this region, thinking of using them against Kurds, but the ISIS finished off the FSA and became the only power in this area, just like what happened in all other regions. They prepared for a long time to attack Kobanê , a region closed by Turkey on the northern side, with its three other sides under an embargo implemented by the ISIS. The three sides of Kobanê have been settled by an Arab population brought to the area by the Ba’ath regime. In such a case, ISIS wanted to launch attacks from three sides and to take control of the region. Behind this attack were of course a number of critical aims among which the primary one was to break the will of Kurds and to defeat the democratic autonomous system recently declared in Rojava.
The Most Violent Clashes Were In Sirrin
-What happened to the attackers, where are they now?
These attacks which were carried out with the aim of strangling the Rojava revolution from four-sides has been entirely unsuccessful. The plan didn’t work. The attacks which began March 10th continued to increase every day. We experienced the most violent clashes we have witnessed in the course of the Rojava revolution March 18th and 19th right before Newroz in Arab villages in the Sirrin region. We fought here for 9 days without pause. The YPG put up an historical resistance. We lost 12 martyrs here but the ISIS had hundreds of loses. We still have the their bodies. When the ISIS saw they would not make any advances here they attacked on other fronts. They thought that the YPG had moved all its forces to the Southern Front but there was also great resistance shown on the other fronts. 9 of ours were martyred there but they also suffered hundreds of casualties and many of their weapons and bodies, as well as some prisoners in our possession.
They Were Defeated On the Western Front, In Total We Had 24 Martyrs
When they could not break through here they moved lastly on the Western Front. The heaviest fighting occurred here. In fact the ISIS understood that they would not not break through the YPG’s defenses in the first two days but the fighting continued. Because they had put much work and preparation in this attack. Like on the other fronts they lost on the Western front. In total we had 24 martyrs in the course of the attacks on Kobanê in the month of March but the ISIS lost much of its force there. Kobanê really became a graveyard for the ISIS.
The ISIS Will Lose Completely And Disappear
This ISIS defeat has opened the path for their complete disappearance in Syria and I can say that within in a short time they will have lost their function and have disappeared. There plans were to take Kobanê and make the Efrin ve Cizîre regions meaningless and to destroy the will and existence of Kurds. The attacks made on Kobanê by the ISIS were the result of a plan by neighboring states.
1200 Iranians Joined ISIS With Syrian Identity Cards
-Who were these forces, these powers?
Later it came out that the Iranian and Syrian regimes were behind these plans and even if it does not accept this Turkey was as well. Perhaps in practice one would not put these powers side by side but it came out that these forces were all behind it. For example in Tel Abyad (Kurdish: Girê Spî) ISIS unites were crossing [the border] by Akçakale to Kobanê. They were doing this completely openly from Turkish bases, right in front of our eyes. Turkey was involved in all this in this sense. Recently certain secret Syrian state documents emerged and according to these documents 1,200 Iranians joined ISIS with Syrian IDs and carried out important duties within ISIS. In another region a man named Ebu Lokman, who had been a former prisoner and was released at the time of the uprisings, is now the district governor of Rakka [under the ISIS] and was released by the Syrian regime in order to help organize ISIS. This person should be in prison right now and according to the legal documents it appears this way but in actual fact he is the governor of Rakka and Rakka is now an ISIS headquarters.
ISIS, Iran and Syria’s Secret Coordination
This information has also shown that there was secret coordination between ISIS, the Syrian regime and Iran. The attacks against Kobanê were attacks carried out by these three states using ISIS. The attacks were carried out in a fear that if the Kurds of Rojava were successful in their struggle then this would be reflected in Turkish and Iranian Kurdistan. We also know that Turkey and Iran have been meeting secretly to discuss Rojava. We also know that Ali Memluk, one of the more important figures in Syrian politics recently, has gone to Iraq, Iran, Hewler and most recently Russia and met with people there. This is to say that there was this concept and this plan in mind and they wanted to carry it out in Kobanê. If they had been successful in Kobanê they would have been able to move forward easily in other Kurdish regions. But they were not able to succeed.
The Attacks Against Kobanê Were Entirely Broken
-Have the attacks now entirely stopped around the Kobanê region?
The enemy forces are not in a condition to advance now. They are entirely broken, and lost a large proportion of their forces. They haven’t even been able to extend this span. They were unsuccessful. They suffered severe blows. They are still found in some Arab villages. In the case that these villages request it the YPG can go and entirely clear these villages of the gangs.
If this success was thanks to heroic defense of the YPG I also need to express here that this success was the success of the entire Kurdish nation. The Kurdish nation of the North, South, East, West and the diaspora stood behind the YPG in Kobanê and supported it. It was not only the people of Kobanê on the side of the YPG but all Kurds. For example in the course of this period youths came from Urfa, Suruç and the other cities of North Kurdistan, joined the ranks of the YPG and took part in the resistance. Our first martyr from the north who came and joined us was our friend Erdal from Suruç. I remember him with respect and gratitude. And everyone knows that not only Kobanê but all Kurds were targeted.
This historical unity of the Kurds has defeated all the plans of our enemies. This unity among Kurds and this stance is at the time something new for our enemies. They saw that Rojava and Kobanê are no longer alone and that behind them there is the Kurdish national and that the Kurds will not be defeated as easily as in the past, in fact it is no longer possible.
ISIS Was Defeated And The Ditches Started
-You said that some states and foreign powers attacked Kobanê using ISIS and that they were unsuccessful. Immediately following the attacks on Kobanê work began on trenches on the borders with Turkey and South Kurdistan. Is this trench digging part of the plan about which you spoke? How do you assess it?
Without a doubt this trench digging is a continuation of the plan I have spoken about. Those powers which were unsuccessful with the ISIS inKobanê are now after new attacks. After the defeat of ISIS in Kobanê we avoided becoming complacent and were expecting new attacks and so we took precautions. We were figuring that the new attacks to be before refined, underhanded and comprehensive. We think that these forces which have been organizing attacks against us for three years have now planned a different attack. This is entirely what this trench incident has been about. It is not a coincidence that Turkey and the KDP are digging trenches around Rojava at the same moment.
They Want To Make The System of Autonomy Meaningless Through The Embargo
The attacks made until now have been without consequence and we are once again facing a relentless attack. The point of these ditches and the goal of the powers behind them is dig around the region and keep it under embargo, to create hunger and poverty, to force the people to flee from their lands with new attacks, to make the system of democratic autonomy meaningless, and to destroy the gains of the Kurdish people. It is as if the principle of the system which we have implemented in Rojava is a like a dagger in the heart of the statist mentality. They release this entirely. The KDP mentality is also against the founding of Rojava system there. For this reason these powers want to strangle the region with an embargo and to create insecurity around the system of democratic autonomy. For them as long as there is no democratic autonomy they do not care what replaces it.
Now It Is Not Enough To Give Your Life In Defense
Right now we are at the most important point in the revolutionary process. It is not enough now to save the region through fighting or die defending it. Whether or not the country which we have founded will have a future depends on the kind of system we implement. The people will look for a solution to their problems in the areas of education, health, and the economy. They will look to see how you will build a commodius society and what kind of system you will do it with. The system of democratic autonomy which has been founded requires time. And these powers are attempting to defeat this system right now with this embargo. This is the goal of the KDP and Turkey in digging these trenches. They are thinking how the people of Rojava will be able to hold on when they are surrounded by ditches and are under attack from gangs in the south. The are counting on the people eventually migrating and leaving Rojava empty or rising up against the system of democratic autonomy. But as until now they were defeated they will again be defeated and will be not be able to succeed. In particular the KDP government has showed their true reality to the Kurdish people and world public opinion in digging those ditches. No one guessed that the KDP would consider such a position collaboration. The real faces of those who call themselves Kurdish nationalists and claim to do politics based on Kurdish values have emerged in the course of this revolutionary process. Those who say that there is no revolution in Rojava want to break up with these ditches a Kurdistan that is already entirely divided. In the same way that Turkey and Syria placed wire fences and laid mines now the KDP is doing them one more by digging a three-meter deep trench. The KDP is doing what the colonizers could not. Before the ditches they had closed the Sêmalka border crossing. Some has said that “we told you to be the leaders of the Kurdistan and you went and even forbid the passage of baby food.” How are you going to explain digging trenches against Rojava as the Kurdish people are rising up in North Kurdistan against the walls the Turkish state is building there? Would it not be just to use every word which the people of North Kurdistan have used against the Turkish state against the KDP and its officials? For the Kurdish people is not ‘“the wall of betrayal” a justifiable discourse about which to speak about these trenches?
Not The Plan Of The Government But Of The KDP
This trench was not the plan of the government of South Kurdistan but of the KDP but it is unacceptable that the government remain silent in the face of the KDP. If fact even if this not your thinking if you remain silent you will be understood to be a partner in this matter. They took the flags of the KRG off the bulldozers and put the flags of the KDP atop them to say that “we are fighting against Rojava” as it were. Here some segments of our people when out to grab and pull out the flags they planted to protest the digging of ditches. This is the point we have come to. Despite this the government remains silent. Do not remain silent on this! We do not see this remaining silent as normal.
We Are Prepared Against The Ditches
-Will these digging of these trenches meet their objective? What are you considering doing to prevent this?
We are prepared to counter them. Let our enemies behind the KDP know full well that dig trenches or do what you want but you will not be successful! The people of Rojava have now tasted freedom. Today we are living in a Rojava that we dreamed about for centuries. The people of Rojava will not take one step backwards without losing everything, dying and disappearing. Because of this people’s stance it all of the enemy plans were defeated. What is the remedy? Everyone will respect the existence of the Kurds, their political systems and their governments and will behave accordingly. When this happens the problems of Syria and the Middle East will be solved. Whatever plans the conspiracists and colonialists have let them carry them out and in the end it will as this people have said it would be and there is no other way.
-By the way in recent days it was announced that four parties in Rojava (El Parti, Yekiti, Azadi-Mustafa Oso, Azadi-Musta Cuma) have joined together as the KDP-Syria (Kurdish: PDK-S). How are you handling this?
In my opinion it is not a coincidence that such a thing happens at this time. Could it be a coincidence that some are digging trenches in Derik and others are holding a congress in Hewler? But once again our approach and our position on this is such: Rojava is entirely open to political formations and to the organize of political parties along different lines of thought. There are assemblies in the three cantons of Rojava. There is existing legislation on the founding of political parties. All kinds of thought can be expressed within this legislative framework, and every party can do politics. There is no obstacle before them in this regard. Ultimately there is not just one party in Rojava and not just the PYD, there are parties with different lines of thought and every party can have a position in the government. The existing government is like this in fact. We as the YPG respect all lines of thought and every party, and are an equal distance from all. We are a national force that acts on the decisions of the assembly governments. I do not want to go into too much of an analysis of internal politics but if the PDK-S will be founded and organize according to the laws then it can take part in politics. Those which do comply with existing legislation are automatically unlawful.