If Obama is serious about democracy he should be doing more to help Kobane

David Romano writes: Writing in the Guardian this week, columnist David Graeber compares the plight of Syria’s Kurds and the besieged town of Kobane to the Spanish Civil War: “Amid the Syrian war zone a democratic experiment is being stamped into the ground by ISIS. That the wider world is unaware is a scandal.”

Just as Spanish revolutionaries empowered women and fielded female combatants, so too do the People’s Protection Units (YPG) of the Syrian Kurds. The lightly armed YPG partisans now fight house to house against much more heavily armed fascists of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS). They fight to protect their land and an attempt at local democratic governance – an attempt that provided refuge to and empowered not just Kurds, but Turkmen, Christians, Arabs and others. The main political party directing the YPG forces in Syrian Kurdistan is the Democratic Union Party (PYD). Like the Spanish and many other revolutionaries, the PYD are of course not angels, and they stand accused of shutting out rival Kurdish parties promoted by Turkey, the United States and the Iraqi Kurds. They have strong organic links to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Nonetheless, the Syrian Kurds have not attacked anyone but the Islamists trying to take over their lands. They have not even asked for a Kurdish state or secession from Syria. Rather, they proclaimed local self-government in the three cantons of Kobane, Cizre and Afrin. The three cantons emerged as tolerant, somewhat democratic islands amidst the grim maelstrom that is the Syrian civil war. By the PYD’s own rules, all the administrations must have male and female leaders and include all the ethnic and religious groups of the area within their decision making structures.

Yet since they established their autonomous cantons in 2012, the United States, Europe and even most independent “progressives” of the world seem to have studiously ignored the Syrian Kurds. [Continue reading…]

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