The embargo against Rojava

TATORT Kurdistan: Although Rojava (in northern Syria) is a mosaic of languages and cultures, regional and international powers have isolated it both economically and politically—indeed, it is now entirely on its own. To the north, Turkey has walled the region off. To the east, South Kurdistan has lined its veritable ditch with military checkpoints. To the south, the radical Islamist combat units of ISIS and the Al Nusra Front have cut the region off from the rest of Syria.

This embargo is having severe consequences for the people of Rojava.

Taken by itself, Rojava is economically quite a wealthy place. It produces 60 percent of Syria’s wheat and oil, and it raises cotton for the Syrian market. Vis-à-vis Syria it had the status of a colony, in the sense of being a source of raw materials. Rojava doesn’t have processing industries. Thus it grows and harvests grains, but it doesn’t mill them. It doesn’t refine oil but shipped it at great expense to central Syria. That, at least, was the starting situation for Rojava.

The water supply for agriculture comes partly from deep wells, but after the jihadis took over the power stations in Raqqa, those pumps — and hence farming — were threatened. But Rojavans began to use diesel generators to produce power. First they had to develop the technology to generate diesel at all. Rojava’s first winter was very hard–snow fell for the first time in several years, and there was no heating oil. But today many small generators pollute the cities. Only a few of the large ones are available, and no more can be imported because of the embargo.

Turkey and South Kurdistan (the Kurdish region of Iraq) work closely together to maintain the embargo against Rojava. They recognize that Rojavans are attempting, through a grassroots organization, to go beyond capitalist modernity and Western intervention. If the Rojava project should turn out to function, the political and social consequences will ripple throughout the Middle East. That would interfere with the strategy of the NATO states, so they support the embargo. [Continue reading…]

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