Efrîn Defense

At every full collective gathering we acknowledge that we live in a society founded on stolen land and stolen lives. Someone researches and presents a relevant topic and then we take a moment of silence to reflect. We share the research here for others as well:

Efrîn is the western province of Rojava which is now a part of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and is isolated from the other provinces. It is currently being invaded by Turkey, the second largest military in NATO, backed by Syrian rebel groups. Turkey views the PYD, one of the main parties in the DFNS administration, as a terrorist organization due to its links to the PKK, which has been fighting a guerilla war in Turkey for the last 40 years. The United States has been working with the rest of the DFNS through their military wing, the Syrian Democratic Forces, as part of the coalition against ISIS. However, due to Efrîn’s isolation from the other cantons and lack of proximity to either ISIS or the Syrian regime, the coalition has not deemed Efrîn as a useful proxy in either conflict. This had led Efrîn to have stronger diplomatic relations with Russia, who until shortly before the start of the Turkish invasion was guaranteeing the safety of Efrîn with a small military police force operating inside the province. However, a deal was struck between Turkey and Russia, the latter recalling its forces from Efrîn in exchange for Turkish cooperation on a proposed division of rebel-controlled Idlib. Despite the United States current protection of the eastern DFNS, they have made it clear they care nothing for the actual project or its forces/governance by repeatedly stating they have no issue with the Efrîn invasion. This is imperialism on a global scale, super powers negotiating for spheres of influence and territory in foreign lands at the expense of the groups they supposedly support on the ground.

Efrîn has been resisting for 45 days against a vastly superior military force. So far the land lost has been mostly confined to the border regions but estimates of lives lost vary from around 200 according to the SDF to over 2500 according to the Turkish military, with a more accurate count being estimated around 700. This with an additional roughly 200 civilian lives lost. Turkish/Rebel losses are estimated between 150 and 1200. Recently militias aligned with the regime have joined the defense of Efrîn to resist the Turkish invasion. This is due in large part to the SDF in Efrîn helping neighboring Shia towns when they were besieged in the past by rebel Sunni Islamist forces, but also due to the necessity of warming relations with the Syrian regime to ensure the survival of their democratic project. Negotiations are ongoing between the regime and the DFNS in Efrîn for the handover of the province to the regime in exchange for protection from Turkey and some degree of autonomy.

Currently there is not much that can be done to support the resistance in Efrîn. There aren’t any ways to get money or supplies in. The limited and dangerous volunteering that used to be possible is now largely impossible do to the political changes in Iraq. The only thing that we can do now is largely symbolic solidarity actions, and the dubious route of trying to persuade the government to take action to defend Efrîn, which it has already ruled out doing. Other than that, we must stay informed and keep on our own path of resistance in solidarity with those also trying to make a better world. Hopefully their defense will be successful and we can support their recovery from its toll in the future.

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