The ‘Rojava Revolution’ in Syrian Kurdistan: A Model of Development for the Middle East?

Can Cemgil, Clemens Hoffmann
Volume 47 Issue 3
Published: 26 May 2016
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19088/1968-2016.144
Abstract: As the civil war in Syria continues, in the territory of Rojava – in Kurdish, ‘the West’ – the northern Syrian Kurdish political movement is attempting to implement ‘libertarian municipalism’, based on the thoughts of United States (US) anarchist Murray Bookchin. Since the withdrawal of Syrian regime forces in 2012, the movement has consolidated significant territorial gains as a US ally in the anti-Islamic State (IS) struggle, while simultaneously securing Russian support. Viewed with suspicion by Turkey, Syria and Iraqi Kurdistan, the geopolitical conditions of Rojava’s emergence are its greatest impediment. This article analyses Rojava’s model of rule and socioeconomic development, and its theory and practice in the context of the civil war, and regional Middle Eastern and wider global geopolitics. It reflects on Rojava’s place and meaning for contemporary geopolitics in the Middle East, and considers the territory’s prospects, discussing its transformative potential for an otherwise troubled region.
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From Issue: Vol 47, No 3 (2016) | Ruptures and Ripple Effects in the Middle East and Beyond