I’m not sure exactly what I’m supposed to hide and what I can give away. I’m actually very detached from Western thinking so don’t even know what makes compelling propaganda in the West anyway. Actually, the sly and looming enemy knows most of our real names, and frankly were there not many informants amongst us, it is simply a matter of sad fact that to get their passports back many of the French and British volunteers gave us away. Not to snitch jacket, but with a little lean on anyone can make a person flip. Really, there were not that many of us internationalists to keep track of. As the mad China-man Andok said, “the hard drives containing our data were barely even secured and this place is awash in spies.” Our overall numbers were estimated to be around 500 strong of which around 50 perished. Mostly in combat, some later from a wave of alleged suicides. We were small enough therefore for the various security services to keep track of.
So what is the actual purpose of this manuscript? It is certainly not to glorify or denigrate the volunteers. I think it brave we went there but I don’t think we game changed a single thing. Perhaps we were all only there to bear witness that the revolution has even happened. It is surely not my aim give away military secrets and name names, because I am many things but not a Josh, a ‘donkey ass betrayer’. Suffice to say the C.I.A. and the M.I.T. know all our names.
I heard some comrades sang like little opera singers to get their European passports back. All speculation, none can actually say. Americans, we had the easiest deal. After ISIS is finished maybe it will not be so black and white, fighting a NATO ally and what not. Assisting a revolution for stateless democracy, womens’ emancipation and social ecology in the heart of the war torn Middle East. ‘Heval Ciya’ the Scott always used to say that the 231 Sniper Unit changed the entire game, but really only the United States and the Coalition airstrikes probably, certainly did. When the last of the under 2,500 U.S. Special Forces leave the Turks will invade in force and try and undo everything.
There’s a story we heard about a Y.P.G. Euro volunteer vacationing in Turkey immediately after his tour. He was of course arrested and will serve life in prison. He probably should have made better choices for leave and decompression. There are lots of crazy people here. You have to be little crazy to travel half way across the earth to enlist in a revolution inside a bloody brutal civil war amid a great power confrontation placing Russia and Iran directly against the United States and N.A.T.O.
I was told by ‘Heval Jansher’ the Y.P.G. guerrilla who helped train us that, that if I survive the war I should “write something about Rojava that does justice to the over 12,000 martyrs. That does justice to the cause of Kurdistan. Honors Abdullah Ocalan and upholds the values of the revolution.” That it should humanize this resistance struggle inside a revolution inside a civil war inside a great game for the Middle East.
“Maybe, just make it a kind of strange love story,” Jansher joked with me over cigarettes and endless tea.
So I hope this account manages some of that, compiling the oral history, experiences and many martyrdom’s shared amongst the approximate 500 foreign Y.P.G./Y.P.J./I.F.B. Internationalist fighters. At the very least I’d like to capture what it was that made us enlist in this hell to take part, to fight and die and kill and try and help, to be less than a foot note in the epic tale of Kurdistan. But still a part.
“It has to be a love story or they will never make a movie about it comrade,” Heval Jansher once said, “to the West without a Movie, it is perhaps like this struggle is not even happening at all.” But he also said a ‘real revolutionist’ has no love except for his or her people. That any romantic love is a “bourgeois luxury for civilians”.
“Our love story is for the Resistance of the Age” he used to say, but then Heval Jansher also laughed and noted Jake Gillenhaul was then already shopping around a script where he plays an anarchist falling in love for a beautiful Y.P.J. fighter and another action exploitation of the Y.P.J. was coming out soon in France. But that will likely not go anywhere useful.
“You see, in real life we would probably platform and deport this stupid volunteer and the Y.P.J. comrade, she would be shamed and sent briefly to prison” Heval Jansher told me. A famous saying states that the “Kurds have no friends besides the mountains.” Well that’s no longer completely true. The 500 who served and the 45 who died besides the 10,000 Kurdish and Arab martyrs of the battle to defeat ISIS and defend the Rojava Revolution will live forever in the Kurdish tradition, since in Kurdistan ‘Martyrs never die’. Shahid Namarin. These were kind of talks we had at the Qerechow Academy.
That then said this is not a love story at all. It’s not ever a Middle Eastern Western. The revolution itself has hardly been secured. The struggle is hardly over. The iron heel and might of the Turkish army looms right over the border to the North. Ready to descend quickly and murder us all. Undo everything that has been fought for against the so-called Islamic State. The Forces of the bloody dictator Assad backed by the Russian army and Hezbollah dig in to the south of the Euphrates river. The collaborationist Iraqi Kurdish K.D.P. Peshmerga, the Iranian supported Hashid Ashabi popular mobilization forces, the Shi’a dominated Iraqi Army and all manners of Iranian revolutionary guards to the south east in Sinjar. To the West the Jihadists of Al Qaeda’s latest rebrand and Islamists of different types in Idlib.
Enemies of the revolution on every single side! In fulfillment of my promises I will try and present our little part of the story, as the defense has really only just begun. And everything might be wiped away before you even paid attention to vastness and hope of it.