Homage-Pt.1-Chp.1

Chapter I 

Deir Ez-Zor, Syria 

Flaming, low-lying wreckage spreads out before us in every direction. The ruins of an already desolate land. Sprawling two-story compounds along a mighty river. Pock marked with rifle rounds. Misery everywhere. Syria is now a byword for total warfare, over 600,000 have so far died. A Revolution in a Civil War. A Third World War using several dozen proxy armies is underway. Russia, Iran, China, America and Europe all have their boots on the ground. In Northern Syria, an unrecognized administration in three cantons protects 4 million civilians and internal refugees. A Kurdish lead project for democracy, ethnic pluralism, women’s empowerment, and something called ‘social ecology’. The sun bakes you and the dust gets into absolutely everything. 

In Deir Ez-Zor Province, a wasteland along the North bank of the Euphrates, in a few hundred hamlets, from their ‘capitals’ in Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq the most hateful and radical of Islamic fascists rules over 10 million persons. Some happily embrace its Caliph Baghdadi as the fulfillment of prophecy. Over 50,000 Muslim Jihadists from around the world arrived to reinforce this effort. At its maximum the Islamic State occupied massive swaths of Eastern Syria and Northwestern Iraq, threatening to capture Baghdad and Damascus. 

Deir Ez-Zor was one of the very first Syrian cities in 2011 to stage large scale demonstrations against the Assad Regime. In 2014 ISIS took over the city with little resistance leaving only a small pocket of pro-Assad military and perhaps over 100,000 civilian supporters cut off in an airbase and small section of the city. Supplied by helicopters and high altitude drop services, the besieged garrison deep inside the ISIS control zone resisted capture for over 3 years and 2 months.   

The siege of Deir Ez-Zor Airbase garrison lasted a very long time. ‘Daesh’ controlled everything except a small military airport which the Russians and Regime supplied by air for all the war, but could not re-take, along with the city until just a month ago when it was “liberated” on 3rd November 2017 by the SAA and the Russians.  

At some point the Regime soldiers made the local women trade sex for basic rations of food. There were rarely sympathetic forces in the war, besides ours. But even the Y.P.G. conscripts children, forces Arabs off their land and dabbles in war crimes from time to time, to time. Now, on the South bank, Assad Regime forces, Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary guards and Russian special forces push southeast down the southern bank of the river while Syrian Democratic Forces and United States lead coalition forces pushed rapidly south to the Euphrates North bank, both sides maneuvering to secure the majority of the Syrian oil fields. The S.D.F. capture most of them. Now we slowly begin the final offensive to capture Isis’s last strongholds, moving down the river toward Hajin. Trying not to kick off World War Three. 

“Perhaps I am not where I am supposed to be,” muses Heval Ciya, “Perhaps here, I will die for nothing at all. We can be killed so easily by anything, then they will dance about with my corpse making speeches in Kurmanji for a day, until my death takes on significance that it probably never had.”  

Heval Ciya Zinar is the name they gave me. “Comrade Friend Mountain Rock”. I am a separatism minded Scottish Soldier. Although still a member of the British army, I voted for independence in our latest failed referendum. I am a gentleman by most accounts and a Y.P.G. International Volunteer. I have no political sympathies with the Kurdish lead formations, though I possess formal military training, making me more valuable than most of these preachy, useless ideologically motivated volunteers.  

“There’s dust in my Scottish beard and men die all around me!” 

As we grew closer to the Euphrates, we could see fire in the sky and the night is lit up with heavy coalition airstrikes somewhere far away to the south. The convoy of nine trucks had left Al Hasakah6, the largest rebel held city in the morning and drove about five hours south toward some forward operating base. The eight of us internationals had not been issued weapons until halfway to the front. We stopped of course several times for obligatory tea and some volleyball. The sport of ‘Apoist’ revolution. Sometimes we’d stop at what seemed like the same identical storefront kiosk, next to well stocked pharmacies. The road bodega of Kurdistan is stocked with energy drinks, smokes and Turkish day to day items, never toilet paper. All the toilet paper in Syria was now gone. There we bought energy drinks and cigarettes of a more potent type, as the party issued Ardens were lights or ultra-lights at best. There were tons of canned Pepsi, but no Coca-Cola throughout the liberated zones. Real freedom evidently has not been won yet. 

In the first battle that I participated in during the Syrian Civil War five Arab soldiers in our S.D.F./ Y.P.G. Unit were blown to bits by mines and mortars as we stormed the river basin a little after midnight. Evidently, there were far more Daesh entrenched than we had thought. From a dirt sand trench, I fired my AK-47 shiftlessly over the wall, peaking out I saw an Arab comrade ripped apart by gun fire and collapse in the sand. 

The fire fight resumed immediately after a short re-calibration of the battle plan, after Heval Commander Dalil’s men were buried. A larger number of Kasadeh7 were trucked in, barely trained. Half or more might have fought for Daesh or the Regime at some point. Child soldiers all over the place. A major conscription drive happened, even some cadro tabors were moved in. This was a race to secure as much turf north of the Euphrates as we could as quickly as we could, creating a defensible buffer against the regime, Russians and Iranians to secure the oil fields. Of course, implicit in all that was to finish Daesh for good. Smash their final positions along 60 to 100 hamlets and miserable dust cake boney towns leading to Hajin, for the very last stand of the caliphate.  

Very bad intelligence friends! The bandits were still very well dug in, refugees were swarming out and among them suicide bombers. Five so far. it was impossible to know anymore who was Daesh or not among the refugees flooding out. Some two dozen Arab Hevals were martyred the first night of the operation. We were down the hardcore of the elite, the foreign fighter zealots, their families. Motorcycles with snipers affixed to reposition.  Sleeper cell deployment, suicide bombers, booby traps, tunnel mines, the usual. Now they would in four battalions capture about fifty tiny key destitute towns working south in several prongs toward the river.  

“If you see a helicopter, don’t shoot at it!” Dalal had said, it was our new resupply drop copters. We allegedly had a very, very small air force now. “Do not shoot at the helicopters in general,” was repeated several times in Arabic and Kurdish. 

“Also, also! If the regime forces fire, return fire, but do not engage them. Unless they actually cross the river.” Declared Commander Heval Brusk, which means ‘commander lightning’. Commander lightning then personally presided over a few hours on conscript drills. None of these bearded partisans were trusted with grenades. 

The very next day, at early dawn, ten of the destitution ridden little seemingly strategic ISIS hamlets were again stormed. There was chaotic gun fire erupting everywhere. There were utterly ransacked two story brown buildings all unfinished, all about the same shattered look. From several positions Takim8 commandos were firing endlessly from roof tops and sniper holes out toward where it was believed the enemy was hiding. A mosque about half a kilometer away. Well of course every Daesh position was in a mosque, hospital or granary since nothing else was defensible. This was a mostly one-sided AK-47 and mortar barrage. Much of the war had proceeded like this, pickup trucks dripping light infantry to storm abandoned Arab homes and light up anything that moved. Loot absolutely anything that wasn’t made of sand and carry it back north. One pipe, one water basin, one carpet at a time. A small child ran out into the road and was blown away. Briefly a pause, until he was clearly limp and dead. A day or two more of endless AK fire, sometimes at night too. Eventually the Americans were told to bomb the mosque. Spotters transmit grid coordinates. Soon, about 5 minutes later an airstrike rips apart the mosque. Battle won!  

Many people have written at length about “how boring” it can be to be at war, but it is more terrifying than boring, actually Heval. You do your best to not think about how men and women far more prepared than yourself took a wrong turn and then just exploded. Or how a sniper cut them down. Or how they died in a Turkish airstrike. Or contracted hepatitis because of poor local appreciation of pooping with toilet paper and hand washing, then eating. The boredom of war Heval is perhaps a cover for a sneaking debilitating fear, so that is what people write about. Being bored, instead of being afraid. And in a war, such as this certainly you sit around quite a lot drinking tea, smoking weak Party issued cigarettes and standing guard. Or looking for strategic places to jerk off or poop without setting off a mine. But nothing for us was the same for very long and thus all the time you spent sitting around was better spent ‘conversating’ on the Revolution’s bleak future, or studying some Kurdish, or horsing around with the Arabs. Who loved to try and communicate actually. And show you pornography and awkwardly try and steal, trade for or buy your hand grenades. Or ask you to bring them to America or Europe hidden in a bag. Jokes abound, but really it is only you who will be brought back to Europe or America in a bag.[Text Wrapping Break] While very few of us actually spoke any real Kurmanji Kurdish9 or Arabic, it seemed that the Arabs were far more interested in us than the Kurds though. I would call the Kurdish commander’s attitude, begrudging appreciation and that of the rank-and-file borderline insulting. I would go so far as to say that at this stage in the war, being fought in majority Arab zones now by the Euphrates River that an increasing number of the front-line fighters were Kasadeh10, non-Kurdish Arab S.D.F. fighters. The Assyrians too had a small group, less than a few hundred men, many little kids and old men. Many poorly trained and poorly paid semi conscripts. Many were not even very against the Islamic State, more eager to shoot at the Russians and regime forces on the other side of the river. With the Kadros11 being withheld in clear preparation for the impending defense of Afrin Canton.  

In retrospect I assume that Heval Fermander Dalil12 probably saved our lives by abandoning us in a rear fox hole in the dead of night. The ten internationalists that I was aware of were placed further back in the rear, but Heval Shervan ‘the crazed Irish gypsy’ commandeered a Humvee and caught us up, without any invitation to the troops of “Fermander Dalil”. 

I remember freezing out in the dunes all night long while the Arab fighters shared neither bedding nor blanket. It was so bitterly G-d damn cold! Sometimes Heval Kawa, the idealistic New Yorker, and I talk about the girls back home. I will talk about my Ms. Ashley. He talks about his “Goldy”. Some escort Russian he has some arty muse thing with. Pretty much this is what men at war do. Although in my case, I motorboated my female best friend. In his case it seems a bit more fucking dark and tragic. 

“Sometimes I close my eyes and remember your lips. Late into the long trip back to Brighton to your so-called home. I have no home, only ugly little flats around Brooklyn soviet which I rent out of poverty, artless and shared. Decorated with trinkets. I’ll never go back! To you or to Russia, or Haiti, nor to Mehanata the tavern or even dear Cuba! All these things are a form of slavery now. Your lingering Daria, it takes the form of ruminations on WhatsApp messages telling me to “come home”. But to what? To nothing. Life here is hard, but it is free life as they say.”  

Kawa, the so-called American, is more a poet than a medic in his heart of hearts. Me? I am simply a Scottish warrior. I long for the fight and I got some. 

I was deployed into the Deir Ez-Zor Province wastelands about ten days ago to the front near Omar, Daesh is nearly completely defeated they say, but every day we are taking martyr bodies back to Al-Hasake. Assigned briefly to the Tabor Shahid Lawrence; we lost fifty men in the first few battles to advance south on the mighty Euphrates River. After all that initial death it seems they aim to break up our group of internationalists into different places. They do not want us all to die at once. They do not really seem to have achieved consensus or a plan on where we should be or when and if we should die, or what we are actually even good for. Or what to do when ISIS is finished, and America abandons them and the Turkish Army rolls over the border to kill us all. A heated internal debate is constantly held in both Turkish and Kurdish. Sometimes also in Arabic. Which always ends inconclusively. Well, it’s a complex matter anyway. So many ways to die out here for the greatest cause of our time. 

On this matter Kawa and I agree that whatever motives brought us all to this wasteland, this place of dying and suffering over made-up Gods and ideologies, invented ethnicities and World War three style great power politics; this was the resistance of the age. This was a battle between good men, bad men and crazy men who could not sit out. Because when the smoke clears there will be a different Middle East, a different world. I am no ideologue. I am no dreamer or religious fanatic. I am a professional soldier. While it is not unreasonable to say the Assad Regime backed by Russia and Iran, the Turks, Al Qaeda and of course the Daesh, are unequivocal forces of religious fanatical reaction, of fascism, or totalitarianism and death, well they are. While the Kurds and Arabs of Y.P.G./Y.P.J./S.D.F. are not saints of course. We are not angels here to help do some God’s work. We are fighting for democracy, feminism, ecology and tolerance in the heart of the Middle East. As opposed to all the other groups that are fighting for radical Islam, chauvinism, fascism and the right to impose the will of the minority on the majority.  

Did you know that when you take off a person’s uniform to bury them, you cannot tell a fascist corpse, from a democratic corpse, from a Daesh corpse, not even from the length of the beard? Those three and letter affiliations, they don’t matter anyway. It matters more, the stuff inside a person’s heart. Their moral compass. Not the length of the beard or who they pray to. Not the historic struggle of their people or their claim to the rivers. When true warriors die, they might not end up anywhere glorious. They might just be dead. The “immortality” we are achieving in our death here is thus rooted in the way the story is framed. Which is to say, whoever wins the war. But can you really win a revolution inside a civil war, inside a World War?  I see absolutely no good end in sight. Most likely, we will all get killed ingloriously. But there is of course a timeless epic glory for young men of all cultures to join a seemingly impossible battle, risk their lives and join a pantheon of immortal heroes. Of course, the Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Turks, Chechens, Turkmen, Persians and all the other micro-ethnic tribes gathered here to make war, well they sadly all have no choices. These are the oil rich, strategic holy lands and mountains they were cursed perhaps by their gods to be born in.  

How did we even get here? How did this motley group of around 800 mostly Western foreigners take up the cause of Kurdistan?  

Well, it began with a letter of introduction. As well as four short pamphlets that were written by the Uncle Leader himself, while serving twenty-one years in solitary confinement on the Turkish prison island of Imrali.  These pamphlets attempt to paraphrase thousands and thousands of handwritten theoretical documents smuggled out by his lawyers from Imrali. The name if this 8-volume treatise are called alternatively “Democratic Confederalism” or “the Defenses of Abdullah Ocalan.” Taken as a body of ideology these writings translated into Kurmanji, Sorani, German, French, English, Spanish and Farsi from Turkish for the theoretical basis for the military and political objectives of the Party. 

Homage-Pt.I.Chapter2.

Chapter (2) Two

An Email from Friends

Dem Baş Heval,


We are glad to hear that you want to come to Rojava and support the YPG.

This is a standard procedure we follow in order to determine whether you seriously consider coming here. In order to proceed to our communication, you are expected to answer the questions below. If we know you better, we would figure out how you would help us during your stay here. This is not a one sided phase. The more we know you, the more you will be informed about our principles, our expectations and about the challenges you will face. We do not want you to be disappointed and frustrated here. We highly value those who want to offer their solidarity and struggle with us shoulder to shoulder against the enemies of humanity in the name of freedom and justice.

The YPG strives for a democratic, ecologic, and anti-patriarchal system of self-organization; it takes its power from the people and fights for the people. We struggle to defend the dignity of being a human when there is no one around to defend it and to create an ethico-political society in order to realize ideals of equality, justice, freedom, and self-determination. We wage a war against all forms of fascism and capitalist hegemony that try to enslave the peoples and destroy the nature. We get our inspiration from the philosophy of Serok APO whose ideas have become a torch in the jungle of oppression for the poor and the downtrodden; not only in Kurdistan but also in all around the world.

The YPG is more than a military force. It is a revolutionary organization that protects the transformation towards the ethical-political society against its external and internal enemies in accordance with the principles of democratic confederalism. So its fundamental mission is to defend the people and the Rojava Revolution. Based on the philosophy of Serok APO, the YPG struggles for a free and democratic Syria where tolerance towards other political views, religions, sects, ethnicities, cultures, and languages is a fundamental value. In this sense the YPG is democratic and legitimate self-defense force against hegemonic assaults of capitalist modernity and against pathological ideologies such as ISIS that had been produced by capitalist modernity itself along with a deep crisis in the Middle East.
The YPG is one of the forces in the Middle East that offers an alternative to capitalist modernity and its freakish products: the solution of democratic modernity. This alternative solution is not an abstract formulation; nor is it a salaried speculation. It offers
‘economic community’ as an alternative to capitalism. It confronts the industrialism of capitalism through an ecological-economic community. It contests nation-statism through an ethical-political society. This, however, radical and realistic position the YPG defends militarily, creates enemies more than it creates friends. The Turkish state in the north for example is cooperating with ISIS. The KDP as the representative of the primitive-nationalist and petty-bourgeois line in the Middle Eastern political spectrum cooperates with the Turkish state, and tries to suffocate.
Rojava with closed borders and with embargoes, and even attacks to Kurdish people in collaboration with the Turkish state. If the Assad regime does not attack the YPG now, it is because it has powerful enemies around itself that wait for an opportunity to strangle
it. Despite the defensive position of ISIS, it seems that it will take more time to defeat these murderers completely. But that the YPG struggles with enemies of humanity and defends the transformation of Rojava in the direction of a democratic modernity is being appreciated
every day more and more by many. Dozens of the YPG martyrs from Germany to Australia and of the internationalist revolutionaries who fell fighting shoulder to shoulder with the red star of the YPG and of the YPJ are proof that the Rojava Revolution has already become an internationalist revolution that would never be extinguished.
To achieve a revolution is hard work, to protect it is harder; if not the hardest of all ethical-political activities. If a revolution does not gain a global dimension by establishing a network of solidarities everywhere, it is bound to be defeated by the reactionary forces and
byproducts of capitalist modernity. Hence, as Serok Apo points out in “Democratic Confederalism” that has been translated by International Initiative, “We need to put up a platform of national civil societies in terms of a confederate assembly to oppose the United Nations as an association of nation-states under the leadership of the superpowers”. So, people from all around the world, those who think that another world is possible and that one has to fight and confront the monsters to make another world possible, would contribute to the platform that would spread the revolution of peace and justice.

You can download the books below and learn more about Serok APO’s ideas that inspire us. Please let us know about your opinions on the books that are expressed in the four works by Serok Apo we are sending you below.

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-Democratic-Confederalism.pdf

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-War-and-Peace-in-Kurdistan.pdf

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/liberating-Lifefinal.pdf


http://www.ocalan-books.com/downloads/en-brochure-democratic-nation_2017.pdf

If you want to support the YPG in Rojava you should then do this for the values of humanity, and not only for your own agenda. You won’t be fighting here for money. We won’t tolerate those who only seek fame through our struggle. What we can offer you is the possibility to join an honorable struggle for the values of humanity in the search for the truth and the right way of life and the possibility to learn more about the most important progressive revolution and struggle right now on the planet.

We prefer to have people here who want to be part of this for the right reasons. We don’t need people who think that they are Rambo – and please no Fascists. Rojava is not an adventure park, this war is not a Hollywood film and the YPG is not a PR-Agency. The YPG is not a place for people who like to kill people because of their beliefs and identities. We won’t tolerate people here among us in the YPG who are actual members of police, army or intelligence services. There are other channels for these institutions to contact with the political and military institutions of the Rojava Revolution.

Supporting the YPG in Rojava is hard work, and you will need much effort and patience. Rojava is not a place for exotic holiday trips or for adventures. Supporting the YPG is not a game, and no fun activity for bored people. Read this text carefully, these are the most important basics that you have to know and understand if you want to support the YPG in Rojava. When you have read this text and you are still willing to come to Rojava to support the YPG then you should answer the questions below.

These are the characteristics that people should have who wish to support the YPG in Rojava:

1. Serious in thinking, speaking and acting.

2. Honest and determined.

3. Respectful for different ways of thinking and living, cultures and beliefs of the people in the Middle East and ethical and cultural values of the YPG.

4. Willing to integrate into the system of the YPG and willing to learn, work, and live in a collective way.

5. Disciplined, sincere, and modest.

6. Patient and able to build up strong social relationships.

7. Open-Minded and ready to criticize and to be criticized.

8. Positive thinking and constructive acting.

9. Respecting the idea of womens’ liberation and its practical organizations.

10. Willing to embrace defending and serving the people as the most important principle.

You do not need to be ex-special forces, even not a former soldier, but of course military experience would be helpful. We appreciate people who share their tactical and technical knowledge and people with experiences and constructive criticism, but you should keep in mind that we are not amateurs. Our six years of experience against our enemies would easily prove this. However, we are always open to learn new things, to develop ourselves, to work with a self-critical approach, and to overcome our failures for better outcomes.

People with special skills and knowledge would do a plethora of things here in Rojava and in the YPG, but to be able to do that you have to learn a basic level of Kurdish and you have to understand some basic things about the Rojava Revolution and culture, history, ethical values and mentality of the people of the Middle East. Besides, you should have some understanding of political, economical, social, and military situation of Rojava, Kurdistan and the Middle East. You will find a completely different reality here. Without a certain level of understanding of all this, a sense of frustration would be inevitable. In order to prevent this, basic training will be provided for you.

If you are physically and mentally fit and healthy, open-minded and patient, willing to respect our culture and values, and ready to learn, to work, and to fight constantly for a minimum of 6 months in a war-torn Middle East country; then you would support the YPG in Rojava. Do not expect Western standards of material luxury and prepare for a life without internet and smart-phones. Do expect harsh conditions concerning food and sleep. Be aware of the fact that you will have to adapt to a foreign cultural and ideological context and military standards and rules.

What we want to know about you:

The following questions can be a help for you to write a text which is able to show us how serious and realistic you are with your decision to support the YPG in Rojava. The last part of the questions, part d), you just have to answer with yes or no. Copy and paste part d) and write your answers next to the questions.

P.1.Pre.1-Havana, 1989

Part I  

BAKUR 

In the North 

Al-Prelude 

“A Special Period in Times of Peace”  

SET IN: 

HAVANA, CUBA 

1989 

Comrade Norma Olivia Sanchez has jet black hair and is petite. She’s vaguely malnourished for a Cuban, but still attractive and dynamico. Of course. She is and always will be a member of the Committees for Defense of the Revolution. The vigilant internal defense mechanism against Yankee imperialist aggression and unrestrained, insatiable sex tourism. Her mother was a fairly high ranking person in the Party, and told her of the struggles to defend socialism during the Cold War years. Told her of the deprivations and economic siege beginning in 1989 when the Soviet Union collapsed and virtually all proto-communist regimes along with it. 

The U.S.S.R. was the sun and we were just a proud and tiny island fortress.  When the sun went out, when we lost our greatest, sturdiest ally; we would be in the dark and there were many things in the dark that could ruin us.” 

There would be no more petrol for the cars and tractors, buses and power plants. There would not be fertilizer for growing food. There would be shortages of absolutely everything on every level of consumption. There would be long lines and no electricity. There would be no fans or air conditioners, there would be zip-zero-nada. And in this proverbial darkness of our times ahead, our enemy which had sought to ruin us from the very day of our independence would move in, emboldened by the so-called end of history. 

I have some understanding that was it not for decisions made during the revolution, if not for our Russian friends and of course the own solid base of our people in the historical context; we could be living in an illiterate and deeply unhealthy place; with a brothel and gambling embankment running from Miramar to Varadero. 500 kilometers long where foreigners could just cheaply, scenically fuck our women, drink our rum and smoke our cigars in the sun. 

I knew, the minute I was called to the office that we would not surrender, our great leaders, well the two brothers still alive; would not for one human second consider that the fight was lost. 

I was there the day they called us all together. The top nine, the big two; the Ministers and the deputies of industry, defense, finance, agriculture, and espionage later. We had known it was coming, the fall of our protector and benefactor. In embassy cables and diplomatic whispers; we also knew, it was our job to know that when the big bear fell down, died, and became reborn as god only knows what under American guidance! And its brightest, newest oldest and also highly questionable satellites began dropping from the sky; that nothing, not one thing would stop the aggressors to the north from moving in upon us. 

We knew this was the beginning of the end of the revolution as we understood it, but what could we do? We suspected the Syrians and the Libyans would not give in easily to them at all. And we watched one after another as communist regimes collapsed in Eastern Europe and Africa. It was really our estimation, that by the time the dust settled; it would be only us, the Vietnamese, the People’s Republic of China (both which had embraced capitalism in most regards five years ago, Laos, and whatever the backwards hell they were doing in North Korea! We assumed Nicaragua, Ethiopia, Namibia and Angola would remember what we did for them but be in no position to reciprocate. And between 1989 and 1994, it would all come tumbling down. The failed architecture of a dystopian dream. 

We sat together at a time when even the leaders were hungry and when anyone looked in a mirror they would not always recognize their own faces, for a look of despair had set in, inside oneself. All that we had willed as a people could be undone in just one year. We were all the same outside, for the siege had not begun yet, it would begin tomorrow and the next day and for the next ten or twenty years. And the Yankee enemy in the North, the pale colder place just a few days out by raft or one hour by plane; it would either soon invade, or try and starve us out. The ten million that had refused to defect. And the accomplishments of the last fifty years could go up in smoke, or simply in a long whimper, as the Dominoes began to fall. 

But I understood, it was my training from Moscow to understand and my own Cuban sense of putting it together and taking it apart and refashioning. I knew that there was only one thing that could hold the country together, and so did Fidel and Raul. We needed to buy the time it required us to shore up. I am not sure that we prepared adequately for this day, actually. I’m not really sure we believed this day would come. 

They drove us out to a farm. Well of course they didn’t tell us and we didn’t ask. And we were told in a meeting this was going to be a “special period in times of peace”, which was to say all the conditions of a siege and a war were to be upon us, and really the only question was how long could we last until the U.S. gets bored, not tired for they have never been in a rush. More until the empire is bored with us, less obsessed with us. Long enough for the opposition to imperialism to recoup. 

I remember in the car to the ranch which disguised the room for these situations. I remember wondering if this was the end of our experiment and life as we understood it. 

“This comes right from Fidel; you’re all going abroad in a week. Some of you will join embassy staff or medical missions, some as private people with foreign passports. You will be going to allied countries and Western countries, you will be going to make some hasty business.” 

Well really the whole speech was so much longer. But this was the short of it. We were not told in any specific terms how long supplies and foreign currency reserves could hold out on the island. We were told in no uncertain terms that things were going to run out and that our job was to generate hard currency through the operation of a variety of legal and illegal businesses to shore up the essential purchase; food, fuel, and probably armaments. 

“They’re rioting in Moscow, in Warsaw, and in Budapest. It’s all coming down. Even the Chinese are talking about calling it something else.” 

I tell you it wasn’t all cigar smoke and mirrors and fake foreign names, Cubans look like everyone and we had trained long ago to act like anyone, and we’d been assimilating for years into the second world and there was a contingency plan for a cut off over time from U.S.S.R. foreign aid, not overnight. 

What brought it all down?” Norma asks. 

“This isn’t a polite or immediate question,” she was told. But the answer was several things. First, the West was economically more exploitative and comparatively more ruthless. Second, the Russian Communist Party lost its popular imperative, and third, the endless wars in proxy had sapped its will. But there was something else no one said, which was being said in the West; that Capitalism was simply a better system, no-no no one would say that. But everyone was always hoping blue jeans and popular gringo music would fall off a favela cart or plane hatch back from Miami. And it often did. Luxury carrots for all or for none says the evil murderous and often sloppy C.I.A.! But ours was a hard-won thing that had the support of the people and would not be defeated by American imperialism and temptation. 

We will do what we have to do to survive this! Too much is historically on the line, if we fall like the others this idea and all our sacrifices and gains will have been for nothing. We would plot and organize, mobilize and do anything we had to do to secure the revolution. We would survive this coming Special Period in Times of Peace. We will break the grim Yankee blockade and ensure the relevancy of Cuban-style Marxist Leninism for ten thousand years to come! And I will wear blue jeans when I have to. Four people with mixed but exotic features enter the room, two men and two women, clad in loose army green tunics. 

I would like to introduce the delegation from the Kurdistan Workers Party,” declares my chief, “They are quite expert in smuggling, establishing European business fronts and of course, they are committed revolutionaries motivated by the same historical forces as our own people.” 

That was the very moment that the special relationship between the Cubans and Kurds solidified. Skill in smuggling and commerce would be exchanged for medical specialists and engineers that could design impregnable bunkers. Ten years later, Comrade Norma Sachez’s half Argentine daughter Alina Sanchez would become one of the first Cubans to serve in the Medical and Engineering Brigades attached to PKK guerillas in Turkey. Her Kurdish guerrilla name was Lêgerîn Çiya. One of the longest-serving members of the international brigade mobilized to protect the revolution in Rojava. 

Homage to Rojava-Al Prologue

Al Prologue

The temperature went over 114 degrees today in Erbil City Streets. I am on the roof of a newly erected brutalist slab housing tower on the One Thousand Meter Ring Road to the southeast of Hewler. I take a little break.  To watch the last lights of the sun dip below the low range to the West of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. The whole roof is lit up in white lights. I continue the broadcast. Any day now I’ll be going over the border into what’s left of Syria. Into Rojava. Into a Revolution inside a grisly Civil war whose outcome is very much still up in the air.

“When you open your paper, turn on your TV, or boot up your smartphone and attempt to understand what is happening; you are already tuned into people paid well to validate a view you already had!”

One such view is that there is a war going on between Islam and the mainly Christian Eastern & Western Bloc that affects China too. Both Russia and the United States have been poorly managing Wahhabi-Salafist terror in their countries since long before the Cold War supposedly ended in 1991. The United States by funding it and Russia by committing war crimes against whoever deploys it against them or their interests. China has been battling Islamic separatists that wish to section off 1/5 of its country to the Northwest in Xinjiang province. Perhaps what you tune into tells you it’s all some massive clash of civilizations. This ridiculous idea was popularized by Samuel Huntington in 1992. Other writers and pundits declare the events all part of a long-running proxy war extending past when Francis Fukuyama ended history after the Cold War. If you’re deeply religious, and much of the human race is, you might periodically wonder if this is the end of times. As humans have wondered many, many times before. Neither the media nor the thought leaders nor your religious intuitions are paid by telling the truth. They are paid because you like how they interpret horrifying, unpredictable events for you. You subscribe to their interpretations because they assist you in rationalizing, wholly irrational human behavior, predatory government malfeasance, and social policies that enable a virtually endless war. 

From your house of worship or via your TV screen you might try to rationalize what’s happening here in the killing fields of the Middle East through the prism of your respective prophet’s scriptures or favorite pundit’s words. The news is a nasty circular addiction. A part of religion is a repetitive act of denial. You almost have to always deny that vast portions of the rest of your species are even loved or protected by God. This allows a dynamic whereby you systematically begin to not care as much about whole blocks of other humans, based on something you must have faith is real, but cannot be proved by science or reason. So in many regards, any group of religious practitioners that equate Godly protection to a set of scriptures is always probably re-written and re-translated by a fallible man. It is implicit to accept the belief that your hands are washed off much of humanity’s manifest suffering. But the wretched of the earth are statistically Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu in relatively equal proportions. But let’s look at the flood of violence from this phase of this longest war today. Let’s try to be dispassionate! Objective and rational, without losing our solidarity or our souls.   

I could only assure you on the political science and international development level it is wholly rational what is happening in the world today. Outside of wars for diminishing resources, prophetic revelations, and clashing civilizations. It is the product of high-level planning and an absence of low-level care. We might extend that to the human tragedy generally and the Middle East Highly specifically.   

The steak is just as tender in New York, London, Geneva, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Beijing, Shanghai, St. Petersburg, and Moscow! 

The politicians in these places and those who manage them live in a similar style of homes. People who own energy companies, big financial firms, manage banks, own the arms, or information tech companies; their mansions and yachts have similar styles and elite luxury amenities. The suits that their businessmen wear are of similar styles and fine materials. The sports cars their kids drive are all around the same speeds, and costs since luxury items are all price fixed. The women for sale in all three power blocks have the same price tags and services for sale. 

Thank G-d the “Cold War” is supposedly over because, for a cold war, a kind of hot series of medium-scale wars, civil wars, and highly bloody armed events occurred in almost every single country on earth between 1945 and 1991. Although most respective national histories are total propaganda by omission, it has been agreed in the West that Communism was soundly disproven and defeated and of course, the West allegedly ended history and “won.” But the Pax American of 1989 to 2001 was short-lived.

We are supposedly all very democratic in the West. We have Republican or Parliamentary governments with generally only two major opposing parties and free-market economies. The Russians supposedly are that thing called Democracy as well. After all the looting that happened in the gangland 90s under the Shock Doctrines. Nigeria will tell you it’s a democracy and so will a lot of other people. It’s hard to find a Kurdish political party without the word Democracy in it. The absolute most war town, brutal, depraved place on earth is called the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

In reality, we all have highly Managed-Democracies. Scripted even. They are managed differently in Russia than in the West. Also generally with two parties of angry, loud ambitious lawyers, technocrats and oligarchs trying their hands at populism. In European social democracies, after looting the entire earth, they raised taxes and funded social services. Well certainly in Russia with only one relevant Party Yedinaya Rossiya (United Russia), democracy is slightly easier to implement. In Russia, the Communist Party is still the second-biggest party. Anyone effectively opposing United Russia or even writing about it in a negative way is promptly killed. Its corruption is referred to as the “party of crooks and thieves.” But most Russians agree that Vladimir Putin has restored security and dignity to Russia. So America is a back and forth two-party state and Russia is a multiple-party, one-party state. Designer consumer goods are readily available in both places. Russians as the losers of the Cold War are demographically poorer than Americans, but Russians have higher rates of university graduation and literacy. Both have pretty enormous domestic reserves of fossil fuels. This is why their ferocious Middle Eastern proxy war can’t be just about oil at all.

China has a strong one-party state, and it is run by the Communist Party. Its impressive economic growth since embracing State Capitalism in 1986 has propelled it to be a clear contender to the Western Hegemony. China is disinterested in both military interventions and experiments in the Middle East. All three powers have increasing energy needs that America and Russia can meet within their borders and China cannot, who therefore has elected to colonize every country in Africa. However, energy resources; oil and natural gas are the engines of both war and development.

America in 2017 has willing proxies in Egypt, Jordan, and Israel. Its base for all Central Command, Military operations is in Qatar. The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, as some may recall. It mostly withdrew in 2011 but returned to contain ISIS in 2014. Saudi Arabia and all the Gulf States are Western oil clients, but all of them have intrinsic ties to the propagation of radical Islam.

Russia has a long-term client relationship with Syria and its only Mediterranean naval base there. Along with Crimea which it annexed in 2014 on the black sea, this is one of only two warm-water ports. The key Russian regional ally is Iran. Iran as a result of the American invasion of Iraq controls everything in Iraq that is not Iraqi Kurdistan, the Sunni Triangle, and the remains of the ISIS-held areas (Ar Raqqah, Anbar, Al-Hawijja, Deir-Ez-Zor). Most people here call them Daesh, the pejorative using the acronym.

For over 2/3rds of the human race, the very events critical to their respective, overlapping, and at times contradictory faiths took place in Egypt, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. For followers of Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i, and numerous sub-sects of each this is where their very prophets were all born, raised, and communicated with the source. From the very moment, according to their own religious texts, that the Israelites arrived out of Egypt there has never, except for several long authoritarian periods of Islamic Caliphate rule, been one even year of continuous peace. The Crusades were a several hundred-year series of barbaric attempts to establish a genocidal, white supremacist Roman Catholic foothold in an area only slightly larger than modern Israel. When not seeking to expand Islam into ¼ of the earth or repulsing Christian incursions; the Abbasids, the Umayyads, and the Ottomans were fighting constant wars with Mongol hordes, each other, or the long-running Sunni v. Shi’a wars.     

There is nothing that can be written academically or rhetorically, presented on any medium to give the West or the East a new conscience. It is now a simple matter of public record that the developed world has accepted that the only obligations it has to the maldeveloped world is periodic mitigation. Famines, wars, floods, and disease epidemics are to be poorly managed by direct aid. Multilateral efforts through the United Nations are to be the extent of collaboration. NGOs will proliferate as donor trends determine. Regular military intervention will remove or shore up state systems intrinsically hostile to any of the three centers of global power; named Washington, Moscow and Beijing.

The World Wars and Cold Wars brought humanity closer than it ever has come to total self-destruction. But, there was nothing particularly stable about the Pax-American from 1991 to 2001. The Russian and Chinese embrace of free-market capitalism has not altered in the slightest way how they maneuver as states toward their citizens and world. Albeit with fewer disasters, periods of social engineering. There is nothing particularly comforting about the Chinese hegemony when it fully arrives. 

Consistent for nearly 100 years has been the Middle Eastern theater of a war that changes locations, ideologies, factions, and names. But, is all in fact a singular ongoing war. 

If we accept the validity of real politics being intrinsically hostile and equity in the international order; if we excuse every type of growing human rights violation as explained in the national interest; the center cannot hold. The earth has only so much capacity for economic pillage. The weapons of war are exponentially more destructive. The exodus toward the West is overwhelming. We cannot prove broad conspiracy nor do we have to. We cannot confirm or deny that something in human nature is self-interested, violent, and cruel. But, we can truly verify a coherent, consistent willingness for wealthy nations to prey on the developing ones and keep them deliberately dependent and maldeveloped.  

The Middle East has been in flames since 1919 and it is irresponsible to pretend that it has something to do with civilization, religion, or cultural clashes. It fundamentally has to do with two forces pushing from the East and the West toward an energy resource. But that is in itself simplistic since both the United States and Russia have some of the largest proven reserves under their own territory. A Middle Eastern market for the weapons needed for constant warfare is a vital aspect. Both the Western and Eastern Blocs are seeking to control the oil in the ground and sell the dozens of Middle Eastern players’ advanced and simple tools for defense but mostly more killing. The various holy sites for the numerous religious believers convolute the basic thesis but are the third pillar of the equation. Were there no oil, there would be no willingness to arm so many opposing players. Observe Somalia where Muslims are in a desert and absolutely no Western powers really care until high-profile piracy occurs. 

Were there no arms racing there could only be very small wars. Without political actors in Moscow as well as Washington, London and Berlin there couldn’t be such a cauldron of bloodshed. There have been countless stated rationales for intervention, proxy arming, and invasion. It is nearly impossible to convince the democracies they ever did anything to escalate this. The war with the Islamic State has become a focal point, almost an obsession for everyone, but it is the latest manifestation of a long-running problem. 

Before there was ever such a thing as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; the usual pundits and politicians screamed Cold War. Then East and West heavily armed everyone. Israel then tripled its landmass, Syria became the Russian proxy, and Egypt changed opportunistically sides. Next, they screamed about the containment of the Iranian Revolution rather than the West-armed Saddam Hussain. A gruesome eight-year war later Iraq genocided the Kurds. During this period to give the USSR their own Vietnam, the Saudis, Pakistanis, and Americans created Al-Qaeda and turned then Communist Afghanistan into the ungovernable Islamist warzone it is today. Then Saddam annexed Kuwait, and the West invaded. Several atrocities against Shi’a and Kurds later he remained in power. The pundits screamed loudest after September 11th, 2001 and the Global War on Terror began. Russian atrocities in Chechnya in the 1990s where one in seven Chechens was killed were replied to with the 2002 Beslan and 2004 Ord Nost Hostage crises. Hundreds of innocent Russian hostages died in both events. An estimated 240,000 people had died in Chechnya in two wars that leveled the separatist state. Most regimes including Israel saw waves of protest in 2011 over domestic grievances and inequality during the Arab Spring. Virtually all regimes besides Tunisia quelled the uprisings. Civil War broke out in Libya and Syria. By 2014 Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria were all in total unrest, ashes, and anarchy. The corrupt military dictatorship of Egypt had been overthrown, then restored with U.S. intervention. Saudi Arabia and Iran were fighting proxy wars all over the region. 

Turkey has clearly logistically enabled the creation of a Sunni-oriented, Wahhabi Salafist ultra-fundamentalist Jihadist entity which took the world by complete surprise. Saudi Arabia has long provided it with a hateful Sunni version of Islam. Qatari actors gave their sophisticated propaganda and branding. Pakistani intelligence coordinated it as they had in Yemen and Afghanistan.

Then Islamic State took dozens of Syrian and Iraqi cities including Mosul, which had come dangerously close to taking Baghdad, before being turned back by Iranian coordinated militias and Kurdish Democratic Confederalists. The Peshmerga and the Iraqi military had fled in varying ways exposing civilians to atrocity.  But allegedly quite a lot of these Sunni tribes people liked living under the Islamic State’s brand of non-state governance! It validated their identity, it gave them something big and powerful to believe in. But, now they are near the brink of annihilation. It is actually not important to indict who thought up the Islamic State, and who planned it. Some say the Gulf States, some say Iran, Israel, and the West. The evidence though is clear that Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar all fueled its development and Pakistan has the only intelligence service capable of working out the variables. It is pretty fucking childlike to believe it was created by Islamists and Ba’athist officers in U.S. custody.

It can be difficult to figure out what’s happening out here in the Middle East. It can become an abstraction of alien cultures, conflicts, and ethnic configurations that are easily blurred to an uncaring or untrained eye. It is hard to get your head around how the alleged cradle of human civilization became such an everlasting intractable bloodbath. Perhaps it is only the responsibility of the Western audience to know what is happening because the collateral of the carnage is spilling over into their European and American cities. No one will perhaps admit that, but yes. And it is also important to render the Middle East more human because the weapons distributed here are from the West or Russia. The oil being pumped is being bought and sold by Western or Russian firms.  Most people living in the West don’t actually know what Kurdistan is, but that doesn’t say so much as most people in the West don’t know where a lot of things are. I would go so far as to say the majority don’t care. 

Most probably won’t admit that they didn’t know that the Kurdish ethnic group existed until 2014. It was not until various pundits made it clear “the Kurds” were actively fighting the Islamic State did anyone ever hear about things like the Peshmerga, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), or about Kurds in general. The perversity and violence of ISIS kept it in the headlines for the past three years and the Kurdish issue has increasingly been at the forefront of understating geopolitics in the region. Particularly because Iraqi Kurdistan, administered by the Kurdish Regional Government as an autonomous area since 2003 is set to hold its next referendum vote for independence on September 27th, 2017. And it is sitting on top of the fifth-largest proven crude oil reserve on earth. No one should totally wash their hands of what happens in the Middle East because its conflicts are fought with Western and Russian weapons, paid for by American and Russian tax dollars. The companies pumping out the oil are largely Western or Russian-based firms. 

There are in fact a lot of players, but all of them fall into four big tents; Western Allies led by the United States Military and Coalition forces. Russian Allies most prominently Syria and Iran. Gulf Sunni Client States claim they are Western Allies but can be linked to the Islamic State through one or two acts of deductive reasoning. And the 40 million Kurds spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The Kurds, who are the world’s largest stateless people are seeking some viable means to safeguard their long-abused community and of course, get rich off the oil under their Iraqi territory.

  I plan to be very repetitive with names and places  that matter. 

Or places that have more than one name so the reader can try and learn them. There are a lot of overlapping players, a lot of acronyms, national interests, international interests, and underlying religious and ethnic antagonisms that go back thousands of years. There is a very long history of desert prophecy. This is certainly the land of Zoroaster, Abraham, Bab & Bahaullah (Iran); Moses (Egypt), Jesus (Israel/Palestine), and Muhammed (Saudi Arabia). Well documented and repetitive ethnic killing is the reality of life here for over 4,000 years punctuated by foreign occupations, colonies, and Islamic empires. Devastating foreign invasions on behalf of Mongolia and Europe altered the entire composition of the region; culturally, politically, and genetically. There is deep-rooted tribalism which has to be understood as a means of both loyalty and social organization. There are monarchies created by Europeans to crown their favored Bedouins as oil clients. There was the re-birth of the Jewish State for the third time in three thousand years. There was the re-birth of the revolutionary Shi’a State in Iran which carries a similar sense of Messianic optimism and zealous indoctrination to preserve for Shi’a what the Jewish one does for Jews. There is absolutely a more recent history since 1947 of several large and also small wars and protracted atrocities. Such as those experienced by the Palestinians at the hands of almost everyone in the region. You could rightfully say with a straight face that since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1919; there has been a constant war playing out inside every single country in the region. 

The Western Media’s linguistic and cultural detachment from these antagonistic protagonists borders on being crude Orientalism. An anti-Islamism mixed with a thirst for covering and sensationalizing bloodshed. The fact that suicide bombs are regularly going off in Western cities has made everything more immediate, more visceral. But it is undeniable now that some of the biggest beneficiaries of being Western petro-colony clients (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman) can be linked to funding and supporting Wahhabi Salafist doctrines when not being caught outright funding the Islamic State. Frankly, the enduring miserable heat doesn’t help anything. While obsessing, that is the word I would use; obsessing about the regions 5 million Jews and 7 million Palestinians of Greater Israel, West Bank and Gaza take up a lot of printed word on the subject. The enduring issue, the issue that everyone needs to become more fluent in, is the question of Kurdistan. 

Beyond the wars, the ceaseless violence and the conservative, most intolerant, male-dominated nature of Middle Eastern society in general; and Arab, Kurdish and Persian society in particular. All anthropological and political variants are made worse by what I would call claustrophobia. A feeling of being trapped in small spaces disguised as holy lands with nowhere to really go. Or fear of impending genocide, which affects all the players out here, and there are many. As I did not write this article for academics, let me paint with broad brushstrokes a paragraph on demographics. 

There are 35-40 million Kurds mostly spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. They are mostly Sunni Muslims., There are two primary types of Muslims; Sunni and Shi’a which differ in a range of practices and beliefs, but are mostly divided over who was the rightful successor of the Prophet Muhamad. The Shi’a declare it was Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law Ali and have been historically persecuted by the Sunni caliphates and rulers. Sunni Islam, which is the majority sectarian faction of global Islam (say 70-90%) Shi’ism is the smaller (say 10-20%) faction of the Ummah or Global Muslim community which is about 1/3 of the human race. 

Kurds are also the world’s largest stateless people. Linguistically, culturally, spiritually, and often militarily Kurds are a great deal like Persians.  

  The nation of Iran has been a Revolutionary Shiite Islamic State since 1979, and is about 65% Persian, or say 50% of its 80 million people. There are also 9-10 million Kurds living there. While they are certainly not free from Iranian Sharia law; they are generally better treated than everywhere else in their historic lands of settlement. In Iraq, a genocide called Anfal happened in 1988 which brutally killed 180,000 Kurds. In Turkey Kurds and Turks have been in an open civil war since 1984. In Syria, Arabization campaigns and forced resettlement made them third-class citizens. Iran had an anti-Western, anti-Shah revolution in 1979. The United States promptly armed U.S. client Saddam Hussain to the teeth. Then sold guns secretly to Iran in the Iran-Contra Affair. While North Korea, Libya, and Israel all sold arms and also secretly advised the Iranians. An 8-year war occurred in the style of World War I with trenches and poison gas where over a million people were killed. In the last days of the war, Saddam Hussain ordered Al-Anfal or the systematic killing of 180,000 Kurdish Iraqis.

The nation that used to be Iraq was ruled by Saddam Hussain and the Ba’ath Party until 2003 when the US successfully “liberated” the nation. Only the Kurds would call it liberation as both the Shi’a and Sunni Iraqi Arabs both for the most part hate the United States. The Ba’ath party which was nominally Arab-Socialism but really a one-man dictatorship is also found in Syria. It is the political party of President Bashar al-Assad, who is an Alawite, but we will come back to that. It is certainly neither irrational nor poorly documented that historically everyone out here has at one point tried to annihilate each other. As most of the groups out here have at one point or are actively today trying to obliterate each other. None of this is helped by the obvious fact that the biggest Western powers & Russia cannot and will not allow control of natural resources under Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States to go unspoken for. Or be nationalized. Or be made inaccessible by virtually endless conflict.

Hewler, which again is Erbil in Kurdish, is a city of 2-3 million, the world’s oldest continuously inhabited city. It has a tall mound fortification in the very center. The Citadel which has been the fortress defending Erbil, Hewler s all Kurds call it, for nearly 5,000 years. Like Moscow, Hewler is a series of ring roads; the 30 meters, the 60 meters, the 100 meters, and the 120 meters are punctuated nearly every other block by a 5 Star Hotel. In 2011-2014 a building boom erupted and everyone was making money. 

By the time I arrived in Iraq, or Kurdistan (as it is called by most of the Kurds living in this KRG zone); ISIS was fully driven back into Iraq proper by Peshmerga forces. Mosul was completely besieged by the Iraqi Military with nightly airstrikes hitting the positions in the Old City and Medical City.

The city of Hewler was once dubbed “the next Dubai”, but that’s a very dubious claim. For one thing, Hewler or Erbil isn’t any fun. For another, however you define that word fun, Erbil is not either pretty or architecturally impressive. That is because it is estimated that the region of northern Iraq; called the Kurdish Regional Government, has had autonomous status since 2003 and is home to 5 million Kurds and various minorities such as Turkmen (former Turkish administrative class of the Ottoman empire), Assyrian Christians (Syriacs & Chaldeans), Yazidis (recently genocided by ISIS), whatever is left of Iraq’s Baha’i community and a growing community of Western expats. The KRG sits on top of what might be the fifth-largest proven oil reserve.

But, in 2014 ISIS got about half an hour west of Erbil and was stopped by Coalition airstrikes in Makhmar. Everyone panicked and had begun evacuating their families hours before. ISIS had taken Mosul, then a city of over 2 million, and Iraq’s second-biggest with under 400 fighters. ISIS had invaded Sinjar (Shengal), the historic home of the Yazidis, murdered over 5,000 men; carried an unknown number of women into sexual slavery, and trapped most of the remaining Yazidis up in the mountains. The Peshmerga, the military forces of KRG’s two main parties; KDP (Democratic Party of Kurdistan which controls Erbil) and PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan which controls Sulymanyia, which is also called Slemani) had basically retreated from both Sinjar and their positions in Makhmar and were incapable of repulsing the 2014 ISIS offensive. What is now a matter of historical records; the US air force hammered ISIS positions in Makhmar and stopped the advance there and the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) proxies; YPG Militia (People’s Protection Units) and the PKK armed wing People’s Defense Forces invaded Sinjar, cracked open a corridor for safety and by all accounts saved the majority of the remaining trapped civilians there.

Speaking on the subject of claustrophobia. There are an estimated 35-40 million Kurds; 14.3-20 million in southeast Turkey, 8.2-12 million in Iran, 5.6-8.5 million in the Kurdistan autonomous region in northern Iraq, and 2-3.6 million in Northern Syria (Rojava). Armenia, Azerbaijan & Georgia all have populations that total under 50,000. 2 million Kurds live in the diaspora; particularly concentrated in Germany, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands. As well as in the Russian Federation, Belgium, United Kingdom, Kazakhstan, Switzerland, Denmark, Jordan, Austria, Greece, USA, Kyrgyzstan, Canada, Finland and Australia (highest to lowest concentrations). As you can see from the spreads of these numbers; no one actually knows how many Kurds there are. Politically speaking these numbers are very problematic, since Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran in their own various ways and strategies would all prefer the Kurds not to even exist. 

That then said, the Mossad thinks there are 30-40 million.

As stated in 1988, towards the end brutal eight year of the Iraq-Iran War, in Chumchumal Iraq, the Baath Party under Saddam Hussein began a genocide against the Iraqi Kurds. 180,000 Iraqi Kurds were loaded onto trucks, placed in concentration camps, driven to the south of the country, ordered to dig a ditch then shot and buried. Poison gas was used in the city of Halabja. Tens of thousands of villages around Chumchumal were emptied. The majority of the Kurdish population in that region fled to Iran. Only the US invasion of 1991 slowed the genocide. The invasion in 2003 basically allowed the PUK and KDP to seize northern Iraq and make it autonomous. In 2014 the KRG was fiscally cut off from Baghdad and began selling oil directly to Turkish, Russian, American, and Israeli companies.

There are only Iraqi flags in Erbil inside the various foreign-owned 5-Star Hotels and most government buildings. But the red, white, and green emblazoned with a yellow multi-pronged star are virtually everywhere else.

The Kurds have an often repeated saying, “Our only friend in the mountains,” which related to their historic persecution at the hands of an unending series of foreign occupiers’ particularly but limited to Arabs and Turks. Whenever invaded, without fail in thousands of recorded engagements Kurds fall back to the mountains which make up the majority of their imagined, and historic territory; and promptly begin guerrilla wars.  

In Turkey, the Turkish government has long banned the Kurdish language and culture for years. It has been described as a “highly effective cultural genocide” For decades the Kurds were assimilated, repressed, and told they were “Mountain Turks”. In 1914 the Ottoman Empire conscripted the Kurds to help carry out the Armenian genocide. Because of the official apology, long-running dialogues for reconciliation, and a common enemy; Turkey, Armenia is one of the biggest supporters of the PKK’s (Kurdish Workers Party) war against the Turkish state. In 1984 the PKK began its insurgency against the Turkish state. More than 50,000 Turkish citizens, mostly of Kurdish descent, were killed in this still running war. In 1999 PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was arrested, tortured, and placed in solitary confinement in an island prison near Istanbul. Reading the works of Murray Bookchin; Ocalan renounced Marxist-Leninism in favor of his own non-state, pro-democratic, gender co-equal, ecologist vision called “Democratic Confederalism” which is now the official PKK ideology. After several failed rounds of ceasefire and peace talks, after the arrest of all Kurdish parliamentarians after the 2017 Coup in Turkey and after the repeated bombardment of PKK positions in Iraq, Turkey, and Syria as well as great complacency if not active support of the Turkish state to allow ISIS fighters to come and go over its territory; the PKK has been physically pushed back to mountain bunkers in the Qandil Mountains of Northern Iraq and positions in Sinjar but enjoys enduring popular support amongst Turkish and Syrian Kurds. Its political parties repeatedly are elected to the Turkish Parliament, subsequently banned and their leaders jailed. 

In 2004 the PKK Syrian affiliate PYD (Democratic Union Party) began rapidly organizing a militia and administrative structures which later protected, then effectively occupied Kurdish areas in Syria during the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War (which has led to the deaths of over 550,000 people largely civilians and displaced over 13 million internally or into neighboring countries in vast miserable series of camps.  

In 2014 the PYD (Democratic Union Party) and its militia force the YPG/YPJ (YPG is People’s Protection Units [male] and YPJ is Women’s Protection Units [female]; now numbering around 45,000 light infantry fighters) defeated ISIS in the Siege of Kobani with Peshmerga, PKK, and coalition air support. In the past three years the PYD, through its civil society organ the Tev Dem (Movement for Democratic Society); is for the most part governing a 4 million-person unrecognized parallel state. Three cantons in Northern Syria called: the Democratic Federation of Rojava- Northern Syria

Afrin Canton (to the West of Rojava, but still landlocked) is isolated by a Turkish-supported incursion toward Aleppo, Syria. Kobani the central canton is connected by land to Jazira Canton which borders the Kurdish Regional Governorate (KRG). Because the KDP (Democratic Party of Kurdistan), the majority KRG party based in Hewler/Erbil is incredibly dependent on Turkey for exporting oil and development assistance, actually most of the 5 Star Hotels, apartment towers, and consumer goods in Iraqi Kurdistan are a product of that economic relationship; Rojava is quarantined on all sides. The only people getting in are well resources journalists, NGO workers, and people getting smuggled mostly over the Iraq-Syria border through a combination of bribes or Kurdish family loyalties.

The Turkish border to the north is completely sealed. The Free Syrian Army/ Turkish forces occupy a land strip from the Turkish border to the city of al-Bab, which cuts Rojava’s Afrin canton from the Kobani & Jazira Cantons. Jazira borders Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Sinjar Mountains are partly under YPG/PKK/PYD control and partly under Peshmerga/KDP control.  All flights to Qamishli go through Damascus. Most of the Syrian territory south of Raqqa is in the hands of ISIS or the Nusra Front (another Al-Qaeda rebrand). The Assad government and its military control of the Qamishli airport make it possible to have supplies airlifted in and about 20 registered NGOs, can go over the Syrian/Iraqi border. 

The YPG/YPJ making up the majority of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) has pushed ISIS back to Raqqa (which is now completely surrounded by Syrian Democratic Forces). The YPG/YPJ has been politically dressed up as the SDF incorporating varying smaller militia forces from ethnic minorities and various rebranded Syrian Free Army groups. This pluralism for US Government and military intelligence foreign donors has occurred because of three reasons: 

1) Virtually every Western nation has declared the PKK a terrorist group, so overtly supporting the PYD militia YPG/YPJ is outrageous and offensive to Turkey, a critical regional ally. Who spends way more time bombing the Kurds in PKK and YPG rather than do anything constructive to oppose ISIS. So SDF is a thinly veiled way for the United States to say it isn’t directly funding a group it called a terrorist group to fight another terrorist group, but that is exactly what is happening. Turkey has bombed Iraq and invaded Syria by proxy forces cutting off the Western most Rojava canton Afrin from its two eastern cantons Kobani & Jazira.

 2) The YPG/YPJ is along with the Iranian controlled Iraqi Shiite PMU (Popular Mobilization Forces, also called Al-Hassid Al-Shaabi the only credible ground forces in consistently rolling back ISIS. Without the PMU, ISIS might have taken Baghdad in 2014. Without YPG, Rojava would have been overrun. The PMU is regularly accused of atrocities and is controlled via Shi’a clerics loyal to Iran. The YPG/YPJ should be viewed as a military asset of the PKK militarily expedient to the U.S.-led Coalition “Enduring Resolve” Operational needs.

3) When ISIS is defeated, the PMU will be used against Peshmerga in Kirkuk. Turkey, the Baathist Military, and the AL-NUSRA front will be attacking Rojava in different configurations. SDF is an effort on the PYD part to make the militia forces more multiethnic, and thus remain eligible for American war money. 

Mosul fell to the Iraqi military around July 9th, 2017 after nine months of fierce urban warfare. Raqqa is expected to fall by the end of the summer. I.S.I.S. Redoubts in Tel Afar, Iraq (a historic Turkman city) were predicted to fall by September, but mysteriously the city was found to be empty after just eight days of fighting by the end of August. Hawijja, Iraq historically a Kurdish city long emptied and Arabized by the genocide is widely believed to be one of the most pro-Wahhabi Salafist centers as far as the population’s sympathies. Its population supported Al Qaeda, currently supports ISIS, and regularly launches terror attacks in neighboring Kirkuk. There is a desolate barren zone in the Anbar province (outside the Kurdish zone) that also needs to be pacified.

All of this leads analysts to conclude I.S.I.S. will be militarily defeated in all major remaining Iraqi and Syrian cities by January 2019. Importantly Raqqa, its only remaining official headquarters, could be over by November. The mop up operations in and around Deir Ez-Zor will pale in comparison to the possibility of war between the Peshmerga against the Hashid al Shabi and Iraqi Army in Kirkuk. 

Homage to Rojava-Prelude

HOMAGE TO ROJAVA

Written By

Walter Sebastian Adler 

i.e. Kawa Zivistan,

i.e. Abu Yazan,

i.e. Zachariah Arstien Artesh 

Dedicated to the martyrs of Rojava

2017-2018

Al-Theatrical Introduction

By Pushkin Theatre for the Arts

LAILAH NAESH

“LIVE YOUR LIFE”  

An American Mayakovsky Production

A PLAY

Written By 

Walter Sebastian Adler 

CAST

Adoneav, a mad man and a fugitive

Sasho,  a fearsome Voorhi

Medved, an intellectual gangster

Dmitry, a corporate lawyer

Maria Silverstova, a journalist, perhaps also a spy

Shoresh, a subversive 

  Anya, a lovely martyr

Old Newey, A poltical prisoner

                            Saint Reed, a colonial marine

Anna Belle Rhubarb, a mystic

Abu Hamza, a fixer

  Mountain Rock, a professional soldier 

Spirit of War, a georgian guerrilla

Daria sometimes called Goldy, a Courtesan

A MIDDLE EASTERN WESTERN

ACT ONE

SCENE 1

SET IN:

NEW YORK GRAD

Sebastian Adonaev enters the Tavern. A place of refuge! The double doors swing shut and seal him inside. The place is entirely deserted. Music plays lightly. He is a fugitive and a soldier returning from a forgotten foreign war. He is losing his mind. A shot girl, Maria Silverstova with forty bullet shots, sells Vodka based drinks. They meet eyes.

SONG

🎵

Well I guess I didn’t die in the war!

I’m alive!

But my friends are dead.

I survived to say the most and do the least.

We are the ones who held the barricades

I just returned, 

On a shuttle from the fires of the Middle East,

I survived, I survived by happenstance,

This I know!

When dozens that I slept beside are now in coffins,

In the ground below.

This revolution is a first, and perhaps also the last chance.  

Their fearless faces,

 Are now martyr posters on a wall,

Reports are now coming in, the Turkish Army is fast advancing;

Rojava will most likely fall!

Well I guess I didn’t die in the war!

I’m alive!

But my friends are dead.

I walk in concentric circles, I try to tell our story,

A story etched upon my brain.

I tell the tale to many scared civilians, they look at me like a mad man,

A foreign person. A person gone insane! 

Thanks to the fallen, the Islamic State is now defeated.

Thanks to the YPG and YPJ these bandits have retreated.

Now raise the glass or the flag!

For what we’ve done! 

American thanks, still it remains unsaid.

There was a clear and present danger,

A vile Jihadist menance,

Lives lost, flags flown high, the dead cannot mourn the dead. 

Thanks to my training:

I can stay awake for days,

Here I am! 

Here I am.

I’m alive, I’m alive but my friends are dead,

Find me the means, count me in all the ways! 

Back in this fortress of a city,

In the heart of the Empire,

Make a stand;

You know the way!

This is your land.

What we gave and what we lost is a nightmare that forever will replay!

On the very soil of my homeland, 

the total safety of this place,

I beg my God, I beg my family and my lovers,

Give me bullets!

Let me not die in disgrace!

In my adopted not-a-country Kurdistan,

The enemy advances 

The Turkish Army kills my people, burns our cities,

Aims to defeat our revolution,

What are the odds,

What are the chances?

I know forever I will carry, the faces of my dead friends, dagger etched inside me the on the innermost compartment of my mind,

There was so much hurry up and waiting, there were bodies on the road,

40,000 died for Kurdistan!

Everything around you could explode!

There was fire on the mountains there, there was bloody murder in the streets,

There was marching, there was dying,

And defeating

There was attacking,

There was terror,

There was going forward then retreating.   

Thanks to my training,

I can take apart a rifle. I can put it back together. 

Thanks to my training,

I can engage in democracy, I can believe we can do better. 

Well I guess I didn’t die in the war!

I’m alive! I’m alive!

But my friends are dead.

I was hiding in that Tavern, 

then Adonaev said: 

ADONAEV:

During our border reentry run from Rojava back into here, most of our column was blown apart in missile strikes. We hid in a P.K.K. dugout bunker for two days. I was covered in piss, shit, blood, mostly other people’s blood, mostly my own piss. Heval Jansher, my mentor and immediate commander, I think he died in a drone strike. Died getting us out of Rojava before the Turkish invasion began. I turned 33. An Armenian volunteer bought me an oriental woman. But all I wanted to do was take a long hot shower. Wash the filth and death off of me. Get out of that fucking uniform forever, and get on the next evacuation shuttle. Get back to Daria alive!

I spent the evening of  my 33rd birthday in a Chinese bathhouse on the outskirts of Sulaimaniya. Yet, not one thing in it was made clean. Or for bathing. “Suly”, or also called “Slemani”, is the more libertine of the Kurdish cities in liberated North Western Iraq. A liberated, but unrecognized country politically divided by two city states.

The Chinese sex worker bore witness to a madness that would soon follow. My colleague, balls deep in something carnal his way come. I just kept washing myself vigorously. The filth I felt of cowardice. The shame of retreat. She put her hands on me for only a moment and I shuddered. Pushed her away. I then fell on my knees and I cried. I picked myself up, and the Armenian volunteer paid our bill. We had a beer in the adjacent bar. Right before midnight we took a cab back to the safehouse. They went through our bags to make sure nothing would flag us at an airport. Some party men put us in a van with tinted windows then we were hustled through security. My magic carpet landed in Baghdad. Then a 24 hour layover in Cairo. Almost fell out of the sky over the Atlantic several times. Then with no questions asked I was in JFK.          

Now! I am back in Newyorkgrad, far from the war raging in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. But! The war and the ghosts never leave me. I ride the train with plump and ignorant civilians. Some Chornay put on an obnoxious ‘show time’. 

By way of Baghdad then Cairo, now I am back. My mind isn’t where I had thought I’d left it and neither are any of my friends and family. Is it March? It’s March or it’s April. I have just done an eighty-day bid in the hospital. Might have been eighty with a two-day run for the mountains in between. I might be facing an assault charge. I might be tailed. I hide in the only place I think I can fit in. A Tavern on Ludlow street. I call Sasho from a pay phone. He says to lay low and head to the Tavern right before nightfall. I don’t know what the hospitals did to me, actually. I just want to kill myself. 

I showed up at the Tavern very early. The place is empty. The owner Sasho isn’t around nor is my friend and associate, the Gangster Medved. On the wire, I heard Ms. Daria will get married tomorrow on her 29th birthday, right after the curtain call on a play she sings in, in Midtown. She wrote to me every day during the war. I think I’m just too late.

I think I’m being followed. I threw my phone in the river. Now I don’t have a phone. I’m either chasing myself in a circle around the Isle of Man, or the follow-follow men are trailing me. Seeing who I meet with before they pick me up again. 

Well anyway, there’s only one way in, but four ways out of this Bulgarian tavern. Other than a pity coffee here and there, everyone is nervous about me and giving me tons of space. Avoiding me that is to say. Not Medved, he’s buying me a drink. Out in the wide open. Like he doesn’t give a fuck! 

In walks a newly hired shot girl Maria Silverstova. A chesty young thing. She says she is “from Moscow” but is actually from the glorious nation of Bulgaria.

ADONAEV

Zdrastvistia.

SILVERSTOVA

Why hello my very strange one! My wayward and my leeward Amerikanski. You can say Privet to me, my old new friend. For I do know you naked.

ADONAEV

I had met Ms. Maria at the Bulgarian Bar the very night I got off the evacuation plane. I first met her again on international working women’s day.

She gave me a good price. There are 70 Rubles in Dollar. Her shots cost 280. Her body is far more. Her mind is not for sale.

SILVERSTOVA

I tell people “I’m from Moscow”, though of course I am not.

My waist is tight and breasts are quite ample. It is all contained under a little black cocktail dress. Holding around forty plastic bullets of Vodka; I sell them in the Tavern for 70 Rubles apiece. Ethnically speaking I am clearly one of Russia’s 157 sub-ethnicities, perhaps a Chechen, perhaps part Tajik or Uzbek. I think I am a very good listener.

Sasho said you were coming to hide out with us.

ADONAEV

I’m looking for Medved.

SILVERSTOVA

 And Medved, he looks for you, droogy.

SILVERSTOVA:

Sasho said, “try and make him happy”.

Sasho has a long history with him. Aiding and abetting a terrorist. The Bulgarians have never really expelled him from that ugly little tavern. In an on-scene kind of way, maybe they encourage him. Giving him a refuge.

Adonaev doesn’t remember meeting me 80 days ago. He came here right from the airport. Had Sasho the Voorhi sort him out some work and some papers.

He looked and still looks like a terrifying person, a real mad man.

He had just gotten that very same night in a stupid fist fight, beat a Chornay half to death yelling racial epitaphs. And almost was asked to exit, relinquishing his tavern card last Saturday.

I draw him over to a small table, though on duty as a shot girl I remain an inquisitive journalist.

ADONAEV

Maria, Tovarish Maria how goes the life of night?

SILVERSTOVA:

I’m alive. It’s a start from which all options can follow. Would you like a drink?

       ADONAEV

 Not on your ruble.

SILVERSTOVA:

There are other Rubles to pour from. Let’s sit. Tell me about the Civil War. A little bit, enough to have a sense of what anyone is supposed to do about you or your friends who came back to us.

ADONAEV:

More good was done than any evil, by my Otriad anyway. I’m sure the others killed more Jihadists and I did more medical care, but it was all a group effort. But really, few of my friends survived the war.  The Arabs and Kurds are just going to grind away until Turkey rolls in to squash the entire revolution.

SILVERSTOVA:

What Otriad did you serve in? I’m a little familiar with actors.

ADONAEV:

I served in the Shahid Firat Tabor of the People’s Protection Units, the Y.P.G.

SILVERSTOVA:

             Ye-Peh-Gay?

ADONAEV:

The Kurdish Militia received American support to defeat the Islamic State.

SILVERSTOVA:

Freedom fighting and or U.S. Imperialism, maybe both? Same, same; not different?

ADONAEV:

We were defending the only alleged Democracy in the Middle East, besides the alleged democracy in Israel. Turkey was bombing us from the North, Al Qaeda attacking from Idlib in the West, the Hashid Shaabi Popular Mobilization forces from the East, and ISIS from the south. 

You take guns from who offers them in that kind of situation, nu.

SILVERSTOVA:

So, on the news tonight. Turkey has begun a new Operation against Rojava. You are aware Afrin Canton is almost completely overrun and Mambij is next and the Turkish army will probably undo all if any progress you all had made out there, against whoever it was the Americans had you fighting? And have now abandoned.

ADONAEV:

I don’t sleep well anymore. I use combinations of masturbation, drinking, and drugs to put the lights out, I guess some emphasis on the drinking too. I get it. We all died or almost died or didn’t die and it was all for nothing. I get it. And Goldy and I will never see each other again, and I writhe in pain avoiding my face in the mirror.

I need help from you or Medved. A different kind of bullet.

SILVERSTOVA:

Prosto! You just need a new whore! Excuse me, I mean muse. Someone to pay to love you even better than before. Not me, I’m too much for you too. I too want luxury carrots to remember. Not paintings or any poems. The couple times we eye to eyed, we french kissed, it all just makes me pity you a lot.

You’re basically not a man to me or your Goldy. You have no car, no good job, no property, and for right now no ability to move beyond your own paralysis. I and she and others like us have to think about papers.

ADONAEV:

Ne-yet Prosto. Not simple. I need a revolver so I can restively and decisively shoot myself in the head like a man! Or turn it on her fat ugly Patron. That will be enough. I should have died with my friends in Afrin.

Do you even possess the understanding to know what is on the table there? Do you even have the care? They were liberating the women, they were instituting democracy and they were planting trees. I feel like I briefly defended a utopia, only to be cast out.

Sent back here where I am less than a man. Less than a criminal!

SILVERSTOVA:

Prosto! (Simple) Go back to the beginning of the narrative and explain to me your motivation!

Tell me how your valiant and slightly suicidal mission began and the connection between your ideas on free life versus a meaningful life in motion. Be, fucking linear! Tell the tale from beginning to end instead of dancing around like a crazy person.

ADONAEV:

Tovarish Maria, I would like a dance from you first. I will pay the full amount in  green dollars.

SILVERSTOVA:

Your money Tovarish, they say is no good here. You can’t pay for a bullet or a dance. You can’t pay in Rubles, Dollars, or the now faceless Dinars. 

You can buy time with or without sympathy.

ADONAEV:

Sympathies with the resistance?

SILVERSTOVA:

Sympathy with an American Mayakovsky, and those who enjoy his performances. Shamelessly flailing, shamelessly throwing himself in front of armies and trains, over what?

ADONAEV:

You do in fact know what!

SILVERSTOVA:

You know I don’t partake in the lapland for free. Don’t you have a forest wife in Nizhny Novgorod as well as a son somewhere? It will cost you nine hundred dollars to degrade yourself and me tonight. That is actually 64,800 Rubles an hour. Supply and demand. I don’t think you even have enough for a bullet. Certainly not enough to buy the only thing you really want.

ADONAEV:

I don’t have 100 Rubles to my name.

SILVERSTOVA:

Then you get what you pay for! Which are nothingly nothings.

ADONAEV:

What is my story worth?

SILVERSTOVA:

It’s worth less than a lap dance.

ADONAEV:

I need her, you know.

SILVERSTOVA:

Oh that we all know that story.

“It doesn’t take a weather man or woman to know which way the winds blow.” Old American saying?

   ADONAEV:

I don’t follow your pretty little allegory.

SILVERSTOVA:

Old Russian saying, “I want to dance on your face until your mask falls off.”

    ADONAEV:

     That one I understood, perfectly.

SILVERSTOVA:

As if I was making reports in Russian, or Turkish.

“He has just returned from Syria. The duration of the self-deployment was around nine months were we to include Cuba and Russia and also Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt. He is haunted. And despondent, a veteran of the People’s Protection Units; called the Y.P.G, you pronounce the G as ‘gay’. He has been without any doubt ideologically indoctrinated by the Kurdistan Workers Party and given some basic military training. Brainwashing. He is to be watched if necessary: eliminated.”

Well I guess you didn’t die in the war.

ADONAEV:

Well I guess I didn’t die in the war.

There was a lot of shame in that. I was mysteriously back in New York, trapped and totally useless. All my best efforts were forgotten and amounted to less than one nothing.

SILVERSTOVA:

Stop talking and thinking only about yourself for a minute, blat… Tell me about your murdered Comrade Anya Campbell. Tell me about your soon-to-be-dead Kurdish friends. Confirm a little rumor I heard?

ADONAEV:

A rumor?

SILVERSTOVA:

Stop talking and thinking only about yourself for a minute, blat..now I heard a rumor. It’s a, how do you say, doozy, of a rumor.

ADONAEV:

Go on.

SILVERSTOVA:

I heard that the same people that did 9.11 basically created the Islamic State from scratch.

Enter the Gangster Medved, Sebastian and Medved bearhug embrace.

MEDVED:

Loose hips sink ships! Say no more serious things to this chesty one, my one old friend! Maria, call up some of your friends! This man needs a serious distraction.

But Sebastian Adonaev, being the Sebastian Adonaev, who I invest too much time and energy in; hopes to fully convolute the narrative. Blur apart the story of war and Islamic militancy and revolutionary fervor with busty sexcapades, pornographic poems, and perhaps some borrowed prophesy and Haitians. Chornay dancing about the room waving their flags in the air!

SILVERSTOVA:

A simple patriotic task.

MEDVED:

One night at the tavern, about one week after Sebastian arrived home. I was sure he was being followed. Shortly after our reunion, he was taken. 

Shall I call them “American secret police?”

His voyage, quest perhaps, which began in Cuba, then to Russia, then Iraq, Turkey, Iraq, Turkey, Iraq, and then finally Syria, then out via Baghdad and Cairo. The detention lasted 80 days. All were behind him for now. He tries to tell me about his time in Kurdistan. In the end, the sad conversation always goes back to Ms. Daria.

ADONAEV:

What news do you have about Daria?

MEDVED:

Listen, man, not again. She’s all cleaned up. Singing on Broad Street. Has a nice place in Midtown.

ADONAEV:

She wrote to me…

MEDVED:

…every single day of the war?

ADONAEV:

Da.

MEDVED:

They have apps that can do that now. Robots can also write to you every single day too. You don’t even need to pay them, or sponsor their citizenship.

ADONAEV:

She loves me. And I love her. And the rest of the details can get figured out. For nine months she urged me to stay alive and come home. I need to find her.

Medved:

You can’t even consider supporting Daria, look at the state you’re in.

Even if you were rolling in it, why would you support a woman and her son, who isn’t your son, to stay here? Out of made-up imagined duty to act? A perverse Russian American lovesickness? 

The kind that sent you to Syria in the first place. You can’t even be your own damn Patron. She’s taken anyway, man. Someone else has been paying her rent, credit cards, and keeping her papers in order.

ADONAEV:

Sergei? Dmitry? The Chubby Brahman? Corporate Robert Bruce?

MEDVED:

What does it matter? Other people’s property now. Other people’s problems.

ADONAEV:

I need to see her tonight.

MEDVED:

Impossible. She’s a kept woman. Kept a lot closer now. 

ADONAEV:

Well, I have her tower address. Maybe leaning towards possibly, possible.

MEDVED:

Leave her alone. If you know what’s good for her. Also for yourself.

ADONAEV:

I need to do this. She wrote to me every day during the war.

MEDVED:

Nope. You do not! In a month, or less, you’ll have another woman. Or girl if you want. In the meantime is Daria even talking to you?

ADONAEV:

No, she is not. She cut the letters off a couple of weeks ago.

Medved:

Prosto, that’s it. You too were an okay team once. You supported each other, in a very strange way. But really, that Suka is a curse.

ADONAEV:

She’s only with whoever she is with for some money and the green card.

MEDVED:

And you actually want a paperwork marriage and a world of work?! You’re not stupid Sebastian, but your head is not on the right way again. Go slap yourself in the bathroom. Go jump on the shot girl for a ride.

You have less than 100 Rubles. Two whole fucking American dollars.

You cannot afford a woman like Daria, I will just come out and say that. You do not have enough shiny gold things.

ADONAEV:

Not yet.

MEDVED:

Not yet. What do you plan to do when this is all over? 

ADONAEV:

It’s never going to be over.

#57: Setting a Red Gold Standard

57-1000# 

Спой мне

Setting a Red and Gold Standard for Something New

Canta para mi:

“You don’t know me well for nothing,

         There’s risk in everything we do.”

“If words have any worthy-worth,

      Then they remain small gifts until acted upon.”

“True.” (Cierto)

The urge to woo? Feelings are held when the other is gone.

Is; the urge to risk. In the shadows,

 things we might wager 

The things we might be and the things we might do! 

Every man or woman takes their own hill, 

   or makes their own hell.

           But: Heaven isn’t real, it just swells, something preachers sell, too long, too well.

             To justify the listless always working life, no sky pie

no one ever comes back, why?

   The dead, they gasp- the dead they all die.

They say Black don’t crack, but really: they all crack.

          The living, 

Are all dreamers, to any vain hope we grasp.

            Even when the hope is fully gone.

(cuando el trabajo se ensucia demasiado)

    Even when the work gets too dirty!

      We passed over each other, once, 

Past midnight thirty, in Lapland or that other temple of Americana squalor?

           In Arabian salsa nights, in roughly taken masquerades or sipping Bulgarian soda, in Ponce?

      You and I met our eyes, 

And I had nothing to try, or to sell or to buy and you had nothing to sell.

    At least not that day, for a drink we knew nothing, 

Nothing that ends well.

“Talk sweetly to me,” 

 (ella dijo)

“I think they just need a bribe, excuse me, an “expediting fee”.

Canta para mi:

 Oy the frost, the frost!

       Please don’t kill my petrol-bound tin horse.

Oy the frost, the evil vile northern frost!

Don’t let a bold Bronx knife take my thankless life,

       My wife is a beauty. 

A green-eyed something cutie, 

      but she is also a jealous wife.

“Am I right?”

You can’t fuck me at knifepoint tonight.

Out of the plane that I jumped?

The white bike she rode!

Could I just drop everything I’m doing right now before we implode!
“Well, count all the fucks you’re giving out tonight,

Do you think you can carry or swallow my load?” 

The backboards slam only in indiscrete places.

Trousers left on the road,

And I’ll just tell you I’m simply captivated,

By the luscious, by the tempt, by the temperature, 

but:

Frustrated by the code.

   The mask on my face protects me- not from you,

But from invisible things, like breathing. 

       Better to die of a bullet then. From a have to a have not,

A blood clot? 

When- “What proof is there-it was really a blood clot!” 

If you aren’t coming to the inner-Party, have no after-thought!

No pants down then, no hanky panky, 

no get your red robe bundle bought, 

           Then in that case: 

Lust is just lust bought,

I’ll make my leaving, 

I could work for you on a weekend, but the palace had better be swanky.

      To leave your winter chest, summer heaving, 

A general frost is dragging us into its low orbit, 

Always a rapture of death, or dying and or deception, and or deceiving.

      The dead souls must speak! 

They hear things,

            When you come-on-coming; 

Left and came again, only the seeing is worth believing!

              I saw you and in true lust I wept.

The life I lead is portable,

         Worth only as much as the secrets we gave, 

And the whispers we keep on believing. 

      The life of night is the life of a slave.

There is still some kind of vile hunger,

There is a watching, which way went smoke,

There was a bag of money, 

A blue passbook out, a black card.

The things it could buy, a black joke.

  Glorious options, good life, white skin suits,  

        There was gunpowder cut with coke.

          Life is beautifully written, but we lost somehow the portfolio; the prose-like words. 

   It all became a rough fuck. 

A Kurt joke. A morale dismember,

      If I ever knew you, 

In the naked biblical sense,

Trust me I’d fuck-king remember.

The shape of things is suspect,

       The demiurge, the prospect.

The unmitigated worth of identity, little to none.

      I take off my something,

I take off my hat in requiem.

     I take off my hat in respect.

#123: Cordillera de los Andes

#123

Cordillera de los Andes

What we do for work,

    is between the night and G-d. 

      What’s a jackknife to a swan? What’s a Spanish word for more hard kisses, for the subtle “wink and nod”?

What’s the answer to a question that is expressed in foreign song? 

      You’re an accommodating woman, so I know for now you’ll play along.

         You’re more than a mouthful. 

  I Could take full bait and talk about your name and place for hours,

        You work the night and the night has not one fuxk of pity for the people it devours.

        One Time when they played Opera, I fantasized about your body pressed against me in a shower.

You are something-someone all desire 

               like an exotic princess

    locked up in a tower, when I close my eyes I see gunfire!

            I see flame and battle- I breathe smoke and every day I build rebellion with the words and stack of deeds I make conspire.

But I am not such a mad man zealot,

     Instead I am another man behind the wire.

You say you’re from the Mountain?

      I reply in Old Castilian, “But I’m a man that walks on fire!”

Your eyes speak one thousand years of beauty, your smile in flames all man’s desire.

Can you undress me, 

      and let me eat you like a mango, like a rose like an ancient mountain flower.

The minutes go by, but I like the tension, 

of Russian roulette on the fly,

      when there is a lot of money on the table and 2 rounds in the chamber!

And not one person on the deck is today afraid to die. 

I saw you, the so-called old fashioned way, a passion play,

 a lasting lock of lips, a both hands on your hips, 

a need to know you, in the right way.

For the weapons on my table!

        for the steel hand on my chest, 

for the unseen G-d and angels, 

      The rebels and “the best”,

the black boxes and the leather straps of prophecy, to bind me, in the last test?

       FOR JUST one more night with you, and only you beside, 

        That’s what they call a true temptation!

“What’s a little more art before the coming winds of revolution, I confide.

          See me inside or outside, 

End the night life, take a long walk with me, not a lap ride. 

    Your bright brown eyes entrap me, your curves and lips enthrall,

         Tell me secrets, tell me screams of passion, the winner can take all.

Homage to Rojava, Pt. 1, Chp.5

Chapter (5) Five

 “I found myself as a young man in Diyarbakir City, the place we long call ‘Ahmed’, the future capital of all Kurdistan.” The black walled citadel of Bakur. The proud capital city of a nation that doesn’t exist, yet.”

Recounts Heval Armraz, Comrade Moving Target.

A poetic if not fully epic place. An ancient citadel of giant black stone walls and total martial law. A town of prisons, stories, heroes and valiance in the epoch of the Kurdish people. Little wine bars, a thriving literary scene. It cannot decide whether to be eastern or western, Turkish or Kurdish. The epicenter of a great revolt, or the dystopian mockery of the full blown repression of a colonizing power forcing a boot heel on our neck.  As Kurdistan is a powerful and long repressed enduring idea, that idea is becoming a reality on the barricades here and in a long running fight in the mountains. An imagined community of over forty million souls who are wrongfully, shamefully divided between the imposed nation states of Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran all things have two names, all things are both real and imposed upon us. As if to be a Kurd requires an act of insanity, and an act of double thinking. A persistent zealous fight to make the world acknowledge our rights and identity. To admit we have a right to survive as a nation beset with enemies on all sides.  

Following the Turkish military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was prohibited in public and private life. The prison of Diyarbakir filled up and the endless wails of rape and torture propelled the movement to full mobilization and to take up arms again.

 Diyarbakir, which in my people’s tradition is also called “Ahmed”, has now swollen to nearly 4 million people since the eradication and ethnic cleansing of over 5,000 Kurdish villages in the great ranges of mountains to the east. The primary battlegrounds between the Party and the Turkish State. Growing up there, there was of course no Kurdish allowed in school, no Kurdish books or music except deeply underground. Were it within the Turkish State’s power, we would not even have Kurdish names! We would admit to being backwards people of “Mountain Turks”. I was born in the year of the largest, latest and greatest uprising. And although since the days of the Medes there have been  “one thousand sighs and one thousand failed revolts” ‘, this uprising was to be completely different.

 In 1984 Abdullah Ocalan and the Kurdistan Workers Party simultaneously attacked three Turkish army posts and police stations in Bakur and announced the beginning of the revolution. For the next thirty years, almost without pause the P.K.K. and it’s armed guerrillas would battle the Turkish military across Bakur, the name we call the Turkish occupied zone of Kurdistan which means “the North”. Over 50,000 would die, mostly Kurds actually. The Turks would engage in vast acts of scorched earth barbarism and we in the Party would eventually turn to outright terror. In the end, the majority of the deaths were Kurdish civilians. In the end the only liberated ground was a handful of villages deep in the mountains of North Iraq, the Qandil.

Now, ‘Heval Amraz’ is of course not my original name. It is the name given to me by the guerrillas of the P.K.K. when I joined the Party. By that time we were fully surrounded in Qandil being attacked on all sides and death seemed certain. Total defeat as well. Our great leader had been kidnapped in Kenya. Major leaders of the movement including the brother of Abdullah Ocalan, Osman, had completely betrayed us. Our own Iraqi Kurdish brothers in the K.D.P. and P.U.K.-Peshmerga were collaborating with Turkey and America to annihilate us.

How do I tell you my story? What does it really matter? How does this even begin or end for an outsider. For people who do not even know where Kurdistan begins or ends, or even care. As Turkey is a N.A.T.O. ally, and no matter what it says or does will remain a beneficiary of great power largesse.

“I cannot tell you my real name of course. I cannot speak for the Party, nor can I fully disclose the deepness of my hope and my hate to a stranger. I can only speak to a feeling shared on differing levels by thirty to forty million Kurds. ” 

I will try to say something for the benefit of doubt, that non-Kurds could care about us so much that they would come to our land by the hundreds. To fight and die alongside us not simply fighting in resistance to Islamic radicalism, genocide and repression, but also because they grasp the larger idea. The total and utter radicalism and implications of Abdullah Ocalan’s vision. The survival of the revolution rests not in securing a Kurdish State, but instead to export these ideas abroad. To make the blood of the martyrs raise the flood waters of all mankind and provide a blueprint for liberation.

Of course we began as communists, we began admiring the Cubans and it was the Russians and Palestinians that first trained armed resistance in the early days in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon. But we are not Communists or Nationalists anymore. Our thinking on the subject of liberation has evolved. The Cuban connection and the Palestinians connection are very real and enduring parts of the story.

But, when we all almost died on the mountain top, surrounded and out gunned in 2000 there were no Cubans, or Russians or Palestinians to help us as they were all defeated or fully besieged. By some miracle, or just by sheer will the Party survived. And the 1989 defeat of Communism internationally required us to climb higher, dig deeper to criticize and self-criticize. To adopt an evolution in our thinking. With our ranks decimated, the armed struggle In a complete stalemate, declared a terrorist organization by almost every European country; we evolved. The revolution could not ever be won with arms and ideology alone. Nor could we secure Kurdistan while every other nation on earth embraced “Capitalist Modernity”. To secure our victory and survival as a people in Bakur, Bashur, Rojhelat and Rojava we would embrace the ideas of a Jewish anarchist from Vermont, as re-interpreted in prison by Ocalan and implemented by the new largely female leadership of the Party. This methodology called “Democratic Confederalism”, adopted by the Party in 2004 would soon find actual expression in Rojava. The Wild West of Kurdistan, the North most area of Syria. In 2014 when the Civil War broke out the Party and its allied militias seized control of major towns and cities across Syria abandoned by the Assad regime. 

Thus we came down from the mountains, out of the underground and prepared to make a stand in Rojava where the radicals of the Islamic State were terrorizing our people and butchering everyone in their path. If we go back to the mountains it will signal only our isolation and defeat. If we hold these cities, if we showcase that we are fighting to defend not just for Kurds but for Arabs, Assyrians, Yazidis, Circassaians, Chechens and the Turkmen too; if we show that Democratic Confederalism is the solution, the way ahead for all oppressed peoples; then others will join us. And like the Nawruz mountain fires this uprising will eventually spread everywhere! There is a historic destiny to our revolution. To be victorious where all others failed!

Dramatic pause.

Out of habit, Comrade Target lights a cigarette and pours himself a cup of black tea. On the walls of the small office set up at the training base, which is also his room, Comrade Armraz looks the dead in the eyes. Or death in the eyes? Or perhaps both. As the posters of the martyrs plaster all the walls and the war expands everywhere around us.

Homage to Rojava, Pt. 1, Chp. 4

Chapter (4) Four

It’s not always so cold in Russia,” explains Polina Mazaeva, a Russian Chuvasan sympathizer and mother of a seven seven old named Yazan. Yazan was born to a Syrian Druze father who is not with them anymore. It’s complicated, yet not that complicated in virtually every society. As men abandoning women with their child is very old story actually in all cultures.

It’s just that we have had to exhibit a certain moralistic coldness. A certainly ethical chill. This was the experience of growing up in the ruins of the Soviet Union. But we are not without beliefs. We are not without our sympathies. You just have to be careful how you talk about them. Things need to be rational, they need to be sentimental but only if sentimentality is kept in letters or behind closed doors.   

Outside Moscow and St. Pete’s life is often lived poorly. Nationalism was at an all time high. When many have an internal critique about our leaders, or the price of buses. Or the treatment of homosexuals or Chechens, perhaps we keep it out of our heads. Because the United Russia Party has made many advances to restore us to national dignity. Curb the oligarchy to some degree and reign in the gangster-ism of the 1990’s. The infrastructure of the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod, outside the downtown area remains largely as it was in the late 1950’s. Optimistically better than what Stalin provided, but still brutalist, soul sucking Soviet crumble. Certainly the upcoming bus boycott will test the limits of ‘free speech’. There are piles of dirty snow all about the fourth largest city in the Federation. The very tall statue of Lenin still stands near the Hotel Marins Park. He’s still the default father of the nation. Only the ultra-wealthy have any admiration for the Czars, except for of course Peter the Great who stands tall over Moscow.”

Russia is a multiethnic, mostly single party oligarchic federation of some 158 nationalities, immediately east four hours from Moscow is the Chuvash Republic. The semi-central Asian Chuvash people are vaguely European and vaguely Asian; almost all are orthodox Christian and have never in remembered Russian history run afoul of the central authority. Never got themselves butchered or deported en-masse to Siberia. No, no, the Chuvash play well with others. The Chuvashan capital is Cheboksary on the Volga, but many can be found in Nizhny Novgorod, the Russian Detroit, once a closed and secret city called Gorky.

Who is Polina Mazaeva? A coy Russian Agit-prop? No, No, she actually has fallen in love with this tragic radical, Sebastian Adon. And they are preparing to meet, but have composed a number of Russian American, or Americano Soviet love songs and scribbles.

Why and when Sebastian and Polina began to write to each other is of no great mystery, both were in pure existential crisis. They wrote often and eloquently in the year leading up to his deployment in Kurdistan Syria and Iraq. These letters and poems all sounded similar, but not the same to previous love affairs across the Cold War, but they reinforced each others’; motivation. 

This is not a ballad for two people who move on. But fundamentally the reality of their underlying narrative was that one day Sebastian, who had more agency via his U.S. passport would fly to her and give her a new life. A more tragic but realistic understanding of the correspondence was that before he was going to do the hard part; give her and her son a new life; he would go to Syria, where obviously he could die. 

She brought the contradiction up only seldom. Their worst fights were Polina’s frequent accusations of Sebastian’s womanizing. Which was real, but not as magnified as she made. He wasn’t sleeping with every single woman friend he appeared in a Facebook photo with. But, he had lovers she didn’t see. He assumed she did too, but in reality, she did not. She loved the idea of him, but never expected him to ask for some mega long-distance monogamous relationship. It was strange. But she had a son and little Yazan kept her more faithful. Sebastian in the meantime took under half a dozen women to bed, the idea of Polina was sentimental to him, but also not exactly real. Periodically she would flip out over a woman he appeared with on social media. But, it would fade. Several times he threatened to cancel the Russian leg of the trip, but he didn’t actually want to. Russia was something he needed to see before he died. And, he probably will die out there like the 600,000 plus others who had perished in the war so far. Maybe in an airstrike, but likely from a mine. ISIS had allegedly booby-trapped every room of every house of every village, town and city they had occupied.

The correspondence was real. They uniquely relied on each other to float. The underlying assumption that their struggle was real, that Sebastian would die on some barricade rather than raise a family and that Yazan had sort of frozen her life into place. Sebastian had clearly acquired revolutionary delusion of grandeur and was now enslaved to his own expectations of heroism. Polina had fallen hard for her baby’s father and been rejected and abandoned. The Russian state and her parents shouldered some of the costs of raising a seven year old, but her life was a dull repetition and a soft cage.

Yes, the struggle was quite real!  Sebastian had several times averted ongoing suicidal ideations through her soft tone and patient words. Polina had taken on new online classes and high expectations of what was possible. While the flirtation with self-harm was mitigated by the responsibility of motherhood, she had dark times. They needed each other after a point. They waited happily for the next response which honestly flowed all day every day since he was an ambulance man and she was very per diem self-employed with information technology type assignments in graphic design. They wrote and wrote and wrote. Sometimes poems, songs or sketches. Sometimes he would tell her how hard he planned to fuck her, or she would write out something that seemed hard enough to be a rape scene. They both were getting what they needed out of it. A friend in a dark time. Two friends in long distance Post-Soviet love. Two dreamers who live in utter and total nightmares. It gave them something to believe in.

 Polina Ivanova Mazaeva throws back her crimson dyed hair and makes a pouty Chvashan face for a selfie. I love only three men! I love my son the very most, he is the future. He is happy and free and built from diverse parts. Yazan is his name and he is seven. Like any mother I have to love my son very first, even before myself! I am sometimes a dramatic and hysterical person, but this is who I am. Also, a jealous wife.

My mother is of unknown ethnicity, unknown as her mother was adopted as an orphan during the Great Patriotic War against Germany. Her father is a happy smiling Chuvash.

I love second, my forbidden ex-husband, Damien. He is in Dubai now, we tried hard to make this work, but he is Druze and I am Chuvasan, and never the two can be together. We tried. But it was too complicated. I love him still, I fantasize about him returning for me and carrying me off to the high tech parts of the Middle East, but he is gone.

Only the face of my son reminds me of him a little. They make fun of him in school and call him Arab, but this is not Arab. He is Chuvash, and Druze. Holy, actually, a reincarnated Druze inside him will speak in parables sometimes.

“My third love, and final for now is Mr. Comrade Sebastian Adonaev. An American. A New York revolutionary, a medical worker on ambulances and a very gifted artist. Perhaps better understood an upper middle class malcontent. Aspiring revolutionary? I hope he will not die in Syria, but statistically, it is probable. He has my heart in some strange way. Actually only with his spirited words.” 

Sebastian makes a lot of written reports, partly because he’s a writer and partly because his team is spread widely over four countries. He writes me love letters and also forwards technical reports. They are highly boring, but cast some insight into his Middle Eastern movements and affairs. I am not really invested in his brigade of foreign fighters bound for Syria, of course, but I admire them all for their relative bravery. Rather, it would be better if he just stayed in Russia with me when he arrives, which will apparently be on May Day 2017.

Sebastian writes to Polina frequently:

Dear Pauline,

There are eight people in or supporting the growing expeditionary party into Rojava. Some are working on the field ground and some from the safety of the U.S.A. Demhat al-Jabari, a Kurdish patriot I met in university, is negotiating with me in Kurdistan. He will likely go to Rojava, but return for school in the fall. Shoresh is an actual anarchist, he doesn’t really have a role as much as he showed up to fight in the Y.P.G. and perhaps do some gardening. The constant gardener doesn’t care about any bigger picture or whether Rojava will rise or fall, he will come for six months and depart. He has a wife and young baby, so it’s better, I guess. Alacan al-Biban Rasool is a Kurdish fixer boss. He’s a local to Erbil. He does Fixing, without ever taking money. Yelizaveta Kotlyarova is a Russian doctor, actually just a podiatrist, and Dr. Jordan Wagner is an ER doctor and they will do medical control from the stateside. Pete Saint Reed is a marineleading a little medical detachment inside Mosul. Justine Grace Schwab is working with Alacan al-Biban, also with Pete, and maybe could be our 8th; but she has savvy and magic and cunning, but doesn’t play on a team well.

Our overall contribution to the humanitarian side of the war in the end was under forty women and men deployed in Iraq under the auspices of Pete Reed’s N.G.O. Global Response Management, and mere four volunteers from abroad, myself and a gardener named Spike going up in the mountains, and over the river and into the Y.P.G. A Peruvian nurse named Francisco who worked briefly with Pete in the battle of Hawija, and a Kurdish American negotiator named Demhat al-Jabari. So Pete Saint Reed was definitely a better commander and focused wholly on the work in Iraq. 

“There are a lot of complications,” he claimed.  One may have been the lack of a reliable hotel bar in Rojava.

My unit of four, really three in the end was actually all we could manage to get over there and into Syria. Several dropped out, unexpectedly? No expediently expected. The American activist drama queen, “VIP leftist” Cecily Macmillan. A medical assistant in training named Joshua Hunter and a Ukrainian EMT named Philip. Syria is not actually an easy place to sell volunteerism in America.

Few of these volunteers, in the end, proved dependable, but who could really blame them in the face of the Syrian Civil War bloodbath. Only the Kurds Alacan al-Biban and Roj did any leg work, out of patriotism. Oh yes, Spike did his seven months but certainly, none of that was dedicated to the medical mission. He deployed to shoot.

Really Pete Reed’s success, if you can deem it any success what he actually accomplished, in Iraq was about managing to access the W.H.O. money.  His military veteran can do bravery and being embedded with the Iraqi Special Operations Forces helped a lot. The potential disaster of our Syria mission had most to do with the near-total inability to reinforce or evacuate our team once inside Syria, being therefore wholly dependent on the whims of the YPG. Which again, stands for People’s Protection Units, the P.K.K. mostly Kurdish militia fighting ISIS as the primary Coalition led proxy. Who allegedly, and in reality have a deep “martyr culture” and a sort of contempt for Western medical workers. 

Sebastian’s reports, like his mind, dig deep then ramble out into incomplete destinations. Actually almost no one read them besides Demhat, Alacan al-Biban and Polina; sometimes Mr. David Smith, or Arlington. On the subject of Polina and Sebastian;

“We are both writers and both artists, she took only a slight interest in my Middle Eastern Affairs.” So Sebastian thought, but that was not true she followed Russia in Syria closely. The Russian media anyway called it world war three. Polina wrote many email letters and some he printed out and carried with him in a leather binder.

Sebastian carried her letters about to reinforce himself when the weather was too hot which it always was and death would inevitably get too near, which it sometimes did. Such was one;

My Dear Comrade Sebastian,

Hi, Maybe because many of all in my life you don’t know. You are important for me, that’s why I am winding all, afraid to lose you. I don’t want to be selfish, it just happens. And I really didn’t want any relationship before I knew you better, because I needed to take a break after the last relationships, and do something with my psyche and my life. 

Why do I love you? When you wrote to me in October, I just couldn’t understand why you sent me such long letters. Especially because most of them were difficult for me to read. I just wanted to be polite and answered when I could. But then I saw that you feel bad, very bad. And I have a rule – if I have failed so far in my plans, I need to support those who don’t see for themselves how much they can do. You can do all you wish. You can gather people and organize them for common activities. For a good deal.  You are a wonderful person. You supported me later. And I began to be inspired by you. I learned how you feel, how you sympathize with other people, what your heart is. You have a beautiful smile and so much fire. Simply, we are all people, and we all have weaknesses that we have to contend with. And you too, and me.

Now you inspire me more and more, and I like your ideas, because I begin to understand them (it was difficult before because of the language barrier), and of course this feeling – I hate it, but I miss you constantly and I would not want to share you with anyone. I’m really unstable for the last three years, there were so many reasons, that’s why I did not want to get attached to anyone – it would create problems for everyone.

But you’re great, just know this. I love your strange smile. Your brown eyes. Even when they are tired after a hard day. I love your voice and I love your face. I love your body (so far imagined in the pictures), I love your thoughts and that thing which guides you, the reasons why you are and what you do. You are a very kind person, so you suffered a lot. And you are wonderful, in any case, even when your strength is running out. I just love you because you exist. I would follow you everywhere and support you in any crazy thing, and I would share with you my most beautiful night dreams. And if you were nearby, I couldn’t let you leave a bed, I would give you all of me. Simply, you are very important and forgive me, if somewhere my old complexes I project on you. I’m not perfect at this. Sorry. It happens in only one timeline, then leaves. Wait a little, please, you’ll see a lot of good from me. And I hope you feel a little better today or soon. If you need to speak about any of your problems I am always here.

Your comrade & your future lover,

Polina Ivanova Mazaeva

P.S.  

Don’t have affairs with other women or get killed in the war. There are actually many people besides me who care about you!

Homage to Rojava, Pt. 1, Chp. 3

Chapter (3) Three



It is not that any of us longed to die. It was only that we believed that in this transience, this short human life, it was preferable to die on one’s feet moving towards a just idea. Moving in solidarity, in defense of the powerless. Then it would be to die on our backs or our knees, half-lives, shuffling along like zombies. Always asleep. With meaningless, un-free lives wasted. Lives were spent like wallowing serfs and base slaves.  
Have you ever had an amazing noble idea in your head? That simply refused to translate itself or find traction in reality? Have you ever risked everything, sacrificed absolutely everything for such an idea? Myopically, almost psychotically pushing forward in the face of a stubborn, intractable cruel reality. When you can bring yourself to do that. To engage in nothing short of overwhelming zealotry. Pursuing a new reality, a reality where the vast suffering of this world is mitigated. Where the chaos and carnage and daily humiliation that is the lot of most humans is undone by rights, by hope, by heroism. That is called the “motivation for the fight”.  
It has been a very long hard bloody road to the mountains and back from them. From Manhattan to Jerusalem to Havana. All the trips to the City of Port-Au-Prince. To Greater Boston. Back to Brooklyn then to Russia. Across Russia on a train then into the Middle East to fight in Rojava. Iraq, Turkey, Syria and Egypt and then back to the Big Apple again. Riding on the backs of armored trucks and flying carpets. On horses, on tanks, on airships. Over the great rivers and through the woods. Mountains beyond mountains beyond mountains. With stopovers where all civilization has come to a resolute end in the Fertile Crescent. Smoldering villages. Enormous cities razed to the very foundations. Once historic places, simply crushed and undone. Burning down river by river shore to deep sands of desolation. A revolution within a civil war within an endless third world war. A place called Kurdistan which exists not on maps but in the hearts and dreams of perhaps forty million stateless, long oppressed people. Engaged a very long fight for their right to exist.  
How do you make any sense of such carnage to people that were not there? How do you make an enjoyable narrative about bloody chaos? Articulate ideas that when they become facts on the ground, have vast contradictions. Have improbable capability to survive.  
My name is Sebastian Adonaev, but the Kurds named me “Blacksmith Winter”, or Kawa Zivistan. The Arabs needed to name me too in a way familiar to them so they called me “Abu Yazan”. Because my then-part-girlfriend, part-confidant Polina has a son named Yazan. I was 33 when I deployed but looked and felt a bit younger. I felt brave or stupid enough to volunteer for a war. At the most desperate heights of the conflict, which would end up killing over 500,000 people, there was a cry for some extra hands, some Hamsas. Every side called up all available reinforcements. Just before Baghdad almost fell, the mostly Shiite al-Hashid ash-Sha’bi Popular Mobilization Forces called up half a million Iraqis to hold I.S.I.S. back.  The Assad Regime enlisted thousands of Russian, Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah to fight Daesh and other Sunni rebel factions aligned with ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Free Syrian Army brands and the Al Qaeda reboot H.T.S. The so-called Islamic State took in over 40,000 foreign fighters and the mostly Kurdish forces in the “Syrian Democratic Forces”  enlisted just 500. I fought alongside the Iraqi Special Operations Forces in Iraq and for the Syrian Democratic Forces, in the Y.P.G. Militia defending the idea of Rojava in Syria. I contributed very few bullets, mostly serving as combat medic during my time there. Mostly stopping hemorrhage and carrying the wounded to ambulances. Mostly trying to train people to save lives, actually, at a time when almost everyone wanted to kill. 
After defeating the so-called “Islamic State” as a force holding any territory, the United States military all but completely abandoned their Kurdish allies and Turkey invaded Rojava. Yet, she did not fall.
We who survived to talk about the Syrian Civil War, we often found there were not easy words to describe what we took part in. This is a story grounded in history and ideology. The tale of a stateless people spread over 4 nations, over 40 million strong. This is a love song after a series of hard fucks in Spanish and some love making in Russian. This is a Post-Soviet Lullaby, written in Imperial English about Western privileges. I have heard on the wire that the Turkish Army is fully mobilizing to crush Rojava. A fully modern army of over 435,000 soldiers. That Anya is losing her mind in Baghdad and Ana Campbell, that optimistic young woman I once gave hand grenades to, well she died in an airstrike in Afrin. Here I am in Capitalist Modernity’s very heartland and loving embrace. Doing nothing useful for Kurdistan. Just writing stupid love songs. Composing vain self serving propaganda plays.
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 I don’t even know what actually makes compelling propaganda in the West anyway. Actually, the sly and looming enemy knows most of our real names, and frankly there were 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 later perished. Mostly in combat, some in 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 little manuscript? It is certainly not to glorify or denigrate the volunteers. I think it’s brave we went there but I don’t think we 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 to give away military secrets and name names, because I am many things but not a Josh, a ‘donkey ass betrayer’. Suffice to say the CIA, MI6 and the MIT. have all of 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 N.A.T.O. ally and what not. Assisting a revolution for stateless democracy, women’s emancipation and social ecology in the heart of the war torn Middle East. ‘Heval Ciya’ the Scottsman 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 to 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 halfway 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, 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 Heval, just make it a kind of strange fucked up love story,” Jansher joked with me over cigarettes and endless black tea. He probably would never have cursed. As he was living a life of “unlimited modesty”.

So I hope this account manages some of that, compiling the oral history, experiences and many martyrdom shared amongst the approximate 500-600 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 footnote in the epic tale of Kurdistan. But still a part of 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, actually”. 

“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, actually.”
He always punctuates, or punctuated his thoughts with “actually”.
“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 600 who served and the 45 who died besides the 12,000 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 the kinds of little talks we had at the Qerechow Academy. Like a father and son seated on the floor of a small office, in a tiny outpost at the end of the world. 

That said, this is not a love story at all. It’s not even “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 into 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 southeast 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. Everything might be wiped away before you even paid attention to the vastness and hope of it. I worry, no sadly I expect, that long before this manuscript is ever published anywhere, all will be lost. My remaining Hevals will all be killed. The Turkish Army will literally roll over the border and everyone will be slaughtered. This isn’t really speculation, since it has happened many times before.

Homage to Rojava, Pt. 1, Chp. 2

Chapter (2) Two

Dem Baş Heval,

We are glad to hear that you want to come to Rojava and support the YPG.

This is a standard procedure we follow in order to determine whether you seriously consider coming here. In order to proceed to our communication, you are expected to answer the questions below. If we know you better, we would figure out how you would help us during your stay here. This is not a one sided phase. The more we know you, the more you will be informed about our principles, our expectations and about the challenges you will face. We do not want you to be disappointed and frustrated here. We highly value those who want to offer their solidarity and struggle with us shoulder to shoulder against the enemies of humanity in the name of freedom and justice.

The YPG strives for a democratic, ecologic, and anti-patriarchal system of self-organization; it takes its power from the people and fights for the people. We struggle to defend the dignity of being a human when there is no one around to defend it and to create an ethico-political society in order to realize ideals of equality, justice, freedom, and self-determination. We wage a war against all forms of fascism and capitalist hegemony that try to enslave the peoples and destroy the nature. We get our inspiration from the philosophy of Serok APO whose ideas have become a torch in the jungle of oppression for the poor and the downtrodden; not only in Kurdistan but also in all around the world.

The YPG is more than a military force. It is a revolutionary organization that protects the transformation towards the ethical-political society against its external and internal enemies in accordance with the principles of democratic confederalism. So its fundamental mission is to defend the people and the Rojava Revolution. Based on the philosophy of Serok APO, the YPG struggles for a free and democratic Syria where tolerance towards other political views, religions, sects, ethnicities, cultures, and languages is a fundamental value. In this sense the YPG is democratic and legitimate self-defense force against hegemonic assaults of capitalist modernity and against pathological ideologies such as ISIS that had been produced by capitalist modernity itself along with a deep crisis in the Middle East.

The YPG is one of the forces in the Middle East that offers an alternative to capitalist modernity and its freakish products: the solution of democratic modernity. This alternative solution is not an abstract formulation; nor is it a salaried speculation. It offers

economic community’ as an alternative to capitalism. It confronts the industrialism of capitalism through an ecological-economic community. It contests with nation-statism through an ethical-political society. This, however, radical and realistic position the YPG defends militarily, creates enemies more than it creates friends. Turkish state in the north for example is cooperating with ISIS. The KDP as the representative of the primitive-nationalist and petty-bourgeois line in the Middle Eastern political spectrum cooperates with the Turkish state, and tries to suffocate.

Rojava with closed borders and with embargoes, and even attacks to Kurdish people in collaboration with the Turkish state. If the Assad regime does not attack the YPG now, it is because it has powerful enemies around itself that wait for an opportunity to strangle

it. Despite the defensive position of ISIS, it seems that it will take more time to defeat these murderers completely. But that the YPG struggles with enemies of humanity and defends the transformation of Rojava in the direction of a democratic modernity is being appreciated

every day more and more by many. Dozens of the YPG martyrs from Germany to Australia and of the internationalist revolutionaries who fell fighting shoulder to shoulder with the red star of the YPG and of the YPJ are proof that the Rojava Revolution has already become an internationalist revolution that would never be extinguished.

To achieve a revolution is hard work, to protect it is harder; if not the hardest of all ethical-political activities. If a revolution does not gain a global dimension by establishing a network of solidarities everywhere, it is bound to be defeated by the reactionary forces and

byproducts of capitalist modernity. Hence, as Serok Apo points out in “Democratic Confederalism” that has been translated by International Initiative, “We need to put up a platform of national civil societies in terms of a confederate assembly to oppose the United Nations as an association of nation-states under the leadership of the superpowers”. So, people from all around the world, those who think that another world is possible and that one has to fight and confront with the monsters to make another world possible, would contribute to the platform that would spread the revolution of peace and justice.

You can download the books below and learn more about Serok APO’s ideas that inspire us. Please let us know about your opinions on the books that are expressed in the four works by Serok Apo we are sending you below.

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-Democratic-Confederalism.pdf

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Ocalan-War-and-Peace-in-Kurdistan.pdf

http://www.freeocalan.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/liberating-Lifefinal.pdf

http://www.ocalan-books.com/downloads/en-brochure-democratic-nation_2017.pdf

If you want to support the YPG in Rojava you should then do this for the values of humanity, and not only for your own agenda. You won’t be fighting here for money. We won’t tolerate those who only seek fame through our struggle. What we can offer you is the possibility to join an honorable struggle for the values of humanity in the search for the truth and the right way of life and the possibility to learn more about the most important progressive revolution and struggle right now on the planet.

We prefer to have people here who want to be part of this for the right reasons. We don’t need people who think that they are Rambo – and please no Fascists. Rojava is not an adventure park, this war is not a Hollywood film and the YPG is not a PR-Agency.The YPG is not a place for people who like to kill people because of their beliefs and identities. We won’t tolerate people here among us in the YPG who are actual members of police, army or intelligence services. There  are other channels for these institutions to contact with the political and military institutions of the Rojava Revolution.

Supporting the YPG in Rojava is hard work, and you will need much effort and patience. Rojava is not a place for exotic holiday trips or for adventures. Supporting the YPG is not a game, and no fun activity for bored people.  Read this text carefully, these are the most important basics that you have to know and understand if you want to support the YPG in Rojava. When you have read this text and you are still willing to come to Rojava to support the YPG then you should answer the questions below.

These are the characteristics that people should have who wish to support the YPG in Rojava:

1. Serious in thinking, speaking and acting.

2. Honest and determined.

3. Respectful for different ways of thinking and living, cultures and beliefs of the people in the Middle East and ethical and cultural values of the YPG.

4. Willing to integrate into the system of the YPG and willing to learn, work, and live in a collective way.

5. Disciplined, sincere, and modest.

6. Patient and able to build up strong social relationships.

7. Open-Minded and ready to criticize and to be criticized.

8. Positive thinking and constructive acting.

9. Respecting the idea of womens’ liberation and its practical organizations.

10. Willing to embrace defending and serving the people as the most important principle.

You do not need to be ex-special forces, even not a former soldier, but of course military experience would be helpful.  We appreciate people who share their tactical and technical knowledge and people with experiences and constructive criticism, but you should keep in mind that we are not amateurs. Our six years of experience against our enemies would easily prove this. However, we are always open to learn new things, to develop ourselves, to work with a self-critical approach, and to overcome our failures for better outcomes.

People with special skills and knowledge would do a plethora of things here in Rojava and in the YPG, but to be able to do that you have to learn a basic level of Kurdish and you have to understand some basic things about the Rojava Revolution and culture, history, ethical values and mentality of the people of the Middle East. Besides, you should have some understanding of political, economical, social, and military situation of Rojava, Kurdistan, and the Middle East. You will find a completely different reality here. Without a certain level of understanding of all this, a sense of frustration would be inevitable. In order to prevent this, basic training will be provided for you.

If you are physically and mentally fit and healthy, open-minded and patient, willing to respect our culture and values, and ready to learn, to work, and to fight constantly for a minimum of 6 months in a war-torn Middle East country; then you would support the YPG in Rojava. Do not expect Western standards of material luxury and prepare for a life without internet and smart-phones. Do expect harsh conditions concerning food and sleep. Be aware of the fact that you will have to adapt to a foreign cultural and ideological context and military standards and rules.

What we want to know about you:

The following questions can be a help for you to write a text which is able to show us how serious and realistic you are with your decision to support the YPG in Rojava. The last part of the questions, part d), you just have to answer with yes or no. Copy and paste part d) and write your answers next to the questions.

Homage to Rojava, Pt.1, Chp.1

Chapter (1) One



A flaming, low lying wreckage spreads out before us in every direction. The ruins of an already desolate land. Sprawling two story compounds along a mighty river. Pock marked with rifle rounds. Misery absolutely everywhere. Syria is now a bi-word for total warfare, over 600,000 have so far died. A Revolution in a Civil War. A Third World War using several dozen proxy armies is underway. Russia, Iran, China, America and Europe all have their boots on the ground. In Northern Syria, an unrecognized administration in three cantons protects 4 million civilians and internal refugees. A Kurdish lead project for democracy, ethnic pluralism, women’s empowerment and something called ‘social ecology’. The sun bakes you and the dust gets into absolutely everything.

In Deir Ez-Zor Province, a wasteland along the North bank of the Euphrates, in a few hundred hamlets, from their ‘capitals’ in Raqqa and Mosul, Iraq the most hateful and radical of Islamic fascists rules over 10 million persons. Some happily embrace its Caliph Baghdadi as the fulfillment of prophecy. Over 50,000 Muslim Jihadists from around the world arrived to reinforce this effort. At its maximum the Islamic State occupied massive swaths of Eastern Syria and North western Iraq, it threatened to capture Baghdad and Damascus.
Deir Ez-Zor was one of the very first Syrian cities in 2011 to stage large scale demonstrations against the Assad Regime. In 2014 ISIS took over the city with little resistance leaving only a small pocket of pro-Assad military and perhaps over 100,000 civilian supporters cut off in an airbase and small section of the city. Supplied by helicopters and high altitude drop services the besieged garrison deep inside the ISIS control zone resisted capture for over 3 years and 2 months.  
The siege of Deir Ez-Zor Airbase garrison lasted a very long time. ‘Daesh’ controlled everything except a small military airport which the Russians and Regime supplied by air for all of the war, but could not re-take, along with the city until just a month ago when it was “liberated” on 3rd November, 2017 by the SAA and the Russians. 
At some point the Regime soldiers made the local women trade sex for basic rations of food. There were rarely sympathetic forces in the war, besides ours. But even the Y.P.G. conscripts children, forces Arabs off their land and dabbles in war crimes from time to time, to time. Now, on the South bank, Assad Regime forces, Hezbollah, Iranian Revolutionary guards and Russian special forces push south east down the southern bank of the River while Syrian Democratic Forces and United States lead coalition forces pushed rapidly south to the Euphrates North bank, both sides maneuvering to secure the majority of the Syrian oil fields. The S.D.F. capturing most of them. Now we slowly begin the final offensive to capture Isis’s last strongholds, moving down the river toward Hajin. Trying not to kick off World War Three.
“Perhaps I am not where I am supposed to be,” muses Heval Ciya, “Perhaps here, I will die for nothing at all. We can be killed so easily by anything, then they will dance about with my corpse making speeches in Kurmanji for a day, until my death takes on significance that it probably never had.” 
Heval Ciya Zinar is the name they gave me. “Comrade Friend Mountain Rock”. I am a separatism minded Scottish Soldier. Although still a member of the British army, I voted for independence in our latest failed referendum. I am a gentleman by most accounts and a Y.P.G. International Volunteer. I have absolutely no political sympathies with the Kurdish lead formations, though I possess formal military training, making me more valuable than most of these preachy, useless ideologically motivated volunteers. 

“There’s dust in my beard and men die all around me!”

As we grew closer to the Euphrates we can see fire in the sky and the night is lit up with heavy coalition airstrikes somewhere far away to the south. The convoy of nine trucks had left Al Hasakah, the largest rebel held city in the morning and drove about five hours south toward some forward operating base. The eight of us internationals had not been issued weapons until halfway to the front. We stopped of course several times for obligatory tea and some volleyball. The sport of ‘Apoist’ revolution. Sometimes we’d stop at what seemed like the same identical storefront kiosk, next to well stocked pharmacies. The road bodega of Kurdistan is stocked with energy drinks, smokes and Turkish day to day items, never toilet paper. All the toilet paper in Syria was now gone. There we bought energy drinks and cigarettes of a more potent type, as the party issued Ardens were lights or ultra lights at best. There was tons of canned Pepsi, but no Coca-Cola throughout the liberated zones. Real freedom evidently has not been won yet.
In the first battle that I participated in during the Syrian Civil War five Arab soldiers in our S.D.F./ Y.P.G. Unit were blown to bits by mines and mortars as we stormed the river basin a little after midnight. Evidently, there were far more Daesh entrenched than we had thought. From a dirt sand trench I fired my AK-47 shiftlessly over the wall, peaking out I saw an Arab comrade ripped apart by gun fire and collapse in the sand.
The fire fight resumed immediately after a short re-calibration of the battle plan, after Heval Commander Dalil’s men were buried. A larger number of Kasadeh were trucked in, barely trained. Half or more might have fought for Daesh or the Regime at some point. Child soldiers all over the place. A major conscription drive happened, even some cadro tabors were moved in. This was a race to secure as much turf north of the Euphrates as we could as quickly as we could, creating a defensible buffer against the regime, Russians and Iranians to secure the oil fields. Of course, implicit in all that was to finish Daesh for good. Smash their final positions along 60 to 100 hamlets and miserable dust cake boney towns leading to Hajin, for the very last stand of the caliphate. 
Very bad intelligence friends! The bandits were still very well dug in, refugees were swarming out and among them suicide bombers. Five so far. it was impossible to know anymore who was Daesh or not among the refugees flooding out. Some two dozen Arab Hevals were martyred the first night of the operation. We were down the hardcore of the elite, the foreign fighter zealots, their families. Motorcycles with snipers affixed to reposition.  Sleeper cell deployment, suicide bombers, booby traps, tunnel mines, the usual. Now they would in four battalions capture about fifty tiny key destitute towns working south in several prongs toward the river. 
“If you see a helicopter, don’t shoot at it!” Dalal had said, it was our new resupply drop copters. We allegedly had a very, very small air force now. “Do not shoot at the helicopters in general,” was repeated several times in Arabic and Kurdish.
“Also, also! If the regime forces fire, return fire, but do not engage them. Unless they actually cross the river.” Declared Commander Heval Brusk, which means ‘commander lightning’. Commander lightning then personally presided over a few hours on conscript drills. None of these bearded partisans were trusted with grenades.
So the very next day, at early dawn, ten of the destitution ridden little seemingly strategic ISIS hamlets were again stormed. 
There was chaotic gun fire erupting everywhere. There were utterly ransacked two story brown buildings all unfinished, all about the same shattered look. From several positions Takim commandos were firing endlessly from roof tops and sniper holes out toward where it was believed the enemy was hiding. A mosque about half a kilometer away. Well of course every Daesh position was in a mosque, hospital or granary since nothing else was defensible. 
This was a mostly one sided AK-47 and mortar barrage. Much of the war had proceeded like this, pickup trucks dripping light infantry to storm abandoned Arab homes and light up anything that moved. Loot absolutely anything that wasn’t made of sand and carry it back north. One pipe, one water basin, one carpet at a time.
A small child ran out into the road and was blown away. Briefly a pause, until he was clearly limp and dead. A day or two more of endless AK fire, sometimes at night too. Eventually the Americans were told to bomb the mosque. Spotters transmit grid coordinates. Soon, about 5 minutes later an airstrike rips apart the mosque. Battle won! 
Many people have written at length about “how boring” it can be to be at war, but it is more terrifying than boring, actually Heval. You do your best to not think about how men and women far more prepared than yourself took a wrong turn and then just exploded. Or how a sniper cut them down. Or how they died in a Turkish airstrike. Or contracted hepatitis because of poor local appreciation of pooping with toilet paper and hand washing, then eating.
The boredom of war Heval is perhaps a cover for a sneaking debilitating fear, so that is what people write about. Being bored, instead of being afraid. And in a war such as this certainly you sit around quite a lot drinking tea, smoking weak Party issued cigarettes and standing guard. Or looking for strategic places to jerk off or poop without setting off a mine. But nothing for us was the same for very long and thus all the time you spent sitting around was better spent ‘conversating’ on the Revolution’s bleak future, or studying some Kurdish, or horsing around with the Arabs. Who loved to try and communicate actually. And also show you pornography and awkwardly try and steal, trade for or buy your hand grenades. Or ask you to bring them to America or Europe hidden in a bag. Jokes abound, but really it is only you who will be brought back to Europe or America in a bag.
While very few of us actually spoke any real Kurmanji Kurdish or Arabic, it seemed that the Arabs were far more interested in us than the Kurds though. I would call the Kurdish commanders attitude, begrudging appreciation and that of the rank and file borderline insulting. I would go so far as to say that at this stage in the war, being fought in majority Arab zones now by the Euphrates river that an increasing number of the front line fighters were Kasadeh, non Kurdish Arab S.D.F. fighters. The Assyrians too had a small group, less than a few hundred men, many little kids and old men. Many poorly trained and poorly paid semi conscripts. Many were not even very against the Islamic State, more eager to shoot at the Russians and regime forces on the other side of the river. With the Kadros being withheld in clear preparation for the impending defense of Afrin Canton. 
In retrospect I assume that Heval Fermander Dalil probably saved our lives by abandoning us in a rear fox hole in the dead of night. The ten internationalists that I was aware of were placed further back in the rear, but Heval Shervan ‘the crazed Irish gypsy’ commandeered a Humvee and caught us up, without any invitation to the troops of “Fermander Dalil”.
I remember freezing out in the dunes all night long while the Arab fighters shared neither bedding nor blanket. It was so bitterly god damn cold! Sometimes Heval Kawa, the idealistic New Yorker and I talk about the girls back home. I talk about my Ms. Ashley. He talks about his “Goldy”. Some escort Russian he has some arty muse thing with. Pretty much this is what men at war do. Although in my case, I motorboated my female best friend. In his case it seems a bit more fucking dark and tragic.

Sometimes I close my eyes and remember your lips. Late into the long trip back to Brighton to your so-called home. I have no home, only ugly little flats around Brooklyn soviet which I rent out of poverty, artless and shared. Decorated with trinkets. I’ll never go back! To you or to Russia, or Haiti, nor to Mehanata the tavern or even dear Cuba! All these things are a form of slavery now. Your lingering Daria, it takes the form of ruminations on WhatsApp messages telling me to “come home”. But to what? To nothing. Life here is hard, but it is free life as they say.” 
Kawa, the so-called American,  is more a poet than a medic in his heart of hearts. Me? I am simply a Scottish warrior. I long for the fight and I got some.
I was deployed into the Deir Ez-Zor Province wastelands about ten days ago to the front near Omar, Daesh is nearly completely defeated they say, but everyday we are taking martyr bodies back to Al-Hasake. Assigned briefly to the Tabor Shahid Lawrence; we lost fifty men in the first few battles to advance south on the mighty Euphrates river. After all that initial death it seems they aim to break up our group of internationalists into different places. They do not want us all to die at once. They do not really seem to have achieved consensus or a plan on where we should be or when and if we should die, or what we are actually even good for. Or what to do when ISIS is finished, and America abandons them and the Turkish Army rolls over the border to kill us all. A heated internal debate is constantly held in both Turkish and Kurdish. Sometimes also in Arabic. Which always ends inconclusively. Well its a complex matter anyway. So many ways to die out here for the greatest cause of our time.
On this matter Kawa and I agree, that whatever motives brought us all to this wasteland, this place of dying and suffering over made up Gods and ideologies, invented ethnicities and world war three style great power politics; this was the resistance of the age. This was a battle between good men, bad men and crazy men who could not sit out. Because when the smoke clears there will be a different Middle East, a different world. I am no ideologue. I am no dreamer or religious fanatic. I am a professional soldier. While it is not unreasonable to say the Assad Regime backed by Russia and Iran, the Turks, Al Qaeda and of course the Daesh, are unequivocal forces of religious fanatical reaction, of fascism, or totalitarianism and death, well they are. While the Kurds and Arabs of Y.P.G./Y.P.J./S.D.F. are not saints of course. We are not angels here to help do some God’s work. We are fighting for democracy, feminism, ecology and tolerance in the heart of the Middle East. As opposed to all the other groups that are fighting for radical Islam, chauvinism, fascism and the right to impose the will of the minority on the majority. 
Did you know that when you take off a person’s uniform to bury them, you cannot tell a fascist corpse, from a democratic corpse, from a Daesh corpse, not even from the length of the beard? Those three and letter affiliations, they don’t matter anyway. It matters more, the stuff inside a person’s heart. Their moral compass. Not the length of the beard or who they pray to. Not the historic struggle of their people or their claim to the rivers. When true warriors die, they might not end up anywhere glorious. They might just be dead. The “immortality” we are achieving in our death here is thus rooted in the way the story is framed. Which is to say, whoever wins the war. But can you really win a revolution inside a civil war, inside a World War?  I see absolutely no good end in sight. Most likely, we will all get killed ingloriously. But there is of course a timeless epic glory for young men of all cultures to join a seemingly impossible battle, risk their lives and join a pantheon of immortal heroes. Of course, the Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds, Turks, Chechens, Turkmen, Persians, and all the other micro-ethnic tribes gathered here to make war, well they sadly all have no choices. These are the oil-rich, strategic holy lands and mountains they were cursed perhaps by their gods to be born in. 
How did we even get here? How did this motley group of around 800 mostly Western foreigners take up the cause of Kurdistan? 
Well, it began with a letter of introduction. As well as four short pamphlets that were written by the Uncle Leader himself, while serving twenty-one years in solitary confinement on the Turkish prison island of Imrali.  These pamphlets attempt to paraphrase thousands and thousands of handwritten theoretical documents smuggled out by his lawyers from Imrali. The name if this 8-volume treatise are called alternatively “Democratic Confederalism” or “the Defenses of Abdullah Ocalan.”