YPG Spokesperson: We are a model for entire Syria
The YPG spokesperson assessed the role of the YPG/YPJ forces in the six years of Rojava Revolution.
“As YPG and YPJ forces within the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), we have proved to the world in these 6 years that we have worked and fought in the interests of the country and the society”, said YPG Spokesperson Nuri Mahmoud.
“We have proved that we work as a Syrian institution, a legitimate defense organization. We have made no difference and served the whole society: Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, Circassians, Sunnis, Alevis, Muslims, Christians, all faiths and communities”, he added.
Mahmoud answered questions about the political and military situation in Syria on the 6th anniversary of the Rojava Revolution, the role of YPG and YPJ in the Rojava Revolution, and where he sees the YPG in the future of Syria. He also claimed that they will liberate Afrin.
How were the YPG and YPJ, the basic defense force of the revolution, established? How did the beginning of the revolution and the establishment of YPG affect each other?
As you know, Syria had a despotic, dictatorial form of government. This administration used all government agencies for its own purpose. The existing institutions did not serve the interests of the people, the administration was far from responding to the hopes of society. This led the Syrian people to search a more democratic and free system. In particular, the Kurdish people, who had been denied identities and who actually were living as foreigners in the lands where they had settled, were also searching a new way.
As it happened, everyone was looking for change; for the creation of a new system. They were working for the start of a revolution. In 2012, the people moved against the system asking for a solution; but some circles and forces wanted to channel this revolutionary energy for their own interests. Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran organised some segments of the society from within Syria to achieve their own goals.
The people of Rojava, especially the Kurds, proposed a third way in this revolutionary movement. The YPG emerged as a revolutionary force in such a period to provide both protection to these values and the formation of an alternative society system. Up to a certain point in 2011 there were some structures to defend neighborhoods and streets. But as the revolution progressed, there was a need for a new organization able to defend the people as long as the regime was not democratized and regime forces stopped defending the people. The YPG was set up by the youth of the people to answer such a need and in order to protect the values and achievements of the society, to overcome obstacles before establishing an alternative system and to set up its own free and democratic system.
This force protected the people. For example, in the neighborhoods the people protected their homes, protected the cantonal system. In areas where YPG has carried out the defense, there had been a serious concern with the self-development and organization of the community. So, in the areas where YPG were located, Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Turkmen, Circassians, Christians, Yazidis, Muslims, all developed democratic movements such as creating people’s houses and cantons. This enabled the YPG to exercise its legitimate defensive role. In other words, YPG and the later YPJ forces ensured that the people could solve the problems, develop their own system and lead the solution in Syria. The YPG is still working on this basis.
As you know, solutions projects have developed only in the areas that YPG has defended. But when we look at the areas where there are no YPG forces, you would see that terrorism, mercenaries and foreign states are at work. Instead of protecting and building Syria, Syria was sold in these regions, massacres against the people were carried out, people were forced to emigrate, and no one currently is taking responsibility for this situation. In other words, a social and democratic model emerged in areas where YPG carried out their defense mission.
The YPJ were set up on 4 April 2013. How did the establishment and active struggle of the YPJ affect the YPG and the military struggle in Rojava?
The YPJ have organized and developed themselves within the YPG. The belief was that the rights of women in Syria and our region had been seized. The woman had no will in all areas of life such as politics, defense, economy. In order for the women to gain freedom, women in Rojava and Northern Syria established the YPJ forces under the understanding that the "freedom of women is the freedom of the society".
But the establishment of the YPJ allowed women to take part with their own features and develop their own military structure. Of course, after the establishment of the YPJ, women's organizations were established in different fields. The belief that the YPJ provided a model added colour to the Northern Syrian Revolution. Thus, women played a leading role in the Rojava-Northern Syrian Revolution with their own features and characteristics.
The presence of women in this revolution showed the democratic nature of the system we were to establish. The YPJ guarantee women's achievements in this revolution. The self-defense of women ensures strong participation in all decisions of the society. The existence of the YPJ maintains such values. Whatever the system, women played a role in strengthening all areas with their presence and ensure the defense of this system so it won’t be trapped into a male-dominated mentality.
The YPJ proved that women are not ornaments to the whole world, especially to the revolutionary Northern Syrian people, and showed that women can defend themselves, they can do politics, they can carry out diplomacy and economy work, as well as develop military tactics and strategies. It proved in practice that it is a viable model of defence of the society and its achievements.
In all the steps taken in Northern Syria and Rojava, there is a woman's signature. In Rojava and the Northern Syrian Revolution, the heroism of many women friends, such as Avesta and Arin Mirkan, is clear.
As in the case of other heroes, the heroism of women within this revolution is clear. This defense organisation was established in a natural way as a legitimate defense organization of women and the society. The YPJ played a clear role in the Rojava and Northern Syrian Revolution because the principles and objectives were clear. For this reason, in Northern Syria and Rojava, women preserved their will, determination and freedom without being influenced by the male sovereign mentality.
Again, the establishment of the YPJ led to the professionalization of women in the military field with their own features, while the organized women's power led the YPG to become more democratized and clearer in the women's liberation struggle. It gave a beautiful color to Rojava and Northern Syrian women and society. It was a model for the whole world.
What role did the YPG and YPJ play in the philosophy behind the Rojava Revolution which is now 6 years old?
When we consider the past 6 years, there was a regime army and there was a structure that called itself Free Syrian Army (FSA). They were promoting themselves as armies. They addressed the global scene; they were regarded as a professional force to protect the society and institutions. However, we have seen that these forces have turned out to be a terrorist force. They are the forces that think only of their own interests.
The former army of Syria and the structure called FSA were responsible of a great deal of massacres against the people. This has led to major developments. ISIS has entered the scene taking hold of Raqqa. Later on, it showed its presence in Middle Eastern countries like Iraq, Yemen and Libya, and carried out terrorist actions around the world. With the presence of these two armies, ISIS grew and expanded. It reached the outskirts of Damascus and Baghdad. Terror spread everywhere. ISIS has grown until reaching Kobanê. However, with the resistance in Kobanê, a situation emerged which proved that victory could be won against ISIS, a force with which the world could not cope.
So after 6 years, we see that the armies and structures that see themselves in charge of protecting the society and institutions do not act in line with these aims. The system they want to create, their organizational structures, are no longer subject to the demands and interests of society.
But when we look at YPG-YPJ, the situation is exactly the opposite. YPG has become a force moving in line with the goals and principles of society. The society has not done anything different from enhancing these principles, apart from the debate on democracy and the removal of obstacles in front of system and project development. The 6-year process showed us that YPG-YPJ is an alternative to these armies. YPG-YPJ is the model that can defend the society and institutions.
What is the difference between the YPG of 6 years ago and the YPG of today? What is the change in the military tactics, techniques and equipment of the YPG?
Six years ago, the YPG were established to respond to simple and basic requests. The YPG-YPJ believed that it would be an alternative to all the regional forces and the armed forces. With very limited and weak opportunities, the people started with the possibilities available to them. But resistance to the attacks against Rojava and Northern Syria have brought with them a great deal of experience. These experiences allowed YPG-YPJ to introduce themselves to the world. As you know, it has been the main force of the international coalition for the last 6 years. The US, Russia and the regional powers, that wanted to fight against ISIS, have all made alliances with YPG-YPJ. The YPG-YPJ have brought ISIS to the end of this process, especially after the Kobanê resistance.
It has been successful in tactics, strategy, command, actions. Again, the safest and areas are those liberated from ISIS and under control of the YPG-YPJ. Although the YPG-YPJ carry out defense activities in some cities, their model has set an example in other areas. The YPG developed in Cizire, Kobanê and Afrin, but it was seen as a model and Syria force in many other regions.
As you mentioned, there are also other military organizations in Rojava and Northern Syria that have taken the YPG and YPJ as a model. How do you connect with other forces?
When the YPG went to other regions and cities from its own, it needed to create specific forces there, with a meaning to the different people. Undoubtedly, the YPG played a crucial role in the formation of these forces. The YPG-YPJ forces together with the Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, Girê Spî, Manbij Military Councils and youth, saved those territories from ISIS.
The YPG-YPJ is the most viable model for these cities. The experience of YPG-YPJ was important: each city created its own military council, and structures such as Sotoro, Sanadid, Syriac Military Council.
If there is a relationship between these forces and us: after most cities of Northern Syria were liberated, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were established as an umbrella force.
The SDF stands out as a model for all of Syria. In the framework of the SDF, we have an alliance with Northern Syrian forces to protect society and its achievements. The YPG, which has existed since the very beginning, has great experience, tactics and strategy. For this reason, the YPG is always ready to support all the Syrian forces acting according to the principles of the revolution, and to provide support against possible attacks, to protect the Syrian cities, to open the way for freedom and democracy. It is in this way that our alliances and relations develop within the SDF.
Afrin has been occupied as it seems with the agreement of international forces. The YPG and YPJ forces have been withdrawn from the city, however the resistance is continuing. As you enter the 7th year of the revolution, at what stage is the Afrin resistance?
As it is known, the war against Afrin developed after we destroyed ISIS in Raqqa, the capital of the terrorist organization. We were about to liberate all areas of Deir ez-Zor with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDG) from ISIS. It was clear that the ISIS was a project of Turkey and Qatar to spread terrorism, sectarianism. Northern Syria’s emerging democracy represented for Turkey and the current sovereign power of political Islam of Erdogan and the AKP, the frustration of their own project. We were about to destroy ISIS in Syria, we would now be discussing Syria's stability and solution projects for Syria.
The Syrian Democratic Council came forward with its democratic project, and during this period the attacks on Afrin were carried out by all the institutions of the Turkish state, especially the army. Areas such as Ghouta, Daraa, Idlib, were sacrificed for the occupation of Afrin. In this regard, there was an agreement with Russia.
What we saw in Afrin was a display of warfare and tactics. It was a war of genocide. Turkey tried to change the demographic structure of the area. There was terrorism. Despite this display of terror, the international community and the world states remained silent. One of the main causes of this silence was the deal with Turkey. International powers close their eyes to Turkey's invasion.
In fact, the colonial Turkish state has long prepared for the destruction of revolutionary democracy and freedom, Northern Syria, Rojava and Afrin.
The Turkish state had been making preparations for years to occupy Afrin. The Turkish state had deployed its army in Idlib and in Azaz. They got ready for an attempt to destroy Northern Syria and Afrin. The war was not just against Afrin. The Turkish army began to fight amid the silence of the world. We see that the main purpose is terrorism, committing massacres, changing the demography. Women, children, civilians, Kurds, Arabs, Christians, Muslim are not important for the Turkish state. The important thing was entering Afrin. We were well aware of this which is why we decided that the people of Afrin had to leave the city, in order to avoid further massacres. Afrin Democratic Autonomous Administration took the decision to move the people out of Afrin.
Our YPG-YPJ forces still carry out their actions in Afrin. Today we cannot say that Turkish terrorists, Turkish army and al-Nusra mercenaries have actually completely carried out their occupation. Now Afrin is a war front. The people of YPG, YPJ and Afrin will always be prepared to liberate Afrin. The invaders will not be able to live comfortably in Afrin and will not be able to breathe easily. We will absolutely liberate Afrin and our people will return. Our struggle continues in Afrin. We can say that the Resistance of the Age continues in the name of Awesta, Karker and Polat.
Those who stand on the front against us in Afrin are actually the followers of ISIS in Deir ez-Zor. Afrin provided new breath to ISIS. Indeed Turkey has offered ISIS the possibility to regenerate itself. To rest and restructure.
Turkey violated all international agreements and war rules.
How do you evaluate the political and military situation in the Middle East and Syria when you enter the 7th year of the revolution? What kind of military developments can be expected for the coming period?
We were entering the possibility to discuss the democratization of Syria after the successful defeated of ISIS in Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor. However, Erdogan launched the occupation of Afrin while the world watched in silence, which showed once again that international forces are only looking at their own interests instead of providing a social solution through consent. As it turned out, all the countries of the world are moving in Syria according to their interests in the Middle East.
The interests of world states and regional states are no longer guaranteed, especially when Lausanne is moving towards the end. At present, no status in the world is guaranteed. All this situation also shows that the governments of the world today have no creativity in politics, they work for their own government interests rather than trying to serve their people and their countries. Instead of developing a solution and real politics, they develop instability. This means that in the world, instead of politics, armies rule and that a 3rd world war is actually taking place.
However, it should be said clearly that the SDF and the YPG/YPJ are providing a model for a solution. The YPG and YPJ will undoubtedly protect the aims and principles of the revolution in all circumstances and will act within this frame.
Where does the YPG see itself in the future of Syria?
As YPG and YPJ forces within the SDF, we have proved to the world in these 6 years that we have worked and have been fighting for the interests of the country and society. We have proved that we worked as a Syrian institution, a legitimate defense organization. We have made no difference and served the whole society: Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen, Circassians, Sunnis, Alevis, Muslims, Christian peoples, faiths and communities
On the other hand, other powers claiming to defend Syria, namely the ruling forces, have created differences among the peoples, beliefs and communities and tried to put one against the other. They have developed terror and slaughter with their hands.
They developed chaos and made life in Syria more difficult. Very tragic deaths and millions of migrations have resulted from this war. But the YPG, YPJ and SDF forces made it possible for the Syrian people to remain in their areas.
In fact, we did this not only for the Syrian people, we also did it in Iraq. While we opposed the Yazidi massacre in Iraq, we served the Yazidis so that they could live on their lands in Shengal.
For this reason, YPG, YPJ and SDF present themselves as a model for all Syrian people.
Community and national defense can only be developed on free and democratic grounds. For this reason, the YPG represents a very important model for Syria today.