Shirzad Kamangar
(PJAK Representative Overseas)

Al-Bab is no more a tiny city of little importance. It has turned into an international issue with the potential not only to transform its destiny but also that of the region, impacting the whole range of international approaches. Bab can become a conduit for the transit of natural sources from Saudi Arabia all the way through Qatar, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and then to Europe. Free flow of energy through this channel is tantamount to the acknowledgement by the regional and international powers of the extremist and terrorist groups such ISIS, and of Turkey’s coercion of international communities and the free reign it has been enjoying.

The existence of the ISIS has laid bare the fact that countries such as Iraq and Syria are no more. They exist as independent countries only on the geographic map. A multiple of regional and international powers are content for its presence in Iraq and Syria, as it has provided them with the opportunity to interfere with in these countries.

Amongst all this, the presence of Rojava Kurds and their rise to prominence amidst ISIS attacks, accompanied with other regional transformations, have constituted the major obstacle for the interfering states. The Kurds have endeavoured to unite their three discontinuous cantons. If they succeed, Bab would become a closed door, either crushing hopes of many states particularly Turkey or rendering them hopelessly remote. It has also the potential to put prospects and agenda of the US and the international coalition in danger.

The linking of the three Kurdish cantons signals the frustration of Turkey’s hopes and nullification of its cards, a complete stoppage of ISIS, and the transformation of the Middle East as well as the Kurds. If the Kurds are to become the goalkeepers of the region, the trajectory of events and the whole contour of regional equations would see a dramatic change. Owing to this, the Turkish state and other regional powers have tried to prevent this from happening. Few things should have been done with this respect.

They tried to turn Manbij into a defeating battlefield for Kurdish forces in the same way that Kobanê was turned into a cemetery for ISIS and Turkey. With this in mind, and with the permission of Western powers particularly the US, the Turkish army entered the Syrian city of Jarablus, and sought to occupy Manbij and Bab in a similar way. On the other hand, international powers try to make Rojava Kurds busy with other issues no directing relating to them, in order to provide the Turkish state with an opportunity to act. Now, we are faced with another episode for interference.

The Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has emerged as a pioneering force shaping the regional changes. More than any other player, the PKK has displayed its power and capability not only militaristically but also socially and culturally, mobilising different layers of society. Taking advantage of the PKK’s experience as well as it ideological and institutional paradigm, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria has managed to advance itself into an appropriate position, and with the display of its political and militaristic power it has become a major actor in the regional equation; a reality that made it a target of Turkey.

The coalition forces have tried to make YPG/YPJ forces busy with Raqqa, in order to keep them away from Bab city. On this issue, the regional and international forces are united, since they have common interest. The significance of Bab is not hidden to any of them. On the other hand, a wave of multi-dimensional attacks on PKK forces in both the mountain and urban areas in Bakur (south-eastern Turkey), the government’s coup against the oppositional groups particularly the Kurds accompanied by a mass arrest of Kurdish politicians, preparation for a frontal attack on the Qendîl Mountains, Şengal (Sinjar) and Rojava borders can dislodge Bab out of agenda of the PYD and the PKK. Forcing the latter groups into defensive, this can open the way for a penetration of Turkish forces in Syria.
The regional and international powers have done all they could in order to preserve their position and to prepare themselves for future change. On the other hand, they will pit the Syrian oppositions against one another, which would in turn serve the interests of the Assad government.

Even though there is a hidden diplomatic war between international powers and Russia over Turkey and Iran, yet interference in the region for Turkey and Iran can be part of the plan which is expected either to disturb their regional stability or stabilise their positions. It was excepted that international powers would come to an agreement with Iran over future equations and a possible solution. The outcome of this agreement is manifest in Aleppo; Assad’s upper hand in the city with the retreat of opposition forces is likely to have been the outcome of this agreement.

The state of flux in the Middle East can end up at any station. It is possible that a number of states would survive the turmoil and keep on to their current authority, yet their life time depends either on surrendering to or allying themselves with the interfering powers. Turkey and Iran have another option which is a democratic solution to current crises and alliance with democratic and popular forces in the Middle East, which seems, however, impossible that they would opt for such an option.

In such a crisis, democratic and progressive circles in the Middle East have no other option but to unite with one another to form a democratic alliance. Such an accomplishment, either among the Kurdish groups or other nationalities, has the potential to change the lot of the region, directing it towards a democratic solution. In Syria, the only possible way is an alliance between the Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and Turkmen that would develop a peaceful co-existence among them.

As long as the interfering powers and regional hegemonic states, despite their divergent views, would unite against the democratic circles and the oppressed peoples, the lack of a regional alliance between democratic and progressive groups would weaken their chance of finding a solution. Only through the formation of a popular alliance representative of all peoples and their legitimate and democratic demands coupled with a common plan and approach can the peoples of the Middle East survive from the lethal destiny the regional and international powers have planned for them. In view of this, it is incumbent upon all progressive regional powers to understand the importance of unity and move towards it. The lack of attention to this imperative can have serious consequences for the peoples of this region.