The article was published in the November/December 2021 issue of the Kurdistan Report. We are here republishing an English translation of this article, which was originally published here:

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The Democratic Nation as a Way Out of the Increasing Chaos
An analysis of current political developments in the Middle East and worldwide
Şükrü Demhat, journalist from South Kurdistan

The historical phase we are currently going through as societies has now reached a decisive point. Our era is often referred to as the final phase of Capitalist Modernity. At the same time, discussions about necessary changes and the search for a new system are becoming increasingly intense. Today, Capitalist Modernity is ideologically and paradigmatically stuck. Accordingly, it does not have the capacity to overcome its crisis and fundamentally reform itself. It tries to maintain its hegemony, based on a colonialist-imperialist policy, with the help of certain deceptions. In the process, clear signs can be detected that the phase has already begun in which Capitalist Modernity will be ideologically overcome. Since its blockade is ideological in nature, it seems impossible in the long run to overcome the profound crisis with the help of reforms and temporary precautions. The crucial reason for the crisis is the imperialist and colonialist policy, which is characterized by a strong hostile attitude towards nature, women and society. These policies derive from the capitalist paradigm. Against this background, globalization and the nation-state clearly turn out to be ideological twins. The power struggle currently taking place is the result of the contradictions between the forces of Capitalist Modernity with regard to the free movement of capital and the distribution of its profits. Thus, while the nation-state paradigm is one side of the current crisis, the global war for imperialist hegemony is the other. At its core, this is about contradictions inherent in the system, which from time to time can lead to open conflict and war, but much more often end in new equilibria and compromises, taking into account the profits of all parties involved. The deadlock and crisis encompass the entire system. From the point of view of the forces involved, the current state of deadlock can sometimes lead to results and losses that had not been foreseen or taken into account in their political strategies. The centralist-hegemonic system – led by the U.S. – was most recently confronted with a situation in Afghanistan that corresponds precisely to this reality we just described. There, the latest developments can be seen either as a compromise that takes into account the interests of both sides or as a defeat for the United States. Both ultimately represent failure.

Deep Crisis of Capitalist Modernity
Both the U.S. as the leading power of the system and the international institutions it built are currently undergoing a serious crisis. This is an expression of the inability of the U.S. and the institutions mentioned to do justice to current developments with their outdated ways of thinking and systems. The internal system struggle between nation-state forces on the one hand and globalist-oriented forces on the other has ended in victory for the globalists, especially in the last U.S. elections. U.S. election results have had a major impact on political and social developments both globally and in the Middle East. The long U.S.- dominated alliances and platforms themselves, whose purpose is to balance existing interstate contradictions and create state relations, are being shaken to the core by the crisis of Capitalist Modernity. Because the crisis of these fundamentally political structures is very broad and multi-layered, the military, economic, social, and ideological institutions of Capitalist Modernity have become part of the existing chaos. The current structure of the UN is openly called into question by many of its member states, and NATO, as the system’s vital military organization, is described as “brain dead.” Such judgments do not come out of the blue.The UK’s flight-like exit from the EU project and the fact that business enterprises are only interested in the immediate results of the crises that occur represent the most striking aspects in these conflicts. The status and borders of many nation-states that exist today are the result of the two world wars of the 20th century. Yet they are being challenged today. Efforts to create a basis for the renewed hegemonic division of the world are intensifying day by day and are openly presented to the various societies.

The developments of the 20th century were clearly shaped by the initiative of the USA. It used the existence of the Soviet Union to strengthen its own influence and as a means of pressure to rally other nation-states within the framework of its own bloc. The national liberation movements of a wide variety of peoples also saw the Soviet Union as an opportunity which they used within the framework of the existing contradictions. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, the U.S. lost its status as the driving force behind general developments. As a result, it declared “terrorist states” to be the new enemies – a role that until then had been played by the Soviet Union. Thus, a new generation of enemies was created. Through this policy, Capitalist Modernity managed for a time to ensure its continued existence on the basis of nation-states. But in the course of time it had to realize that this policy had also lost its effectiveness. Thus, it had to accept that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the end of history had not come as had been proclaimed. It also understood that, in view of the now missing eternal enemy, it had entered a phase of disintegration. The USA had emerged from World War II as the global leader of capitalism. But since then, forces had also developed that were in open conflict or contradiction with it. The member countries of the Soviet bloc and its alliances had emerged in this context. After its disintegration, Russia entered the 21st century on the basis of its Soviet legacy and became one of the weaker wheels of Capitalist Modernity. Although the dissolution of the Soviet Union was widely considered a U.S. success, there were always doubts about the direction Russia would take. During this transitional period, Capitalist Modernity failed to create a new strategic enemy. It was therefore unable to take advantage of the opportunities that existed at the time as it had intended. As time went by, more and more forces appeared on the scene that positioned themselves against the USA and demanded a piece of the pie. In addition, numerous nation-states increasingly asserted their hegemonic claims with self-confidence and developed into a serious risk for the Western hegemonic forces. The rising forces of the new century include India, Russia and other states, but above all China. They are now actors who are quite capable of challenging the U.S. for its leadership role in global capitalism.

The USA and its Allies Have Failed
It is clear that the political strategy of the U.S. and its allies from Iraq, Syria and Kurdistan all the way to Afghanistan has reached a dead end. Since they clearly do not have the strength to implement their own plans in the region, their position and global leadership are now being challenged. The shifts of forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, the repositionings and the decisions to withdraw are also directly related to this policy. Abdullah Öcalan dealt intensively with the Afghan-Pakistani region in his defense writings years ago and came to conclusions that foreshadowed current developments. His analyses or “prophecies” at that time have practically come true today. The forces of modernity are deeply mired in chaos and blocked. Even though they always try to deliberately amplify crises and thus steer them in their own favor, this time they have failed in doing so. The U.S. and its allies have reached an impasse. Especially at their summer NATO summit, the EU Council meeting and the G7 summit, they therefore
made an attempt to draw up a new military, economic and political “roadmap”. These efforts were judged by many observers as an attempt by the centralist-hegemonic powers to create a new “strategic threat” similar to the one in 1952. At that time, Turkey had voluntarily participated in the Korean War in order to profit from the political conjuncture. Analogous to the circumstances of that time, it is making a very similar attempt today in Afghanistan, but so far without success. It is obvious that the “brain death of NATO” will render NATO`s existence obsolete. Such nation-state oriented institutions are not capable of developing solutions to the existing chaos. The Soviet Union had failed to gain a foothold on the ground after occupying Afghanistan in 1979. Instead, its defeat there was a major external factor contributing to its disintegration. A similar situation is being experienced today by the United States, which had continuously occupied Afghanistan for twenty years since the 2001 attacks. Angela Merkel, a key U.S. partner in this project, summed up this fact: “In claiming to transform Afghanistan according to our ideas and values, we have failed.” The U.S. – a power widely regarded as a global player – has also admitted defeat, withdrawing and leaving the country in the hands of the Taliban, which, with the help of its many connections on the ground, it had itself promoted in the past. Thus, Abdullah Öcalan’s analyses of the “power of tradition” have become a practical reality today. Neither the Soviet Union nor the United States with its Western allies were able to establish themselves in the region with the help of their collaborating nation-state agents or their own despotic modern methods. After their defeat and withdrawal, local reactionary-traditional forces, based on their current organizational strength, have now filled the vacuum created in the region and taken power. Or, to put it another way, power has been handed over to them.

The Situation in Iraq and Afghanistan – a Late Consequence of U.S. Intervention
Recent developments in Afghanistan will affect the political conjuncture throughout the region. The panicked withdrawal of the U.S.-led forces, with casualties, is either the result of a compromise with the reactionary Taliban based on the interests of all parties or the failure of their political strategy. In either case, it is entirely appropriate to attest to a serious ideological weakness and setback in the system. It seems that the failure of the U.S. and its allies in Afghanistan will have even more dramatic consequences in the political sphere. The current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan-a late consequence of U.S. intervention some twenty years ago-will create a security problem in terms of U.S. global leadership. In the near term, this will have a particular impact on U.S. domestic policy. As a result, the political rise of the Democrats in the wake of the last U.S. presidential election will now be seriously questioned and criticized after the withdrawal from Afghanistan and will come to an end. The increased domestic political activity by Republicans that we have seen recently is a reflection of this. Discussions about a complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and even the entire Middle East have also gained massive momentum. Those forces whose policy was previously based on an alliance or common interests with the U.S. and had provided existential support for this policy are currently intensely discussing their own situation, especially numerous regional actors, namely the South Kurdish KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) and Iraq. Another effect can be seen in the attitude of Iran, which is using these developments to increase or consolidate its regional hegemony and even use them as a threat against all forces it considers a danger. In the near term, the situation in Afghanistan will serve Iran as a central threat and argument for its policies in the region itself and especially in Central Asia and the Far East.

Warlike Conflicts Will Intensify in the Middle East
The fact that the U.S. and its allies are repositioning and posturing themselves vis-à-vis Iran, Russia and especially China will not lead to a Cold War like the one between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, nor to a conventional “hot” war. It is foreseeable that World War III will intensify and continue in the form of local wars and with the help of economic, diplomatic and military interventions – using religiously, ethnically or similarly motivated forces. It must therefore be assumed that the developments in Afghanistan will also be repeated in Syria and Iraq, adapted to the specific conditions on the ground. Although it may appear that the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Girê Spî and Serêkaniyê in Rojava and their withdrawal from Afghanistan, which was agreed upon with the Taliban, followed one another immediately, they are in fact two very different events. Withdrawing from Iraq in the same way would not fit U.S. political strategy. Rather, it can pursue the previously tested policy of withdrawing a part of its fighting units that rely on forces composed of local collaborators. However, a complete withdrawal from the country remains unlikely in the near term. Despite this observation, it would lead to erroneous political and military assessments if we assumed that the United States could never withdraw or, on the contrary, would withdraw immediately. Especially against the background of the current political conjuncture, it is important to always consider all contingencies. So we can clearly state that the U.S. or other forces will not simply abandon the Middle East. Instead, the struggle in the region will continue to intensify and the areas of warfare will expand. It is clear that the U.S.-UK-Germany-Israel axis in particular is seeking to expand its influence in the region by supporting an alliance consisting of Turkey, the KDP, and certain Islamist proxy groups.

Through their compromise with the Taliban, the powers of Capitalist Modernity have reached an agreement with the reactionary-traditional forces. At the same time, they label freedom struggles based on the communally resistant social tradition of Democratic Modernity as “terrorists”. This alone reveals the true face of the imperialist-hegemonic forces. They have not the slightest interest in spreading values such as freedom, democracy and human rights in the Middle East. Their regular statements in this regard are nothing but propaganda and mean the concealment of the truth. The attacks of Turkey and other colonialist states in the region, which are directed against the Kurds and aim at annihilation and genocide, are the result of the aforementioned attitude. The attacks are strengthened by this attitude and ultimately directly fueled and directed by their representatives. The anti-Kurdish and anti-liberal policy pursued with the help of Turkey has most recently been joined by Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kazimi. Thus, these forces want to create facts especially in the Medya Defense Zones, but also in Sinjar, Mexmûr and Rojava. In other words, the international conspiracy [1] against the Freedom Movement and Abdullah Öcalan is being stepped up once again.

The societies of the Middle East rebel the most against dominance and power because of their own reality. It will definitely not be easy to impose the nation-state corset on this multi-identitarian, colorful, multilingual and multicultural social reality. For this very reason, Abdullah Öcalan described the execution of Saddam Hussein years ago as the end of the nation-state. The strategy of Capitalist Modernity to constantly create new artificial contradictions to protect its own interests has further exacerbated the hopeless situation in the Middle East. Also, the Palestinian question is still not solved, which is related to the above-mentioned attitudes and concepts. It is the mentioned forces that have fueled the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. With the help of this crisis, which they themselves created, they were able to control the entire Middle East for a long time. When the struggle for freedom in Kurdistan was added to this problem, which had become a fundamental contradiction that remained unresolved, the crisis deepened massively and the situation in the region became even more chaotic. For while the nation-states and institutions of the 20th century were completely focused on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the regional states positioned themselves accordingly, the rise of Abdullah Öcalan and the PKK forced them all to comprehensively correct the plans they had previously made. After its emergence, the PKK’s freedom struggle succeeded in playing a leading role in shattering the nation-state straitjacket that was completely alien to the Middle East.In doing so, it has also made clear that the Palestinian issue has been instrumentalized by Capitalist Modernity and regional nation-states, and that the real struggle of the Palestinians has been distorted. Today, it is not the Palestinian resistance that is decisive for political strategies in the region, but the struggle for freedom in Kurdistan. The global hegemonic forces are well aware of this. It is obvious that they have formed an alliance with the nation-states against the freedom struggle in Kurdistan. These two actors consider the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan as a fundamental danger to themselves. For this reason, they planned and carried out the international conspiracy. The developments in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the attitude towards Abdullah Öcalan have since proven this fact time and again.

The Restructuring of the Region
For some time now, attempts have been made to advance the restructuring of the Middle East along newly defined goals and interests and to organize the political strategy in the region with the help of the Iraqi state. In particular, Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kazimi is being used for this purpose. Since the occupation in 2003, Iraq has neither gained stability nor been able to adapt to the nation-state framework. As a result, the situation in the country is currently being comprehensively analyzed and reassessed in general. Discussions about a possible U.S. withdrawal from Iraq are being used as an opportunity to restore the  state and the system with al-Kazimi’s help. Accordingly, attempts are being made to quickly hold elections in Iraq and then create a new political framework. Voices are also being raised that want to put everything from Iraq’s constitution to its state system up for discussion. In order to present al-Kazimi as the one who has sufficient strength for all these undertakings, the organization of a conference of international heads of state in Baghdad was supported. We certainly must not think of this conference exclusively as a diplomatic gathering. Even if the diplomatic efforts that took place behind closed doors in this framework were not fully made public, we can still take a closer look at some of the discussions and results that became public. It is clear that this international meeting heralded a new phase in the reorganization of the region. In addition to diplomatic aspects, security, intelligence, economic and political issues were obviously on the agenda. Other issues included the international conspiracy against our movement and the ongoing genocide against the Kurds. The fact that Iraq has not yet shown a clear stance against Turkey’s occupation attacks in Sinjar, Mexmûr, the Medya Defense Zones and the Asos-Pêncewîn region shows the extent of its collaboration. Al-Kazimi has for some time pursued a policy of compromise between Turkey’s strategy and that of the Iraqi state-on the basis of a common policy against the PKK. Thus, Al-Kazimi wants both to gain Turkey’s support and, with the KDP’s support, to secure his own hold on power.

Iraq has Once Again Become a Combat Arena
The annihilation attacks and the conspiracy against our movement are currently organized through two centers. One of them is Hewlêr (Erbil). While a specific form is to be given to politics in Kurdistan here, an attempt is being made via Baghdad to weaken the influence of our movement not only in Kurdistan itself, but in the entire Middle East, in order to ultimately destroy it. It is well known that Turkey is making great efforts for this purpose and is permanently active in Baghdad, Mûsil (Mosul) and other areas for this purpose. As the center of reshaping politics in Kurdistan, Hewlêr is now in a very dangerous position. Meanwhile, the KDP is playing a totally unacceptable role in the framework of the Turkish occupation attacks and is increasingly increasing its collaboration and betrayal. As the KDP’s hostility towards our Freedom Movement is well known, Hewlêr has been chosen as a center for the current attacks. A “divide and rule” policy is also being pursued against the Shiite, Sunni, Kurdish and other blocs in Iraq and its neighbors in accordance with the reshaping plans for the region and according to the existing interests. In the current political phase, massive pressure is being exerted on the various actors to achieve these goals. Two blocs each claim decision-making power over the region, permanently prioritizing their own interests and exerting massive pressure. The Western powers led by the United States form one of these blocs. The attacks of NATO member Turkey are part of their activities, because this expansionist and colonialist policy is part of the general NATO strategy in the region. Turkey’s occupation attacks are used by NATO as a kind of baton. This is especially true for the USA, which has realized that it cannot bring our movement to its knees ideologically and physically. Parallel to these attacks, it is propagated that our movement among the other forces belonging to the bloc organized by Iran, which is accompanied by a corresponding policy. From the US point of view, a PKK that joins the Iranian bloc is much more preferable than the PKK that leads the `Policy of the Third Way`.

The conflict between Turkey and Iran over regional hegemony is expanding geographically and gaining in ferocity. The successes of the guerrillas in the fight against the genocidal attacks and the resulting outcomes have a direct impact on the entire region. They are the reason why all actors must adjust their plans and position themselves accordingly towards our movement. As a result, the relationship, contradictions, conflicts and cooperation between Turkey and Iran are entering into greater and greater disorder, which in turn has direct consequences for the Kurds. After the end of the Afghanistan mission, the disputes between Iran and Turkey over regional hegemony have led all actors to act much more quickly and hectically. Turkey has used this as an opportunity for similarly important results as in 2001. It is accordingly seeking to use the “success” of Sunni Islam in Afghanistan to increase its influence in the region and ultimately crush our movement by increasingly encircling it. At the same time, it is striving to penetrate even further into Iraq and Syria and thus expand its sphere of influence. Iran is also taking advantage of the current situation to expand its sphere of influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon vis-à-vis the United States, Israel, and Turkey, and to achieve corresponding results. Iraq has thus once again become a battle arena in which strategic conflicts are being settled.

Within the framework of these struggles for hegemony and power, the various blocs are trying to instrumentalize the power of our movement for their own interests. Despite all the obstructions, conspiracies and attacks, we as a movement are a decisive regional factor. Every force that wants to pursue its goals in the Middle East is very aware of the potential of our struggle and inevitably pays attention to us. We can also interpret this as an intention to weaken our movement first, then force it to follow the policies of the respective bloc, and thus use it within the reshaping of the region. If they do not succeed in this, they will feel compelled to change their strategy towards our movement. As we know, the USA played a decisive role in the international conspiracy against Abdullah Öcalan. The U.S. is also actively supporting the current plan to crush or, failing that, to weaken and subjugate our movement. It wants to eliminate our movement with the help of the KDP line, force it to surrender and thus remove an obstacle to their own plans.That is why the US has particularly instigated the collaboration between Turkey, Iraq and the KDP, which together are leading the genocidal attacks on our movement. In Rojava, they are trying to impose with carrot and stick that instead of the achievements there, the regional US policy is accepted and our freedom paradigm is replaced by the US mentality. In this sense, the current struggle is ultimately an ideological one. The U.S. wants to force our movement to abandon its own paradigm, to push for a Kurdish nationalism like the KDP, to stop its struggle against Turkey and the other colonial forces, not to deal with the existing social problems in the slightest way and to offer no resistance at all. This would mean nothing other than capitulation.

Continuation of the International Conspiracy
The mentioned forces responded to Abdullah Öcalan’s offensive after the international conspiracy against him with the concept of “fight against terrorism”. Their intention was to prevent a solution to the Kurdish question and instead to hold it as a trump card that could be used at will. Necessarily, therefore, this concept was developed and applied to the struggle for freedom in Kurdistan. Turkey was also a beneficiary. It secured international support and profited enormously. It focused on its strategy to further intensify the genocide against the Kurds. The EU’s decision to confront our movement under the label of “terror” was part of this policy. Today’s attacks to destroy our movement or to make it surrender are a direct continuation of the international conspiracy. They are meant to reach the goal through the intensified and permanent isolation of Abdullah Öcalan, the attacks on the democratic politics and society in North Kurdistan and the occupation of Rojava and South Kurdistan. Obviously, all these measures correspond to the interests of the Western imperialist powers, first and foremost the USA, and are actively fueled, supported and partly directly executed by them. Despite this concept and the comprehensive attacks, our struggle has brought AKP-MHP fascism to the brink of collapse today.

Democratic Modernity as a Model for a Solution
All the current developments make it clear that the medicine “nation-state” has lost its effect in society. Continuing to rely on the nation-state mentality leads not only to wars, but to enormous destruction. Feminicide, ecological devastation and social neglect are clear signs of the bankruptcy of Capitalist Modernity and are taking on more dangerous proportions with each passing day. These and numerous other developments have now made it clear throughout the world that the current system cannot continue. Of course, its end will not be reached without struggle. For Capitalist Modernity continues to try to prolong its existence with the exploitation of society and nature. Despite all its tactical maneuvers and strategies, it has not succeeded in forcing society to surrender. This fact is related to the nature, history and genetics of society. At the same time, it opens up a completely different possibility: the identities and cultures from which society emerges are incompatible with the nation-state. Because of its democratic-communal character, society is in a contrary position to Capitalist Modernity. This situation can be fundamentally resolved only with the help of the mentality of the Democratic Nation. This is also the reason why our struggle and the areas where it has turned into a social-revolutionary construction process are followed and supported so intensively by the peoples of the world. Solidarity definitely represents an important part of the current phase of our common struggle. But fundamentally, it is about the common construction of a democratic and communal life. The mentality of Democratic Modernity has the necessary potential and power to solve both the problems in the Middle East and the conflicts caused by capitalism worldwide.And this is precisely what it is already being used for today.

[1] – Due to intense pressure from NATO, but also with the active participation of Israel and Russia, Abdullah Öcalan was forced to leave Syria on 09 October 1998. After an exodus lasting several months, which took him to Greece, Russia and Italy, among other places, Abdullah Öcalan was kidnapped in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on 15 February 1999 and taken to Turkey. Since then, he has been imprisoned on the prison island of Imrali.