Greek Anarchists vs. the Islamic State
A band of anarchists has travelled to Syria to fight Daesh alongside Kurdish militia.
Greek anarchists have found a second home in the arms of Kurdish militias fighting ISIS in the Syrian part of Kurdistan. Rojava, in northern Syria, is under the control of Kurdish forces. Intermittent reports of anarchists joining the war have reached Greece over time, but a photo that emerged in the Greek press this week has solidified these claims.
The Greek soldiers chose a Kurdish name upon arrival, signalling their internationalist approach. The Kurdish struggle for a unified Kurdistan, including parts of southeast Turkey, northern Syria, north Iraq and west Iran. Parts of the land they claim are under ISIS control.
International media often call the area around Rojava “anarchist land.” Reports claim that a regime of direct democracy has been set up since Kurdish fighters gained control of the area in 2015.
The Greek anarchists founded the Revolutionary Union of International Solidarity, RUIS, under the International Revolutionary People’s Guerilla forces. “ A network of serious and dedicated anarchists hungry to advance the movement by any means necessary,” an anonymous member of IRPGF explained.
Up to now, Greeks in Rojava were focused on the practical aspect of the war. They have only composed one text explaining their ideology, and have kept political discussions to themselves. They are now coming out of their shell.
The message on the wall is signed by both groups.
“From Rojava to Athens, you will bleed to take back the liberated territories. Solidarity to the squats.”
In a different image, surrounded by kalashnikovs and hoods, the words “Not a single step back” are written.
RUIS rarely makes social media appearances, contrary to the IRPGF. Back in 2015, a Greek fighter was on tape on an anti-establishment website. “We are not just fighting the theocratic fascism of the Middle East. We are simultaneously fighting the capitalist system that fed jihad.”
The news have raised red flags amongst security forces in Athens. Crucial to the mission of IRPGF is training. In contrast with groups that simply fight Daesh, they are using the war as training grounds for anarchist forces.
“Our aims go beyond defeating them, calling it a day, and heading home. We will indeed fight fascism in any shape it comes in, but we will do so while also building anarchist infrastructure in the region that makes it possible for anarchists to come, learn, and advance their respective struggles accordingly.”
An official who has asked about the issue replied, “We are watching patiently. We are aware of this phenomenon, and we are trying to a get as clear a picture as possible.”
The anonymous member of the IRPGF spoke of “revolutionary infrastructure.” A necessary condition for the on-the-ground fighting to be successful is above-the-ground politics. Without a “socio-political wing that can continue to operate and provide for people while underground,” the anarchist quest in Western countries is doomed.
This is what they are teaching the Greek anarchists, and they are serious about it. They are not adventurists looking for a cheap thrill.
“ While the number of adventurists / war tourists and those that in general have ‘really shitty politics’ is definitely on the decline, due to a purposeful reworking of the application process on the part of YPG International, it is an unfortunate reality that a large number of them are still here and are still coming here.
“From our experience, at the end of the day, as long as the things they do and say are not too egregious, they are generally accepted and treated more or less like family, as that is the culture of the region. In general, we have seen that it takes quite a lot of ignorance and acting out to be forced out of a tabur and this is something that as anarchists is difficult to accept / agree with.
“It is also true, however, that the Westerners tend to also flock together and again, as one could imagine, many of them actively seek to not engage with the Kurds at all. In fact, we’re aware of some Westerners even wanting to create an explicitly all Western tabur (no Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, etc. allowed).”
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