What is the current role of the PKK and its section in Syria the PYD (and its armed branch the YPG), and what is the perspective and the political content of its project? Today there is a near general consensus among all the factions of the revisionist and anarchist “left” (mainly in the imperialist countries), a big part  of the liberals and reactionaries and even some of the Communist Parties, that the project of “democratic autonomy” of the PYD in Rojava is “progressive” or even “revolutionary”. Although yankee imperialism formally maintains its definition of the PKK as a “terrorist organization”, the reactionary and revisionist media (yankee and others) have launched a massive campaign on world level to promote the struggle of these guerrillas against the Islamic State (IS). Just as was the case with the Zapatistas in Mexico, this shows imperialism’s need to present a “good guerrilla” as an alternative to the “bad guerrillas”, i.e. the armed organizations that maintain the principles of the proletarian revolution and/or the national liberation. It is natural that the revisionist and anarchist petty bourgeoisie receive such a myth of “good guerrillas” with open arms, but we communists, we Marxist-Leninist-Maoists, must analyze the question from a proletarian and scientific position, and see the role of these organizations in the context of the concrete situation of the current imperialist aggression against Syria and the whole Middle East.


The just struggle of Kurdish national liberation

First, from our Marxist-Leninist-Maoist point of view, the national liberation struggle of the Kurdish people is a just struggle. If we start from the fact that the Kurdish nation is an oppressed nation that has been deprived of its territory by imperialism and its lackeys, what is needed is a war of national liberation; a war against imperialism and the reactionary states that oppress this people, mainly the Turkish state; a war to establish the state of Kurdistan. This will necessarily mean throwing out all the reactionary states (mainly Turkey) from the Kurdish territory, sweeping away all the imperialist superpowers and –powers and confiscating all forms of their property, destroying bureaucrat capitalism and semifeudalism and confiscating all its property, turning the land over to the peasants, mainly poor peasants, according to the principle “the land to the tiller”. These are the tasks of the democratic revolution established by Chairman Mao; a democratic revolution that cannot be developed and fulfilled without a protracted people’s war that destroys the old state and builds the new, and that must continue without any interruption as socialist revolution to continue the march towards Communism. It will be up to the communists of Kurdistan to apply these principles to the concrete reality of their revolution and define – together with the communists of Turkey and other countries – the relationship between the revolutions in Kurdistan, Turkey etc. But without solving the above mentioned fundamental tasks of national liberation, the struggle of the Kurdish people will be betrayed and the oppression and exploitation of the proletariat and people of Kurdistan will continue (and perhaps with the participation of a Kurdish bourgeoisie, if the South African model of “reconciliation” is applied.).

Furthermore, the struggle of the Kurdish people for their national liberation must be considered in the context of the world revolution and the other struggles in the Middle East, in order to develop a coordinated struggle against imperialism in the region. The principal and indispensable task is to define and combat the main enemy – today yankee imperialism and its allies – and ward off the actions of the other imperialists. If a national liberation struggle is seen as isolated from the others, and if the main imperialist enemy is not defined and combatted together with the other oppressed peoples, the struggle will inevitably be used by the imperialists as a pawn in their wars of redivision, taking advantage of all kinds of national, religious and territorial contradictions to set masses against masses. That is to say, one thing is the correct method of "exploit[ing] the contradictions between imperialist countries [...] striking at the chief immediate enemy" as Chairman Mao says, but another thing is to make collaboration deals with the imperialists instead of uniting with the other oppressed peoples against imperialism. Moreover, one must keep in mind that yankee imperialism for quite some time has considered the possibility of creating a Kurdish state to use as an outpost of imperialism in the region – i.e. with the same role that Israel has – a project that they are already carrying out with the Kurdish collaborators in Iraq.


The role of revisionism in the plans of imperialism

To prevent that the oppressed peoples develop victorious wars of national liberation, imperialism has to prevent that the proletariat with its ideology assumes the leadership of the struggles; i.e. it has to prevent the reconstitution of the Communist Parties and that they assume the leadership and initiate and develop the people’s war in all the countries to fulfill the tasks of the democratic revolution and the socialist revolution, and it must prevent that the peoples unite on world level, coordinating their  wars so that they may flow together in a world people’s war that will bury imperialism. Therefore imperialism – all the imperialist superpowers and powers in collusion and contention – are promoting all kinds of revisionism, anarchism, liberalism and fascism among the ranks of the people, and the most efficient way to do it is through organizations and leaders with a “revolutionary” image. The decisive point is that such organizations reject and abjure Marxism, proletarian leadership of the revolution and the revolutionary war, the destruction of the forces of imperialism and the confiscation of all its property. What the imperialist exploiters need are organizations and leaders that maintain a "revolutionary" image and enjoy a certain prestige among the ranks of the people, while they accept and promote the ideology and politics of the imperialist bourgeoisie: the vulgar and reactionary theory of "totalitarianism", the revisionist thesis of "peaceful transition", and the idea of the "western democracy" and "civilisation" (currently used to justify the genocidal wars against the oppressed peoples in the Middle East with the pretext of "combatting the Islamic State"). It is in this context we must see the current politics of Öcalan and of the PKK/PYD and its agreements with imperialism.


The ideological and political historical course of Öcalan and the PKK: betrayal and capitulation

In an article by the French writer Alex de Jong, Stalinist caterpillar into libertarian butterfly? The evolving ideology of the PKK, we can see the ideological and political historical course of the PKK/PYD under Öcalan's leadership. The PKK, founded in 1977, in its first program presented itself as a "Marxist-Leninist" party to lead the war of national liberation and the socialist revolution:

"These documents declare that the immediate goal of the PKK is a ’national-democratic’ revolution that will lead to an ’independent and democratic Kurdistan’. Any other option than the creation of an independent Kurdish nation-state is vehemently rejected ; the original program called for exposing ’capitulationist attitudes that do not aim for smashing the colonial yoke of the Turkish Republic and suggest things like “regional autonomy”, “autonomy” et cetera’, since such proposals are ; ’in essence a compromise with colonialism’."

"The revolution will take the form of a prolonged armed struggle or ’people’s war’, based on the peasantry. The leadership of the revolution has to be ’the working class’, led by the PKK. [...] International allies of the revolution are ’socialist countries’, working class parties of capitalist countries and ’the liberation movements of oppressed peoples of the world’. Its enemies are the Turkish state, its ’native feudal-collaborators’, and ’the imperialist powers behind them’. After the ’national-democratic’ revolution, the struggle will, ’without interruption’, proceed in a socialist revolution. This manifesto, and the party symbol, a red flag with the hammer-and-sickle, would be in place until the fifth party-congress in 1995."

"Until the mid-nineties, Öcalan and the PKK referenced this strategic framework with an independent Kurdistan as its goal" (Alex de Jong, Stalinist caterpillar into libertarian butterfly? The evolving ideology of the PKK)

In this way, taking on - at least in words - the tasks of the revolutionary war against imperialism and the reactionary Turkish state, the PKK gained the trust of the Kurdish masses:

"The PKK’s willingness and ability to use violence appealed to many oppressed Kurds. [...] One 1985 brochure even declared the PKK to be a ’revolutionary revenge organization’ and stated ; ’Pseudo-socialist sermons will not save us any better than the religious sermons that they have come to replace. Violence...will in Kurdistan not only be the midwife assisting in the delivery [of a new society] but it will create everything anew. Revolutionary violence has to play this role, and it will, we say, assume the form of revolutionary revenge’." (Ibid.)


Abandoning Marxism and the proletarian revolution

But already during the 80's the PKK leadership began to explicitly reject the ideology of the proletariat and the revolutionary principles. It became clear that its previous "Marxist-Leninist" declarations had been nothing more than demagogy, when it started to introduce shamelessly bourgeois and idealist ideas to replace class consciousness with other "identities":

"According to Öcalan there is a metaphysical ’Kurdish mentality’, a certain ’composition of the Kurdish psyche’. Öcalan still claims ’many of the qualities and characteristics attributed to the Kurds and their society today can already be seen in the Neolithic communities of the cis-Caucasus mountain ranges - the area we call Kurdistan’."

"Gradually, notions like ’humanization’, ’socialization’ and ’liberated personality’ replaced marxist notions of classes and class-struggle." (Ibid.) [Our emphasis -RS)

The rejection of Marxism and proletarian revolution continued in a more obvious way during the 90's:

"The 1995 program defined ’really existing socialism’ as the ’lowest and most brutal stage of socialism’"

"In 1993, Öcalan claimed that the PKK, when it discussed ’scientific socialism’ did not refer to marxism but to its own peculiar ideology of a ’socialism’ that supposedly ’exceeds the interests of states, the nation and classes’. [19] Symbolically, the 1995 congress removed the hammer and sickle from the party flag ; ’the hammer and sickle in really existing socialism only involved the class of workers and peasants, and is with this also an expression of really existing socialism. The new conception of socialism is about the whole of humanity’. [20] The claim to be fighting for ’the whole of humanity’ remains a frequent trope in PKK and PYD statements." (Ibid.)

In accordance with this, the leaders of the PYD in Syrian have declared repeatedly that they have no intention of abolishing private property, and that they struggle for a "democratic Syria" for "all the social classes". And as we shall see, the "democratic Syria" that they refer to would be a Syria under the control of imperialism, mainly yankee.


Abandoning the war of national liberation

That is to say that the leadership of the PKK openly rejected the fundamental principle of class  struggle and the principle that the proletariat is the only class that necessarily has to lead the revolution; suggesting - instead of the class struggle - a struggle "above" the classes. But that is not all; it also abandoned the struggle for Kurdish national liberation, to instead seek negotiations and agreements with the reactionary Turkish state and with imperialism:

"It was not only socialism as a social-economic system that was gradually pushed aside by this socialism of the new man. Something similar happened in PKK statements about Kurdish self-determination. In the second half of the eighties, the PKK would mention less and less the goal of a ’independent and united Kurdistan’, instead talking about a ’Free Kurdistan’, a formulation that leaves more ambiguity about the political goal.
Terms like ’freedom’ and ’independence’ were used more and more to talk about individual, ’spiritual’ goals, referring to this new personality, instead of to statehood."

"Öcalan claimed that already before his imprisonment he used terms like ’freedom’ and ’self-determination’ mainly to refer to individuals, and not peoples. He even claimed that the PKK was never secessionist, a statement that contradicts the vehement insistence from 1978 that anything less than an independent Kurdistan (specified to be under occupation from Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria) would be betrayal." (Ibid.)

In 1993, the same year that imperialism and reaction in Peru staged the hoax of the "peace accords" in collaboration with the rats of the right opportunist line (ROL), and the imperialist "peace and reconciliation" project was carried out in South Africa, the leaders of the PKK took the same road of capitulation:

“Öcalan would after 1993, when the PKK made a cease-fire offer to the Turkish state, start to talk about a political settlement to the conflict and declared a break-up of the Turkish state was not a precondition to such a settlement.”

“When shortly before his capture Öcalan was declaring that a ’democratic alternative’ could be achieved on the basis of Turkish recognition of the Kurdish identity, a federated parliament and within the existing borders of Turkey, he was contradicting the PKK’s official program. When in 1999 Öcalan in his defense speech emphatically denied the goal of a Kurdish state, even in the long run, thousands of PKK-supporters left in disillusionment.” (Ibid.)

After his arrest, Öcalan expressed his betrayal of the struggle of the Kurdish people even more shamelessly:

“After his capture however Öcalan would accelerate the PKK’s ideological metamorphosis. [...] Öcalan’s subsequent statements before the court came as a shock. Öcalan drastically reinterpreted the history and the ideology of the PKK. In court, Öcalan expressed regret over the death of Turkish soldiers and when the court asked if it would be correct to transcribe his words as an apology, he did not disagree. Öcalan did not mention the suffering of the Kurds but did find time to praise Ataturk, the founder of the Turkish republic, and referred to the cooperation of Kurds and Turks in the independence war in the early twenties.”

“It was not only history that was revised by Öcalan. He insisted that the goal of an independent Kurdish state was impossible, even in the long term, and that this was not even desirable. Even the ideas of Kurdish autonomy or a federative parliament, which Öcalan had suggested shortly before his capture, went out of the window. The ’democratic solution’ that Öcalan instead proposed in his defense plea published as ’Declaration on the Democratic Settlement of the Kurdish Settlement’ was that Turkey would recognize the existence of the Kurds and respect basic democratic rights like freedom of speech and the use of the Kurdish language. This would supposedly suffice to make Turkey into a democratic society that could transcend the conflict.” (Ibid.)

The capitulationist statements from Öcalan and the other PKK leaders follow almost literally the model of the hoax of the “peace accords” in Peru and similar processes in other countries, stating that not only must the armed struggle be terminated, but even that it was a mistake to initiate it:

“But, Öcalan stated, the PKK’s armed struggle in the nineties was wrong ; ’In Turkey in the nineties, together [for Kurds and Turks] there were positive developments in human rights. After this the uprising was wrong. There was a way of solving the problem’.” (Ibid.)


Collaboration with imperialism

Behind these changes in the official ideology and politics of the organization is the fact that the PKK simultaneously began to collaborate directly with imperialism and its lackeys. In 2010 it was revealed that the PKK since 2002 had received logistics and surveillance equipment from the state of Israel, and several PKK/PYD representatives have admitted that for some time they have held secret meetings with representatives of the armed forces of yankee imperialism and the CIA. In 2012 the PYD was incorporated into the Kurdish National Council, led by the Kurdish authorities in Iraq, that in turn are directly under the control of imperialism (principally yankee). The Council was formed with the explicit purpose of “combatting the Assad regime” – i.e. in the service of yankee imperialist aggression against Syria.

In an extensive article ( about the relations between the PKK/PYD and imperialism, the writer Ivo Kovačeviƈ  gives several examples of how the “democratic project” of the PYD in Rojava serves the interests of imperialism:

“What began as a rebellion of the Sunnis in Iraq has turned into a successful march against the neo-colonial regime in Baghdad, the Kurdish collaborators in Iraq and Syria, and less successful conflict with national authorities in Damascus. Intoxicated by continuous successes in the territory the size of Western Europe, which certainly would not be achieved without the support of the locals, ISIS fighters tactlessly, but more or less successfully engaged on several fronts at once, until the inclusion of the international coalition led by the United States in the conflict. The attack on the Kurdish town of Kobane was the “straw that broke the camel’s back”, just as was the armed threat to Iraqi Kurdistan, and under the pretext of “human rights, freedom and democracy” as always, the imperialists started off the military campaign in the service of preserving their own interests. ISIS attacks are, of course, directed mainly towards the oil-rich areas, and by 2012 the PYD controlled about 60 percent of Syria’s oil facilities, which were continuously delivered to the Iraqi Kurdistan, where they found its way to Western markets, as we have already shown.”

Opaque meetings and contacts with the imperialists […] provide clues to how the relations of production are to be regulated and how the “revolution” will win in Rojava, and given that the consultations take place in Turkey, London, Paris and Washington, the afore mentioned statement of the co-president of YPG’s about protecting private property, comes as no surprise. What we are told is that Mr. Salih Muslim, leader of the YPG, the president of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani, and “the highest US security and diplomatic officials” agreed on how the Syrian Kurdistan will be administered.

“Upon realization of the plan of federalism, which includes the Syrian Kurds, the issue of a direct route for oil exports from Iraqi Kurdistan to the Mediterranean would be sorted out, as well as an absolute control over 70 percent of Syrian oil reserves. In general, each post-Assad scenario that envisages the release of the gas pipeline to Turkey, relies on the peace and stability in Kurdistan, and the reformed PKK as a guarantor of security of imperialist interests.”[Emphasis is ours – RS]

In the declaration of the YPG General Command from October 19, 2014, it is clear what is the character of the alliance between the PYD/YPG and the FSA (Free Syrian Army), i.e. the lackey forces of yankee imperialism in the country:

“Counter-terrorism and building a free and democratic Syria was the basis of the agreement we signed with factions of the FSA. As we can see, the success of the revolution is subject to the development of this relationship between all factions and the forces of good in this country.
We as the YPG affirm that we will meet all of our responsibilities towards Rojava and Syria in general. We will work to consolidate the concept of true partnership for the administration of this country commensurate with the aspirations of the Syrian people with all its ethnic, religious and social classes.” (

And as we have already seen, the “true partnership for the administration of this country” includes not only the mercenaries of imperialism in the FSA, but also the imperialists themselves.


Bourgeois ideology in the service of imperialism

Given its full collaboration with imperialism and its “war against terrorism”, the PKK leadership swears loyalty to the principle of the supremacy of imperialist “Western civilization”:

" is clear [that] Öcalan, at the latest beginning with the ’Declaration on the Democratic Settlement’, became an admirer of western parliamentary democracy."

"Europe, its [referring to ’democracy’] birthplace has by and large left nationalism behind in view of the wars of the twentieth century and established a political system adhering to democratic standards. This democratic system has already shown its advantages over other systems – including real socialism – and is now the only acceptable system worldwide." [Abdullah Öcalan, Prison writings]

"The prison writings show a strongly idealist bend in taking ’culture’ and ’civilization’ as the explanation for social-economic and political developments. Öcalan agrees with right-wing US political scientist Samuel Phillips Huntington there is a clash of civilizations between ’east’ and ’west’." (Alex de Jong, Stalinist caterpillar into libertarian butterfly? The evolving ideology of the PKK)

In fact, the myth of a “clash of civilizations”, of a conflict between “Western civilization” and the “barbarity” of the oppressed peoples today is not only promoted by the self-declared right-wing reactionaries, but it has also been fully adopted by all kinds of revisionist and anarchist “leftists”. To justify the imperialist exploitation and aggression against the oppressed countries, and to combat Marxism – today Marxism-Leninism-Maoism – the reactionaries use all kinds of old and rotten bourgeois ideas. As part of this it is well known how they use bourgeois and petty bourgeois feminism in the service of the genocidal imperialist wars, and in the case of the PKK it is precisely that kind of feminism – and not proletarian feminism – that is being used to seek the support of the petty bourgeois revisionists and liberals in the imperialist countries. That is to say, a feminism that does not serve to mobilize oppressed women to make revolution, abolish exploitation and private property and thus completely destroy the exploitation and oppression of women, but to deny the class struggle with the fashionable “theories” of imperialism:

"An important difference between the PKK’s theory of women’s oppression and liberation and that of Friedrich Engels is their neglect of social-economic factors. Engels argued that with the rise of social classes came a division of labor that relegated women’s labor, and hence their social status, to a secondary position. In the PKK, the emphasis is instead (again) on issues like ’mentality’ and ’personality’[...] The PKK’s thinking is strongly essentialist. Women and nature are often equated, and following this, ’woman’ is identified with motherhood. Women are assumed to have certain characteristics as women, such as empathy, an abhorrence of violence and a closeness to nature." (Ibid.)

The influence from “postmodern” and “post-Marxist” concepts, like the theory of so-called “intersectionality” and “identity politics” is evident in Öcalan:

“The project of ’democratic autonomy’ is based on different identities and the struggle for the free expression of these ideas. ’Worker’ is just one identity among others.”

“Öcalan does not distinguish between social-economic exploitation that leads to class-divisions and the extra-economic oppression of certain identities. Instead, these are all described as forms of oppression.” (Ibid.)

Concerning violence, the PKK/PYD (just like the “left” opportunist line in Peru, the FARC in Colombia and others) assumes the position of armed revisionism, i.e. that one abjures revolutionary violence (that is applied to destroy the old state and build the new), maintaining armed forces and carrying out military actions only to be able to negotiate privileges and seek a position inside the old power; under the pretext of “only using violence in self-defense”. As all revolutionary experience shows, this will never lead to establishing the power of the proletariat and the people, but will only lead to obtaining posts for a handful of leaders (like we have seen in the case of Nepal among other examples):

"This strategy also implies a fundamental shift in the PKK’s use of violence. In the old strategy, the armed struggle was essential to defeat the existing state and capture power. Today, the PKK policy towards violence is designated as ’legitimate self-defense’. Violent actions initiated by PKK-fighters are often retaliation for Turkish violence against the PKK and/or civilian supporters of Kurdish rights and serve to maintain a kind of balance of forces, to show the Turkish state that such repression comes with a price and to prove the PKK still has considerable military potential. The only legitimate violence, the PKK now claims, is this kind of defensive violence." (Ibid.) [Emphasis is ours –RS)


Combat imperialism and all its lackeys, crushing revisionism and capitulation

The main and urgent task today, when it comes to Syria and the whole Middle East, is to condemn and combat the imperialist aggression and exploitation and its whole “anti-terrorist” campaign. What the communists must do is to support all the struggles of national liberation against imperialism in the region, and as part of this – in implacable struggle against revisionism, opportunism and capitulation – contribute to the reconstitution of the Communist Parties to initiate and develop the people’s war in all countries. It is not for us Marxist-Leninist-Maoists to promote and ride on the back of any “revolutionary struggle” that at the moment gets the attention of the reactionary press and the “left” in the imperialist countries, because it is opportune or to preserve a supposed “unity”. Such opportunism only serves the plans of imperialism and is an expression of the revisionist position that the revolutionary forces in the world are weak, that “there are no conditions” and that one therefore must “make do with the existing armed groups” instead of carrying out the bold advance that is needed to impose Maoism as the only command and guide of the world revolution. Ultimately, such opportunism shows that there is no confidence in our class or in our ideology, or in the masses in general. The revisionists’ and anarchists’ approval of the “good guerrilla’s” collaboration with imperialism and its “libertarian” and anticommunist ideas, is part of the current overflow of pro-imperialist social-chauvinism in the so-called left, that serves to strengthen the imperialist rearguard to serve the imperialist war of redivision. As we have seen, all this also has repercussions within the international communist movement through the new revisionism of Avakian, Prachanda and the current convergences with them.

This does not mean that we communists cannot enter into alliances to combat imperialism together with non-proletarian forces of national liberation (under the condition that they actually combat imperialism). But in the case of the PKK/PYD it is becoming more and more obvious that its leaders are already selling out the heroic struggle of the Kurdish people to the highest imperialist bidder, and that the motive of their actions is not to destroy the system of oppression and exploitation, but to defend it and seek a more favorable and conciliating position within it. What the Marxist-Leninist-Maoists must do is to struggle to strengthen and unite with the left – i.e. the proletarian forces – in Kurdistan and in the whole region, and to isolate and combat the right, in this case represented by Öcalan and the PKK/PYD leadership.


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