The following texts are extracted from Mesopotamia.coop
A co-operative revolution is happening in Northern Syria
People in Rojava are collectively building a society based on principles of direct democracy, ecology, and women’s liberation, with co-operation playing a crucial role in rebuilding their economy. In Bakur (the predominantly Kurdish region of eastern Turkey) people are setting up co-operatives within a similar democratic model, despite ongoing military repression by the state of Turkey.
Join us in building international solidarity between our co-operative movements.
Where is Mesopotamia?
Mesopotamia – the land ‘between two rivers,’ the Tigris and Euphrates – is also known as the cradle of civilisation. It’s a historical region that spanned the land now divided by the nation states of Syria, Iraq and parts of Turkey, Iran, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. It’s an approximate region, without borders. The same could be said of Kurdistan – ‘the land where Kurds live’ – another geographical region which has never been a country, whose people have been divided by some of those same nation states.
Unlike the term ‘Kurdistan’, ‘Mesopotamia’ is not bonded to any national identity, and its use reflects the spirit of pluralism that has emerged from the Kurdish freedom movement. Mesopotamia has always been highly ethnically and culturally diverse.
Co-operation in Mesopotamia researches and raises awareness about the developing co-operative economy in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, often referred to as Rojava (Kurdish for ‘West’), and also in Bakur (Kurdish for ‘North’), in southeastern Turkey.
What’s happening in Rojava?
In early 2011, citizen uprisings in Syria began, calling for the Regime to fall. By the end of 2012, this had spiralled into a proxy world war, with all of the world’s superpowers fighting on the battle ground of Syria via varying proxy forces.
It was in this environment, in the summer of 2012, that Kurds in the majority Kurdish city of Kobani on the Turkish border, announced their revolution. People took to the streets. The regime, already weakened and fighting heavily on other fronts, receded from the area. Now this Kurdish-led (but increasingly pluralist) social movement was able to begin putting into practice the model for a new paradigm that until now had been operating underground, in Syria as well as Turkey.
This ideology and the principles that underpin it are based on the political thought of Abdullah Ocalan, in a model he has termed Democratic Confederalism.
Rather than a nation state, this model is based on a matrix of autonomous, but accountable, neighbourhood assemblies (or ‘communes’), civil society organsiations, political parties, unions, co-operatives, etc. It seeks autonomy within currently existing borders, rather than an independent nation state. It works from the bottom up, via a system of rotating delegates, with quotas for men, women, and each of the different ethnic groups that make up the community.
This paradigm is based on three pillars: direct democracy, women’s liberation, and ecology ─ and co-operation plays a crucial role. The ultimate aim is for co-operatives to make up 80% of the economy in Rojava. Read more.
The transition to a co-operative economy has been building slowly since the start of the Rojava Revolution. Having been built up from nothing, the co-operative economy now makes up about 7% of the economy of Jazira – the largest of three regions that make up the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS).
3% of Jazira’s economy is now based on autonomous women’s co-operatives – an astounding feat.
We, as part of the co-operative and solidarity economy movements in the UK, are aiming to build real solidarity and relationships between co-operative movements both here and in the DFNS. We believe that only by developing their economy can this movement survive and thrive, and that we, as fellow co-operators, are well placed to support in this way – movement to movement, and co-op to co-op. Read more.