ROJAVA: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria's Kurds
Author. Thomas Schmidinger
Published by: Pluto Press, London, 2018, 368pp, 17.99 [pounds sterling].
Based on a study of the literature and his detailed fieldwork for over seventeen years in the Kurdish territories of Syria (known as West Kurdistan, Syrian Kurdistan or Rojava by the Kurds), Thomas Schmidinger's book offers a comprehensive explanation of the developments in society, politics, religions, economy and history of this part of Syria. On 22 April 2015, the book was awarded the Mazlum Bagok Prize, a Kurdish journalistic prize, in Rojava.
Schmidinger presents a concise and precise history of the Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups in Syria from the late Ottoman Empire until the recent developments in the midst of the Syrian Civil War starting from 2011. In other words, while the book includes observations of the recent developments that have taken place in Rojava Kurdistan, it is written from an academic perspective and the author tries to avoid a simple journalistic narration of the events. The timing of the research is the aspea of the book that is significant. The fieldwork that has been conducted took place between the years 2013 and 2016. During this time Rojava was overtaken by bloody wars fighting either the 'Islamic State', jihadists, Turkish allied groups or the Syrian government. Few academics have dared to become immersed in observations associated with such dangerous fieldwork.
Following the Kurdistan region in Iraq, the self-managed cantons that constitute Rojava in Syria are regarded as the second Kurdish para-state in the Middle East. In fact, this area has attained further international and regional attention due to the active involvement of the PYD (Democratic Union Party), and its associated YPG (People's Protection Party, the security wing), in the fight against ISIS and religious radicalism in Syria. PYD, although a distina political aaor, is influenced by the ideology of Abdullah Ocalan, the hardline Kurdish separatist leader of PKK in Turkey. PYD later joined a wider front called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is an umbrella group containing both Kurds and non-Kurds. The main themes of the book are the protests against the regime in the Kurdish territories, the establishment of the Kurdish autonomous regions and their political structures and daily life under the structures of the self-administration, the PYD and its Peoples Councils. The...