Struggling for Peace in the Midst of a Power Struggle

Just like the Middle East as a whole, the future of Kurdistan is heavily contested today. Regional powers like Turkey, Iran and Israel, but also the global hegemons USA, Europe, Russia and China are all engaged in a power struggle in the region. Since the Gulf War in 1991 this conflict has steadily intensified, today reaching a scope that we call World War III. The different peoples of the Middle East – Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Persians, Armenians, Greeks or Assyrians – have both been victims and active players in this ongoing struggle. These peoples have again and again opted for peace, democracy and equality in their home countries. In the course of this democratic struggle of the people the Kurds have evolved into a leading source of inspiration and power for the regional and international democratic movements. It is the project of Democratic Confederalism, developed by Abdullah Öcalan on the Turkish prison island Imrali, that today provides the peoples of the Middle East and beyond with a clear road-map for the solution of the conflicts in their home countries.

In his quest to find a solution to the ever-deepening problems of the Middle East, Abdullah Öcalan came up with a new model of social and political organization which goes beyond the mentality of the nation-state and provides for the democratic organization of different communities with diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds. This model draws on a deep historical, political, social, and cultural analysis of the Middle East and marks a departure from models which have separated the peoples of the region and pitted them against each other. Abdullah Öcalan conceptualized this new approach to politics and society as the Democratic Nation and proposed the KCK as the embodiment of that approach. In doing so, he embarked on subjecting his own organization to a metamorphosis with ideological and political dimensions embracing all the different ethnic and religious diversities in the Middle-East through a new concept and a new model. After having worked on his new paradigm since the early 1990s, he finalized and proposed it to all the peoples of the Middle-East, particularly the Kurdish people, in the early 2000s.

One Goal, Three Pillars: Grassroots Democracy, Women`s Liberation and Ecology

The goal of the new paradigm is building a democratic, confederal system. Today, it inspires not only Kurds, but peoples all over the Middle East and in other parts of the world. In numerous books Abdullah Öcalan has elaborated on the theoretical and practical implications of Democratic Confederalism. Based on a thorough analysis of global human history Öcalan arrives at the conclusion that ever since the establishment of state structures – roughly 5000 years ago in lower Mesopotamia – humanity has been plagued with major unresolved problems. It is the centralization of power and resources, the oppression of women by men and the reckless exploitation of nature that have brought humankind to the brink of extinction.

Consequently, the task of democratic forces all over the world – especially in the war-torn Middle East – is to find solutions to these most pressing issues. Building up Democratic Confederalism means establishing an alternative to the nation-state with grassroots, self-governed communes, establishing a relationship between the genders based on equality and respect and developing a new balance between humanity and nature. This is what millions of Kurds and an ever-growing number of Arabs, Turks, Persians or other people are struggling for today.

The KCK and Democratic Confederalism

As the KCK (Kurdistan Democratic Communities Union) we consider us as a central part of the efforts to build Democratic Confederalism in Kurdistan, the Middle-East and beyond. The KCK was founded in 2005 as an umbrella organization. Our communities consider the three-fold paradigm of grassroots democracy, women`s liberation and ecology the most realistic and peaceful path to a world worth living in. We are convinced that a different world is possible. Organized in different areas of life – economy, culture, self-defense, justice, social life, diplomacy, politics – the KCK`s mission is to support and build structures of self-administration. Through its hundreds of member organizations the KCK represents millions of people and counts tens of thousands of active members engaged in all domains of work. Its supporters and members come from all walks of life and are comprised of millions of Kurds and an ever-growing number of Arabs, Turks, Persians, Assyrians and other people. The influence of the KCK goes far beyond its immediate member organizations. Acknowledging the deep crisis the Middle East finds itself in today, the KCK has proposed the system of Democratic Confederalism as a solution for the region´s problems thus inspiring parties, organizations, institutions and people all over the Middle East and beyond. As a result, the KCK entertains relations with a broad variety of political, social and cultural forces both regionally and internationally. Our aims go far beyond the discourse of `individual and cultural rights` so often voiced by Western powers. The basic, most important part of our structure are the local communes build and run by the people in a village or a city neighborhood. All communes, parties, organizations and initiatives find together under the roof of the `People`s Congress` (Kongra-Gel) which constitutes our highest decision-making institution. Thus, even under the hardships of war and colonial state policies we work everyday to put our vision of a self-governed, just and sustainable society into practice.

The KCK`s Democratic Decision-Making Process

All the KCK`s member organizations come together under the roof of the People`s Congress (Kongra-Gel) which constitutes the KCK`s highest decision-making institution. Its current co-Chairs are Remzi Kartal and Hacer Zagros. In regular general assemblies the People`s Congress discusses issues and takes binding decisions regarding the work of its member organizations. The general assembly not only elects the co-Chairs of the People`s Congress itself, but also the members of the KCK Executive Council and its co-Chairs. Thus, it functions as the highest democratic body of the KCK which brings together all different committees, organizations and members from Kurdistan and beyond. The People`s Congress allows for the discussion, coordination and planning of the KCK`s work and all its member structures.

The foundation of the People`s Council in the early 2000s was the practical expression of a major paradigm shift: away from the nation-state paradigm and towards a deeply democratic way of doing politics. Its purpose is to allow democratic, independent decision-making processes made by the people themselves. Instead of using centralized, highly bureaucratized and hierarchical structures, the Kongra-Gel allows for democratic, comprehensive and inclusive discussions and decisions. Elections and congresses constitute the most important tools to guarantee the implementation of the founding principles of the People`s Congress (Kongra-Gel).

The 10th general assembly of the People`s Council took place from August 1 to 5, 2016 in the Medya Defense Zones in South Kurdistan. 161 delegates from all four parts of Kurdistan and beyond took part in the assembly. The People`s Councils co-Chairs, the KCK Executive Council and co-Chairs were elected with women representing half of the elected 34 members of the KCK Executive Council. Due to the ongoing war and the security situation this entails, the 11th general assembly is yet to convene.