Syria can seem an endless black hole of misery, but in the northern, largely Kurdish region of Rojava, it is also the scene of a profoundly democratic and humanist revolution, which places the rights of ethnic minorities and women's liberation at its centre.
Ironically, given the horror that surrounds it, Rojava is the site of the most profound experiments on grassroots, participatory democracy outside of the revolutionary projects in Latin America. Like in Venezuela, the ideal of "the commune" is at the heart of Rojava's burgeoning democracy.
The Rojavan revolution came to the world's attention largely through the heroic resistance by the fighters of the People's Protection Units (YPG) and Women's Protection Units (YPJ) in defeating an Islamic State group siege on the Rojavan town of Kobane in January. But many have noted the profoundly revolutionary ideology that drives Rojavan freedom fighters - which they are seeking to put into practice amid great odds.
Rojava is a "liberated zone" in northern Syria that forms part of the traditional homeland of Kurdistan. The major political party is the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is ideologically aligned with the left-wing Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), based in Turkey.
In 2011, the PYD supported the uprising that broke out against Assad. However, it was concerned about the opposition overly militarising the conflict. At first, this was in response to Assad's repression of unarmed protests, but was fuelled by the intelligence agencies of the West and its regional allies.
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