[Article] le 08 Mai 2023 par

The People’s Communes in Rojava and Northeast Syria Characters, Evolution and Contradictions in a Self-Governing Institution

In Syria, since 2003 the institution of the Commune, in both
its gender-mixed and women’s variants, has been at the core
of the PYD’s political action and revolutionary perspective.
Between 2011 and 2012, the Syrian social uprising allowed
the party to extend and openly claim the activities of the
Communes. It structured them into a system of commissions
and delegations that has become a unique form of self-government
in Syria. Since 2013 this system has witnessed the
establishment of administrative institutions that initially were
barely linked to the Communes. The Communes were given
the historical task of gradually eroding those very provisional
and administrative powers, building a radically democratic
perspective at the grassroots level. The war against IS (2014-
2019) increased the number of Communes, and even extended
them beyond the limits of Kurdish communities. The Turkish
invasions (2018-2022) halted and undermined this process of
expansion quantitatively (since they were dissolved in occupied
areas) and qualitatively, forcing them to become transmission
belts for emergency directives that mostly come from the administrative
institutions. This produced a reversal (whether
temporary or not is yet to be seen) of the political dynamics
imagined by the PYD both at its foundation and at the
beginning of the Syrian revolution.

KEYWORDS: Rojava, communes, political action, selfgoverning institution, PYD