2nd Day of the 2nd Middle East Youth Conference in Kobane

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Yesterday, on the second day of the ‘Conference of the Youth of the Middle East’, the main topic of conversation was current crises within the Middle East and how they affect those living there. Throughout the day participants were invited to share their opinions on topics that included society, dogmatism, nationalism and religious fundamentalism. The discussion was encouraged to have a particular focus on the struggle in Palestine, the Arab spring and the Kurdish liberation movement in northeastern Syria. Throughout the day, friends from Afrin and Palestine helped chair the meeting and encourage this focus. There was also a short presentation given by each of these friends to give further insight into their struggles.

Much of the day’s discussion surrounded the role of nation states within the Middle East and how they work to reinforce patriarchy as well as oppression of cultures, languages and peoples. The importance of youth and strong youth structures, was covered in relation to the topic of resisting the nation state, as, at present many young people are leaving the region to live in Europe. This exodus has created a gap in society that is problematic when considering how to achieve social change in the region.

Another central topic was the role of International solidarity between revolutionary movements in the Middle East. One example given was the PKK joining the resistance against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 which shows the powerful effect revolutionary solidarity can have against even the most well armed states. The role of the Palestinian movement in educating and training many revolutionaries was also mentioned.

Erdogan and the fascist dictatorship in Turkey were, of course, a hot topic on the second day of the conference. It was argued that the AKP and Turkish military act as an oppressor on behalf of NATO to suppress freedom movements and peoples of the Middle East. Therefore, though the fight against Daesh seems to have come to an end, we can not call this fight successful as long the regime of Erdogan and the AKP continues to exist.

There was also widespread condemnation of the Israeli state throughout the day, as well as some discussion of the relationship between Israel and Turkey. It was mentioned that, whilst Erdogan criticizes Israeli policy against Palestinians in public, behind closed doors there are many military and economical ties between the two states. It is therefore clear that both are working to create instability in the region on behalf of western powers in order to reinforce the values of capitalist modernity and oppression.

All participants in the conference made it clear that they stand against Patriarchy, Nationalism and religious fundamentalism, and that these systems of oppression have no place in revolutionary movements. The state has used these methods to divide the people and turn different ethnic groups against each other. While the societies represented in the conference want to maintain their cultural identity, the speeches on the second day of the conference made it clear that the friends here are all brothers, sisters and comrades in the struggle against the capitalist modernity. These are the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan and a part of his philosophy to free the people and more importantly the women of the Middle East.