Capitalism Nature Socialism

Prospects for Kurdish Ecology Initiatives in Syria

and Turkey: Democratic Confederalism and Social Ecology

Stephen E. Hunt

To cite this article: Stephen E. Hunt (2017): Prospects for Kurdish Ecology Initiatives in Syria and Turkey: Democratic Confederalism and Social Ecology, Capitalism Nature Socialism, DOI:


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This paper surveys the nascent experiments in political ecology underway in

predominantly Kurdish areas of south-eastern Turkey, known as Bakûr, and

Rojava (northern Syria). The Kurdish freedom movement is attempting to

consolidate a social revolution with ecology at its heart in a most

unpromising context, given its ongoing struggle against Islamic State and

regional embargoes. This greening of its ideology can be significantly

attributed to the influence of American social ecologist Murray Bookchin, an

inspiration for Kurdish attempts to implement democratic confederalism,

which comprises principles of direct democracy, gender equality and

ecological well-being in a needs-based economy. The Mesopotamian Ecology

Movement has emerged from activist campaigns opposing dam construction,

climate change and deforestation in the region, to inform ecology councils

tasked with formulating policies that reflect this philosophical paradigm shift.

The essay considers the prospects for the ecological initiatives in Turkish and

Syrian Kurdistan. It argues that, confronted by formidable challenges,

expansion of the democratic confederal model beyond the heartlands of

Bakûr and Rojava, and international solidarity, are preconditions for their


ARTICLE HISTORY Received 31 March 2017; Accepted 3 October 2017

KEYWORDS Kurdistan; Rojava; environmental issues; social ecology; Murray Bookchin

The ecological struggle is the touchstone for the liberation of all humanity.

(MEM 2016a)

There are nascent but already extraordinary experiments in political

ecology underway in Kurdistan. Ecological well-being is one of the core principles

of democratic confederalism emerging in the predominantly Kurdish

areas of south-eastern Turkey, known by Kurds as Bakûr, and the autonomous

cantons of Rojava, in northern Syria. This bold expression of political

ecology can be attributed to a significant degree to the influence of American

social ecologist Murray Bookchin upon Abdullah Öcalan, the founder of the

© 2017 The Center for Political Ecology Continue reading

Mesopotamian Ecology Movement call to action against forest fires and ecological warfare

Please contact the organiser if you want to take part!

+++ Mesopotamian Ecology Movement +++

*10.000 hectares burnt down in Kurdistan by the Turkish Army – International Delegation needed more than ever!*


We want to renew our call to form an international delegation to investigate the forest fires in North-Kurdistan caused by the Turkish Army. It is more and more urgent to raise international public as in the last one week the number of forest fires and burnt forests increase daily.

Around ten days ago activists of our movement did a first investigation together with a group of Turkish ecological activists in different parts of Kurdistan (the report will be published in the next days). According to this and further gathered information from local people the number of forest fires has exceeded the number of 50 in at least eight provinces: Dersim (Tunceli), Çewlik (Bingöl), Amed (Diyarbakır), Mardin, Siirt, Şirnex (Şırnak), Çolemerg (Hakkari) and Bitlis. The total number of forest areas burnt down in the last one month has reached 10.000 hectares land! We are concerned that this will be intensified in the next weeks as long as the military operations of the Turkish Army continue. Continue reading