Approfondir > Syria, Turkey and Kurdistan : Interview with a member of the TiKKO Maoist (...)

Syria, Turkey and Kurdistan : Interview with a member of the TiKKO Maoist guerrilla.

Partisan Magazine was fortunate to be able to interview a revolutionary who has been fighting in Rojava for several months with TiKKO [1] where he explains the tactical and strategic positions adopted by the organisation regarding the situation in Syria, Kurdistan and Turkey.

What is TiKKO and what are its aims ?

TiKKO is a Maoist guerrilla organisation, the armed wing of the TKP/ML [2], engaged in People’s War in Turkey and the part of Kurdistan under Turkish control with the aim of bringing down the Fascist Turkish state. The TKP/ML was founded in 1972 in order to take over the role of guiding the Turkish proletariat previously led by the TKP [3], which had become Revisionist and no longer accepted Marxism-Leninism, falling prey to national-chauvism and failing to criticise the Kemalist brand of Fascism [4] that forms the bedrock of the Republic of Turkey, splitting especially due differences over the Kurdish national question.

TKP/ML is known for being the first party to have recognised the existence of the Kurdish nation and to fight for its rights. In a country where history is written in the blood of massacres, genocide, coups and an ultra-jingoistic education system, the Party is also renowned for its criticisms of Kemalism which it sees as a form of Fascism, as well as its support for the struggles waged by the Armenian people and the Alevis with whom it maintains strong ties.
TKP/ML was the first organisation to set up a guerrilla, initially mainly in the Alevi and Kurdish regions in the East of the country.

Could you tell us why you take part in the International Freedom Battalion’s military campaign in Rojava ?

When the revolutionary process under way in Rojava came under threat with the Siege of Kobanî, the TKP/ML-TiKKO fulfilled its internationalist duty by standing shoulder to shoulder with the Kurdish people and helping to strengthen the wall of resistance against the Fascist Daesh organisation. Since then, TiKKO has remained in Rojava and took part in setting up the International Freedom Battalion together with other revolutionary, internationalist organisations from Turkey, as well as from Greece and the Spanish State.

This experience of unity in struggle forged in Rojava contributed strongly to the creation of a united revolutionary front in Turkey, bringing together different organisation which until then has worked in isolation, culminating in the Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement (HBDH).

What is the situation today ?

The situation on the ground is good. The morale in our camp is very high. Since the Siege of Kobanî, the YPG [5] have remained undefeated, the troops continue to grow and it seems likely that the three cantons of Rojava could soon be united.

Today we go beyond the Kurdish question alone. The fight against the fascist Daesh led the YPG to found the Syrian Democratic Forces, bringing together Arabic, Kurdish, Assyrian groups, etc. It has also broadened the front in Syria’s Arab territories such as Manbij and Raqqa, proposing a real alternative to the jihadist rebels who play into the hands of Western and Turkish imperialism as well as to Assad’s criminal regime under the thumb of Russia.

What is your view on the US military intervention, especially the recent airstrikes by the Trump administration ?

As far as the ‘recent’ US military intervention is concerned, I think we need to see things as they really stand, because the United States has in fact been active in the Syrian civil war since the very outset and we have been well aware right from the start what they’re really interested in : oil. They will continue to shift their support from one side to the other in an attempt to keep the increasingly unsustainable war going until they can appear as Syria’s saviour with the backing of the NATO countries in order to intervene directly from a position of strength to turn Syria into yet another US puppet state headed by an American governor just like Iraq.
Since the Siege of Kobanî, the United States have provided the YPG with arms and logistic support and have liaised with YPG command on operations. However, while it is true that the people suffering the war see this aid as necessary and that the US intervention is greeted by YPG combatants, the leaders of the PYD say that they are clear about the true intentions of the United States and that they will not be swayed. From our point of view as revolutionaries and communists we are always wary of any collusion with the imperialists, whether they’re Americans, Russians or Europeans. Even by merely accepting their aid, the YPG is giving them an inch and we know that they won’t hesitate to take a yard whenever they can. The YPG are convinced that they are playing both hands cleverly, but that is impossible. But as internationalists, we’re not there for the YPG, but for the Kurdish people and above all to combat the fascist Daesh. We are still out there because of what we have learnt from our founding leader, İbrahim Kaypakkaya [6] , who taught us that communists should not use imperialist intervention as an excuse not to support the just liberation struggle of the Kurdish nation [7].
We understand the criticisms by self-styled revolutionary organisations in Turkey and Europe who question the YPG for accepting imperialist aid and the fact that we remain there despite that. But all of those voices come from a long way away, from people far away from what’s really going on in the war and the revolution in Rojava, from people and organisations who have not gone out there themselves to help. What I say to them is that they should not use that as an excuse to fail to fulfil their duty, just as Kaypakkaya replied to the Turkish ‘revolutionaries’ who refused to acknowledge the right of the Kurds to self-determination on the grounds that they had once enjoyed the backing of the Britain in order to weaken the newly created Republic of Turkey. But as Kaypakkaya himself pointed out, by adopting such a stance, the so called ‘revolutionaries’ ended up effectively defending the interests of the ruling Turkish class against the people under their boot. The role of the revolutionaries and the communists in the imperialist countries and Turkey must be to combat their own national ruling classes, which in turn is tantamount to an act of internationalism by supporting the people who suffer their attacks. But instead, those groups and people criticise the Kurds in Rojava for accepting support from such countries.

The recent referendum in Turkey intended to extend the powers of Erdoğan’s reactionary regime was won by a very small majority. How do you see the new period that lies ahead ?

We can afford to lose battles, but we will not lose the war. As far as the referendum was concerned, we were more interested in the work we were able to do around it rather than the final result at the polls. We knew that even if the No vote won, as it in fact did, the results would be fiddled in favour of Erdoğan anyway, because the final aim of the referendum was to legalise the strengthening of his dictatorial powers which is already a reality in Turkey, so it won’t really affect the repression already suffered by the social movements, revolutionary, democratic rights, freedom of the press and the current massacres to any great extent. But the campaign did enable us to build a strong united front against Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AKP) by broadening the scope of our field of action by reaching out to traditionally reactionary sympathisers close to the AKP and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). Up until now, Turkey was clearly split between reactionaries on the one hand and Kurds, Alevis, Armenians and Turkish democrats and revolutionaries on the other, making it very difficult for revolutionary organisations to reach out to the bases of the reactionary organisations, unable to come up with arguments against the solid wall of the mind-set built up by nationalism and religion. The issue of the referendum and the No campaign enabled us to pit the interests of Erdoğan’s grassroots supporters against those of Erdoğan himself. Similarly, when the bourgeois leadership of the extreme right-wing MHP came out in support of Erdoğan in order to protect its economic interests, it came up against the unprecedented situation where is rank-and-file supports and its working-class trade-union officials clearly refused. We took advantage of that situation to go into the neighbourhoods and the factories that had been barred to us prior to that. That is our assessment of the period of the referendum. What is more, the final outcome of the campaign was clear, with the No vote actually winning with a large majority in all of the large cities. We now need to develop that potential in order to organise the proletariat in a united front led by the revolutionaries to bring down Erdoğan’s regime.

Interview by OCML VP - April 2017

[1Liberation Army of the Workers and Peasants of Turkey (Turkish : İşci ve Köylü Kurtuluş Ordusu), the armed wing of the TKP/ML, Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist–Leninist.

[2Communist Party of Turkey/Marxist–Leninist.

[3Communist Party of Turkey.

[4Kemalism is the ideology created by Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s on which the Republic of Turkey is founded.

[5People’s Protection Units, armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian sister organisation of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)

[6Co-founder of the TKP/ML, tortured then murdered in 1973 by the Turkish secret service at the age of 24. He was one of the first to defend the independence of Kurdistan.

[7This theory is explained in his work The National Question in Turkey available on-line at

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