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While authoritarianism is on the rise in many parts of the world, democracy is on the rise in an unexpected place: the northeastern corner of Syria. Here, on the periphery of the brutal civil war between Assad forces and jihadist insurgents, a semiautonomous enclave has deliberately chosen a “third way.” Since 2012, Rojava (also known as North-East Syria) has been building a new society dedicated to secular democratic self-government, gender equality, and economic cooperation. Led by Kurds, Arabs, and Christians, it is committed to ethnic and religious inclusiveness and has been modeling a sane way forward for Syria and perhaps for the Middle East as a whole. If you haven’t heard about it, that’s not surprising, as it’s largely unreported by the mainstream media.

Janet Biehl made her third visit to Rojava in April 2019, spending a month there to participate in a film about the revolution. Involved with the Kurdish movement since 2011, she is an author, journalist, translator, editor, and graphic artist. She’ll report to us on the new society, its goals and its accomplishments.