Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 May 2022
Chapter 7 focuses on the two entities most often considered instances of revolutionary state formation after 2011 and which came into conflict with one another: the ISIS caliphate founded across Syria and Iraq, on the one hand, and the autonomous cantons ruled by the Kurdish PYD party in ‘Rojava’, or the Kurdish areas of north-eastern Syria, on the other. The chapter acknowledges that in attempting to create new forms of state – ‘democratic confederalism’ in the case of Rojava, and a Sunni Caliphate in the case of ISIS – these instances do resemble previous cases of revolutionary transformation. Yet their relationship with the revolutionary uprisings of 2011 is more complicated. In the case of ISIS, the chapter demonstrates that the caliphate is better thought of as a form of counter-revolution against that uprising, while in Rojava the PYD maintained an ambiguous relationship with the regime against which it was directed. For both the PYD and ISIS, international intervention proved decisive as the former were able to ally with the United States to defeat the latter – only then to suffer Turkish invasion once US support was withdrawn.