Tracking ID UA-126977798-1
It may be easy to believe, that if your family and/or your community was attacked you would rush to defend, protect and counter attack those who were laying siege. You would volunteer to go, train and fight no matter who you are: female, male, professional, parent, student, laborer or veteran. You would be brave in the face of unspeakably violent acts, terrorizing brutality, daily hardship and in confronting death. But the truth is unless you have faced war, attacks and sieges-you truly do not know what you would do. History documents the statistics over time-most people flee when confronted by an advancing enemy army. The majority of people desperately seek any 'safe zone' within reach and will beg, borrow, bribe, steal, betray, beat, convert and pay to stay in their safe place. The will to live is so strong in most human beings they will turn against one another, even their own family members...to survive.
This week I recognize those who did not run from danger but who fought and who continue to fight courageously in spite of formidable odds against a ruthless enemy who is/was better equipped. The Peshmerga-(from Solani Kurdish) meaning-'those who confront/face death' must do so with dwindling support from nations who once relied on them to defeat the scourge of Daesh/ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, and who welcomed their support to defeat and capture Saddam Hussein. I write and speak of the lions/lionesses of the Middle East and Anatolia, who are still the ones who maintain vigilance against the terrorists regrouping and escaping from their purview...the Peshmerga, especially the YPJ-the all female units of their militias. Please watch this short clip entitled: "Kurdish women YPJ Fighting ISIS on the Frontline" to have an idea of these units, their conditions and their ranks. www.youtube.com/watch?v=_kkhrB9M7oY
No matter what the corporate news channels may present, unfortunately Daesh/ISIS has not been eradicated, and groups such as the more country specific Taliban, and even the more trans-national terror group Al Qaida, have in fact increased in size. "Al Qaeda's eventual goal is still the establishment of a caliphate from Jerusalem to Spain. It's a very similar goal to that of ISIS, partly because ISIS began as Al Qaeda in Iraq, before an ideological dispute saw it split from the group in 2013. The group's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said its focus is on attacking the US, which it calls "the head of the snake," and the "first enemy of Muslims around the globe." www.abc.net.au/news/2019-07-31/al-qaeda-was-forgotten-but-the-terror-group-is-more-dangerous/1136523
Since the region the Peshmerga live and fight in includes the countries of Syria, Iraq and Turkey; most people assume the Peshmerga to be military units which only have Muslims serving, but this is not true. As pictured below, while the majority of Peshmerga are Sunni Muslims-Assyrian Christians, Shi'a and Sufi Muslim women and men, also serve. The Peshmerga are the most 'open minded' and 'tolerant' of in terms of military protocols, recruitment guidelines and access to training for a broad spectrum of the population in the Middle East/Asian and North African regions.
There are recent reports of Yezidi women joining the Peshmerga in spite of residual distrust on the part of many Yezidi. When Daesh/ISIS fighters were approaching their villages the Iraqi army soldiers and law enforcement abandoned their positions. The Yezidi were told by some Peshmerga units to stay in place in Mosul, Sinjar and other locations in Iraq and Syria. Then they reported that most Peshmerga retreated, leaving the Yezidi defenseless and unable to escape. Yezidi men and boys older than 12 or 13 were slaughtered. Women and children were taken as slaves and sex slaves by Daesh/ISIS, bought and sold like cattle. Thousands of Yezidis have not been rescued or accounted for by their families and communities. www.newstatesman.com/world/middle-east/2019/06/five-years-slave-islamic-state
However, there are also numerous reports from diverse interest groups and sources which point to the YPG and the YPJ (Peshmerga Protection Units and Female Peshmerga Protection Units) thekurdishproject.org/history-and-culture/kurdish-nationalism/peoples-protection-units-ypg/
fighting fiercely to rescue Syrian and Iraqi Yezidis and Christians from Daesh/ISIS control, making the whole picture very complicated in terms of alliances. Here is one reported example from Sinjar:
"The real heroes for the Mt. Sinjar Yazidis are not NATO [or US] military personnel, but Syrian Kurds. This is because groups of Syrian Kurdish fighters, upon learning of the fate of the people trapped on Mt. Sinjar, organized and battled through IS forces, militarily digging out a safe corridor by which to remove them from the mountain and give them safe passage into Syria or some other area." www.activistpost.com/2014/08/syrian-kurds-not-us-military-rescued.html
Some of you may remember the news from Syria when Turkish military along with "Syrian Rebels" killed and displayed the body of Kurdish YPJ soldier Barin Kobani in Afrin in February 2018. (see photo below)
There are Kurds who are Turkish, have been brought up in Turkey, speak Turkish and another dialect of Kurdish, but ultimately when joining the Peshmerga, identify as Kurdish. There has been tremendous tension for decades between the Turks and the Kurds. The Turkish government categorized Kurds as "Mountain Turks" until the 1980s. The words "Kurds", "Kurdistan", or "Kurdish" were officially banned by the Turkish government, similar to their policies/prohibitions against the Armenians. Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned. The Kurds have been denied rights, property and acceptance in Turkish society although so far international pressure has prevented all Turkey from conducting further persecution.
However Turkey, announced on Sunday, August 11, they will launch an operation in northern Syria to remove Kurdish militia viewed as terrorists by Ankara-the YPG and YPJ are labeled as "terrorists" by President Erdogan of Turkey.
"Ankara says the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia is a “terrorist offshoot” of Kurdish militants waging an insurgency inside Turkey since 1984. But the US has worked closely with the YPG against ISIS." www.asiatimes.com/2019/08/article/turkey-to-launch-offensive-in-northern-syria/
The Kurdish and Kurdistani ethnicity overrides borders and countries where they live. The Kurdish communities co-existed peacefully with their Jewish neighbors for thousands of years in fact, although Kurdistani Jews fled Iraq and surrounding areas before 1972. Estimates of Kurdistani Jews in Israel now range from 250,000 to 400,000 depending on how "ancestry" is determined and what reports you read. www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/kurdish-jews-in-israel-back-independence-for-their-iraqi-compatriots-1.5453442
There are some analysts who believe the close relationship of Israeli Kurds, the support of Israel for the Kurds and their promotion of equal rights for women and tolerance of other religions besides Islam, has incensed the current president of Turkey who is an outspoken proponent of Islam and Sharia law. His reprehensible views on women and their duties, role in society and belief that women are not equal to men and contraception is treason-are well documented. www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/turkeys-president-erdogan-says-childless-women-are-deficient-and-incomplet-a7067126.html
Kurds are ultimately still fighting for what has been promised for centuries by more powerful nations and empires i.e. the right to their own country-an Independent Kurdistan. For a short time in November 2017, it seemed as if a part of that vision would be realized in northern Iraq but ironically it was the inability of the Kurdish groups themselves to support each other against the Iraqi government and army, which ended the possibility of a portion of land to be designated for them and recognized as 'Kurdistan'.
Though the Kurds could confront an enemy outside themselves and face death-they could not agree at the negotiating table among fellow Kurds, tribes and families. After the elections in Iraq in 2018, the Kurds lost more political leverage and the Shi'a parties and Iranian supported militia presence increased their power and influence in Iraq.
For over a year, Turkey has initiated attacks against various militias and communities of Kurds on their border and into Syria. The international community including the United States and the UK have proposed a "safe zone" of 30 kilometers along the Syrian/Turkish border. But the Turkish president Erdogan insists only Turkey should be in charge of the 'safe zone' and "removing all YPG/YPJ is part of their plan" for this corridor. 'The term “peace corridor”, besides sounding Orwellian, is identical to the type of rhetoric used by Erdogan – who calls the Kurdish-controlled areas of northern Syria a “terror corridor”. www.rudaw.net/english/analysis/11082019
Local media report military vehicles and commando units assembling on the border (Agence France-Prese). Meantime no allies of the Kurds have put themselves forward.
The Kurdish people have a saying: "The Kurds have no friends but the mountains". Let's hope this time the USA can be counted on as a supporter and friend ensuring the 'safe zone' does not turn into a 'killing zone' as happened last century
with the Armenians.
This week I share a "Tribute to Kurdish Women Warriors" with Kurdish music and dance clips in the hopes you will keep them in your thoughts and prayers. It is hard to believe that about this time last year I was happily listening to live Kurdish music and watching energetic dances done by both men and women in a large hall outside of Erbil, Iraq.
This video will give you a glimpse of the joy as well as the hardship in Kurdish life .
Goodnight from here,