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Feminist Fighters: Kurdish Women Battling ISIS In Kobani

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Feminist Fighters: Kurdish Women Battling ISIS In Kobani

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Kurdish Women Fighters Battling ISIS in Kobani

Encouraging news from the Mideast is so rare as to deserve focused attention whenever it arrives. The first good news in a long time from Syria comes courtesy of the brave Kurdish peshmerga forces pushing back against Islamic State fighters in Kobani, a tiny place in the country’s northeastern corner, near the border with Turkey.

With the support of the U.S. Air Force, dispatched by President Obama, the Kurds have fought ISIS to a standstill there – and now the United States is airdropping weapons and supplies into Kobani, while the Turkish government has now reversed its policy, letting peshmerga cross their border into Syria to reinforce the town.

It is clear what Kobani represents to the West — an opportunity to inflict a damaging defeat on ISIS — and to the Kurds, whose national aspirations would get a deserved lift from victory (which isn’t at all assured yet). But Henri J. Barkey, a professor of international relations at Lehigh University, points out that Kobani is also becoming an important battlefield for women – both symbolically and literally:

 There is another, rather unique aspect of the resistance that is adding to its mythic character: the role of women in the fight. The juxtaposition of an Islamic State, which enslaves women or covers them from head to toe, with the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), which has large numbers of women fighting and dying alongside men, is particularly striking. Social and other media outlets have brimmed with stories of the heroism and sacrifice of these women. The fighting in Kobani, and especially the emergence of women fighters, has now entered the Kurdish lore and imagination.

And their courage should earn the admiration of all who abhor women’s subjugation.

 

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Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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3 Comments

  1. JPHALL October 20, 2014

    Where are all the right wing crazies blaming Obama for everything? It is great to read stories expressing hope and the triumph of the spirit. I salute the Kurds, especially their fighting women! Also a thank you to the air forces doing their jobs without the help of our so called ally Turkey.

    Reply
  2. Bob October 22, 2014

    The US trained “rebels” and now we have ISIS!! I say the US must pay reparations to the Kurds, Alawis, Yazidis, Christians and everyone who has suffered at the hands of ISIS

    Reply
    1. clcman October 23, 2014

      Uh… the US never trained anyone who became a founding element of ISIS. Firing the entire Iraqi army under Saddam did contribute significantly to Al Qaeda in Iraq, ISIS’s predecesor, but this isn’t Taliban 2.0 of “we wanted them to fight the others guys, now they fight us”, even if they look similar.

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