The Washington Post reports that Kurdish armed forces from Iraq, Syria and Turkey have organized the evacuation of thousands of Iraqi Yazidis from the vicinity of Mount Sinjar, and are providing a corridor allowing them to escape from the Islamic State fighters who are threatening their lives into the autonomous Kurdish zone of Syria.
As few as 10 percent of those on the mountain have managed to leave, said Serbast Babili, the commander with Iraqi Kurdish forces overseeing the operation. He spoke from the battlefield near the Sinjar village of Sinoon, where, he said, his troops were fending off Islamic State attempts to disrupt the evacuation.
Iraqi Kurdish forces are repelling Islamic State advances on the southern side of the mountain, while the evacuation route on the mountain’s northern side is being organized by the fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its Syrian spinoff, the Popular Protection Units, or YPG. The workers’ party is better known by its Kurdish acronym PKK, and it is designated a terrorist group by the United States.
Perhaps it’s time to reconsider that designation.
“Most of them walk on foot to the border,” said Redur Xelil, a spokesman for the YPG. “We are still trying to reach many people in the mountain. It’s a large area.”
According to a report at Syria Deeply, about 30 percent of the YPG’s fighters are women.
In early 2013, Ruwayda, the commander of the first all-female brigade of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (or PYD), oversaw 53 fighters, working with the Free Syrian Army to stop Assad’s forces from entering Kurdish neighborhoods of Aleppo.
After holding off the regime, she and her brigade returned to their home base, the predominantly Kurdish northern city of the Afrin, turning their efforts to stopping the advance of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
“I believe in a greater cause, which is protecting our families and our cities from the extremists’ brutality and dark ideas,” she says. “I read Nietzsche and Marx, which they don’t accept. They don’t accept having women in leadership positions. They want us to cover ourselves and become housewives to attend to their needs only. They think we have no right to talk and control our lives.”
The father of one female YPG fighter said:
“I tried to stop Ameena by all means, but I couldn’t. Her decision was final. We are born in a liberated society that respects women and their decisions. I never imagined my daughter’s decision would be to be a fighter, but I’ve become very proud of her. She is braver than I am, and stronger than her brothers. When she comes to visit us, all family friends come to take pictures with her.”
A Marx-reading feminist fighter in the Third World battling the forces of murderous dark-age repression? Isn’t this the sort of thing with which the International Left is supposed to stand in solidarity?
What’s that? The Kurds don’t hate Israel? They’re not anti-American?