Wednesday, 23 May 2018

The defense of Kurdistan

By Juan Camilo Hernández Melendes

The current territory known as the Middle East (or fertile half moon for academic circles) is the product of a territorial division imposed by the great powers after the First World War. The Ottoman Turkish Empire dominated almost the entire Arab territory at the end of 1915, as it did from 1915 when the Caliphate of Osman was established. However, after the end of the first World War, the imperial territory was divided according to the interests of the United States and Great Britain.

After this division, territories like Palestine, Armenia and Kurdistan were eliminated from the map to privilege the geographic dominance of Israel, Turkey and Iran respectively. Kurdistan was for centuries the center of power of political Islam, the Muslim branch that structured the centers of power of the fertile crescent, and today seeks from all fronts to recover its lands.

Next to the dissolution of the empire and the arbitrary theft of Kurdish territory, the Kurdish Independence Movement emerged among civil society; this political current sought through legal means to recover the sovereignty of the country, but before the refusal of the world institutions, formed the Peshmerga guerrilla, dedicated to fighting the neighboring armies of Turkey, Iran and Syria to gain ground, little by little. The word peshmerga is of Persian origin and gathers two words in one, on the one hand Persh that means frontal and on the other hand Merg, that means death, for what translated could mean the one that goes to the front (of battle) to die.

The origin of the resistance dates back to the 1920s, but by 1970, there were few advances and triumphs that were awarded to the Peshmerga. For this reason, the communist political leader Abdullah Ochalan, Kurdish by birth and former Peshmerga soldier, decided to create a new combat front under the acronym YPG, which from Kurdish translates as: Units for the protection of the people. The YPG then distanced themselves from the Peshmerga, not only at the political level, but geographically they were located on the borderline with Syria, and from there, they ordered the guerrilla tactics of resistance to combat the persecution by the Turks and the Iranians.

The political structure of the YPG is quite clear, following the Marxist line of the distribution of the means of production, they have self-managed their struggle until now, when they have managed to build a model of State that provides the population with health, education and in some cases housing. But beyond these administrative achievements, we can highlight the creation of the YPJ or Women's Protection Units, in 2012. The YPG and YPJ work together under the same political banners in favor of Kurdistan, but these women's units claim the political and armed role of women breaking the macho stereotypes that are so popular in the Arab world.

In this way, today, these armed combat units stand out in the world political plane not only for the territorial struggle, but especially because they have served as a retaining wall to stop ISIS. As a curious fact, the Muslim extremism that represents ISIS condemns a soldier falling into combat at the hands of a woman; for this reason, the YPJ pursue the units of ISIS (or Daesh as they call it in the Middle East) to demoralize them and create a psychological war.

The fight for the Kurdish territory is today more and more distant and this is understood by both the Peshmerga and the YPJ / YPG, but their contribution in the war against Arab extremism is fundamental to preserve order in the territory and also break the schemes that for so many years have stigmatized Islam and Arabs. Undoubtedly, the Kurds represent the struggle for justice and the breaking of stereotypes, both nationally and globally.

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