Born dead sidebar: An abbreviated Syrian primer


It took a few thousand years to create the autonomous by the Kurds during the Syrian uprising in current political mess that is the Middle November 2013.

East and it would take a few thousand articles to explain it. That said, here’s a quick lay-of-theland primer.

YPG: The Kurdish People’s Protection Units

• Includes a couple thousand fighters and is the armed force of Rojava.

• They, along with the YPJ, fight against the Islamic State group in Syria.

YPJ: The Women’s Defense Units

• The female force of Rojava which plays an equally significant role in the conflict.

• Men and women often fight in a mixed Tabor.

Tabor: Pronounced Tab-oor, it’s the Kurdish word for unit.

Rojava: Pronounced Ro-jav-a

• A region in northern Syria which was declared

• It consists of three cantons (states) that the Kurds want to unite to build a liberal society bringing Kurds,

Arabs, Assyrians, Christians and Muslims into one democratic government.

Kurds/The Kurdish people:

• One of the largest stateless ethnic groups in the world, numbering 25-30 million people.

• Most are Sunni Muslim but some practice Sufism, a mystical form of Islam.

• But, MacTaggart says he never saw a Kurd pray. Most Kurds who are involved with the YPG or PKK, because of the groups’ communist origins, are irreligious, Atheist or non-devout Muslims.

• In general, Kurdistan is a non-governmental region but two countries recognize parts of Kurdistan.

• Iran recognizes the province of Kordestan and Iraq recognizes an area in the north of the country called the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) or Iraqi Kurdistan.

• Iraqi Kurdistan is also recognized on the world stage, albeit still not a nation-state.

PKK: the Kurdish Worker’s Party

• The group began as a communist rebellion and an attempt to increase cultural and political rights for Kurds in Turkey during the 1970s.

• Abdullah Ocalan, who is serving a life sentence in a Turkish prison, leads the group and coined the term ‘democratic confederalism,’ their ideology.

• They have adapted their politics to modern times and are no longer communist.

• But, they are still classified as a terrorist group by the U.S., the EU and Turkey.

• On the other hand, NATO, Egypt, India, Russia and Switzerland have not listed them as a terrorist group.

• This shows the complications of global politics, exasperated because the Kurds have always been allies of the U.S., but the U.S. also relies on Turkey, who denies Kurds the right to exist in their own state.

Democratic confederalism: Implies a govern ment based not on religious lines but rather an allinclusive government comprised of all the different groups in a region.

Daesh: A term ISIS considers derogatory; used by Kurds and others.

• It’s the English acronym once the Islamic State group’s full Arabic name is transliterated.

• Arabic: al-Dawa al-Islamiya fi Iraq wa al Sham (translated: The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham).

• The Arabic name results in DAIISH, spelled in English as ‘Daesh.’

• It sounds like the Arabic word ‘dashes,’ which The Guardian translates as, “one who sows discord.”

• The group hates this connotation and banned the word in the territory it controls.

• By calling them Daesh, Kurds refuse to validate claims that the group is a real government and denies its equation with all of Islam.

The Peshmerga:

• The official military of the Kurdistan Regional Government in northern Iraq.

• Includes 100,000 fighters, male and female, and is recognized on the world stage.

• They fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

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