[Marxism] Fwd: America’s Favorite Syrian Militia Rules With an Iron Fist | The Nation
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Tue Feb 14 06:18:16 MST 2017
It was America’s favorite Syrian militia, the People’s Protection Units,
or YPG, at work. Top figures in the Obama administration and even the
professional military praised the YPG as the most effective Syrian force
against the Islamic State, or ISIS. (The Trump administration hasn’t yet
indicated how it plans to work with the YPG.)
But its mission last September 10 was nothing to brag about. The
northeast Syrian village being stormed, Bani Shkawe, is Kurdish, and the
Asayish, or military police, were not scouring for radical Islamists but
for Kurdish draft-dodgers. They arrested seven young men, but many
others got away, local residents said.
Two weeks later, the Asayish returned with a force of 700. When a group
of young men took flight, the Asayish opened fire, killing Hani Khanjar,
an 18-year-old Kurd. They captured three young men, but set them free,
since they were under 18.
The YPG regularly raids villages such as Bani Shkawe, and several times
a month it sets up roadblocks and checkpoints at the edge of major towns
and villages, according to opposition politicians and local human rights
Measures such as these testify to the unpopularity of the Democratic
Union Party, the PYD, the political wing of the YPG, but it’s not the
only reason. The PYD runs the region, which it calls Rojava or west
Kurdistan, with an iron hand, suppressing political opposition,
detaining journalists and shutting down independent media, and expelling
tens of thousands of Arabs as it seeks to consolidate control. Forced
recruitment is both a cause and an effect of its unpopularity.
“The PYD has a manpower problem,” said Fabrice Balanche, a French
academic expert on Syria with the Washington Institute for Near East
Policy. He estimates that 500,000 Kurds—half the population—have fled
northern Syria rather than submit to YPG rule.
The US military has got wind of the YPG’s forced-recruitment practice.
“We’ve heard of it. I don’t know if we’ve confirmed it,” Col. John
Thomas, a spokesman for the US Central Command, told The Nation. But, he
added, “forced conscription is not something we are in there advising”
the YPG to do.
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