Aug 15, 2014

Follow Friday: @r3sho on the Kurdish twittersphere and the battle against the Islamic State

Kurdistan is back in the media spotlight as the Islamic State's power spreads -- and it's up to Kurdish ex-pats to keep it there, says Resho Bistuyek.

Matthew Clayfield

Journalist, critic, screenwriter and playwright

The Kurds are finally making the news. After nearly two years of fighting between Kurdish militias and Islamic militants in Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan — the western part of what some hope will one day be a united Kurdish state — the Islamic State’s surge into Iraq and the threat of genocide on the slopes of Mount Sinjar have caused the international community and media to sit up and take notice. There are many reasons this is happening only now: the strategic importance of Iraqi Kurdistan’s oilfields; the position of Iraq relative to Syria in the minds of the Western powers at least partly responsible for its current vulnerability; and the tendency, only now beginning to change, to think of Syria as the site of a single, unitary war rather than the cluster of smaller but no less bloody conflicts that war has become.

But for Kurds — especially those active in the Kurdish twittersphere, who wear their nationalism on their sleeves — Rojava remains of the utmost importance. For them, the two-year struggle to hold the area has been less a part of the Syrian war than the opening battle in a much larger, longer and transformative project: the war for Kurdish unification and independence.

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