ViceTV: Meet the Female Fighters of Kurdistan!


Fascinating stuff from the guys at Vice. Here's their writeup:

Published on Jul 23, 2012 by vice

Come with us to Northern Iraq for a springtime frolic with the lovely lady guerillas of the Kurdish Liberation Movement.

Part 1 of 3:
Part 2 of 3:
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From Boudica of the British Celts to Corporal Klinger, few things unsettle the male mind like a lady in arms. The Kurds of Northern Iraq have long recognized this principle and incorporated it into their quest to build a Kurdish homeland in the overlap between Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. Fighting alongside their male comrades in a region not exactly known for its progressive stance on women's rights, the female Peshmerga guerillas of the Kurdish Liberation Movement built a reputation for themselves in the 70s and 80s as demure diaboliques with the deadly poise of Leila Khaled or Tania-era Patty Hearst.

Having secured the northern third of Iraq for themselves in the aftermath of the first Gulf War, the Kurds have spent the last two decades divesting themselves of their guerilla jamjams, building up a stable and booming economy in their semi-autonomous little hamlet, and generally enjoying not being in the middle of the current Iraq War. Up in the hills abutting Iran and Turkey, however, the struggle for a Greater Kurdistan continues for boy and girl alike.

The successors to Iraqi Kurdistan's old rebel militias are a milk-besodden Alphabits bowl of various Maoist, quasi-Maoist, and won't-say-they're-Maoist-but-come-on guerilla armies. You've got the PKK, the PJAK, the KCK—all of whom have slightly different tactics, territories, and ideologies but the same ultimate goal and, secretly, a lot of the same personnel. More importantly, they are all completely gender-equal, just like Mao wanted it. From the highest command to the lowest potato peeler to the ghillie-suited sniper on the front lines, dudes and dames do it the same.

We picked the youngest of these new Kurdish guerilla groups, PJAK, the Free Life for Kurdistan party, and drove up to their outpost on the Iranian border to see how their female fighters are helping their people draft a definitive answer to the Kurdish Question that's vexed Middle-Eastern politics for the last century. And hopefully find an answer to our own Kurdish Question. Which is, What the fuck is the Kurdish Question?

Hosted by Thomas Morton | Originally aired in 2012 on

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  1. It’s the “Tony” sockpuppet persona’s worst nightmare: a chick with an assault rifle!

  2. OT:…..ial-titles

  3. Man, I wish I was Miss Muffett!

  4. I had no idea Kurdistan covered that much territory. Was that their pre-WWI roots?

  5. The Kurds really have a bad position, with lands that are in Iran, Turkey and American controlled Iraq, how they will ever get a free nation is very hard to see.

    1. Men and women with guns, just like every other nation – that’s how.

    2. The thing is, they are probably the only Muslim nation I can think of that is actually pro-US. (I mean the people, not a government receiving $80MM in bribe money to say they’re US ‘allies’). The US would be beyond stupid to throw them under the bus. It’s just not good realpolitik.

      1. The US would be beyond stupid to throw them under the bus. It’s just not good realpolitik.

        The U.S. has a looooong history of doing just that. See the Hmong for the latest example.

      2. The late Christopher Hitchens made this point too. He noted that whatever became of Iraq (and, of course, he was a famous advocate of the invasion), he argued it would be a massive moral failure to abandon the Kurds (or, more accurately, abandon them again).

      3. Albanians are pretty pro-U.S.

        1. So are Kosovarians (if you count them separately)

    3. You forgot northern Syria.

  6. Yeah, I watched all three videos, and while these women are earnest in a cute socialist revolutionary way, in a battle against even minimally trained government troops they’d be slaughtered before they had a chance to pin up their hair.

    1. Sadly, I suspect that’s true, even without having seen the videos. My personal belief is that women should engage in combat only from a static defensive position: they simply don’t meet the physical requirements* for a offense, or even a mobile defense. Those require a level of physical strength and toughness that only your highly trained young male can consistently achieve.

      *With a few exceptions blah blah.

    2. I’m reporting you to Jezebel, you microaggressor.

  7. few things unsettle the male mind like a lady in arms.

    If by “unsettle” you mean “HNNNNNGGGGGGGG,” then yes.

  8. I watched the videos, these women are acting soldier. If an actual military force rolled through that outpost they’d be destroyed outright. The only equipment they have are their rifles, I don’t think I saw the females carrying anything else, not even extra magazines. It’s summer camp with guns.

    I have a lot of respect for the Kurds and their position, and I know I sound like an armchair general, but these particular fighters are not hardened guerrillas capable of fighting their enemies.

  9. My friend who worked as a civilian contractor at a military base in Northern Iraq was blown away by the Kurds. He said every where else in Iraq felt as alien a experience as you would imagine but being around Kurds made him feel like being at home, around redneck gun nuts, as triple-O would put it.

  10. “few things unsettle the male mind like a lady in arms.”

    If by ‘unsettle’ you mean ‘arouse’ then ok.

  11. Though I do agree that all the equality stuff is nice, you do know this, right?…..rist_group

  12. I’ve never understood why the Kurds get so overlooked by the press (and public). Turkey bombs the heck out of them and it doesn’t even make the news. Israel does something to the Palestinians, it’s the top story on most networks

  13. Women are never going to earn respect and equality in this country until they stop playing the victim card and start excerising their Second Amendment rights. The right to keep and bear arms makes ALL OTHER RIGHTS, including womens rights, possible.

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