Syria, which was one of the great Middle East civilizations, is now a humanitarian tragedy.
Years of misrule by the Assad clan and the rise of ISIS have produced murder, barbarism, foreign occupation, emigration to Europe and to a lesser degree to the US and internal displacement.
But there are signs of hope.
As what must be called the Obama-Trump policies of aiding the forces fighting ISIS in certain parts of Syria have been successful, one can also see signs of modernity.
A camp in northeastern Syria is run by ethnic Kurdish forces. They have more modern ideas about the role of women than is customary in that part of the world.
Here is some background.
Even before ISIS took control of those territories, a deeply traditional ethos required women to be subservient, marry young and have children.
Of course by ISIS’s standards that wasn’t enough.
The terrorists required women to cover every inch of their skin in black clothing and have a male guardian for any excursion outside the home. Defiance, even minor defiance, resulted in beatings.
But now those areas including the city of Raqqah have been liberated by the Kurds and the Kurds allow women in the militias. The Kurdish Democratic Union Party guarantees representation of women at every political level.
It’s important to note that Kurds are mostly Muslims.
She said of ISIS: “They wanted to return people to the Middle Ages. For this reason we said Raqqah should be liberated by the hands of women…..Our goal was … also to rebuild society into one that respects women and gives them their rights.”
A 33-year-old Kurdish commander who uses the nom de guerre Klara Raqqah said in a recent interview that women and girls from Iraq’s Yazidi religious community were brought to Raqqah to be sold as slaves. She said of ISIS: “They wanted to return people to the Middle Ages. For this reason we said Raqqah should be liberated by the hands of women…..Our goal was … also to rebuild society into one that respects women and gives them their rights.”
Ibrahim Habloush lives in one of the camps with his family of 10. He is glad to be in a safe place, away from ISIS.
But some things take some adjusting according to Mr. Habloush: “They give a lot of rights to women. If I raise my voice at a woman, they might put me in jail.”
Mr. Habloush added that when some of the men at the camp complained to authorities, they were told, “We are a democracy here.”
Someone should tell Mr. Habloush that there may be more changes coming.
Background: See articles by Alexandra Zavis in the Los Angeles Times.