The Kurdish way of fighting ISIS

Octavia Nasr
Octavia Nasr

Octavia Nasr

By: Octavia Nasr

Images speak volumes. Terrorists of the so-called “Islamic State,” or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, know that very well and employ it in their fear-instilling tactics. It is our responsibility to remember that images are often misleading. Their deceptive impact is at the basis of all propaganda.

In the absence of accurate intelligence and un-readiness to fight, the world’s response to ISIS and its likes has been influenced by such images. Add to that, lack of long-term planning for the region, a slow response to threats and you find the U.S. and its allies racing to fight the propaganda and eager to win its war rather than deal with the real problems head on.

The Kurds are unique in their defense of their land and livelihood

Octavia Nasr

Kurds know too well the importance of taking matters into their own hands and fighting with all their might the real enemy usually threatening them in plain sight in the form of ignorance, discrimination and all out persecution.

A few short weeks ago, when ISIS set its eyes on Kobane, the world powers gave up on the Syrian town; the U.S. flat out dismissed its strategic importance. Kobane’s Kurdish population fought alone and, with their resilience, forced ISIS back.

Now the U.S. seems convinced of the importance of not losing Kobane. It has airdropped tons of weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurdish fighters on Sunday. Turkey also showed signs of cooperation by approving the airdrops as well as clearing the way for Iraqi Peshmerga fighters to cross the border to help their Syrian Kurdish brethren against what has become the entire region’s enemy.

Had Kobane not resisted in the classical form, by getting vulnerable population out and putting every able body – man, woman and child – to work defending the land, we would be by now seeing images of Kurdish women in queue to be sold as “sex slaves.” Gruesome video of beheading Kurdish men and children would have flooded our screens along with samplings of how wonderful life is under the ISIS-brand if Islam in Kobane.

The Kurds are unique in their defense of their land and livelihood. Their history has taught them to be self-reliant and self-sustaining. They offer a good example of how small communities and minorities can exist and thrive in any region where hostility and violence are daily occurrences and where peace and stability come at a very high price.

If the Kurdish resistance leads to serious ISIS losses and a halt of the group’s advancement, Kobane can be the turning point in the fight against ISIS.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.



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