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FEATURING MEREDITH TAX – Donald Trump has escalated the US’s role in the Syrian war since he came to power. He has increased the number of American troops on the ground to fight the forces of the Islamic State or ISIS and expanded their mission. Meanwhile, the Syrian government’s war on rebel forces continues unabated and peace talks come and go with little progress. Images of desperate refugees are the bulk of what we see in the media.

In the midst of all this war and chaos is a small community of Syrian Kurds attempting to carve out a territory that they have fiercely protected from ISIS. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) of the Syrian Kurds has established a growing piece of land on the Syria-Turkey border that they call Rojava.

The small-scale government running this territory is a one-party state that espouses progressive values of secularism, women’s rights, labor rights and more, where women occupy 40% of decision-making positions. Indeed it was the women fighters of the PYD that first drew Western attention to the group. Rifle toting women successfully fighting off the masochistic and misogynist death cult of the Islamic State has made for some iconic imagery.

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Meredith Tax, writer, political activist, author of a number of books including Double Bind: The Muslim Right, the Anglo-American Left, and Universal Human Rights. She was the founding President of Women’s WORLD, a global free speech network of feminist writers. She also co-founded PEN American Center’s Women’s Committee, and the International PEN Women Writer’s Committee. She is currently the international board chair of the Center for Secular Space. Her new book is called A Road Unforseen: Women Fight the Islamic State.

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