Things have apparently changed quite a bit since my first trip to Syria. When I got there in 2014, the war was still young and Kurdish held Syria (called Rojava) had not yet been saturated by hipster journalists looking for a scoop. While there, I met the first wave of foreign volunteers. There were former soldiers like Josh Bell and Jordan Matson who wanted to help out the Kurds and get some trigger time on the two-way range. There were also lost souls, drifters who had fallen out of mainstream society back home and seemed to be in Rojava for lack of any better ideas. One Mexican-American I met seemed so fatalistic that I figured he had come to Syria to die, choosing death by ISIS as his method of suicide.
As the war went on, and the Kurdish YPG and YPJ chalked up meaningful victories, word began to spread about the Kurds and their ideology. Reporters flowed into Rojava and published stories about foreign volunteers who had come to help out. Eventually, this type of media attracted a new kind of volunteer, the political volunteer rather than the combat variety. Somewhere along the line, a bunch of Occupy and BLM types started hanging out in Rojava. Before them, there were some European anarchists, certainly a handful of leftists, even a few Greek fascists showed up at one point. Now it seems like the social justice warriors have shown up to fight, er, um, I mean organize.
Rolling Stone recently published an article about such individuals in Rojava. The author sexes up the political foreign volunteer image, but the reality is that these people are a drain on the Kurds and their resources. In the middle of a war, they have better things to do than make chai tea and food for weird Americans who can’t hold down a job back home. Rolling Stone can have at it I suppose. Personally, I don’t return their calls or e-mails. My last conversation with them consisted of me telling one of their reporters that when he finds a more ethical outlet to work for, then we can talk.
That article is now being made into a Hollywood feature film starring Jake Gyllenhaal, according to The Guardian. Having heard of the many liberties being taken with the truth in Jerry Bruckheimer’s adaption of “Horse Soldiers” I can only imagine how much leftist anarchist drivel they are going to back into this new movie about Rojava. Personally, I’m waiting for the left to start talking about how Hollywood is “whitewashing” the cause by portraying a white cast that is liberating Northern Syria when the real work has been done by the Kurds with foreign fighters playing a strategically irrelevant role.
(Image courtesy of Signal Fire)