People in Syria’s Manbij Rejoice by Shaving, throwing off Veil as ISIL fighters Flee

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

People in Syria’s norther town of Manbij, now entirely liberated from the rule of Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), rejoiced on Saturday. Men shaved their beards (which had been imposed on them by the fundamentalists) and women threw off their burqas (full-face veils) and burned them. The burqa is a Gulf custom, not a Muslim one, and many Muslim countries frown on it, including Egypt. In 2010 it was banned in Syrian schools.

People were also happy in the city that Daesh fighters, who had taken 2,000 hostages, released some of them as they escaped for Jarabulus, the last major border town they hold.

Now the Kurdish militia, the YPG or People’s Protection Units, which forms the backbone of the Syrian Democratic Forces, faces the problem of encouraging the city population that fled to return. There is also a problem of some covert fighters still being in the city.

Another big problem is that the victorious Kurds may wish to see the Manbij joined to a Kurdish “federal region.” They have dreamed of a Rojava or Kurdish enclave in Syria for decades. With the fall of Manbij, nothing really stops them from declaring Rojava. Some Kurdish sources are saying that it will be announced momentarily.

For now, let’s let people celebrate.

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Related video:

Euronews: “Liberation of northern Syrian city of Manbij is major blow to IS”

16 Responses

  1. What democratic forces professor, I don’t recall any election for them ? If there was a free and fair vote in Syria today its likely Assad would win with a wide margin. One constantly hears the term”moderate opposition” but who exactly are they and where did they come from. Further, what does the term ‘moderate’ actually mean? A recent video shows these very same people hacking off the head of a 12 year old boy on the back of a truck!

    • And you know this because the 12 million Syrians kicked out of their homes by the Syrian dictator and 5 million living in rebel and ISIS controlled territory (both amount to 70% of all Syrians) told you they will elect the dictator who did that to them?

      And how is that video more horrendous than the thousands of videos of Syrian and shia militias doing the exact same thing to children? Not to mention bombing hospitals, refugee camps and bakeries.

  2. professor cole

    the problem with pundits like you is that you still believe in our benevolence despite all the evidence to the contrary that you yourself present daily.

    we are not interested in happy outcomes. that is not our agenda. failed states and mayhem is what we bring. that is the product of war and mass bombing. we are the terrorists.

    stop the bombing now.

    • Your comment has literally nothing to do with what professor Cole wrote, nothing at all. The U.S. was mentioned exactly zero times, nor was there any mention of any outside forces. It’s pretty telling that in a reply to a post about nothing other than the people of Manbij, and the Kurds that liberated the town, you never once mention either group. It makes me suspect that you don’t care one whit about the folks actually living there, they are just one more convenient excuse for your carping, content free criticism.

      • go ahead and bury your head in the bloody sand. are we talking about iraq? yes. are we thus talking about the usa? yes. we are at war with iraq. we have been since 1990. you seek the content free discussion, not me. anybody who excuses our mass destruction in the countries we bomb incessantly in fact doesn’t care one whit about the folks actually living there.

        • Speaking of heads buried in the bloody sand! We are not at war with Iraq. We are assisting the Iraqi army in its fight to retake territory from ISIS. We are not “bombing Iraq incessantly.” In fact, it is Russia who is doing most of the bombing in its campaign in Syria.

          The first Gulf War in 1990 against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was wholly justified. Iraq had invaded and occupied Kuwait, and it posed a threat to Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. After the US-led coalition (34 countries, including Russia and Hafez Assad’s Syria!) succeeded in pushing Iraq out of Kuwait, we ceased hostilities. The UN Resolution was followed to the letter.

  3. The burqa is as old as Islam itself, however a more correct description of it is that it was an urban wear rather than a rural one. Pick any photo album of Syria in the 19th century and you will see that.

    As for Rojava, short of ethnically cleansing a million native Arabs or so (who are the crushing majority west of the Euphrates all the way to Afrin and the Turkish borders and the fact that Arabs lived in those areas since the days of Crassus and the battle of Carrhae where Plutarch mentions that Arab tribes fought with the Persians), it won’t happen for the simple fact Kurds only won because of western air forces. Western Air forces won’t intervene in a war with the Arabs who will have the full support of the Turks who do not want a Rojava west of the Khabour.

    • the veil has nothing to do with Islam; it was adopted from upper class Iranian and Byzantine custom. It was highly classed. Few 19th century women wore a full face veil; the majority of them worked as peasants or shopkeepers, etc. and couldn’t have afforded it.

      • I agree with you that it was an urban/upper class dress that pre-dates Islam in Arabia as well as other places in the Semitic world (Palmyra ruins used to shows that) but it was adopted by Islam since the days of the prophet. The debate between Buqa and Hijab is as old as Islam itself with some companions of the prophet advocating one over the other but neither advocating its imposition by force which is critical.

        Pick any major work on Islamic jurisprudence written by any school from the medieval periods like Sharh Al-Mudawwanah and others.

  4. Pentagon spokesman Col. Chris Garver today confirmed that several hundred vehicles which they identified as “an ISIS convoy” was allowed to flee from the city of Manbij after its capture by the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

    This was a significant change from what happened earlier in the fight over Manbij, when the US saw another convoy they figured was ISIS and pounded it with airstrikes, killing around 200 civilians and no ISIS fighters. This sparked calls from allied rebel factions for the US to stop bombing Syria in general.

    This time, the US apparently left the matter up to the Kurds, and Col. Garver said it was a decision of SDF commanders to let the convoy go, noting that there were large numbers of civilians in the convoy, along with what the US estimated was a number of “ISIS commanders.” The fleeing convoy headed into ISIS territory further west, and US officials noted many fled all the way into Turkey.

    It’s unclear how many actual ISIS were in the convoy, but both the US and Kurds are keen on that narrative, and the idea that the civilians “may have been hostages.” In reality, many of Manbij’s Arab population have feared a campaign of ethnic cleansing after the Kurds took over.

  5. By the way, the legendary resistance in Mare’ by the last major FSA force and Islamist allies against ISIS with no air support and the little artillery support by the Turks while at same time fighting the Kurds offensive to their rear towards Azaz and the Syrian government recent onslaught against the Castello Rd. before the Aleppo offensive by the rebels turned the tables hardly gets any mentioning.

    I hope Prof Cole also mentions the role of other groups who lost thousands of fighters fighting ISIS while Assad troops were either watching or in effect aiding them like what happened during the Al-Bab offensive and the battles around Mare’ and got no help from any other source except Saudi Arabia and sometimes Turkey and Qatar.

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