What does it mean to be a Peshmerga? Who are Peshmergas and what are their roles?
Often these questions arise when the term Peshmerga is used. Peshmerga refers to “those who confront death”. If we take apart the term itself, we will come across two words, Pesh and merga . In Kurdish, Pesh carries the meaning “to stand in front of,” and merg(a) as “death”. Therefore, when combined, Peshmerga defines those who confront or face death. They are the Kurdish forces of Kurdistan and have been in existence for the Kurdish Independent movement. This force is considered to be fearless in all aspects of their lives.
Historically, Peshmerga fighters have always resisted against the Turkish, Arab and Persian rulers of the Middle East. Their resistance against invasion or terror from external forces have been present throughout time. We saw it during Saddam Hussein’s era and we continue to see it today in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS). ISIS has identified itself as a group wanting to establish a Sharia state on Whabi-Slafist interpretation of Islamic law. Despite the political standings or views of the Kurdish people, the Peshmerga have come together united to fight against this terrorist organization. They are recognized as “freedom fighters” throughout Kurdistan and abroad. The Peshmarga represent honour for the Kurdish people. Their bravery and courageous acts against ISIS has been well recognized with world media in the most recent months.
The Peshmerga have received unprecedented support throughout the world and this is evident in the most recent campaign known as “We are all Peshmerga”. This campaign began as a way to support and respect the resilience of the Peshmerga, and their admiration to secure the lives of the Kurdish people. People continue to share photos on media channels in support of Peshmerga. After all, they are at the forefront of the war against ISIS, in order to protect Kurdistan and its people. .
At this point it is important to note that there is an extreme diversity among Peshmerga fighters whether it’s religious or gender based. Since the early times of the Kurdish struggle, women have fought alongside of men and have played a crucial role in the protection of land and people. They have protected us (Kurds) from internal and external terror and invasion in the past and they continue to protect innocent civilians from the atrocities of today’s terror put forth by ISIS.
I have come to realize that in addition to protecting Kurds and Kurdistan, the Peshmerga are fighting for the protection of all living in the region despite ethnicity or religious status. Peshmerga have fought strong and continue to fight this war on global terrorism.The protection is not just for the people, businesses, land but the whole world. They struggle every day to fight this powerful group who receive aid from surrounding countries through money and weapons. Although, some countries, including Germany and France have agreed to assist the Kurds in its fight against ISIS ultimately, it lies in the hands of the Kurds themselves. The Peshmerga have fought long and hard to stabilize the region by minimizing ISIS’ impact and their ability to further spread into the Middle East. Beji Peshmerga (Long live Peshmerga).