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On this episode, Kumars is joined by first-time guest host Deellan Kashani, our resident Kurdish expert who wrote her undergraduate thesis on radical political organization in the Kurdish-controlled autonomous region of Rojava in northern Syria. Our guest is Brace Belden (better known by his former Twitter handle, @PissPigGranddad), a florist who recently returned from fighting with the Kurdish YPG forces to defend Rojava against ISIS.
By way of introduction, Deellan gives a brief historical overview of Kurdish politics, the conflict in Syria, and the main actors in the region. Kumars and Deellan ask Brace about his motivations for going, his experience of life in Rojava, and how the Western left’s idea of a libertarian socialist revolution compares to the reality of “democratic confederalism.” Brace explains that he went to Syria in part to see what he could learn from the movement, and from his experience as a foreign fighter he shares his impressions of the rigors of life as a member of the governing Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the radical steps being taken to center women in political action. Since leaving his life in the US to joining a militia in Syria, Brace has garnered national media attention, courting criticism from a number of political angles. Brace addresses these criticisms at length.