An article I just wrote for Al-Monitor, following some interviews with local NGOs and YPG fighters..(NB: The NGO is called Shawishka, not Shawisha).
Syrian Kurdish NGOs Prevent Recruitment of Youth Soldiers
By: Andrea Glioti for Al-Monitor Posted on June 6.
QAMISHLI, Syria — The sparing of Syrian Kurdish regions from the regime’s shelling over the last two years has facilitated the launch of several civil society organizations. However, on a daily basis these new associations have to cope with the attempts of Kurdish political parties shaping civil society according to their tenets. In particular, the fragile coexistence of any independent actor with the prevailing political force — the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)-affiliated Democratic Union Party (PYD) — risks imploding as soon as this party’s monopoly of the public sphere comes under threat.
Among the challenges faced by these nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) is the struggle against the brain drain of the educated youth who are forced to emigrate because of the dire economic situation and the need to keep impoverished teenagers from turning to weapons. The PYD seems to work in the opposite direction by recruiting young fighters within their Popular Protection Units (YPG) militia, which also appears to provide alternative values to street kids, despite its ideological brand. Only time will tell whether the threats posed by both the regime and the Arab opposition will continue to legitimize this militarization or disappear to make place for a thriving Kurdish civil society.