The Kurdish women fighting ISIS

Story highlights

  • Jacob Russell's intimate photo essay follows Kurdish female fighters
  • He says the images of these Peshmerga have an important social, political role

Cale Salih is a visiting policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. You can follow her on Twitter. The views expressed are her own.

(CNN)The image of the braided Kurdish female fighter, donning military camouflage and taking up arms against the militant group ISIS, may have done more to promote the Kurdish cause in the West than anything else in recent years.

The Iraqi Kurds have long been pro-Western in orientation, but Western powers have often only moderately addressed their pleas for support, in part out of fear of empowering the secessionist minority to seek independence. Now, with soccer moms in Middle America tweeting photos of Kurdish female fighters, Western governments may find it harder to explain their tepid Kurdish policies to thei