Michaël is as handsome as a Greek god or a New York hipster. If he had grown up in Glendale (the town which is home to the most Armenians in the US, in the suburbs of LA), he could well have ended up in Hollywood by now. But Michaël was born in Al-Hasakah, and what’s more, he’s very shy.
Michaël speaks Armenian badly, but he’s a patriot. No doubt about it. He has an Armenian flag on his magazine clip (which doesn’t mean much, as it’s very normal for an Armenian to display his colours everywhere), but he’s ready to give his life for the Armenian people.
So, because he wasn’t born in Glendale, because he’s shy and because he’s a patriot, Michaël enrolled in the Sutoro militia, to defend Armenians and Christians in general.
And that allows me to explain to you who the Sutoro are, the military police of the Syriac forces, whose mission it is to protect the population of the Al-Hasakah province, in North-East Syria, in ‘Kurdistan Syria’, the ‘Rojava’ in history and the Kurdish language. As that’s a massively long sentence (and as I don’t want to lose my friend, Stephanie, who’s reading this just because she’s a good friend), I’ll break it down for you:
- 1. Military police. Because there are several military groups: those who are fighting against Daesh, who are at the front, and those who protect the internal population against Daesh (and its notorious attacks): the military police, Sutoro.
- The Syriacs are those who speak the Aramaic languages (like Jesus of Nazareth). These are the Mesopotamians, the original Christians. There’s any number of different types: Maronites, Syriac Catholics, Chaldean Catholics, Orthodox Syriacs, etc… I could continue ad infinitum, and I’d still end up putting someone out, as no one agrees on what ‘Syriac’ actually means. Theoretically (and truthfully), Armenians aren’t Syriacs at all, because their language isn’t an Aramaic dialect, and because they have a completely different history. But as they are the ‘Christians of the Orient’, and particularly because they share the same fate, certain Armenians have joined the Syriac forces.
- Syriac forces. In the context of the civil war (in 2011) which broke out in Syria between the Bachar El Assad government and the rebellion/terrorist movement which brought forth Daesh (in 2012-2013), the Kurds, who are the majority people group in the Rojova region (Kurdistan Syria, in the North-East of Syria, near the Turkish border), formed an army (in 2012) to defend themselves and fight against the Islamic State: the YPG (People’s Protection Unit). Aside from the Kurdish majority, there is a significant Christian minority, which also formed a militia (in 2013) called the Syriac Military Council and which works hand in hand with the YPG.
Back to Michaël: there’s not really much more I can tell you. He’s really very shy.
Photo: Al-Hasakah, Dec. 2015. Marie