The production is based on a book documenting interviews with Women’s Protection Unit (YPJ) members.
Former US Secretary of State and failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her daughter Chelsea have announced plans to produce a TV drama based on the exploits of female Kurdish fighters in Syria.
The mother-daughter duo, through their company HiddenLight Productions, recently acquired TV rights to Gayle Tzemach Lemmon’s The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice, which is due to be published on February 16.
The book is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with members of the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), the female wing of the Peoples Protection Units (YPG), the armed group that gained international attention for fighting the Islamic State (ISS) group in Syria.
“The Daughters of Kobani is an extraordinary account of brave, defiant women fighting for justice and equality,” said Clinton.
“We created HiddenLight to celebrate heroes – sung and unsung alike – whose courage is too often overlooked, and we could not be more thrilled to bring this inspiring story to viewers around the world.”
The YPG is an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an armed left-wing group who have fought a guerilla war with Turkey since 1984.
Both the PKK and the YPG/YPJ advocate for a federalised system in the Middle East to protect ethnic and religious minorities and have espoused feminist and eco-socialist policies in past.
The news of the TV show was greeted with outrage in the Turkish press, which accused Clinton of trying to “whitewash” the PKK.
In the past, the Clinton family’s relationship with the PKK and the YPG/YPJ has been mixed.
In 1997, under the presidency of Clinton’s husband Bill, the PKK was designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department, a classification that persists to this day, but notably does not apply to the YPG or YPJ.
The ideological figurehead of both the PKK and YPG/YPJ, Abdullah Ocalan, was also captured in Kenya with CIA support under Bill Clinton’s presidency, before being returned for trial to Turkey.
Following the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, then-Secretary of State Clinton said she shared concerns with Turkey that the country should not become a “haven” for the PKK.
By 2016, however, as the YPG/YPJ were being established as one of the most potent anti-IS forces on the ground, she was advocating arming them.
“I would consider arming the Kurds. The Kurds have been our best partners in Syria, as well as Iraq,” she said, during a debate with her then-presidential candidate opponent Donald Trump.
“And I know there’s a lot of concern about that in some circles, but they should have the equipment they need so that Kurdish and Arab fighters on the ground are the principal way we take Raqqa after pushing ISIS out of Iraq.”
The announcement was greeted with praise in some quarters, mostly incredulity in others.
Many expressed skepticism at the show being produced by the Clintons who have little experience in TV production, although Chelsea briefly worked as a special correspondent for NBC.
“[This is] the logical endpoint of Western press coverage about the YPJ that doesn’t include any analysis of their ideology but is just about them being girl-bosses or whatever,” said analyst Seamus Malekafzali, according to Middle East Eye.
“Will opposition to this unavoidably poor film be what truly unites Kurdish and Turkish people? Let’s hope,” tweeted Turkish political commentator Ariz Kader.