I don’t think finding a connection between this and the Iraq war makes much sense. What you see here is a glimpse of the other side of the cultural abyss, in which the control of women – their bodies and their souls – by brutal patriarchal fundamentalists is the norm. It’s evil. ~Andrew Sullivan

I think what is most amazing to me is that this doesn’t take place in some tent in the middle of the desert or a stone hut [bold mine-DL]. These people are not dressed in tribal garb — they are wearing jeans and t-shirts and the whole thing takes place in a street in what appears to be a modern town. It isn’t the Moqtada al Sadr brigade or Al Qaeda extremists —it’s not part of the civil war although according to the article, many Iraqis are trying to rationalize it as such. This is nothing but barbaric patriarchal violence perpetrated by our alleged allies, the Kurds, toward a teen-age girl…~Digby

What is lacking in both of these responses is any sense of just how crazy it always was to think that Iraq was well-suited for anything like modern democratic government, when this takes place in Kurdistan, alleged bastion of enlightenment (at least according to the pro-Kurdish pundits in the West).  Leave aside for a moment the incompatibility with an Islamic society–what of the incompatibility with a tribal one, such as that of Kurdish Yezidis, who are not even Muslim?  Of course, there’s nothing surprising that the Yezidis are wearing modern clothing.  It is a quaint, silly idea that cultural habits and mentalities are somehow required to be linked to this or that economic or material condition.   

To offer a slightly different perspective, let me ask this question: what part of this episode do Westerners find more troubling?  Is it the stoning, the brutal killing of the girl, or is it the idea that there should be social control over interpersonal relationships and sharp social separation between religious groups?  Some might say that the two are bound up with each other and would argue that the stoning is simply a product of the latter.  That’s reasonable.  Yet if the punishment for this transgression was not execution, but was one of ostracism or some other means of shaming, what is the outsider’s real, principled objection to it?  That people should be allowed to love and marry whomever they like?  To the mind of anyone in a traditional society, this is insane and a recipe for the annihilation of small groups.  Indeed, all things considered, it is a fairly strange idea.  In any case, it is the Yezidis’ marginal, minority status in an Islamic sea that helps explain why they are so ferocious and brutal in their insistence on maintaining the boundaries of their group.  This is part of the more general collapse of security to the extent that this and things like this will happen more and more as different sects are forced to turn to self-help and customary law to govern their part of the country.  It is part of the war to the extent that the war was the cause for unleashing the revival of sectarian identity as a particularly important element in everyday life.