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For a United and Independent Kurdistan

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About Syria and the Kurds

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(a re-edited article of mine, from here)

Syria is a particular country for Eastern Mediterranean. Not because it’s an Arab country. That’s not my opinion. It would be way too narrow look to see Syria as one of the many Arab states. Syria is more than that.

The map does not reflect the demography fully but is good enough

Many now know Syria’s multi-religious, multi-cultural and multi-lingual society. There are Arabs; the Alewite being the ruling elite, the Sunna muslims as the majority and the Christians. Then there are the Druze as a religious minority; Arab speakers but not very much interested in Arab nationalism. And then there are the Kurds.

The Kurds live in northeast and northwest corners of Syria and claim these lands to be a part of Kurdistan (literally KurdLand). There is also the Kurdish population in Damascus and in Haleppo.Kurds in Damascus are mostly ancient settlers of the city and the ones in Haleppo are more recent immigrants. The Kurds have three different faiths they follow: the Sunna Islam (the majority), and two varieties of an ancient Kurdish religion which academics classify under ‘Angels Cult’ name: the Ezidi (or Yezidi) in the northeast tip and the Alevi in the northwest tip. (Alevi Kurds share a different fatih than Alawit Arabs).

One thing about Syria: it touches Kurdistan; is an occupant force on about 5 % of Kurdistan.

If a Kurdistan map can be analyzed quickly, it will be seen that Kurdistan itself and the Kurdish people onboard are the one thing Syria shares with Turkey, Iran and Iraq. This has been the curse of Kurdistan from the point of view of the Kurds since these countries’ borders have been drawn by the British and the French. The curse was basically this: All these four countries had their own allies within and outside the region. Even though there was conflict between themselves and between their allies, they also had their agreement on the status quo. The status quo, tied strongly by the global strategy balance, did not allow Kurds to gain rights.

Bu then, things started to change with the turn of the century after the American led invasion of Iraq. I would like to go into a bit of detail on Kurdish politics here to help you to understand the Kurdish sentiments that effects the Kurdish decision making.

Now that a good bit of Kurdistan (about 20%) inside the Iraqi borders enjoys relative independence, this effects the rest of the Kurds strongly. First time during the modern ages Kurds claim their own land under their very own rule. Being Kurd in the other parts of Kurdistan is more or less being prisoned at home and not being allowed to go to the next room. However this time Kurds in one part of Kurdistan live in freedom. When one part gets something, it means that a United and Independent Kurdistan is one step closer. The sentiment among Kurds since the invasion of Iraq is that the curse is broken.

Today though, Kurds in Iraq live in freedom. Kurds in Syria, Turkey and Iraq don’t. If we give the Turkish example; knowing that Kurds in Turkey do not officially exist should tell the story. Or to know that the 24h Kurdish broadcast of the Turkish state owned TRT6 is officially in an ‘unknown’ language. Shortly, Kurdish identity is not recognized in Turkey. In Iran it seems better because at least the identity is recognized. The Kurds are not Persians but Kurds as they are (they are officially Turks in Turkey, not Kurds). In reality though the Shia Persian enmity against Kurds is an ongoing opression.

If one looks from this perspective it is easy to understand why Turkey is so much interested in what goes on in Syria. Turkey has about 50% of Kurdistan (250’000 km2) and between 17 and 25 million Kurds. With no rights. Imagine the power vacuum having no right creates in Kurdistan.

Thinking of domino effect theory, it is hard to imagine that if the Kurds in Syria gained similar rights to those in Iraq, the ones in Turkey or Iran would agree on any less. Kurdish agenda has never been to agree to that little though.

In general, Kurds ask for an independent state. They have their own flags, their own antem and their own separate history in the land which they claim to be theirs and name after themselves: Kurdistan (KurdLand).

That’s what makes all affairs in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran of interest to each other. And of course, when you have interest in any of these countries you find yourself in a position to understand the long un-solved Kurdish issue. And I believe it is the puzzle made in Kurdistan by the British and the French after the I. World War that created the curse mentioned: even if you want more rights for Kurds, say from Washington or Moscow, you would not know how to agree on a deal with other powers who would have their own interests. And so many countries had their own interests in these four countries. And nobody knew how things would evolve once the status quo changed.

After the intervention in Iraq which led to a federation between South Kurdistan and the rest of the Iraq, the status quo changed. The curse finally broke. The fact that it broke once, the Kurds do not believe to it any more. Kurds in any part of Kurdistan only prepare themselves for their turn. They believe that an independent Kurdistan only approaches with the events.


Written by M. Husedin

19 April 2012 at 8:26 AM

Posted in Uncategorized