Demonstrators hold Kurdish flags during a protest against Syria's President al-Assad after Friday prayers in Amuda 03/06/2012. (photo by REUTERS)

Syrian Kurds Face New Obstacles to National Identity

Author: alhayat

The future of the Kurds in Syria remains uncertain as the Kurdish issue continues to spill across Syrian borders into neighboring regions. This has unveiled a new set of challenges for Kurdish leaders: several countries intend to curb the Kurds' ambitions to claim their "ethnic rights." As the main sponsor of several Syrian opposition parties, Turkey will not stand idly by now that Kurdish demands are gaining ground among the Syrian opposition. Turkey has already flatly refused the Kurds’ demands, and has in fact strongly objected to Kurdish involvement in the opposition alongside Arab Syrians.

SummaryPrint While the future of Syria’s Kurdish population remains uncertain, one thing is for sure: autonomy is not currently an option, writes Farouk Hagi Mustafa. After their federalist proposal was rejected by the Syrian opposition — which publicly claims to support them — Kurdish parties are searching for other ways to secure their rights.
TranslatorStephanie Karam

Several Syrian opposition groups have submitted documents concerning the Kurdish cause and the Kurds’ rights. However, most of these documents did not actually support the Kurdish cause. Notable such documents include the Syrian National Council’s statement on the Kurdish cause, Hazem Nahar’s statement before the Syrian Democratic Platform and the National Coordination Committee (NCC)’s statement in Paris. Subsequently, General Coordinator of the NCC Hassan Abdel Azim refused to recognize the national identity of Syrian Kurds and their rights as an ethnic minority.

Undoubtedly, all of these documents submitted by the Syrian opposition are of great importance, and must be considered when dispelling the Syrian Kurds’ fears and concerns. However, Syrian opposition decision-makers who proudly claim — within earshot of the West — to recognize the Kurdish cause adopt stances inconsistent with their claims during press conferences. Such an attitude causes Kurds to doubt the Syrian opposition’s claims as they still, in fact, discriminate against Syrian Kurds.

The Syrian opposition’s vague stance stems from the Kurds’ main grievances, chiefly their right to self-determination and autonomy (the “federalization” of Syria). But while the right to self-determination is an inalienable right that all people should enjoy, few Kurdish parties claim that right, which reflects the Kurdish experience in Iraq. The “federalism” issue is the most important issue on the Kurdish agenda; however, it is not an option for Kurds in Syria, at least for the time being.

The Kurdish National Council (KNC) has suggested “administrative decentralization;” in other words, Kurds would have certain rights and Syria would have less control over Kurdish regions. As the “administrative decentralization” proposal failed to gain favor with the Syrian opposition, the KNC “froze” their proposal and adopted an interim political program at their last meeting. The new program was welcomed by several opposition parties in Syria, but the Syrian opposition has not yet issued any official statements defining its stance toward the Kurdish interim program.

The Kurds know that the federalism proposal, or any other similar one, is not sufficient to obtain their rights. Now, they pay more attention to the geographical and demographic distribution, as well as other social, economic and political considerations. Prior to submitting their proposal, pro-federalist Kurdish parties in Syria should have conducted a thorough study on the compatibility of federalism with Kurdish rights, especially in terms of economic and security integration.

It seems that the federalism proposal is a bitter pill for the Syrians to swallow, especially considering the multiple demographic and geographic challenges in Syria that may exacerbate the problem.

So what will the future hold for the Syrian Kurds, who are now facing a series of psycho-socio-economic obstacles to creating a federal system in Syria? How will the situation unfold for other minorities in the Syrian Kurdistan region?

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Published London, Pan Arab Established 1946
Language Arabic Frequency daily

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