Kurds in Syria Play Waiting Game

Article Summary
Historically, Kurds have been quick to rebel against the Syrian government, but have been punished brutally for doing so. This time, they learned their lesson, writes Amin Kamouriyeh. Instead of allying with either the rebels or the government, Kurdish elements stayed neutral until they could establish their own “reality” — authority in Kurdish areas.

Historically, Kurds have been at the forefront of any revolution that emerged in Syria and they have also been the first to pay the price for their actions. But today, as the uprising in Syria is ongoing, Syrian Kurds have certainly learned their lesson. Since the onset of the Syrian crisis, the position of the Kurds has been ambiguous. Initially they were almost totally impartial to the crisis, despite tempting offers from Damascus and the opponents of the Syrian regime to gain Kurdish sympathy and make them participate in the revolution. Kurds did not, however, give in to such temptations and did not participate in the revolution led by the Syrian opposition. Unlike several other minorities, they didn’t even support the regime. They waited for the regime to falter, and at that moment they imposed their authority in the region where they live.

They managed to overcome longstanding disputes and are now cooperating with Iraqi Kurds, whose history has been shaped by bitter experiences. Perhaps what unites the Kurdish parties today is the fact that the pro-PKK Democratic Unity Party, which had close ties to the Syrian regime as a result of a shared hatred for the Turkish government, is now sure that the downfall of the Baath regime is only a matter of time.

In fact, Kurds believe that current events in the region will permanently transform the map of the Middle East. Kurds believe the Syrian uprising] will result in the establishment of a new regime that incorporates varied interests and ideologies. This is a historic opportunity for Kurds to correct the mistake that deprived them of their ethnic rights. If the Sykes-Picot agreement was behind the dispersion of Kurds among different countries, then redrawing the region’s map might revive the Kurdish dream of establishing an autonomous state. This is the sincere hope and belief of Kurdish leaders and elites.

Syrian Kurds will inevitably learn from the experience of their brothers in Iraq. Syrian Kurds will not claim their independence or demand to join eastern Kurdistan. In fact, they will not rush to make any claims whatsoever. They are, however, devoted to a “reality” that might resemble the federal region in Iraq [Iraqi Kurdistan]. Such a step will not only upset Syrian Arabs, but it will also open the door for Turkey to intervene in Syria at the opportune moment.

Kurdish aspirations of autonomy fuel fears of further divisions in Syria. Signs indicate that the Syrian regime will not accept any political settlement and will refuse to go through a transitional phase, even if Damascus and Aleppo fall into rebel hands. There is a well-known scenario that opponents of the Syrian regime frequently discuss. They believe that, in the event that the regime and its army are on the ropes, they would retreat to their stronghold in the west coast in an attempt to defend it against any attacks. If such a scenario does not lead to any effective division, it would provide the regime and its supporters with a safe haven until favorable conditions pave the way for a new settlement. This possibility might, however, harm and divide the Syrian community just like the former Republic of Yugoslavia, which was ultimately divided into several independent states.

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Found in: syrian kurds, syrian, pkk, kurdistan, iraqi kurdistan, democratic unity party
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