Syrian Kurds Consider Historic Opportunity

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Since the beginning of the Syrian civil war, the Kurds of Syria have viewed the upheaval as an historic opportunity to establish and consolidate their autonomy in Syria, writes Ali Jazo.

Driven by an enthusiastic and highly regarded patriotic spirit, most Syrian Kurds consider the Syrian crisis — of which they have constituted an integral part since its outbreak — a golden opportunity that will not come again for all the Syrian people, including themselves. They are betting on it to eradicate the oppression and persecution that has shackled and silenced them for long decades.

During the first months of the revolution, which struggled and lost its path before achieving what it has today, the spotlight was on the vital role of the Kurds in providing the Syrian opposition with the means to achieve a quick victory over the regime.

In reality, far from the zealous and rosy world painted by the chants that have been raised for more than two years, it seems that the situation of the Syrian Kurds does not allow them to meet their previous expectations. What is more unfortunate is their failure to govern themselves autonomously and rule their regions in the desired way, not to mention their slackening in providing the minimum requirements of living for more than 3 million Syrian Kurds.

The Syrian regime did not use weapons to face the peaceful Kurdish endeavors to change the regime, unlike the terrible destruction it has brought upon the other regions in Syria. Instead, the regime has sought to divide the Kurds. It has handed over control of the borders — as well as oil and gas fields in Ramilan — and governmental institutions to the Syrian branch of the PKK. The PKK has wasted no time in imposing a security and economic ruling body that aims, among other things, at triumphing over Hezbollah in South Lebanon.

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The current situation shows no presence of the Syrian regime in the Kurdish regions. Consequently, the Syrian Kurds must be in a better state. However, in reality, the facts contradict the slogans and data of the Kurdish National Council and its dubious opponent that has broken away from the PKK. Both sides are voicing claims to represent and protect the Kurdish people, with the first calling the region “Syrian Kurdistan” and the second naming it “West Kurdistan.”

The types of alliances that the Syrian Kurds have formed among themselves on the one hand, and with the various opposition movements on the other, are based on old models that do not match up with the seriousness of the Syrian revolution, which has gone beyond traditional alliances of the past. These alliances are also taking place in a narrow context, and the Kurds could not care less about the actual problems of the people. The experience of the local councils in several liberated Syrian regions — which constitutes a new political and regulatory test for Syrians — does not have a Kurdish equivalent.

Contrary to the spirit of cooperation and the tendency to solve minor issues and problems (like the supply of bread, power and potable water, support for almost bankrupt municipalities, management of the restoration process of schools and the sustainability of their educational mission, establishment of field health centers, development of judicial and reformative formulas that decrease the security chaos and violence and abuse of proprietorship …), the Kurdish social milieu only has political figures in leadership positions that point the fingers of doubt at other figures. Among the Syrian Kurds, there is no one like Omar Aziz, neither in the committees of the Kurdish National Council, nor in the ranks of the valiant PKK militants.

Contrary to the two aforementioned political fronts, during the first months of the Syrian revolution, there were several entities that might have evolved into something similar to the ruling councils. Those found simple regulatory frameworks represented by civil peace committees in several towns and cities. Despite the humble aspect of these committees — and due to their limited goals, which are clearly distant from the major issues yet interested in the matters of daily life — they have managed to protect Kurdish towns and cities from dangerous security slips. However, the Kurdish parties have stood in the way of these committees, fought them and accused them of heinous crimes that have led to their disbanding and division.

The strangest and most intriguing aspect of this situation is the superior and rotten way in which the Kurdish politicians deal with their “people” — more similar to the ways of the Syrian regime, rather than the spirit of the Syrian revolution. These comparisons, among others, push us to reconsider the contradictions between the old and new trends, the conflicts between the sons and fathers, the disintegration of the family that reflects the disintegration of the society and the extent of recovery of the revolution’s society from the sicknesses of the regime. If former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad were indeed the father of all — a father who did not leave his children the space to be anything different from him and who molded sons into mere slaves — then, the practices and aspects of the Syrian Kurdish parties toward their people definitely carry indications of that catastrophic model.

As a matter of fact, the divisions and disagreements among the Syrian Kurdish parties seem endless. Consequently, those parties are weak in their leadership but are freed from the guilt of the dangerous deterioration of the situation of Kurds, which is accompanied by economic impoverishment. The latter is eating away at the people’s daily wages and is marked by a harshness and an extent that have exceeded the bleakness of the blockade imposed by the regime for decades — one that made the Kurdish regions among the poorest in Syria.

The security system is simultaneously present and absent in the Kurdish regions. The Kurds are moving within a narrow space that resembles a jail rather than liberated regions. Day by day, common Kurdish citizens suffocate even more, while their parties flourish.

Kurdish flags flutter everywhere, in the absence of security and joy. Since the outbreak of the Syrian revolution, some Syrian Kurds (PKK) have called for autonomy, while others (the Kurdish Council) have demanded federal rule. However, all of them have failed to distribute flour to rural areas and protect the agricultural environment. They have also failed to improve the local economy that has been in severe distress, and they have not managed to allow the entry of aid and medical material.

As for the oil that was offered to the Syrian Kurds and general citizens — be they Arab, Kurdish or Christian — as a gift from the Iraqi Kurdistan Region, it was either sold for high wholesale prices or in retail in one-liter boxes that could be seen in broad daylight on the streets of Qamishle and Amouda. The powerful figures and armed men, as well as the mercenaries of the security system and the thieves of the recent past — who are mostly native Syrian Kurds — have made a historic achievement in a short period of time. They have twisted the truth, destroyed what is left of a clear conscience and established the largest market for lies.  

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Found in: turkey, syrian revolution, syrian kurds, syrian crisis, syrian conflict, syrian, pkk, kurds, kurdish national council of syria
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