The Kurds in "Arab spring"
Material posted: Publication date: 15-12-2012

On December 13 at the Carnegie Moscow Center hosted a conference on "Kurds in the Arab spring".

Presentations were made by: the leading co-chair of the Syrian Kurdish party the democratic Union Party (DUP) and member of the Supreme Kurdish Council of Syria Salih Muslim; co-Chairman of the Supreme Kurdish national Council of Syria Senam Muhammad; Vice-Chairman of the democratic society Party, Deputy of the Turkish Parliament Nazmi gür; Chairman of the International Union of Kurdish public organizations Merab Shamoev. The conference was chaired by Alexey Malashenko, member of the scientific Council of the Carnegie Moscow Center.

The speakers focused on three questions: who are the Kurds, who are subject to, and what you want? Everyone who is closely monitoring the situation in the middle East, namely in Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, this question certainly interested. According to Alexey Malashenko, the Kurdish phenomenon is nowadays of great importance, but its role really has not yet been assessed, and the Kurdish problem – the creation of an independent Kurdistan is a problem of the XXI century.

Who are the Kurds. It is a people of Iranian origin, mostly practicing Sunni Islam. According to expert estimates, its population is about 30 million people (for comparison, the population of Syria is also about 30 million people). However Nazmi Gur announced at the conference other figures of 40-50 million people.

Listening to the speakers, I have formed the opinion that the leaders of the Kurdish movement by and large have little interest in what happens in the world (unless of course it is not for the Kurds). Their main concern and dream was and remains the creation of an independent Kurdistan. It explains a lot in their rhetoric and actions.

Because Kurdish leaders are dreaming of a Big bright Kurdistan, they can't be tuned loyal to the Central authorities of the countries where Kurds live (and they inhabit Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria). But there are nuances.

If the relationship of the Iraqi Kurds led by Massoud Barzani, who has managed to create a de facto independent Iraqi Kurdistan, and the government of Iraq and leaders of the PKK and Ankara have determined and do not cause problems, the relationship of the Party leadership of the democratic Union and the Supreme Kurdish Council of Syria with the government of Basher Assad is not so clear. On the one hand, Syrian Kurds are in favour of the revolutionary overthrow of the Assad from power, declare that "our people's revolution in Syria began in 2004." On the other hand, they are against all sorts of extremists (meaning underneath the part of the Syrian armed opposition, closely associated with al Qaeda) that "Assad is worse" (Salih Muslim).

The relationship between the Kurds of Damascus are constantly changing depending on the prevailing situation in the country. It was worth only a Basher Assad to announce a proposal for the establishment in Northern Syria on the border with Turkey, Kurdish autonomy, as leaders of the Supreme Kurdish Council of Syria agreed to come to agreement with the Syrian government (note that the Syrian armed opposition to such proposals don't do, its leaders just offer to fight against Assad, and the rest "we'll talk"). It is clear that Salih Muslim is the chance to be one of the founders of the own "state", get along with Barzani in the history of the Kurdish people (we will add that in Syria today there are almost 3 million Kurds).

The Kurds are a peaceful nation and take up arms in exceptional cases, when there is a real threat to the security of their ethnicity. They are not against Turkey, against the Syrian government, not against the militants in Syria, they are for themselves. Therefore, they do not want and are not allowed on its territory any of them. De facto Kurdish Autonomous Republic in Syria have already created. They need legal recognition. That's why during the conference by speakers, there were calls for the international community and Russia to support the Kurds in their quest to find, finally, statehood.

Salih Muslim stopped at the position of Turkey in the Syrian conflict. According to him, Turkish authorities under false pretenses (for example, activation in the border areas activities prohibited in Turkey, the PKK – the Kurdistan workers ' party), are the reason for the armed invasion in Kurdish-populated Northern areas of Syria, As noted by Salih in Syria of PKK militants there. Ankara more than 30 years has been fighting against all Kurds, including against our party, not only recognizes the rights of tens of millions of Kurds living in Turkey, but also threatens the Syrian Kurds. The Turkish authorities are not satisfied with the unification of the Kurds of Syria, they set policy on disagreements between Kurdish political forces.

Note that the leaders of the radical Syrian opposition, in particular the "Syrian Free army" based in Turkey, receive financial and military assistance. Nazmi Gur during the conference reported that three weeks ago in a border with Syria Turkey witnessed the transfer of the Turkish military opposition party of weapons and ammunition. From the very beginning of the armed confrontation in Syria, Turkey was looking for an excuse for the introduction into this country of its troops. And not because the Ankara government is way too concerned about the fate of democracy in Syria. Their other purpose – any way to prevent the attainment of Kurdish national rights. As said Salih, the Kurdish people of Syria does not want to fall under the yoke of the "new Ottomans".

As for the Syrian Kurds, according to the statements of their leaders main goal they see in the overthrow of the Assad regime, establishing a democratic order in the country in which the Constitution will enshrine the recognition of the rights of the Kurdish people. As noted by Saleh, the Syrian Kurds have very good and close relations with the Christians and all other minorities living in the West Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds do not want separation from Syria, they require to solve the Kurdish question in the framework of the territorial integrity of Syria. This does not support the Syrian armed opposition, which is now by blocking areas of compact residence of Kurds in the country trying to squeeze them from Syrian territory into Turkey, to provoke a humanitarian catastrophe, to create new political problems, to force the Kurds to take up arms, and then to accuse them of extremism with all the ensuing consequences.

To summarize. Kurdish leaders used the venue of the conference to once again proclaim its goal to establish an independent Kurdistan, to demonstrate the increasing consolidation of the Kurdish political and social organisations in its implementation. According to the staff of the British public Association with the University of Cambridge "the Henry Jackson Society", the Kurds today are the "decisive minority" in the Syrian revolution. Their participation in the joint opposition would be "in the interests of the United States, would contribute to a stable and inclusive Syria and spurred the rapid overthrow of the Assad regime," according to the report of the organization. However, despite all the calls of the West to a more active participation of the Kurds in the fight against Assad, those are in no hurry to rush into battle. The Kurds and the Syrian conflict, and in General throughout the middle East are sitting on the fence. In an interview, said Mansour Barzani, "we are part of the Middle East, and everything that happens there affects us. We must be very careful and plan very wisely. We must prepare for the worst scenario and to use any opportunity: If the changes will lead to greater stability, for all of us will develop a more secure atmosphere, but if the opposite happens, we will face the increasing challenges of security and stability, and we should prepare for this in advance."

Vyacheslav Petrov


Tags: assessment , Syria , Libya