Due to different historical subjective and objective reasons, the multimillion Kurdish people have not yet managed to create an independent state.
Until 1920, most of the Kurds lived on their ancestral lands, mainly those belonging to the Ottoman Empire, and several millions lived in Iran. According to the results of the 2 World War I, according to the mandates of the League of Nations, issued to Great Britain and France, and the Sevr Treaty of 1920, the Kurds were also divided by the state borders of the newly formed states: Turkey, Iraq and Syria.
Today, out of the 40 millionth Kurdish ethnic group, over 2,5 million people live in Syria, where they constitute one of the main national minorities (about 9% of the country's population). They talk among themselves Kurdish Kurmanji dialect, the language of their inter-ethnic communication (also known as the state) is Arabic, they live compactly in populated areas of the northern and northeastern regions of the country: Kamishli, Jazeera, Ayn Al Arab, Kobani, Amude, Derrick, Hemko and have their own ethnic communities in Damascus, Aleppo, Hama, other major cities of Syria.
Of the total area of the historical (ethnic) Kurdistan (about 408 thousand sq. Km), the share of Syrian or Western Kurdistan accounts for 18 thousand sq. Km. km Syrian Kurdistan has rich natural resources and large agricultural potential. There are the most significant oil fields in the country (the largest is Rumeilan) and water resources. One of the largest areas of settlement of the Kurds in Syria is the valley of the Euphrates River (Jerablus and Ain Al-Arab).
The bulk of the Kurdish population (about 80%) is engaged in agriculture, while their wealthy part is no more than 5% of this number. The rest represent the working class (about 15%), the intelligentsia and other social strata of the Syrian society. That part of the Kurds, which belongs to the workers, is heterogeneous and low-skilled, which is explained by the severe restriction of their possibilities in choosing working specialties. Kurdish workers are significantly worse off than Syrian Arab workers: they are virtually deprived of social rights, severely exploited and discriminated against, including in terms of wages, live under the threat of dismissal from work for the slightest violation or just in illegal political and social activities.
The Kurdish bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia (about 5%) are also subjected to political and social discrimination. Representatives of this social stratum, as the most educated part of the Kurdish population, constitute the core of the Kurdish political and social movement in the SAR, occupying leadership positions in various Kurdish parties. The Kurdish bourgeoisie are mostly small traders, owners of repair shops and enterprises for the production of olive oil and soap, people engaged in illegal business (drug trafficking, smuggling).
Before the collapse of the USSR and the socialist camp, the Kurdish intelligentsia mostly consisted of doctors, pharmacists, builders, to a lesser extent, lawyers who had received education in the USSR, GDR, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, mainly through the communist parties of Syria (H. Bagdash, Y. Faisal). Now they are being replaced by graduates of Western European and American universities, a significant number of Kurdish young people with higher education cannot get a job in their home country in their specialty and are forced to emigrate abroad. It is estimated that only in Europe, 2 million Kurdish immigrants from Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran are already working and studying.
The vast majority of Syrian Kurds (about 70%) are Sunni Muslims, about 20% of the Kurdish population adhere to the Shiite trend in Islam, about 20 thousands of Kurds, i.e. less than one percent belong to the Yezidi sect, close to Zoroastrianism. And a very small part - professes Christianity.
For a long time, the general approach of the Syrian leadership to the Kurds was to ignore their national rights and freedoms. It so happened that with the formation of the Syrian state, the Kurds were initially subjected to tougher discriminatory measures compared to other national minorities. This was explained by the fact that, in the opinion of the authorities in Damascus, the Kurds, unlike the Armenians, Turkmen, Circassians, who are not the country's indigenous population, could in the long run put forward demands of self-determination in the territory of Western (Syrian) Kurdistan, up to secession from Syria.
With the coming to power in Damascus of the Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (PASV) or, as it is usually called Baath, it was headed for the forced assimilation of Kurds living in the SAR. Their rights were not reflected either in the country's constitution or in other legislative acts. This was natural for the Ba'athists, since the name of their party, innocuous and seemingly attractive at first glance, was the nationalist ideology of pan-Arabism. The main slogans of the Baath were: "The Arab nation is one, its mission is immortal, it will own the whole world." Naturally, neither the Kurds nor the other national minorities in the Arab states with a Baathist ideology were given any place.
At the beginning of 60, a national security officer who served in the province of Al-Hassak, Talab Gilal, developed a project with recommendations to combat the "Kurdish people." In fact, the entire further policy of the Ba'ath regime up to our days was the implementation of this plan, according to which it was supposed, in particular, to resettle the Kurds inland to a distance of at least 10 km. from the Turkish and Iraqi borders and create an “Arab belt” there at the expense of Arab immigrants to isolate Syrian Kurds from contacts with fellow tribesmen in Turkey and Iraq, and also to change the demographic situation in areas densely populated by Kurds; discriminate socially and economically the Kurdish areas, not to develop the infrastructure, not to create in them new industries, higher and secondary specialized educational institutions, so that the local residents leave them in search of work and places of study in other regions and countries; to work through the special services in order to split the Kurdish society and the Kurdish parties; if possible, deprive the citizenship of the Kurdish population in these areas, declaring it to be immigrants from Turkey; not to accept Kurds in military schools, in state institutions, to prohibit a conversation in public institutions, public places and schools in the Kurdish language; prohibit registering children under Kurdish names; rename Kurdish villages and cities in Arabic.
In 1961, the Baathist regime passed a law on the creation of the so-called “Arab” or “green” security belt in areas of the traditional settlement of the Kurds (the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border joint). In fact, this zone has reached a length of 350 km and a width of 15-30 km and has become, as it were, a buffer between Syrian Kurds and Kurds in Turkey and Iraq. In accordance with the above law, Arabs settled in the place of Kurds who were forcibly deported from these areas. Thus, many Kurdish settlements have gone beyond the traditional Syrian Kurdistan and moved to the areas of Aleppo, Afrin, Azaz, Menbij, Raqqah and Lattakia. In addition, the Kurds were dispersed along the northern Syrian border. For example, the cities of Azaz and Afrin (43 and 58 km north of Aleppo, respectively) have about 90% of the Kurdish population, the rest are Turkmen and Arabs.
The Syrian authorities deliberately did not take measures for the socio-economic development of the Kurdish-populated areas: there were no industrial facilities built, there were few schools, hospitals, retail outlets, many Kurdish areas were not provided with electricity and water. When allocating land, local authorities allocated the worst plots to the Kurds, created artificial difficulties in obtaining loans and loans, the necessary agricultural equipment and implements, and lowered the procurement prices for their products. Therefore, the bulk of the Kurds is the poorest and disenfranchised Syrian population.
As noted above, the Kurds in Syria were limited in the development of national culture, art, language, literature, etc. The country has banned schools for teaching children the Kurdish language, the media and even public communication in Kurdish. The Kurds did not have the right to organize any cultural, educational, sports societies and organizations. Kurdish youth were exposed to overt discrimination in entering higher education institutions in Syria, while they restricted their choice of a future specialty, they were not accepted in military schools and in public service. And for those of them who managed to enter one of the Syrian universities, there was a constant threat of deduction.
The Syrian authorities did not stop before the mass killings of Kurds and other actions of intimidation. Thus, in 1993, in the city of Al-Hasakah, 62 Kurdish political prisoners were killed, and in March, 2004 in the city of Kamyshly lost more than 70 peaceful Kurdish citizens and thousands of others were arrested. In Syrian prisons, tens of thousands of Kurds were detained without trial, often simply on trumped-up charges. For years, the families of prisoners did not know anything about their fate and whereabouts. Appeals and complaints about this were not accepted and considered by the authorities.
The situation of the Kurdish population was aggravated by the fact that it was not paid due attention from national non-governmental organizations. Created, for example, in 1972, in Syria, the National Progressive Front did not include the Kurdish movement. Representatives of the Syrian Communist Party (wing X. Bagdash and wing Y. Faisal) only occasionally voiced declarative slogans in defense of the rights of Syrian Kurds and their equality in rights with other nationalities inhabiting the country.
In recent years, the rule of Bashar al-Assad there have been certain changes in the approach of the Syrian authorities to the Kurdish problem, despite the fact that, in general, their attitude to the Kurds continued to remain discriminatory. Thus, the Kurds were granted the right to work in some state institutions, but in fact they were not allowed to take any significant positions. For a long time in the local government and the People’s Assembly (Parliament) of Syria there was not a single Kurd.
Due to the mixed nature of the Kurdish community, the dispersion of their areas of residence in the country and the lack of a sufficient number of intellectuals of their own, the Kurdish political associations were unorganized and divided. In Syria, by the beginning of the 21 century, there were eleven different Kurdish organizations operating illegally. The largest of them in terms of the number of their members and influence are the Kurdish Democratic Party (Al-Parti) - the wing of Nazir Mustafa, the Kurdish Democratic Progressive Party (right) - the wing of Hamid Haj Darwish, the party of the Union of Kurdish People (Secretary General Salah Badr Ed-Dean) ) and the Kurdish Left Party. Many of the Kurdish parties were closely associated with similar parties in Turkey and Iraq.
The peculiarity of the activities of Kurdish parties in Syria was the ongoing process of creating new parties, splitting existing ones, uniting parties, including into blocs and fronts, and the withdrawal of individual parties from these associations. For example, there was a merger of the party of the Union of Kurdish people and the Kurdish left party in Syria. The new party received the name of the Kurdish party in Syria "Azadi" (freedom).
In general, the political programs of almost all parties differed little from one another - this is a struggle for equality and fair national rights and freedoms of Kurds within the framework of Syrian society, confirmed by the ATS constitution. Given the real situation of the Kurds in Syria and their capabilities, Kurdish political leaders did not make direct demands to create any form of Kurdish autonomy. During the period of Baathist (pan-Arabic) ideology and the rule of the Assad family dominated in the country, the Syrian Kurds sought only to survive and retain their national identity.
The fragmentation of the Kurdish parties, ideological differences, the struggle for leadership between them and within the leadership of the parties themselves were artificially fueled and used by the Syrian authorities and special services in their own interests.
At the same time, tacit support was provided to the most liberal of the Kurdish movements and defiantly limited the activities of the most radical. Syrian special services contributed not only to the split of the Kurdish ranks, but also to incite hatred between individual Kurdish parties and movements. It was the fragmentation and heterogeneity of the Kurdish political movement that allowed the Syrian authorities to prevent spontaneous demonstrations and protests by the oppressed Kurds and, in general, successfully neutralize the possible negative effects of the Kurdish factor on the internal political situation in the country.
Under these conditions, the leaders of the Kurdish parties were increasingly forced to turn to the problem of achieving unity of the Kurdish movement, uniting their ranks. They still managed to create two main political Kurdish associations: the Kurdish Democratic Front and the Kurdish Democratic Union. The Kurdish Democratic Left Party Yakati (wing of Abdel Baki Yousef) did not join any of these associations, although in practice it worked closely enough with the Kurdish Democratic Front in Syria.
The excitement of the Kurds, which arose 12 March 2004, in the city of Kamyshly (Haseke Governorate) and covered virtually all places of their compact residence, including Ras Al Ain, Ain Al Arab, Afrin, were the most significant event in the relationship between the government and the Syrian Kurds . Clashes between Kurds and the police took place in the cities of Aleppo and Homs. According to the Kurdish Democratic Union in Syria, more than 300 Kurds and about a hundred Arabs died in clashes with the army, police, security forces, armed Arab populations in these areas. In general, the Kurdish national movement in Syria at that stage was rather severely suppressed by Syrian security forces, including army units.
Recently, the leaders of the Syrian Kurdish progressive parties and organizations have avoided open confrontation with the Syrian authorities and more realistic approach to the choice of forms of struggle in resolving the Kurdish problem in Syria, focusing on achieving unity of the Kurdish movement and believing that in the end it will force the Syrian authorities to reconsider their tough stance towards the Kurds living in the country in terms of expanding their political and social rights and freedoms.
Of great importance for raising the national liberation movement of Syrian Kurds was the overthrow of the Baathist dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein in neighboring Iraq and their conquest by Iraqi fellow Kurds of the status of a full-fledged subject of the federation in a new democratic Iraq. During this period, communications and contacts between Syrian and Iraqi Kurds became noticeably more active.
However, until the end of 2011, the ruling Syrian regime B. Assad managed to maintain a fairly tight control over the areas of compact residence of the Kurds. The main instruments of appeasement of the Kurds in Syria were still the army, police and special services. At the same time, recently the Syrian authorities have increasingly begun to declare their readiness to consider the problems of the Kurdish minority, but in fact, no further declarations and indistinct promises are made to oblige Damascus.
The most acute problem was the question of Syrian citizenship for almost 300 thousands of Kurds living in Syria, but being stateless and deprived of all political and social rights. The background of this incident is as follows. In October, the so-called “emergency census” was conducted in Syria in 1962, and residents of Kurdish areas who did not present tax receipts proving the prescription of their residence in Syria automatically lost their citizenship. Since many Kurds did not keep such receipts for decades, as a result of this action, thousands of 130 citizens of thousands of Syrian Kurds were deprived of 500 citizenship. Until recently, these people and their descendants had only a residence permit instead of passports. In addition, the 1962 Census Act of Syria only extended to the Kurdish population in Hassek Governorate (Jazeera region), many Kurds generally remained outside of this census.
The situation with the resolution of the Kurdish issue in Syria began to take on a completely different character from the middle of 2011, when the Arab Spring of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen reached Syria and the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus was overwhelmed by the forces of armed opposition.
For two years now, a fierce civil war has been going on in the country. Government troops do not stop before use aviation, artillery, armored vehicles. The rebels, in turn, carry out large-scale terrorist attacks, are fighting in densely populated areas and on city streets. On the side of the opposition are deserters from the Syrian army, volunteers and mercenaries from a number of Arab and Muslim countries. As a result, already about 60 thousand Syrians were killed, hundreds of thousands were injured, more than half a million people fled to neighboring countries, cities and towns are in ruins, infrastructure and communications are destroyed, the population is on the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
What are the causes of this tragedy? Who and what is fighting in Syria? It would seem that the answer lies on the surface: on the one hand, supporters of the ruling regime headed by Bashar Assad, on the other - isolated armed opposition groups supported from abroad. The forces turned out to be approximately equal, no one wants to give up, there are no prerequisites for peace negotiations between the parties, the escalation of the armed conflict is increasing, artillery duels between Syria and Turkey are already marked. The Turkish parliament gave the go-ahead to conduct cross-border military operations on the Turkish-Syrian border. The Turkish military said that due to the sharp exacerbation of the situation on the border with Syria, warships and submarines had been transferred to the Mediterranean Sea, and NATO air defense and missile defense systems, including the most modern anti-aircraft missiles, were urgently deployed in Turkish regions bordering Syria. Patriot.
As it turned out, the outwardly prosperous Syrian regime had long rotted inside, became decrepit and turned out to be a political bankrupt. The ruling Ba'athist elite in the country, which relied on the religious minority of Alawite Arabs (about 10% of the country's population) and power structures, usurped power in Syria for a long time. For more than 50 years, martial law has been operating in the country with all the restrictions imposed on it for the population. All who did not share the views of the ruling nationalist Baath party and did not agree with the state’s domestic and foreign policies were subjected to persecution and brutal repression. The use of armed forces to pacify their people is not something extraordinary in the modern history of the Syrian state. In 1982, authorities also brutally suppressed the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood’s speech in Hama, when tens of thousands of people were killed by government forces. As already noted, the Ba'athists did not stop even before the use of military force to pacify the Kurds, thousands of them were thrown into jail without trial.
The Sunni Arabs, who constitute the majority of the country's population, were excluded from power for many years and could not realize their potential in business and other fields. Over 2,5 million Syrian Kurds were considered "second-rate people", they were oppressed in every way, forcibly relocated, tried to assimilate.
The regime was like a tracing paper from the Baathist dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein, who ruled in Baghdad, but in a somewhat softer appearance. In Iraq, the Ba'ath elite and the Arab-Sunni minority suppressed the Arab-Shiite majority and the Kurds. Saddam Hussein, as we know, did not stop even before applying chemical weapons against the Kurds, mass executions and killings of dissidents there have become the norm. An eight-year bloody war was unleashed with Iran, and military aggression was launched against neighboring Kuwait.
Damascus in the period of the Baath dictatorship tried only unsuccessfully to participate in the Arab-Israeli wars and occupied neighboring Lebanon for several years. The Syrian authorities, although they have chemical weapons at their disposal, have not decided to use it yet. If at first (in the postcolonial period), the slogans of pan-Arabism and the dictatorship of the Baath party were able to rally the Syrian nation for some time, contribute to building a new independent state, lay the foundations of the national economy, solve some socio-economic problems, then in modern conditions the regime has exhausted its opportunities and became a brake in the future progressive development of the country.
In this regard, Syrian President Bashar Assad has become a very tragic figure and, in fact, a political hostage to the situation. As you know, this ophthalmologist by education and work experience was on the post of the President of the country at the age of 34 years, largely by accident. A few years before the death of the father of the family, Hafez Asad (he was president in 1971-2000), his eldest son Basel died in a car accident, who at that time became a well-known military and state leader and was rightly considered the most likely successor of H. Assad at the post. President of the SAR.
Bashar Assad suffered stagnation in the economy, a corrupt state apparatus, a beggarly standard of living for the majority of the country's population, a nationalist ideology that failed to justify itself, and an unstable political system. The country was becoming more and more internationally isolated; it was even entered by the US State Department on the list of states supporting international terrorism. According to experts, foreign debt already reached 18-19 billions of dollars for that period.
B. Asad was able to remain in power by inertia over 10 years, but he was unable to use this period to carry out long overdue political and socio-economic reforms. The Syrian people did not wait for the abolition of the state of emergency, the separation of branches of power, a genuine multi-party system, the establishment of democratic institutions, the construction of a civil society, the equality of all groups of people according to national and religious denominations. The dominance of the Syrian authorities and the security forces of the Arab-Alawite minority and the family clan Assad provoked the Arab-Sunni majority and the Kurds to open protests and mass demonstrations.
With the rapid growth of the population and the emergence of a significant number of educated youth, protest sentiments in Syrian society grew. The “Arab Spring” 2011 of the year gave rise to hopes for quick changes in most Syrians and led hundreds of thousands of people to the streets. The brutal massacre of the demonstrators, the use of heavy weapons by government forces only aggravated the situation in the country and provoked a further escalation of the armed conflict. External factors have also been added to the internal destabilizing factors in the country.
Under Bashar Assad, Iran’s influence in Syria and neighboring Lebanon increased markedly. Syria has become like Tehran’s foothold in the region. Military supplies of the Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah were transferred through Syrian territory, some of which fell into the Gaza Strip, the Hamas grouping. Allegedly, to assist B. Asad in the fight against opposition fighters, special forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from Iran were sent to Damascus, and substantial financial, material and military assistance was provided to the Syrian authorities from Tehran.
According to the leaders of the monarchies of the Persian Gulf and a number of other Arab states where Sunni Arabs are in power, there is a real threat of the spread of militant Shiite Islam in the region, education in the Middle East, the so-called Shiite arc or Shiite crescent. Around this time, unrest broke out among the Shiite communities in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, which were quite severely suppressed by the authorities.
The external opposition was led by Damascus, which did not hide its antipathies with respect to the Bashar al-Assad regime, the royal family of the Saudis, and the emir of Qatar. They were supported by the majority of Arab countries, the Lebanese clan Hariri and Turkey. The United States and the EU countries also helped the Syrian emigration, strengthened the regime of restrictive sanctions, political and diplomatic, financial and economic and outreach pressure on Damascus.
Thus, the Syrian opposition received from outside practically unlimited financial, material and military assistance and a strong rear in the neighboring states. Volunteers, mercenaries from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Morocco, Libya, a number of other countries, Syrian army deserters and accelerated military training from refugees from the refugees are being transferred to the borders of Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.
The militants of extremist Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Tawhid, who form the backbone of the Free Syrian Army, Ansar al-Islam, Jabga al-Nusra and many others, right up to cells, are also fighting in the ranks of opponents of the regime. Al-Qaida and the Taliban. It seems that the sponsors of the “Syrian Revolution” do not disdain anything in their desire to overthrow the B. Assad regime as soon as possible. Obviously, after the victory, they hope to gradually free themselves from the most odious “fellow travelers” and bring their proteges to power in Damascus. Such a victory seems to be still very elusive, and in Istanbul, Paris, Washington, Riyadh, Beirut, Doha, and a number of other capitals, backstage talks are being held with representatives of the Syrian opposition to create a future Syrian government. Washington and Paris do not hide the fact that they would prefer to see the new Syrian government in the person of pro-Western Syrian emigration, as has already happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ankara relies on high-ranking Syrian defectors who ended up in Turkey. There are serious reasons to believe that the calculations of backstage "puppeteers" and lovers of planting their standards of democracy may not be justified in Syria. As practice shows, the change of regimes in Arab countries ends with the advent of Islamist groups to power. Modern Islam is easily politicized and turns into an ideology that is attractive to the population of the countries of the Middle East. It is also realistic to see in Syria at the head of the future state representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis or other Islamists. As long as the Syrian opposition looks very mixed and contradictory, it does not have a unified leadership and national leader. As for the possible participation of Bashar Assad or his supporters in the future political life of Syria, here the forecasts are the most pessimistic. After a bloody protracted civil war and the use of heavy weapons in it, B. Asad is unlikely to be able to integrate into the future Syrian government in any form. At best, he will be able to emigrate, as Tunisian President Ali, but there are serious concerns that he will share the fate of Hosni Mubarak or Muammar Gaddafi. The environment of the Syrian President will cling to him until the last, realizing that they have nowhere to run, and the President’s presence gives the appearance of maintaining the legitimacy of power. After all, the top Ba'athists, Alawites and power structures not only lose their power, property and money, but also a real threat to their lives. It is unlikely that the functionaries of the regime, even with an amnesty on the part of the new authorities, will ever again be able to get a job in state or military service. Most likely, they are awaited by the fate of the Iraqi Baathists and the Saddam clan at-Tikriti, who were thrown into the dustbin of history. The most odious figures were executed, others were sentenced to long prison terms, some found refuge in the same Syria or hiding in Sunni-controlled areas of Iraq.
No matter how long the agony of the B. Asad regime lasts, one can talk about its political bankruptcy with a reasonable degree of confidence. Time is working for the opposition and it is not possible to defeat it in a large-scale partisan war. Still, most of the country's population was not with B.Asad. Even the army partially sided with the opposition, it was the military defectors that formed the backbone of the SSA, some civil servants, military personnel and policemen, including very high-ranking ones, deserted and hid in refugee camps in neighboring countries.
The Bashar al-Assad regime continues to be actively supported by only a few army units manned by Alawite Arabs, police and special services. Reports of Syrian government media about successful air strikes and sweeps by army units of individual cities and regions from militants of the armed opposition do not change the overall picture of the Syrian disaster. The situation is aggravated by the fact that in these large-scale military operations civilians are dying: women, old people, children.
Opposition forces are still unable to stand up to the regular army on equal terms, special forces units, as a rule, under massive blows of troops, the militants scatter, retreat, sometimes to neighboring countries, regroup, replenish with people, weapons and ammunition and fight again. As noted above, one of the decisive factors for the military success of the opposition is its wide support from abroad. Asad was essentially in international isolation, blockade and can only rely on Iran’s help, but this country, as you know, does not have a common border with Syria. The facts of landings and inspections of Iranian aircraft (in Baghdad), Russia and Armenia (in Turkey) for the possible presence of military cargo on them have become widely known.
Unfortunately, the world community, represented by such reputable international organizations as the UN, the League of Arab States (LAS) and others, was unable to stop this fratricidal large-scale massacre in Syria.
Moreover, the Arab League practically supported the Syrian opposition. Here there are some fundamental differences in the assessments of the B. Assad regime in Washington, Brussels, Paris, Moscow, Beijing, Ankara and Tehran. The legacy of the cold war and mistrust between the great powers in matters of international security remains.
Obviously, the time has come for the world community to find new, more effective ways to prevent and stop such conflicts. It is still very timid, but there have already been proposals from a number of interested countries and international organizations to provide humanitarian assistance to Syria and consider the possibility of conducting a large-scale peacekeeping operation.
As the armed conflict escalated in Syria, which has already claimed tens of thousands of lives, caused chaos and large-scale destruction on the streets of Syrian cities, the question of the attitude of the Syrian Kurds towards it is becoming more and more common. There are forces inside Syria and abroad who would like to draw the Kurds into the fight against government forces and, thus, play the "Kurdish card" in their own interests. They believe that the intervention of the Kurds on the side of the opposition could upset the current balance of military-political forces in the country and accelerate the fall of the B. Assad regime.
In every way seeking to speed up the events in Syria, Washington and at the same time does not hide the fact that the change of regime in Damascus will allow the US to significantly weaken Tehran's position in the region and lead Iran to even greater international isolation. In addition to the United States, opposition countries (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others) are showing their interest in activating the Kurdish factor in Syria. At the same time, Turkey does not exclude its direct participation in hostilities in Syrian territory under the pretext of persecuting the militants of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Already, the border areas with Syria of Turkey have become the base of the Syrian opposition and the arena of hostilities of the Turkish security forces with Kurdish rebels. It is believed in Ankara that the activation of the PKK's partisan activities in Turkish territory is carried out not without the help and support of the Syrian authorities. In response, the Turkish leadership is interested in the Syrian Kurds speaking on the side of the opposition.
However, despite the fact that in Syria the Kurds for a long time were subjected to discrimination on the basis of nationality and persecution by the security forces of the ruling regime in the country, Kurdish leaders continue to adhere to a policy of neutrality in the internal Arab Syrian conflict. They make it clear that "this is not their war ..." and express their readiness to cooperate with any government in Damascus that can ensure their legitimate rights and freedoms within the framework of the Syrian state. They have no illusions about the Arab Islamists, who are striving for power in the country, who have not yet indicated their attitude to the Kurdish problem. Opposition leaders offer Kurds to enter into an alliance against B. Asad’s regime, and they intend to discuss the future status of Kurdish areas only after victory. The Kurds have certain fears that their position with the regime change in Damascus will not improve drastically. It should be borne in mind that B. Asad has recently made a number of concessions and concrete steps to meet the political demands of the Kurds. For example, he formally “legalized” several hundred thousand Kurds who had long lived in a stateless country, several hundred Kurdish political prisoners were released from prisons, most of the army units, police officers and secret service representatives left Kurdish areas of compact residence. A number of other promises were also distributed by the authorities, but in reality they could not be fulfilled in the context of the ongoing civil war. Kurds who were forcibly relocated by the authorities in previous years cannot yet return to the places of their historical residence.
Naturally, the Arabs, who settled their homes and lands, cannot return to their homeland in an organized manner. Restrictions on the social and political activities of the Kurds remain, and not all political prisoners from among the Kurds have been released. All these unresolved problems of a political and socio-economic nature also use external forces and opposition leaders to attract the Kurds to a more active struggle against the B. Asad regime.
The Kurds, while avoiding open armed confrontation with Damascus, nevertheless, in the context of weakening central power, rampant anarchy and the growing real threat to the lives and property of civilians, were forced to create their own National Assembly, the Supreme Kurdish Council, councils and self-government committees and self-defense detachments in places. Because of this, in the areas of compact residence of the Kurds, a relatively calm situation remains, the majority of educational and medical institutions, courts, etc. function. Will the Syrian Kurds continue to maintain their neutrality in the civil war in Syria or will they be provoked to take part in an armed struggle on the side of one of the parties to the conflict?
Such a scenario should not be ruled out, but it will become more likely in the event of signs that the regime of B. Assad is about to be defeated or if the opposition is provided with guarantees by the opposition to the Kurds in the future Syrian state. Syrian Kurds emphasize that at this stage they would like to get the rights and freedoms enjoyed by the Syrian Arabs, at the same time having the opportunity to create Kurdish cultural autonomy.
So far, the opposition has failed to win the confidence of the Kurds and initiate their actions against government forces. Moreover, there are separate armed clashes between militants of the so-called Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Kurdish militia. Thus, at the end of October 2012, opposition militants fired at Kurdish demonstrators protesting against the growing bloodshed in the city of Aleppo. Among the demonstrators were killed and wounded, after which the Kurds clashed with armed opposition groups, who attempted to force control over the Ashrafiyah area in the northern part of the city with a predominantly Kurdish population. The area is considered strategically important, as it is located on a hill, from where neighboring neighborhoods are clearly visible and shot through. Prior to this incident, Ashrafiya remained aloof from the war — neither the opposition fighters nor the government troops chose not to enter into conflict with the Kurdish militia. However, the SSA commanders apparently decided that control of the Ashrafia was more important to them than Kurdish neutrality. As a result of bloody clashes between opposition fighters and Kurds, at least 30 Kurds were killed, and another 200 was taken hostage. Armed detachments of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union party, which, allegedly, is closely associated with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), leading the armed struggle against the authorities of neighboring Turkey, took part in the hostilities against the opposition fighters.
It is not by chance that among all the countries of the region, it is Ankara that most actively supports the Syrian opposition, and recently, after a series of incidents at the border, Turkey has begun systematic artillery shelling of the Syrian border areas. As is known, a number of high-ranking Syrian politicians and military men found refuge in Turkey, and refugee camps and bases of the armed Syrian opposition were deployed here. One of the accusations Ankara is making to the regime of Bashar Assad is the support of “PKK terrorists” in Turkish Kurdistan. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan fears that as a result of the civil war in Syria, the Kurdish regions of this country will acquire the status of autonomy or a subject of the federation - following the example of Iraq. And then, according to the Turkish authorities, the PKK militants will be able to use Syrian territory as a springboard for the struggle against Ankara. As reported in the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, Turkish Prime Minister R. Erdogan officially warned Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani about the inadmissibility of creating an autonomous Kurdish region in Syria. According to Ankara, a quick takeover of power in Damascus by Syrian opposition leaders who are guided by Turkey could prevent such a development of events. However, this scenario looks less and less likely - the war is becoming increasingly bloody and protracted. If the conflict of local importance between the armed Syrian opposition and the Kurds spread from Aleppo to other areas of the country, this will significantly weaken the opponents of the B. Asad regime, as they will have to disperse their forces. In addition, the Kurds are naturally good warriors, many have military skills and combat experience, have the necessary small arms, ammunition and can successfully defend their homes and areas from any outside invasions, whether government troops or opposition fighters. It is unlikely that in the event of an open attack on the Syrian Kurds, their fellow tribesmen in Turkey and Iraq will stand aside, military assistance from there will certainly be provided. As for the further escalation of the armed conflict between the Kurds and the Syrian opposition units and foreign mercenaries, this scenario cannot be ruled out, but it will become more likely in the event of new attempts by the armed opposition to invade Kurdish areas.
An example of such a provocation is the outbreak of violence in the Syrian Ras al-Ain town bordering on Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. About a thousand militants in vehicles of the Jeep type, armed with machine guns and heavy machine guns, at night violated the Turkish-Syrian border and attempted to gain a foothold in the border Syrian regions, using violence against civilians and marauding. A convoy of militants was blocked by government forces and the Kurdish joint self-defense forces (militia). In the course of a fierce battle, gangs of oppositionists were forced to retreat to Turkey, among the dead and prisoners were Al-Qaeda militants from Yemen and other Arab countries.
It should be noted that given the general line of all Kurdish groups to maintain neutrality in the civil war in Syria, individual Kurdish leaders do not refuse contact with representatives of the opposition. “The Kurds of Syria do not seek to dismember their country,” Khaled Jamil Mohammed, deputy chairman of the Syrian National Council of Kurds (NACS), said in an interview with Golos Rossii radio station. Contrary to the previous claims about the position of the Kurdish parties and organizations of Syria regarding the ongoing internal Syrian conflict, he said that allegedly "the Syrian Kurds from the very beginning sided with the opposition and are in favor of holding long overdue reforms in the country." For this reason, when the so-called National Coalition of the Syrian Opposition (NKSO) was formed under the auspices of the United States in Qatar, the NACC sent its delegation to take part in the Doha conference (this was the only organization of Syrian Kurds that went to Qatar) representatives). However, Khaled Jamil Mohammed denied reports that the NACS became part of the pro-American NUCC: "In Qatar, there was no decision to include him in the National Coalition. The differences concerned both the format of the new coalition and the participation of the Kurdish movement in it, and, naturally , the status of the Kurds in the future Syria. "
These issues have not yet found their final solution, but negotiations are continuing, the deputy chairman of the NSCA testified. Nevertheless, the leadership of the National Coalition sent a letter to the NSCC inviting them to participate in the conference of the “Friends of Syria” in Morocco (Marrakesh), having previously agreed to appoint the Kurdish representative as one of the three deputy heads of the newly created coalition. Supposedly, the remaining issues related to the future status of the Kurds in Syria will be discussed at subsequent conferences. To participate in the conference in Marrakesh, the NACS sent a delegation of nine people. At the same time, Khaled Jamil Mohammed could not help but admit that the main disagreement between the Kurds of the NACS and the Syrian opposition is the refusal to recognize the national rights of the Kurds: “In this respect, the Kurds are fighting for their rights for more than a decade. We don’t We are trying to dismember Syria, but we want to solve the Kurdish problem as part of a single country. We are ready to discuss this with all opposition groups and convey our aspirations to them. Of course, we will in no case give up our rights. We did not submit to the Baathist regime or to anyone else. The rights of the Kurdish people are more important to us than anything. "
The leaders of the Syrian Kurds make it clear that if they are not heard by the opposition, they will have to unite all their self-defense units and create a single Kurdish army. Moreover, the Kurds do not hide the fact that they are counting on broad help and support from their Iraqi and Turkish brothers.
Allegedly, at the end of 2012, the Syrian Kurds, who established control over a number of areas in northern Syria in the middle of this year, have already begun to create an independent army, according to the Internet portal Elaf, citing the head of the National Kurdistan Council (NCC), Shirko Abbas. "The main task of the army being created by us is to protect the territory of Syrian Kurdistan from any armed intervention, be it the troops of Bashar al-Assad, detachments of the opposition Free Syrian army or militants of radical Islamist groups," said S. Abbas.
According to this leader of the Syrian Kurds, the United States and Western European countries agreed to provide military and financial assistance in creating an independent Kurdish army, which, in their opinion, could be an obstacle to the spread of radical Islam in Syria. "The Kurdish army personnel will be formed from both Kurds and Arabs (Muslims and Christians) living in Syrian Kurdistan," said Shirko Abbas. That is, we are talking about the creation of territorial armed formations not controlled by Damascus. As noted above, the Syrian government forces voluntarily left the Kurdish areas in the northeast of the country, with the exception of the two major cities of Hassek and Kamishli. All other settlements in this region have actually come under the control of the Kurds.
According to Kurdish scholar Youssef Aslan, who lives in Germany, at present, the concept of “self-determination” is limited to the Syrian Kurds by a number of general, rather modest requirements that are not aimed at creating an independent state, but are as follows:
- constitutional recognition of the Kurdish people as the second largest national minority in the country;
- the cessation of any discrimination against the Kurds on a national basis and forced Arabization;
- the restoration of the rights of citizenship of all Syrian Kurds;
- recognition of Kurdish national, political, social and cultural rights and freedoms;
- the introduction of education and media in Kurdish;
- accelerated socio-economic development of the Kurdish regions.
At the same time, the Kurds clearly understand that solving their national problems is inseparable from the needs of the general democratization of Syria after the end of the civil war.
Analyzing the statements of representatives of various Kurdish Syrian groups and the scientific community on the Kurdish problem in Syria, it can be concluded that at this stage the main thing for Syrian Kurds is to get equal rights and freedoms with Arabs in the future Syrian state while maintaining their national identity (language, culture, customs, customs, etc.). The question of creating a Syrian Kurdistan as an independent state or subject of the federation in the future Syria is not yet worth it. Moreover, given the dispersion of the Kurdish enclaves over a large territory of the country and the presence of the Arab part of the population between them, it would be very difficult to even create a Kurdish autonomous region in present-day Syria. This position of Syrian Kurds is significantly different from the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan, where Kurds live quite compactly in the three northern provinces of Iraq and make up half of the population in a number of adjacent areas (Taamim province with the capital city of Kirkuk, other so-called disputed territories). The future of the Syrian Kurds will largely depend on the outcome of the civil war in Syria and the attitude of the future authorities in Damascus towards solving the Kurdish problem in the framework of the new Syrian state.