The Future of the Syrian Kurds

The Kurds in Syria account for about 10% of the population. Most of them are scattered in the north and northeast of Syria. The city of Hasakah is their capital. The Kurds have been persecuted by the Syrian regime since the 1970s. Many reports by Kurdish organizations confirm that nearly 100.000 Kurds in Syria do not have documents, identity cards or passports. The regime of Assad the father imposed severe restrictions on them in terms of education and learning. The books written in Kurdish language were forbidden by libraries, as it was forbidden to create a Kurdish political party. The Syrian prisons were also full of Kurdish activists and intellectuals.

In 2004, due to the outcome of a football match, huge demonstrations were organized in the Qamishli region in the northeast of Syria to claim the rights of the Kurdish minority. These protests were violently repressed by the Syrian regime and its security services, and more than 300 people were killed while thousands were injured.

With the start of the Syrian Revolution in March 2011 , Syrian Kurds participated in demonstrations that demanded the overthrow of the Assad regime. However, the chaos and insecurity that prevailed, encouraged the terrorist organization of the PKK to exploit this situation as well as the tensions felt by the Syrian Kurds to create military branches such as YPG and PYD. While the Free Syrian Army, created by the Syrian revolutionaries, was fighting the Assad regime, these militias increased their members and armed themselves under the guise of claiming their rights and fighting the Assad regime that oppressed and tortured them. Following the creation of ISIS, the Kurds were fortified behind these militias to prevent it from entering their territories.

In the fight against ISIS terrorism, many Western countries, mainly the US, supported the Kurdish militias with light arms initially and then with heavy but also air coverage. However, the basic issue that these militias shaped, namely the fight against the Assad regime and the restoration of rights, was completely forgotten. These militias have become friends of the regime, even their protectors, as is the case in the heart of the city of Hassakah, where the Assad regime continues to control all government buildings even the Town Hall. In addition, mutual visits between the leaders of Kurdish militias and Assad officers have never been interrupted.The actions of these militias did not stop there. They have carried out many Kurdish civilian movements, just as the Assad regime did, imprisoning Kurdish political activists and intellectuals without any offense or judgment, simply because they oppose their ideology.

However, the largest crime committed by these militias, supported by the International Coalition Against Terrorism, is the demographic change of the Syrian areas in the north. Under the guise of fighting ISIS, Kurdish militias have killed thousands of Syrian Arab civilians. They also misinterpreted the International Coalition as a result of bombing civilians. Such a massacre was committed in the city of Manbij, where more than 250 civilians were killed, mainly women and children, and hundreds were injured in a single air raid, after which a coalition spokesman said the bombing was the result of the coordinates given by the Kurdish militias. As a result of these massacres, hundreds of thousands of Arab citizens fled. In exchange, Kurdish militias prevented indigenous people from returning to their villages and cities under the guise of insecurity and the presence of mines, until today, two years after the end of the war in these areas.

Currently, the situation in Syria is generally headed in two ways: the first is to conclude an international and regional agreement to end the conflict, and the second is to redeploy the deck. The existence of Kurdish militias is a negotiating paper. The US, which supports them, has two choices. To continue their support, and therefore the regional consensus between Iran and Turkey will not allow the formation of a Kurdish entity in the northeast of Syria. This will lead to a new war between Turkey and the Assad regime and the militias that support it against Kurdish militias.

The second option is for the US to quit their support for the Kurdish militias and they will either be able to fight again, or – I think it most likely – will come to an agreement with the Assad regime for the concession of the areas they control today, such as Racke, Manbjid, and Tampa, some rights for the Kurdish minority and some type of federation only for a limited time.

The recent leaks on a meeting of Kurdish militia leaders with Russian generals seem to have taken a lesson from what happened in the Iraqi Kurdistan region and its abandonment from the West and the United States. Therefore, in the near future, I can confirm what I mentioned above about the approach of the Assad and Russia side in return for maintaining their influence in some areas.

The Kurds of Syria are an important part of the Syrian people and have rights and obligations. But the rights that deprived them of the Assad family status are now being relinquished by the militias associated with terrorism. If the Syrian Kurds want to regain their dignity and not be a negotiating paper, they should not accept being represented by terrorist militias who deprive them of their views, but to support independent and honest Kurds. There are many in the Syrian territory.