Conference of Syrian Kurds in Arbil

  • - By Dr Kamal Sido
  • 22/02/2012 00:00:00

"We will only be able to support you if you present yourself in unity, avoid "party politics", if you represent the entire Kurdish people in Syria and also show your commitment to nonviolence," said Masud Barzani, President of the Iraqi federal region of Kurdistan, in his speech to Syrian Kurds from 32 countries. The approximately 250 women and men met in Arbil for a two-day conference (27th & 28th of January, 2012) to discuss the future of their Syrian home-country. The conference was organized by the Kurdish National Council Syria (KNCS) with the support of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

On the second day of the conference, I held a presentation-based lecture about possible measures in case of an administrative vacuum in the Kurdish areas of Syria. In my speech, I explained the situation of the Syrian Kurds in detail. A variety of emergency-scenarios that might arise from an overthrow of the Syrian dictatorship were discussed. Kurdish organizations should now already be prepared for a situation like this. "The Kurds in Syria will only have a chance to demand their rights and live in freedom, if they can form a stable alliance," I stated at the beginning of my presentation. Separated activities might interfere severely with the Kurdish cause. The influential organizations of Syrian Kurds – the PYD and the KNCS – should try to set up structures to administer the Kurdish areas together as soon as possible. Otherwise, the Kurds in Syria might have to wait another 50 years for their language and culture to be recognized. "Only in unity – and together with the members of other minorities such as the Christians, Alevis, Druze, Assyrian Aramaeans and Ismailis – there might be a chance for the Kurds to stop the radical Islamists and Arab nationalists in Syria. Being supported by the Arab Gulf states, Turkey and several Western governments, the political Islam has never before been as influential in the Middle East as it is now. If the political Islam gains even more influence, this will lead to restrictions of the freedom of expression, of religious freedom, of minority rights and human rights.

The "Kurdish National Council Syria" (KNCS) was founded in Qamishli in the outer northwest of the country as a consequence of the Syrian uprising in October 2011. Since then, a vast majority of Syria's Kurdish population has stated in public declarations, that this council effectively represents the Kurds. For example, this was confirmed in late October during a demonstration with about 50,000 participants. In late 2011, the President of the autonomous region of Kurdistan in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, met with delegates of the Council and supported their peaceful approach. In agreement with the Council, Barzani appealed to the KNCS to establish Kurdish rights and to support the pro-democracy movement in Syria. Barzani also campaigned for consensual activities with representatives of all ethnic and religious minorities in Syria to found a democratic, pluralistic and secular state. The KNCS sees itself as a part of the Syrian revolution and actively supports a peaceful and democratic solution to the Kurdish question on the basis of self-determination. There are several suggested solutions for Syria: decentralization, federalism and an autonomous self-government. Any cooperation with political actors from inside and outside of Syria depends on whether and to what extent they are willing to recognize the national rights of the Kurds.

A total of 11 Kurdish political parties and many independent representatives are organized in the KNCS. It is the councils goal to show the unity of the Kurdish population in Syria. The KNCS is significantly involved in the peaceful protests in the predominantly Kurdish-populated areas in the north of the country.

Members of the KNCS have already met with representatives of the Arab League to explain their views on the situation in Syria. Six KNCS-delegates took part in these meetings. After the conference, the Secretary General of the League, Nabil al-Araby, emphasized that the Kurds will be involved in all further steps of development of Syria. The Kurds had demanded to be involved in any important negotiations between the Arab League and the "Syrian National Council"(SNC), that was founded in Istanbul. As the Muslim Brotherhood is quite strong within the SNC, the Kurds fear that the Islamists might have too much influence. Therefore, it is of great importance that the Kurds, other ethnic groups and the Syrian women's movement are also able to decide on Syria's future.

With this in mind, the KNCS is trying to find an agreement on shared objectives with the SNC, the National Coordinating Committee for Democratic Change (NCC) and other opposition groups, to overcome existing differences. During the negotiations, al-Araby assured that there would be no negotiations with the SNC and the NCC without the participation of the Kurdish National Council.

The Kurdistan National Council Syria (KNCS) is trying to convince other Kurdish organizations and groups that are not organized with the KNCS to join now – especially the Kurdish "Democratic Union Party" (Partiya Yekîtiya Democrat, PYD). The PYD is one of the political parties close to the PKK, which is banned in Germany.

In order to form a unified Kurdish alliance in Syria, the KNCS strives to find an agreement with the PYD, so that the PYD, the KNCS and other Kurdish organizations can represent the interests of the Kurds in Syria together.

The KNCS calls for a peaceful change of power in Syria and generally rejects violence. The KNCS repeatedly emphasizes, that the Kurds do not want to be "part of the problem, but part of the solution".

Primarily, the KNCS wants to overthrow the regime and calls for a transformation to a democratic Syria with a federal government, this being the only possible alternative to the current regime. The KNCS also calls for full religious freedom, the protection of all minorities and equal rights for all citizens of Syria.



Dr Kamal Sido: Middle East Desk - Society for Threatened Peoples

  • - By Dr Kamal Sido
  • 22/02/2012 00:00:00