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 The Kurdish Issue and Syria’s Democracy

 Opinion — Analysis 
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The Kurdish Issue and Syria’s Democracy  28.4.2012  
By Hassan Saleh - The deputy secretary of the Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria

Hassan Saleh is the deputy secretary of the Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria and a member of the Kurdish National Council and former political prisoner. See Related Links
April 28, 2012

Editorial Note: At a moment of uncertainty surrounding the relationship between the Kurdish National Council (KNC) and the Syrian National Council (SNC), the following article by KNC member Hassan Saleh affirms the Kurdish desire for a decentralized federal democracy and their critical role in the future success of the Syrian revolution. The composition of the proposed federal state has yet to be explained in further detail. Stay tuned on Fikra Forum as the dialogue unfolds on the topic of the Kurdish issue and the prospects for federalism in Syria.

Syria is a diverse country comprised of Christians (Syriacs, Assyrians, Armenians), Druze, Alawites, Kurds, Arabs, Turkmens, and Circassians. Taking into consideration that most Kurds are secular, the reality indicates that prospects for Syria’s future are positive, particularly if a decentralized system is accepted. A decentralized system would explicitly include the rights of all nationalities, communities, and religions, and it would offer the regions the right to manage their own affairs within a framework of an agreed upon federal system. This solution is in the interest of the majority, which has suffered from an authoritarian regime that distorted the political system, causing the concentration of government and human activities in the capital while neglecting the rest of the regions.

Political decentralization has become necessary to build a modern state, and I believe that the federal system is the best way for internal peaceful coexistence. This allows for all peoples and minorities to enjoy their rights and preserve their identities and existence. Federalism is considered a guarantor system for the unity of the state and a way to boost the state’s development and stability. Good examples of this system can be found in the United States, Switzerland, Germany, and the United Arab Emirates.

In Syria, there are contiguous Kurdish areas that the Kurdish community can manage as their own federal region by managing their own legislative, judicial, and executive affairs, but participating in federal authorities, institutions, and councils according to the proportion of their population. If other communities choose to select federalism, it is possible to establish other provinces as well. The Druze reside in al-Sweida province, surrounding the capital city and Jabal al-Sheikh. The Alawites are particularly concentrated in the coastal areas, though there are a number of Sunnis living among them in cities such as Latakia, Banias, and Tartous. The (Christian) Assyrians and Syriacs are spread throughout most of the regions and do not form large contiguous areas. Accordingly, the adoption of a federal system will achieve the wishes of the Syrian people in getting rid of the dominance of the central authoritarian regime and providing real opportunities for the territories to develop their lives and enjoy their share of power and wealth.

It must be noted that due to their bitter experience, the Kurds are determined to manage their own affairs as their interest is in maintaining Syria’s unity. Kurdish nationalism should be respected and the resolution of this issue is considered to be the key to democracy and a guarantee of stability. The Kurdish regions are rich in oil, gas, and agricultural crops, particularly grains and olives, and it is unfair that the central government has taken hold of them while the Kurdish people live poor, deprived, and homeless.

The Kurds are an essential and active part within the Syrian opposition forces. They have achieved unity through the formation of the Kurdish National Council, which includes 15 parties and manages most of the youth coordination as well as cultural, legal, professional, social, and women's events. It plays a key role in the peaceful revolutionary movement alongside the forces of the Syrian revolution. The Kurdish National Council is looking forward to the cooperation and coordination with opposition forces in order to meet the demands of the Kurdish people in the future Syrian constitution. The opposition will remain divided and unqualified to perform its functions without fulfilling the interests of the Kurds.

It should be noted that there is another Kurdish political party named The Democratic Union, which is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). Unfortunately, the PKK focuses its goal against the Turkish regime and accuses the Syrian opposition of pledging allegiance to Turkey. But the influence of this party is limited since the vast majority of Syrian Kurds prioritizes the demise of the authoritarian regime in Syria and believes in the democratic settlement of the Kurdish issue.

The Kurdish National Council has adopted the resolution of the Kurdish issue on the basis of the right to self-determination in the framework of Syria’s unity, and considers itself part of the Syrian Revolution and the opposition. It rejects violence and terrorism and is looking forward to see the new Syria becoming a civil state for all Syrians on an equal footing and without discrimination.

What is happening in Syria is a real revolution that will not stop until the fall of the authoritarian regime, which has turned Syria into a family plantation, and the republican system into one of authoritarian and hereditary rule. It enslaved the people and put all public and private institutions and human activities under strict iron security control. It seized the lives of its people by suppressing all forms of speech or expression and sowed corruption, fighting against values and ethics.

Therefore, the demise of this regime is not only is in the interest of the Syrian people, but of all mankind. It is inaccurate for some to fear the rise of the religious trend within the revolution. On one hand, this trend does not constitute an absolute majority on its own and on the other hand, it is characterized by moderation and the acceptance of principles of dialogue, partnership, democratic cooperation, and an electoral process. If there is an atmosphere of freedom and democracy, then elections will result in a balance between the political blocs within the government and parliament. Finally, the international community should not stand incapable of exercising its humanitarian duties in support of the Syrian Revolution. It should help by protecting civilians and curbing the Syrian regime’s killing machine of the security and military forces, which follows the policy of systematic genocide, destroys and burns houses, and drags the country into a civil war. It is also the international community’s duty to unify the opposition forces, support them, and enable them to liberate Syria from oppression and slavery.

Hassan Saleh is the deputy secretary of the Kurdish Yekiti Party in Syria and a member of the Kurdish National Council and former political prisoner.

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