Kurdish ‘democratic confederalism’ or counter-revolution in Syria?

Robin Yassin-Kassab writes: The first fact is this: the Kurds have suffered a terrible historical injustice. The Arabs were rightly enraged when Britain and France carved bilad al-Sham (the Levant) into mini-states, then gave one of them to Zionism.

But the post-Ottoman dispensation allowed the Kurds no state at all – and this in an age when the Middle East was ill with nationalist fever. Everywhere the Kurds became minorities in hyper-nationalist states.

Over the years an estimated 40,000 people have been killed in Turkish-Kurdish fighting, most of them Kurds.

In the late 1980s, Saddam Hussein’s genocidal Anfal campaign murdered somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 Iraqi Kurds.

In Syria, where Kurds formed about 10 percent of the population – or around two million people – it was illegal to teach in the Kurdish language.

Approximately 300,000 Kurds (by 2011) were denied citizenship by the state, and were therefore excluded from education and health care, barred from owning land or setting up businesses.

While oppressing Kurds at home, President Hafez al-Assad (Bashar’s father) cultivated good relations with Kurdish groups abroad. This fitted into his regional strategy of backing spoilers and irritants as pawns against his rivals. [Continue reading…]

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