There is no doubt that the Kurdish National Council (KNC) draws its strength and legitimacy from the justice of the Kurdish cause in Syria, and from the support of the Kurdish street for the KNC’s political vision for a future Syria. This vision seeks the fall of the regime as well as a solution to the Kurdish national issue, based on the premise that Kurds and Arabs are partners in the Syrian state and desire the guarantee of national rights for religious, political, and sectarian minorities on which Syrian society is built.
With the birth of the KNC came the goal of mobilizing the potential of the Kurdish people, whether human, political, or ideological, so that the Kurds can effectively contribute to the Syrian people’s revolt against the ruling Ba’ath regime.
The KNC was right to recognize what is happening in Syria as a revolution, and to identify the Kurds with the revolution. The Kurds will play a role not only in bringing about the fall of a regime, but in replacing state political, security, and ideological institutions in order to establish a new, secular, democratic and pluralistic state. This state, which should be politically decentralized to avoid the return of dictatorship and guarantee security and peace to the various nationalist, religious, and sectarian components of Syrian society, should also be at peace with its people, its neighbors, and the international community.
The KNC can be a strong catalyst in bringing about the fall of the Assad regime through its ability to mobilize the Kurdish street, both in Syrian Kurdistan and among the large Kurdish communities in Syrian cities such as Damascus and Aleppo. This kind of mobilization has always been feared by the Syrian regime: In an effort to neutralize the Kurds early on in the revolution, the regime granted citizenship to the deprived Kurds, canceled its “Law 49” of 2008, and turned a blind eye to [illegal] construction projects aimed at job creation in Kurdish areas. Nevertheless, the Kurds did not side with the regime.
In looking at the nature of the Kurdish issue and the secularism of the Kurdish political movement, it is clear that allowing the Kurds to administer their own regions in a united, national, Syrian framework, would allow them to play a stabilizing role in Syria and to be a protecting force of a future democratic state. It would also allow them to contribute to the stabilization of the Syrian-Turkish borders. We must consider the possibility of attacks on Syrian nationalist, religious, and sectarian minorities, and the possibility of a swell in extremist organizations as has occurred in Iraq and other nations in the Middle East and North Africa. Nonetheless, minorities will find a safe haven in the Kurdish-run regions.
The KNC faces enormous pressure by regional powers to accept the Islamist agendas. This can be witnessed at various levels: even the head of the Commission of Islamic Scholars, Sayyed Ali Karadaghi (a Kurd from Iraqi Kurdistan), placed pressure on the KNC to accept the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood according to his interview with Rudaw on March 3, 2012 (published in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdistan region).
The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq is unable to play a shepherding role in this issue. This necessitates direct interaction between the United States, the European Union, and the KNC in addition to Western support for the council if the KNC chooses to participate in the efforts to bring down the Syrian regime. The Kurdish street has not yet found a true supporter, especially in the shadow of Arab political opposition toward the Kurds.
Unfortunately, to this day, Western states, including the United States, have not adopted the necessary urgency with respect to the Kurdish issue, perhaps due to their unfamiliarity with its importance. However, according to the predominant perception of the Kurdish street, this ignorance and neglect toward this nationalist and humanitarian issue stems from the refusal of Western powers to take actions that may provoke the ruling Ba’ath regime, which continues despite the efforts of multiple Kurdish parties to communicate with Western powers in order to convey the Kurdish case to the institutions of these nations.
Until today, Western countries have avoided confronting the Kurdish issue to avoid provoking parts of the Syrian opposition, as well as the Turkish government. Sadly, enemies of the Kurds are not only found in Turkey, but in Syria as well. Despite the economic successes of Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), any positive developments in Syria remain hostage to extremist Turkish views of the Kurdish issue. The creation of the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, under the patronage of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, discriminated against the Kurds and forced the KNC’s delegation to withdraw from the conference.
Only the U.S. State Department, one year and two months after the start of the uprising and over six months after the establishment of the KNC, invited a KNC delegation to Washington on May 7th, 2012. This is certainly a step in the right direction, and we urge European nations and concerned international powers to take similar initiatives.
Abdulbaki Youssef is a member of the political committee of the Yekiti Kurdish Party in Syria and a representative of the Yekiti Party in Iraqi Kurdistan.