Published:

9 comments

Nadhim ZahawiNadhim Zahawi is the Kurdish-British and Conservative Member of Parliament for Stratford-upon-Avon.

Sadly, the prospects of peaceful reform in Syria are being drowned in blood by a vile regime that is desperately clinging on to the privileges of a minority whilst stirring up tensions between ethnic and confessional identities to continue to divide and rule.

The opposition is bravely facing murderous security forces which execute the wounded if they seek treatment in hospitals.

Opposition figures claim that it unites Muslims and Christians, Sunni and Shia as well as the Alawites which have formed the backbone of the Assad regime. All that is to the good. But there is a large missing ingredient – the Syrian Kurds, who make up 12-15% of the Syrian population. It may be higher, as there has been no census for nearly 50 years.

Revolutions usually contain the seeds of their own success or degeneration in the way they unite disparate forces to confront and overcome tyranny.

The absence of the Kurds from this effort to cool sectarian tensions isn't some arcane point, but a powerful pointer to history repeating itself unless the popular revolution accepts their rights and role in the new Syria.

I recently met a representative committee of the Syrian Kurdish Community in Britain.


They told me that the Kurds have specific aims and interests that stem from over fifty years of oppression by Arab nationalist governments, particularly the ruling Baath Party regime. 

The Assads' regimes have long denied Kurds the right to speak or learn their own language and practice their culture. They have stripped hundreds of thousands of Kurds of Syrian citizenship, arabised Kurdish regions of Syria and denied them economic development.

Thousands of Kurds have been imprisoned, tortured and killed just for being Kurdish.

Since 1957 Syrian Kurds have organised to secure their rights. With the inevitable fall of the ruling regime, the Kurds are determined to secure their national rights and protect themselves from future oppression.

The Kurds seek the immediate removal of the Assad regime and the Ba'ath Party and to bring them to justice.

They do not seek to challenge the territorial integrity of Syria but to exercise their right to self-determination with national, political and cultural rights for Kurds in a pluralistic and secular state.

They argue that the new Syria should give constitutional recognition to Kurdish ethnicity alongside Arab identity. Kurdish should be an official language alongside Arabic.

The new Syria should end discriminatory decrees concerning Kurds and overcome the historic and deliberate neglect of Kurdish areas, including compensation for Kurds affected by the arabisation policies of the Baath regime. All political prisoners should be released.

They also call for an inclusive national conference to draft a new constitution and election law to be agreed in a referendum.

There are parallels to Syria's neighbour, Iraq, which is now overcoming the long shadow of the Ba'athist dictatorship to build a country in which the rights of its Kurds are recognised.

No two places are the same, but the new Syria would greatly benefit from emulating this positive example. The first step is to acknowledge the suffering of the Kurds and to embrace them as full partners in the popular revolution that can deliver a new Syria.

9 comments for: Nadhim Zahawi MP: For Syria’s post-revolution period to be successful, discrimination against Kurds must end

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.