Stories | 22 Dec 2014

Leaving aside the ongoing military and regional conflict around "Kobanî" [Ayn Arab] today, the city's resistence to the modern-day Tatars seems to reflect the general defeat and malaise of both elites and political parties, as well as the masses and their culture behind them, both Kurds and Arabs.

On the Kurdish side, the Kobanî issue reflects the following two aspects:

Firstly, The existence of many of the tyranny-producing mechanisms in both the social and political Kurdish components. This is amply reflected in the shift of Kurdish discourse overnight to the "one voice" discourse, backing the Democratic Union Party. This argument holds that it alone is combating ISIS, and is protector of Kurdish nationalism; while simultaneously overlooking any critical view (except wonder, perhaps) discussing the role of the party in matters reaching this point, in the first place. If we were to accept that the reality of war today requires all fighting in the same trench (a true requirement, as defending the innocent is the duty of everyone); one must not forget that what is happening today is a product of the party's wrongful policies. Even perhaps as early as since the formation of the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which accepted to act as a mere tool for the tyrannical Syrian regime against Ankara. The regime exploited rightful Kurdish nationalist aspirations, directing them against Ankara; and when the role of the party ended, it reverted to its same erroneous policies, thus producing the fatal error for which Kobanî pays the price today. It was clear as soon as the "Democratic Union" joined the political axis of "Rejection," that things will not go well for either Arabs or Kurds. The party's policy on the ground bolstered this perception. Firstly, vis-à-vis Kurds through exclusion the Kurdish National Council from active work on the ground; then vis-à-vis other social components, when the party declared "self-management" unilaterally, without any of the political and regional ingredients permitting its existence. It, thus, provided the necessary gaps through which ISIS made its inroads into the region. Having adopted the exlusive logic of force, it caused a rift between the Kurds first, then between Arabs and Kurds. This caused it to squander the national milieu that could have lended it support today; an issue that the party seems to have reluctantly set about addressing, through attempting to reach agreement with other Kurdish forces.

Of far more serious impact here are not merely the party's policies; but the tolerance by a wide spectrum of Kurds of its errors because it fights on their behalf. This is the logic of all totalitarianisms and absolutisms, that depend on wars as tools of creating a "myth" and restore their popularity. Will Kurds provide this totalitarian-structured party what it requires as a prelude to cancel their role later on? Or will they work on dismantling the mechanisms producing tyranny?

Secondly, the extent to which Kurds are lost between the Syrian and Kurdish nationalisms; a matter discenible from their reaction to ISIS' entrance into Kurdish areas, compared to their reaction when it entered other areas. Many Kurdish voices rose questioning the timid—or silent—reaction of many Arabs on what is happening to their city, blithely forgetting that many Kurds' voice was similarly absent when ISIS stormed into Raqqa.

This is logically understandable. When one's own birthplace, where his family and relatives live, comes under assault his reaction will certainly be much more forceful: it touches the lives one has known and experienced very closely. What is not, on the other hand, understandable is pitting the concepts of Kurdish and Syrian [or Arab, for some] nationalisms in confrontation against one another, or to be confounded by both. This overlap threatens to destroy Kurds before anyone else in the future; as looking externally (the Kurdish nation) undermines the very idea of the Syrian national state as a whole. If not linked to a realistic political agenda, we will be in front of a repeat of the lethargic bath Arabs took, placing the nation higher than the state. Noting that the Kurdish situation is far more complex; as the Kurdish nation lays divided between existing states with some history in the region. The establishment of a Kurdish state would entail the dismantling of these existing national states; thus, any error in such process would almost certainly result in a destruction of the Kurds before anyone else. What the Democratic Union Party has committed is equivalent to this deadly political sin.

Herein the failure of Kurdish political elites and parties is amply reflected. They have been, for decades, unable to find a logical solution or a political theory to resolve this problem of nationalism in countries in which Kurds are citizens alongside other national ethnicities and in which the nation is without a state; and a nationalism that does not recognize or respect the boundaries of state in which it exists. This raises many problems now and in the future. Perhaps the entry of non-Syrian Kurds is to fight alongside Kobanî, serves as the inverted logic of Shiite Arabs fighting on behalf of the regime, and Arab and foreign fighters fighting with and for ISIS and al-Nusra. The crux of this logic is, actually, one and the same: nationalism, religion and ethnicity are higher than the state! Herein lies disaster for all.

On the Arab side, the cool and disinterested reaction to the Kobanî crisis proves the weakness and sagging of Syrian Nationalism as a whole; especially in terms of dealing with minorities (whether ethnic or religious). Priority is given to external voices over Syrian nationalism, non-existent in these circles, in military matters. Malice and spite become the overarching policy, when no one bothers to distinguish between the need to stand with Kurds, as an integral part of the Syrian people, and the transgressions of the aforementioned party. It is as if though these Kurds were not Syrian citizens; which is yet another opportunity squandered by the Syrian political elite to make the Kurds deeply feel that they belong to this country.

This is why today we are all losing, Arabs and Kurds. But how can we not lose, when we all are using our Syrian nationalism as a tool to serve either Turkey and the Gulf (the opposition factions) or Iran (the regime and the Workers' Party)?


Opinion articles do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Radio Rozana

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