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At crossroads the Kurds must find a path.

Summary: Today, more than ever the Kurdish national liberation movement faces daunting challenges as well as historical opportunities for the century long dream of self-determination.

Globe Editorial By Azad Amin As part of the multi-ethnic and multi-religious Ottoman Empire the Kurds like most other Muslim communities had not entertained nationalist ideas. While the Christian communities of the Empire long pressed for a nationalist movement to separate from the Empire, the Muslim communities, Arabs, Turks, Kurds, and Albanians etc opted to remain as part of the Empire and be subject to the Caliphate.

However, at the beginning of the 20th century and particularly following the First World War the nationalist aspirations took root within the Muslim communities throughout the Empire. Though amongst the very limited elite the idea of nationalisms existed, this had never became a mass aspiration. With the dismemberment of the Empire like other Muslim communities the Kurds began entertaining nationalist aspirations and the Kurdish national organization, Kurdistan TealiJamiyeti (est. 1918) asked the Allied powers to recognize Kurdistan independency and the Kurds right to self-determination.

For many internal and external reasons the Kurdish aspirations for self-determination failed to be materialized. The Ottoman's Asiatic territories, in effect, The Middle East, got its political formation according to the then Imperial powers' interests and new political entities under the form of nation-state established in the region. Despite the Kurdish objections and uprisings to this new political formation the Kurdish national movement throughout the century could not obtain their demand for self-rule. As the Middle East had been formed and later with the advent of the Cold War where the regional balance established between opposing global blocks, the Kurdish chance to change the established political borders became even more difficult.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union the global status quo was shattered and the world entered a new phase of formation and global hegemonic struggles. The Arab Spring in the region is part of such global struggles and the geographic and political map of the region is prone to change. A new political formation and status quo will be established. The new status quo will reflect the balance of global and regional actors' interests, vision and powers.

The Kurdish nation in such tectonic changes that is taking place can have opportunities to take their place as sovereign of their own territory, if they adjust their national policy accordingly and develop a coherent strategic policy.

The Kurdish political actors today have more political experience than their ancestors a century before. Part of Kurdistan, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, today enjoys a kind of de facto independence and has successfully established all sorts of institutions essential for statehood. This political entity is the base and source upon which the Kurdish national movement can arise.

History now brought before the Kurds another opportunity to break the chain of oppression in another part of Kurdistan that is Kurdistan of Syria. The political crisis and turbulence in Syria and the civil war between the regime and others have been taking the religious form between Alavis vs Sunnis and reached the point of no return. In other words one way or other in post-civil war Syria there will be a divided country where each ethnic and religious group are in search of securing and protecting their own zones. Syria is not going to keep its integrity and will be prone to either division into religious and ethnic lines or a complete dismemberment.

The Kurds of Syria have no other option than self-determination and geographic federalism or independence. Any idea to believe in a democratic Syria is not only an illusion but self-denial.

The Kurdish position in Syria at this sensitive point has come into confusion. One of the two main factions in Syrian Kurdistan, Democratic Union Party, explicitly entertain the idea of a democratic Syria and opposes any kind of geographic federalism or Kurdish self-determination. PYD also oppose the main symbol of Kurdish nation, the flag of Kurdistan. By failing to delineation of Kurdistan territory and by opposing the Kurdish flag, PYD obliterate the very foundation of Kurdish national unity which is essential for national self-determination.

The minimum demands of the Syrian Kurds should not be less than what the Iraqi Kurds enjoy today, which is federalism based on territory. Any lesser demand would be jeopardizing the Kurdish national interests in Syria at such a historical junction as well as backstabbing the Kurdistan federal region of Iraq.

The historical opportunities that presented themselves should not be wasted with narrow party politics. National self-determination and sovereignty of the nation should be held sacred and nonnegotiable principles upon which the Kurdish national unity can be established.

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Publication:The Kurdish Globe (Erbil, Iraq)
Geographic Code:7SYRI
Date:Nov 21, 2012
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