Kurds deserve a fair deal in the new Syria

The situation is being discussed among Turkey, Russia and the US.

By Christiane Waked

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Published: Wed 9 Jan 2019, 6:15 PM

Last updated: Wed 9 Jan 2019, 8:16 PM

Since the announcement of a US withdrawal from Syria on December 19 by US President Donald Trump, the future of the Syrian northern cities has been threatened. During the Syrian war, the Kurdish minority created a state embryo in the north and north-east of the country by establishing an autonomous federal region in the areas it controls. But today, they are at risk of losing those territories.
Afrin, one of the Kurdish major cities, has already fallen into Turkish hands after Turkey took over the city and started imposing its cultural and political influence, naming streets and even schools with Turkish names. Meanwhile, Trump's national security adviser, John R Bolton, rolled back on Trump's decision to rapidly withdraw from Syria, laying out conditions for a pullout that could leave American forces there for months or even years.
The situation is being discussed among Turkey, Russia and the US. However, the Turks have already announced two conditions to prevent another purge against the Kurds that could happen in Rojava. The first one is the handover of around 120 PKK Turkish Kurdish leaders who saw war in Syria as an opportunity to join their armed brothers. And secondly, the Turkish government wants assurance that the guerilla leaders will be placed in prisons in Turkey.
If these conditions are agreed upon, Turkey will guarantee the end of bloodshed in northern Syria in the Kurdish cities and create a buffer zone where all the Kurds will be protected under international supervision.
Circumstances demand that the Kurds place reason over passion and do what's best to save the lives of innocent civilians. Nevertheless, Kurds have to play a wise game and use their regional and international influence well. They should negotiate with both Russia and the Assad regime and seek rights in the new constitution - rights such as teaching Kurmanji, their language in schools as a reminder that in Iraq, Kurds hold an official status and their language is a national language alongside Arabic. Secondly, the Kurds should negotiate for rights that allow them the freedom to live without persecution and have representation in the parliament. Thirdly, Assad must not forget that Kurds could be his best ally against the Muslim Brotherhood influence.
The Kurds lost about 8,000 fighters in their struggle against Daesh. Disregarding this group now would be like showing the green signal to Daesh.
Peace should be regarded as the best solution to stabilise markets and currency. And Syria's reconstruction will not be possible unless all Syrians, including the Kurds, are part of its process.
Christiane Waked is a political analyst based in Beirut

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