The situation in the North East of Syria regarding the Kurds seems to be a topic of confusion for most. Understandably so as they have been made to appear by US politicians and news outlets as the most effective fighters against terrorism in Syria. Although they have in fact been successful in driving out terrorists in some areas there is information that needs to be discussed that explains the other half of the story that is purposely hidden in the Kurdish and mainstream media news outlets. We have only been hearing from the Kurdish side now it’s time for the Syrians in Kurdish held areas to have their chance to tell us about the hardships they have been put under by the Kurds.
I have been actively collecting information and conducting interviews with Syrians who live in Kurdish held areas since 2015. Some reached out to me in hopes that their message will reach the West. They have read what the Kurdish and Western mainstream media news says about the situation in their area and are disheartened that the truth is not being told.
As a Syrian America who was born in Al Qamishly and having experienced living there before the war I felt it was my moral obligation to make sure their voices were being heard. In this article the second in a series that focuses on the situation in the lesser known and often misreported North East of Syria we will discuss in more detail how life has changed for Syrians due to the Kurds taking on an illegal leadership role in the area.
Treatment of non-Kurds by the minority Kurd population in Al Hasaka (also referred to as Hasaka) governorate is unethical and criminal.
The minority Kurd population in Qamishly treats the majority non-Kurd population poorly. They are trying to impose their will on everyone by force. They pretty much have the Hasaka governorate under their control and those that oppose them are usually driven out of their homes. They are monopolizing everything for themselves trying to maintain self-Governance. They are placing unqualified people in positions of power, there is no law whatsoever to control the area. They are willing to take anyone who agrees to fight with them, even if they are criminals they get them out of jail immediately so that they can grow their army. PKK fighters were brought into Syria from the Qandil Mountains in Turkey and made managers and heads of institutions in the Hasaka governorate. They are very authoritative and Syrians fear them. Kurds differentiate and provide better treatment to the Yazidi and Kurds that are displaced in Syrian than the Syrian Arabs. All passages from Turkey and North Iraq are under Kurdish control.
The Syrian government condemns separatist Kurdish ambitions and vows to keep Syria united as one country.
Lately, Kurds have been more vocal about their desire to create a federation. The areas they want to claim are Al-Malkiya to Efrin, the entire border line with Turkey including Al-Malkiya, Qamishli, Hassaka, Ein Arab, Al-bab, Efrin, in addition to the rural villages. They have also mentioned that if they are able to liberate Al Raqqah they will add that to their federation. As can be seen in their SDF insignia. The USA’s support to the SDF as was mentioned in more detail in the first article which can be read (here- please insert a link to the first article) has had a negative impact on Syrians and infringed on their sovereignty. USA is preparing to build a second military base in Syria at Tel-Baidar.
SDF soldiers (source: Wikipedia)
SDF insignia (source: Wikipedia)
The NATO-aligned Kurdish minority corrupts the Syrian educational system.
Education which was once an area of pride for the Hasaka region has now become one of the worst catastrophe’s as a result of the Kurds. They have imposed a new school curriculum unaccredited by the Syrian State. Almost all government schools are now under Kurdish control. Kurds are teaching Kurdi in all of the nongovernment elementary schools, next year they will implement this in all middle schools under their control and the following year their plan is to implement this in high schools as well. Syrians in Kurdish areas are not able to study in Kurdi and have either pulled their children out of the Kurdi schools or send their children to Syriac schools which have limited space, at the moment they have 1,800 students. The only other option is to send their children to schools that are government held but farther away from their homes. Even Kurdish teachers are struggling with teaching the Kurdi curriculum. There is one private University Qurtuba in the Hasaka region.
Illegal Western sanctions are benefitting the un-elected Kurdish minority that is imposing its undemocratic will on the community.
All daily activities are monitored by the Kurds. Social life in general has seen a drastic decline. Before the war the streets were bustling with movement and music. Restaurants were opened on every corner. Now people are afraid of assembling for fear of being targeted by terrorists. An example of this took place in Al Qamishly when a restaurant was targeted by a suicide bomber in December 2015 and at least 16 people were killed. Kurds demanding federalism make up 30% of population. Churches and mosques are practicing their religious rituals quite normally. I wrote about a specific Syriac church that one of the individuals I interviewed goes to every Sunday and also included pictures in this article
Living in isolation
The general consensus of Syrians in the Hasaka area is that they feel isolated from the rest of the country. They feel that Syrians in other parts of the country do not know much about their living conditions. The only way to travel outside of the Hasaka region is via plane. The airport in Al Qamishly is operating, but until about a year ago it was simply too expensive for the average citizen to travel via air. An airplane ticket from Al Qamishly to Damascus reached 80,000 Syrian Pounds (3 times the average salary in the country) which would equate to about $160 USD. About a year ago, two new airlines started operating in Syria, so the price decreased and it became more affordable but is still out of many people’s budget.
Efforts to balkanize Syria are increasing the displacement of Syrians and causing Christians to flee Syria
Migration has become a major issue. Just this past month, more than 80 Christian families have left Qamishli, Al-Malikiya and Al-Qahtaniya. Most of those families took asylum in Belgium, Australia and Sweden, and most likely they will not return as long as the situation in the country unstable, said Samir one of my contacts in Al Qamishly . Al-Malkiya is almost empty of Christians now. It is estimated that 50% of Hasaka Christians have left; the majority of those who have left to Turkey were Christians (different ethnicities). Also a fair number of Kurds also left to Turkey.
UN is participating is helping people; teaching governmental curriculum for free to anyone who wants it, distributing food to families in need, and coordinating with different UN organizations operating in Al Hasaka. WFP (World food program) is also providing nutritional support. Also they are implementing development programs, like supporting bread bakeries and maintaining general hygiene. Armenian and Syriac church’s have also been helping citizens but their resources are very limited.
Imperialists are instrumentalizing the Kurdish minority to balkanize Syria, to destroy its nation-state self-determination, to destroy its sovereignty, and to destroy its territorial integrity. These violations derogate international law, and undermine world peace, prosperity, and democracy.
Whereas the Syrian government and its allies are aligned with the forces of international and national law and order, the West and its allies — including all of the terrorists in Syria, and a minority of the Kurdish population – continue to be perpetrators of the highest crimes according to Nuremburg principles.
If the West succeeds in carving out a part of Syria, ostensibly to serve Kurdish interests, more Western military installations will be built on Syrian soil, and the Kurds will soon discover that their new polity, in whatever form it may take, will become a corrupt stooge “government” at the service of Empire.
Sarah Abed is a Syrian American independent investigative political commentator who focuses on exposing the lies and propaganda in mainstream media news and social media. She is a truth advocate who uses her social media accounts and website The Rabbit Hole www.sarahabed.com to counter the fictitious stories and allegations that are part of a well-funded, highly intellectual, emotionally driven media campaign against Syria. Her goal is to help end the war in Syria by educating the masses. She has spoken on radio shows and contributed to news publications.