Northeast Syrian parties condemn Assad’s Kurdish policies

Kurdish and Arab majority parties based in northeast Syria have said in a statement that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s mistaken analysis of the situation in northeast Syria threatened Syria’s unity, news agency ANHA reported on Friday.

Assad on Thursday had said there was no Kurdish issue in Syria, calling the matter “illusive and a lie,” as relayed by news site Rudaw.

“There is nothing called a ‘Kurdish issue’ in Syria for a simple reason: Kurds have been living in Syria throughout history but some [Kurdish] groups who live the north came [to Syria] during the last century due to Turkish [government] oppression,” Assad was quoted by Rudaw as saying.

“The Syrian government’s insistence on an antiquated mentality is not in the interest of the peoples,” the statement by northeast Syrian parties said.

In the “9 years of death, pillaging and migration in Syria,” Assad has not changed his narrative, the statement said. “The mentality that has not learned any lessons from so many deaths has deepened the issue, where it should have provided a response to the pains of the Syrian people.”

Arabs, Kurds, Syriacs and other minorities in northeast Syria had been living in the same lands before the borders of the Syrian state were drawn, the statement said. “When these peoples were abandoned at the hand of dark terrorist forces by the Syrian regime, they defended their dignity and their lands in a national stance.”

Syria had stripped tens of thousands of Kurds of their citizenship in the 1960’s, claiming they had been illegal migrants from neighbouring countries including Turkey.

Peace and trust would remain impossible in Syria “until a democratic Syria is established and the rights of every individual living in Syria are secured,” the statement said, calling for the widespread implementation of a direct democracy-based autonomous administration model created in the northeast under the umbrella of the majority-Kurdish Syrian Democratic Council.

Armed forces under the autonomous administration were established to “fight terrorism on Syrian lands, and not the Syrian state,” as “the regime was no longer able to defend its own lands,” the statement said.

The Syrian government approaches the Kurdish issue in agreement with Turkey, and “acts according to the plans of those who wish to pillage our country’s lands, and continuously threaten massacres and the fracturing of the country, like (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan,” it said.

Syrian government forces had, for the majority of the decade-long conflict, refrained from direct confrontation in Syria’s northeast, majority-Kurdish region as they focused on fighting ISIS and other jihadist groups elsewhere in the country. They reached a limited agreement with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, affiliated with the Syrian Democratic Council, in the aftermath of Turkey’s October incursion into the area, and reinstated the Syrian national army along the border with Turkey.