Last Updated: Tue Jan 31, 2012 08:57 am (KSA) 05:57 am (GMT)

Syrian Kurds divided on international intervention

Syrian ethnic Kurds demonstrate after Friday prayers in the Syrian town of Qamishli. (Reuters)
Syrian ethnic Kurds demonstrate after Friday prayers in the Syrian town of Qamishli. (Reuters)

Representatives of Syria’s Kurdish community are divided on the issue of seeking a foreign military intervention to help topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is trying to crush a popular uprising.

NATO-led forces, which carried out air strikes in Libya last year after popular protests gave way to an armed uprising, were instrumental in long-time strongman Muammar Qaddafi’s fall.

About 210 Syrian Kurds from 25 countries participated in a conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdistan region in north Iraq, which was held from Saturday to Sunday.

The final statement issued at the conference denounced “the violence of the Syrian security forces against protesters and insisted on the importance of cooperation among Kurds inside and outside Syria.”

Jawad al-Mulla, the radical secretary general of the Kurdish National Congress, called during the meeting for “an (autonomous) Kurdish government in Syria” and said he is in favor of a foreign military operation there.

“International intervention is the only solution because we have already had the experience of Saddam Hussein’s regime, which would never have fallen without outside intervention,” he told AFP, referring to the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled the dictator.

“The Syrian Baath (party) is of the same nature as the Iraqi Baath, and nothing can eliminate it except an outside intervention. This is the only solution,” he said.

Saadeddin al-Mulla, a leader of the al-Likiti party (Democracy in Kurdish), said: “There are already external interventions, notably by Iran and Turkey, so the U.N. must make decisions based on Chapter VII of its charter.”

Chapter VII provides for various measures, including military intervention, in cases of threats to peace or acts of aggression.

But NATO so far has ruled out a Libya-style intervention in Syria.

Going to the U.N. is also the wish of Hamad Darwish, the secretary of the Kurdish Progressive Party of Syria, one of the oldest Kurdish groups in Syria.

“If the Arab League cannot impose its solutions, the file should be passed to the Security Council which cannot remain a spectator in the face of what is happening in the country,” he said.

The Kurdistan Democratic Party in Syria was more circumspect.

“It is too early for an international intervention, and I believe we must seek a national solution before international pressure in the political, economic, media and diplomatic domains,” its leader Abdel Hakim Bashar said.

Syrian Kurds represent about nine percent of the country’s population and are mainly located in the northeast and Damascus, where they form an important minority.

They say they have been the subject of political discrimination for decades, and demand recognition of their language and culture and want to be treated as full citizens.

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