Kurds in Syria: From the Shadows

The struggle to secure and define Iraq deeply affects the affairs of neighbouring countries. As the Kurds in Iraq consolidate their autonomy in Kurdistan and their influence in Baghdad, their fellows across the region are emboldened to openly question relationships with their rulers. In Syria, all forms of opposition have been encouraged by the weakened position of a government feeling many pressures. The Kurds of Syria have emerged from the shadows.

The World Today Published 1 November 2005 Updated 15 October 2020 5 minute READ

Robert Lowe

Having been dominated by the Syrian Arab state and overlooked by comparison with the more vociferous Kurds of Turkey and Iraq, in the last eighteen months the Kurds of Syria have displayed unprecedented confidence in articulating their grievances towards the government.

Demonstrations, violent disturbances and the sustained outspokenness of Kurdish political parties have forced the authorities to consider Kurdish issues. Demands are currently modest but the government response is based on an intransigent hostility because meaningful concessions to Kurds could undermine the basic ideology of the Arab nationalist Ba’athist state.

The very existence of Kurds in Syria has been officially denied. Hence the numbers and even the definition are debatable, but the likely population is around 1.75 million, roughly ten percent of the total and by some margin the largest ethnic minority.

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