Syrian Kurds are on the verge of genocide - By Shakhawan Shorsh

The Al Nusra Front´s fatwa: “Kurds are Kufar (unbelievers) and killing Kurds, taking their women, plundering their property and destroying of their homes is just and fair.”

The Al Nusra Front and Daulat al-Islam are Islamist groups that are Al Qaeda-linked militia groups and a part of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They have been in open and extreme war against the Kurdish Protection Forces of YPG, which controls most of the Kurdish territory in northern Syria. The Islamists do not differentiate between civilians and fighters, and the groups hold hundreds of Kurdish civilian hostages and have killed tens of them. In one event, around 50 Kurdish men, women, and children were killed in a village near Aleppo. According to the latest reports, tens of women and children were recently killed in the city of Tal Abyad. Civilian Kurds run for their life in fear of the extreme Islamists, who have declared fatwas (religious statements) against the killing of Kurds, as they regard them as Kufar.

The main Kurdish political parties had refused to join the FSA because the FSA had denied the recognition of Kurdish political and cultural rights in a post-Assad regime. However, the Kurds have managed to secure their territory and protect the area form the internal war. Kurdish control over the Kurdish territory disturbs both Turkey and the FSA. Kurdish territory, which is under the control of the YPG, is surrounded by Islamist and FSA forces in the south and west and the Turkish border and forces in the north. Also, it is possible that the eastern border that separates Syrian Kurdish territory from Iraqi Kurdistan has been closed by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). The KDP argues that the border was not closed for humanitarian aims, but the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish human right activists have denied this claim. The humanitarian situation of the Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan is very critical. They are perhaps victims who are waiting for genocide.

But what does this genocidal intention by the Al-Qaida-linked Islamists against the Syrian Kurds tell us? The extreme Islamists not only believe in the rule of Sharia and the creation of an Islamic state, which is comparable with the early Caliphate period, they also believe in the fundamental ideas of the jihad used in the early Islamic expansion period against non-Islam ethnic groups in the Middle East and North Africa in the seventh century. Mohammad the prophet of Islam and his successors regarded the other ethnic groups who refused Islam as Kufar (unbelievers) . A successful strategy that was widely used against the enemies of Islam was to defeat the enemy, take their women, and loot their properties. Women were regarded as war profit, and the Islamic fighters could take them after the defeat of the enemy. The very killing was justified by a suar al-Anfal Quran . In fact, Arab Islamic forces have totally destroyed the enemy and their religion in some cases, for instance, in the destruction of the followers of Zoroastrian and the religion after the defeat of the Sasanian Empire. Thousands of women were brought to Mecca and other cities in Arabia . At that time, nations did not exist, and religion was the most important factor that led to conflict, war, and destruction. 

Thus, the Islamists imitate this strategy but for another aim. They are using the same war strategy, as they compare the Kurds with the unbelievers. We can conclude here as regards the hate speeches of the Islamists that the Islamists regard the Kurds as traitors and the enemy of the Arab revolution and God. Kurds cannot be trusted, and they are agents of Israel and the West. Kurds are unwashed elements in the favored community, and they have to be wiped out totally. The Fatwa that justifies Kurdish destruction came after this position and recognition. Thus, they first remove their human dignity by regarding them as Kufar and traitors; hence, they dehumanize the Kurds as unwashed, impure people. After stamping them as unworthy humans, the Islamists then legitimize annihilation, which is the final solution of the perpetrators. In this way, they justify the killings and destruction. They confiscate the women and children, and they become their slaves or property. The Islamists then can do whatever they want with their property. For example, they can bind the women to their Jaria (a sort of enslavement which was practiced in the early period of Islamic expansion). However, without comprehensive support among the followers of Jihad and their allies, the FSA, the implementation of the destruction cannot be easily accomplished. The Islamists’ current support of FSA and the active or tacit support of Turkey is only a temporary stepping stone to reach the final strategy implementation stage.

But Kurds are Muslims too, so how can they call the Kurds Kufar and declare a fatwa in order to destroy them? Kurds have refused to come under the command of FSA, and the Islamists and Kurdish political parties have created their own rule in the Kurdish territory. They protect the Kurdish territory from the rule of Sharia, which Islamists impose over the territories that come under their control. As mentioned before, Kurds cannot be trusted, and therefore they are traitors in the eyes of the Islamists. Thus, traitors are guilty and not real Muslims, and there must be harsh punishment for their treachery. Accordingly, the words Kufar and traitor remove the Kurds’ Islamic values and human dignity at the same time. For Jihadists, killing the Kufar is an Islamic duty, and they are in Syria to kill the enemies of God.  

On the other hand, Arab ethno-nationalism, which ruled Syria for a half century, has oppressed the Kurds and denied Kurdish political and cultural rights. Kurds did not have a minimum degree of freedom; for instance, they were even rejected citizenship in their own homeland, and Syria denied the existence of a Kurdish territory in Syria. Generally speaking, Arab nationalists had accused Kurds of being agents of Israel and traitors as part of a complot against the Arab nation. Worth mentioning is that Arab nationalism and Islam have a common view of the early Islamic period, as they regard it as a golden age of the Arab nation and an important era in the development of the nation. Arab nationalistic movements, such as Baathism or Gadhafi’s green nationalism, have always referred to Quran verses and the prophet of Islam´s speeches and deeds. Some authors, such as Antony Black, call Mohammad and his followers the first people that “forged a new umma (people, nation); they brought into being at once a sense of Arab nationhood and a new kind of international community.”  Arab ethno-nationalism and Islam is melting into one rigid narrative that can hardly be separated. Thus, Arab ethno-nationalism has its influence on Syrian individuals and Arab Islamists as well. Furthermore, Arab nationalism has without difficulty managed to use Muslim countries in the case of Palestine.  

In actual fact, the potential destruction of the Kurds is not due to religion, and the destruction is not against any other ethnic groups, but it is particularly against the members of the Kurdish community. Kurds have to be killed because they are Kurds. Women and children of the Kurds must be taken as profits of war because they belong to the Kurdish nationality. It does not matter how the Islamists understand it, the destruction of the Kurdish community comes from the willful intention to destroy the Kurds because of their ethnicity.

What happened to the Muslim people of Darfur is being repeated in Syria in another way and with other circumstances. The Darfur people were killed because they were not Arabs, even though they were Muslims and had the same religion as the Arabs in Sudan. The Al Nusra Front and Daulat al-Islam have taken on a similar role as the Arab Janjaweed militia  did in Darfur. The Janjaweeds do the murky jobs for the Islamic government of Sudan, and in the case of Syrian Kurds, the Islamists do the job for the FSA. In fact, what Al-Nusra does is also in the interest of Turkey.  
Not surprisingly, there is not any condemnation of the crime from Turkey or other Muslim countries. This is not the first time the Kurds have experienced the silence of the other Muslim countries. When the Anfal genocide happened in 1988, not a single Arab or non-Arab Muslim country condemned the genocide, not even for the Kurdish Muslim victims. This tacit support repeated in 2004 when the Janjaweeds, supported by the Sudan government, killed hundreds of thousands of innocent Africans in Darfur. They were Muslims too but not Arabs. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) did not condemn the genocide of the Muslim people of Darfur in 2004 .

On the other hand, the civilian killings have happened near the border of Turkey, and there has not been any condemnation by Turkey. Turkey blamed the West for silence toward the killings of Islamic demonstrators of Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey sent a ship of aid to Gaza against Israel´s will. Turkey has tried to show the world that it helps Muslims that need help. Even Turkey does not like the Kurdish rulers of the PYD. The Kurdish people who are facing the killings are innocent defenseless Muslims and human beings.

Let me make it clear here that oppression and killing—committed by anyone at any time under any name anywhere in the world—are not acceptable and violate human rights. We are all human beings regardless of religion, faith, color, and nationality. The comparison is just to show the selectivity that exists according to the national interests of Turkey and other Muslim countries.

The Western countries also have not condemned the killings and have tended to focus especially on the war between the Assad forces and FSA forces. As I wrote before, the internal ethnic war is no less dangerous. I suggest that the ethnic war is much more disturbing because the Kurdish people are under a real threat of genocide that has already begun. There are not any excuses for the silence, and the Kurds need urgent help from the international community.


Top of page

August 13,, 2013
Apple iTunes
Share |