After months of merely tsk-tsking the slaughter in Syria, suddenly there are rumblings that the U.S. is going to assemble an international coalition that will address the civil war in Syria. The ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia were broadly based, but the uprisings in Libya and Syria are largely ethnic and tribal. The international intervention in Libya preserved the ethnic divide, and apparently any intervention in Syria will likewise preserve existing nation-state boundaries that merely divide ethnic and tribal peoples. If so, this is a great opportunity lost.
This map of Syrian provinces does not show the ethnic divide, but the northeastern-most province of al-Hasekeh (shown here as purple) is majority Kurd. Syria is majority Sunni with an Alawite minority government; the Syrian Kurds are a repressed majority in the northeastern province.
When Winston Churchill carved up the Middle East after the Ottoman Empire lost World War I, he gave all but one of the Muslim peoples from Morocco to Arabia to Iran a new nation with a king. The only Muslim people he did not give a country and king were the Kurds. He divided the Kurds when he drew the map lines for Iran, Iraq, Turkey, and Syria, and there they still sit with their own language and culture and traditions, governed by other peoples in Kurdish lands.
It is in the interest of freedom that the Kurds in Syria be recognized as a Kurdish enclave, perhaps as a semi-autonomous region that will eventually join other Kurdish regions as an independent nation-state. Kurd independence is long overdue, and if the U.S. does actually intervene in Syria, righting Churchill’s wrong should be a priority.[Email comments welcome: duoism(at)sbcglobal.net]