Organized by the Kurdish Institute of Paris in partnership with
Salahadin University (Irbil) and with the support of the
Kurdistan Regional Government and of the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs
The Kurds of Syria: From Mandate Period to the Present
Par Eva SAVELSBERG (*)
Whilst many scholars have been working about the
Kurds of Turkey and Iraq, there is hardly any profound research on the Kurds of
Syria. My paper will try to give an overview about the situation of the
Syrian-Kurdish population and its national projects. I will analyse the
development from the Kurdish-Christian autonomous movement of the 1930s, the
very beginning of Syrian-Kurdish nationalism, to the uprising
of March 2003, when anti-Syrian mass demonstrations took place in
the Kurdish settled Syrian North. Thereby, as
different periods as the French Mandate, the post-independence period, the
period of the United Arab Republic, the Syria of Hafiz al-Asad and the term of
office of his son, Baschar al-Asad, will be covered.
How can we explain that there has not been any organised Kurdish
»mass-movement« of resistance against Syrian authorities since the 1930s? Which
role has to be assigned to aspects as state-pressure, assimilation,
collaboration and the attraction of the Kurdish nationalistic movements in Iraq
and Turkey to illuminate this phenomenon? What did
the Kurds of Syria demand in the 1920s and 1930s – what do they demand today?
What has been achieved in those last 86 years since the French army marched
into Damascus in 1920 to drive out Faysal? In how far have structures of
resistance changed – or not changed – since then? Does the uprising of 2003
mark the beginning of a new »era« of Syrian-Kurdish nationalism?
My paper will try to offer some preliminary
answers to those and other, related questions.