Conferences : World Congress of KURDISH STUDIES : Eva SAVELSBERG


Section PRESSE
World Congress of

Irbil, 6-9 September 2006

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


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.

(*) European Centre for Kurdish Studies in Berlin