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Syria's Kurds Could Lose Out in Post-Assad Scenario

Monday, Feb. 13, 2012

Although Syria’s Kurds have a long history of opposing the central government in Damascus, they have so far refrained from widespread, proactive participation in the ongoing rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s Baathist regime. However, if they continue to limit themselves to being mere spectators to the unfolding drama, they may well find themselves deprived of any long-term political gains in a post-Assad Syria.

The Kurds’ forbearance to date does not signal a fear of government repression or an unwillingness to make sacrifices. They have demonstrated such willingness on numerous occasions, most recently in 2004-2005, when clashes between civilian protesters and state paramilitary forces left many dead and injured (.pdf). Nor is their inaction premised on a cynical calculation of letting Syria’s Sunni Arabs bear the brunt of the rebellion while taking advantage of an eventual regime change. Rather, three other factors account for why the Kurds have not joined the Sunni majority in the bloody effort to bring down Assad. ...

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