de facto autonomous region in Syria
(Redirected from Western Kurdistan)

Rojava, or Western Kurdistan, or Syrian Kurdistan, is a part of divided Kurdistan in the Middle East. It consists of three areas called 'cantons' in Northern Syria but the Syrian government is not in control there. Instead, since a revolution which happened early on in the Syrian Civil War, it has had its own independent government, although it does not claim to be a new independent country, calling itself a 'federal autonomous region' inside of Syria instead.

Flag of Rojava
Syrian Kurdistan and the nearby lands seen from the International Space Station, looking east
Rojava, 2016

Many people in Rojava are Kurds, but there are also many different ethnic groups living there, such as Turkmen, Arabs, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Yezidis. Kurds are the largest ethnic minority group in Syria. Before the civil war, many human rights organizations such as Amnesty International said that the Syrian government treated the Kurds very poorly. Kurds in Syria are not allowed to officially use the Kurdish language, and also not allowed to register children with Kurdish names, start businesses that do not have Arabic names, build Kurdish private schools, or publish any books or other materials written in Kurdish. But this is no longer enforced due to the civil war.

This gave the Kurds many reasons to support a revolution against the government. They also needed to organize an army to defend themselves from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) which almost took control of Rojava because the government could not defend it due to the civil war. ISIL is still at war with Rojava. As of 2017, there is a truce between Rojava and the Syrian government. The United States have given money and weapons to Rojava to help defeat ISIL but some say that they are supporting ISIL.

Rojava is claiming to be a democracy. It has a constitution which says that women's rights and the rights of ethnic and religious minorities have to be respected. In the Middle East this is very unusual. There are two military organisations one for men, the YPG, and an army for women, the YPJ.


The Kurds are the largest ethnic group (group of people) in the world that does not have its own state.[1] The Kurds are traditionally nomadic (with no fixed living place) and live in a region in Asia called Kurdistan.[1] Most of Kurdistan is mountainous.[1] There are parts of Kurdistan in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and in Syria.[1] There is discussion in academia about the origins (start) and migrations (movements of people) of the Kurds in history.[2] Many other groups have also lived in Kurdistan in the past.[2] The ancestors of modern Kurds probably arrived in Iran in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC.[2] Kurdistan was part of the empire of the Medes, then the Achaemenid Empire, the Seleucid Empire, the Roman and Byzantine empire, and then the Sassanid Empire.[3]

In the 7th century AD, the Muslim conquests of the Ancient Near East meant that Kurdistan became part of the Rashidun Empire.[4] The Kurdish tribes (social groups) in Upper Mesopotamia and the western Iranian plateau fought against the attacking armies for a time.[4] Most Kurds became part of the Shafi`ite division of Islam.[4] In the three centuries after this, some Kurds gained some autonomy (self-rule) for their culture and politics, in the time of the Umayyad Caliphate and the following Abbasid Caliphate.[4]

The Kurdish Ayyubid dynasty (line of rulers) rose to power in the 10th century, as the power of the Abbasid Caliphate fell.[5] The first Ayyubid ruler was Saladin. He was greatly famous for taking back Jerusalem for the Muslims in the Siege of Jerusalem in 1187.[6] His empire took over much of Syria and the Near East.[6] In 1193, Saladin died and was buried in Damascus, where some of his soldiers then chose to live.[7] The "Kurdish quarter" (an area in the city) where these soldiers lived was a place where Kurdish language and culture was in existence into the 20th century.[7] In the 11th century, Krak de Chevaliers, a castle (military building made strong against attack) in the Alawite Mountains, was named "fortress of the Kurds" or "Castle of the Kurds".[8]

The armies of the Mongol Empire attacked Ayyubid Syria in the middle of the 13th century.[9] The Mamluks overcame the Mongols at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260.[9] In the early 16th century, the Mamluks lost control of Syria when the Ottoman Empire overcame them in war.[9]

Sharaf Khan Bidlisi wrote the Sharafnama in 1596.[10] The Sharafnama was an epic history of the Kurds from the 13th century to the late 16th century.[10] In the Saharfnama, Sharaf Khan Bidlisi wrote that Kurdistan was the country between the Persian Gulf and the vilayets (local government areas) of Malatya and Marash (modern Kahramanmaraş).[10] Sharaf Khan Bidlisi thought that the Lurs people were Kurds and that Kurdistan was very large.[10] He wrote that parts of the vilayets of Diyarbakır, Mosul, "Persian Iraq", "Arabic Iraq", Fars Province, Azerbaijan, Lesser Armenia, and Greater Armenia were part of Kurdistan.[10] Ahmad Khani wrote the Mem û Zîn in 1692.[10] He wrote that Kurdistan was about the same size.[10] Haji Qadir Koyi wrote poetry in the 19th century.[10] He wrote that northern Syria was part of Kurdistan.[10] He also wrote that Kurdistan contained the cities of Nusaybin (ancient Nisibis) and Alexandretta (İskenderun). Alexandretta is a port (harbour city) on the Mediterranean Sea.[10]

At the start of the 17th century, the Ottoman Sultans ordered Kurds from different parts of their empire to move to the area around the Euphrates river.[11] These Kurds were told to live on both sides of the river.[11] The western side of the river and the town of Kobanî were where most of these Kurds lived afterwards.[11] In the 18th century, some of these Kurdish people in Greater Syria (also named Bilad al-Sham) kept their Kurdish culture and their relations with Kurds in other parts of Kurdistan.[11] Other Kurdish tribes were assimilated (taken in) by Arab tribes who also lived there.[11]

Flag of the French State of Aleppo
Flag of the French State of Syria

French Syria (1920–1946)Edit

The result of World War I (1914—1918) was very important for the history of the Kurds.[12] The Triple Entente overcame the Ottoman Empire, and the lands where Kurdish people lived before the war were separated.[13] The lands were cut by the borders belonging to the new countries of Iraq, Turkey, and Syria.[13] In 1916, the United Kingdom and French Third Republic had secretly agreed on how to share the territory in the Near East in the Sykes–Picot Agreement.[14] The agreement was used to decide the borders for a long time.[15] This was very influential and important, and stayed in the memory of Kurdish people as a betrayal by imperialism.[15]

When the fighting was completed in World War I and the Arab Revolt, Britain and France suggested a Kurdish state could be set up. However, neither country wanted to pull back their armies from the lands that had been Ottoman (the Occupied Enemy Territory Administration).[16] In late 1919, the French Armed Forces fought their first battle with the Kurds, in the Kurd Mountains.[17] In this campaign (military operation), the French soldiers soon won victory, but they also had to fight Kurds in al-Jazira, and there they did not succeed so easily.[17]

The British and French governments did not want to move their armies back, and because of this they said any Kurdish state would have to be in parts of Kurdistan controlled by Turkey in August 1920, when the Ottomans, British, and French all signed the Treaty of Sèvres.[16] The Turks did not fully agree to (ratify) this treaty (agreement between nations), but it would have brought into existence a small independent Kurdistan under French control (suzerainty).[18] This state, which did not become a material fact, would have been without the Kurdish lands in Iraq, Iran, or Syria.[18]

The Turkish National Movement led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the Kemalists (supporters of Atatürk) did not agree to the Treaty of Sèvres.[19] After they fought the Franco-Turkish War, France and Turkey signed the Treaty of Ankara in 1921.[20] This treaty meant that the border between French-controlled Syria and the new Republic of Turkey was moved further south than had been agreed in the Treaty of Sèvres.[20] Turkey and France both tried to make good relations with tribes in the border area, hoping that they would help to get control over the land.[17]

In 1923, Turkey and the great powers (most powerful nations) agreed the Treaty of Lausanne.[21] This treaty meant that no independent Kurdistan or Kurdish state would come into existence.[21] Instead, the Kurdish areas of the old Ottoman Empire were separated by the border between Turkey to the north, and British Iraq and French Syria to the south.[21] The new border between Turkey and Syria was agreed to be the railway line running through the area: the part of the Berlin–Baghdad railway line that went between the cities of Aleppo and Mosul.[22] The north side of the railway became Turkey, and the south side became French Syria.[22] This meant that Arab areas were left in Turkey and Kurdish areas in Syria.[22] Thomas Schmidinger, a German cultural anthropologist wrote that modern Rojava, or Syrian Kurdistan, came into existence as "a waste product of the colonial division of the Middle East" south of the Berlin–Baghdad railway line.[23][24][25] From then until the present day, Kurdish people do not see themselves as "Syrian" or "Turkish".[26] For Kurds in Turkey, Syria is "below the line" (Kurdish: Bin Xhet‎) on the map, but for Kurds in Syria, Turkey is "above the line" (Kurdish: Ser Xhet‎).[26]

1900s photograph of the Berlin–Baghdad railway crossing the Euphrates river at Jarabulus. The railway was later the Syria–Turkey border, separating Syrian Kurdistan from Turkish Kurdistan.

On the south side of the railway line, in French Syria, some mostly Kurdish areas came under the control of France. These Kurdish areas were around the Kurd Mountains (Kurd-Dagh), around the town of Jarabulus, and the lands in Upper Mesopotamia (the Northern Jazira).[27] They had been given to France after World War I. From the start of French control in Syria, the geography of these separated areas was very important for their later history.[27] According to the historian Jordi Tejel, "These three Kurdish enclaves constituted … a natural extension of Kurdish territory into Turkey and Iraq".[27]

The new borders meant that the Kurdish people in the area were divided into two groups, with two different governments. However, they were able to come and go across the border: there was at first no material separation.[26] However, events in Turkey had deep effects on Syrian Kurds.[26] Many Kurds ran away from Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s because of repression by the Kemalist government.[28] The Kurds in Turkey rose up against the government in the Sheikh Said rebellion (1925) and the Ararat rebellion (1927–1930).[28] These uprisings failed, and after them many Kurds ran away from the Turkish government, coming to live in Syria.[28] The French government in Syria, led by the High Commissioner of the Levant in Beirut, tried to improve the profits from land in the Jazira by making these Kurdish refugees live there.[29] The government hoped to make their control over Syria more popular in France, where the population disliked French colonialism in Syria.[29] France's military operations were made more difficult by propaganda supporting Turkey which the Turks gave to the Kurdish and Arab tribes.[11] There was fighting against the French in the Jazira until 1926.[11]

The French government's settlement of Kurdish refugees in the Jazira made Kurdishness a political subject in Syria.[29] By 1927, there were 47 villages in the Jazira whose population had a Kurdish majority.[11] The population of Kurds and the number of Kurdish villages both increased in the 1918–1939 Interwar period (between World War I and World War II).[11] The Kurds coming from outside Syrian Kurdistan meant that the Kurdish population in the Jazira increased even more.[27]

The brothers Celadet Bedir Khan and Kamuran Alî Bedirxan started to use the Latin alphabet, which then became normal in Syrian Kurdistan and in Turkish Kurdistan.[30] At the start, French Syria's Kurds mostly spoke Kurmanji, a Kurdish language spoken in the north of Kurdistan.[30] In French Syria, Kurds lived both in the three enclaves of Syrian Kurdistan and outside them, in the rest of Syria.[27] There were large Kurdish populations in the biggest cities (Aleppo and Damascus), and there were also Kurdish nomads (people with no fixed living place) and Yazidi Kurds on the hills of Jabal Sam'an.[27] The Kurds' lands were discontinuous and Kurdish populations were a mixture.[27] Kurdish refugees from Turkish Kurdistan and Iraqi Kurdistan helped the Kurds become active in political work.[27] A political movement of "pan-Kurdism" (for all the Kurds) started to come into existence, together with different Kurdish identities.[27]

In 1924, Kurdish delegate from the Kurd Mountains made a petition to the French Syrian government, requesting for self-rule in Kurdish-majority lands in French Syria.[31] In 1927, Kurds from Turkish land started Xoybûn in Beirut. Xoybûn was an important pan-Kurdish political movement making early arguments for Kurdish nationalism.[32] Xoybûn supported a military resistance in Turkish Kurdistan, but in French Syria, Xoybûn worked for self-rule in Syrian Kurdistan.[32] Xoybûn were popular in Syrian Kurdistan and Xoybûn delegates were elected from Kurd Dagh, Jarabulus, and the Jazira in the elections of 1931.[33] The French government refused Xoybûn's requests for self-rule.[34]

Flag of the Syrian Republic from 1930: used after Syrian independence (1946–1958)

In 1936, the French government and the First Syrian Republic made an agreement on Syria's independence from France: the Franco-Syrian Treaty of Independence.[33] World War II meant that this process was not completed.[33] After the Battle of France, Nazi Germany occupied France, and Syria came under the control of Vichy France.[33] When Syria was captured by the Allies of World War II in 1941's Syria–Lebanon campaign, they accepted the Syrian Republic's independence and sovereignty (right to self-rule).[33] Xoybûn had worked all through the war, but they disbanded in 1946.[33]

Flag of the United Arab Republic (1958–1961) and of the Syrian Arab Republic (1980–present)

Syrian Republic (1946–1963)Edit

Syria was given independence in 1946.[35] The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria (KDPS) was formed in 1957.[36] They were the first Kurdish national political party in Syria, and worked to better the lives of Syrian Kurds.[36] The KDPS did not request the independence of Syrian Kurdistan, and worked for a "Syrianized" agenda.[36]

Oil was discovered in Syrian Kurdistan in the 1960s. At the same time, events in Iraqi Kurdistan meant that the lives of the Kurdish population Syria became much worse.[37] In August 1961, the Syrian government ordered a special census of al-Jazira Province in November that year.[37] By the time the census was done, the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan had risen up to claim self-rule.[37] The census took away Syrian citizenship and civil rights from about 120,000 Kurds in al-Jazira Province.[37] The government decree (order) in August 1961 said that Kurds were "illegally infiltrating" from Turkish Kurdistan into Syria, in order to "destroy its Arab character".[37] The Kurdish lands in the Kurd Mountains were not changed by this census, and Kurdish people there kept their citizenship and were not made stateless.[38]

In 1962 the Syrian government started the Arab Belt plan to "save Arabism" and stop the "Kurdish threat".[37] The Arab Belt plan was to move the Kurdish population away from the Syria–Turkey border.[37] In the Kurds' place, the government would move more Arabs onto the land.[37] The Kurds would be moved to other parts of Syria, away from one another.[37] The government's decision was made after the discovery of an oil field at Qaratchok, in the Kurdish Jazira.[37] Much of the land in the Arab Belt was fertile arable land (for growing crops) and had rich oil fields.[39] More than half (50–60 percent) of all the petroleum in Syria is near Derik in the Jazira.[39]

Flag of Syria (1963–1972)
Flag of the Ba'ath Party
Flag of the Federation of Arab Republics (1971–1977), used by Syria (1972–1980)

Syrian Arab Republic (1963–2011)Edit

Things became worse for the Kurdish population when the ultra-nationalist Ba'ath Party of Michel Aflaq took power by a coup d'état in Damascus in March 1963.[40][41] In November, the party published a pamphlet named Study of the Jezireh Provnce in its National, Social, and Political Aspects and written by the al-Jazira Province's chief of police, Mohamed Talab Hilal.[40] Hilal was an Arab nationalist, and said he used "anthropological" arguments to "prove scientifically" that Kurds "do not constitute a nation".[40] He wrote that "the Kurdish people are a people without history or civilization or language or even definite ethnic origin of their own. Their only characteristics are those shaped by force, destructive power and violence, characteristics which are, by the way, inherent in all mountain populations".[40] Hilial also wrote in the pamphlet that "The Kurds live from civilization and history of other nations. They have taken no part in these civilizations or in the history of these nations."[40] The Ba'ath Party's pamphlet had twelve plans to Arabize (make Arab) al-Jazira Province. The planned steps were:[42][43]

  1. dispossession (batr) – the Kurds were to be moved off the land and made to live somewhere different
  2. obscurantism (tajhil) – education of the Kurds was to be stopped, including teaching in Arabic language
  3. famine (tajwii) – Kurds were to be taken out of employment
  4. extradition – refugees from Turkish Kurdistan were to be handed over into Turkish custody
  5. factionalism – arguments between Kurdish political groups were to be encouraged, to weaken them by divide and rule
  6. the Arab Belt (hizam) – Arabs were to be moved onto old Kurdish lands, as the government had planned in 1962
  7. colonization (iskan) – "pure and nationalist Arabs" were to be moved into Syrian Kurdistan so Kurds might be "watched until their dispersion"
  8. the Syrian Army was to be sent to the lands in the Arab Belt, to help the government complete the plan
  9. "socialization" – "collective farms" (mazarii jama'iyya) were to be built on the Kurds' old lands. Arabs would be brought to live in them and given training and weapons by the government
  10. "anybody ignorant of the Arabic language" was to be stopped from voting in elections or holding political office
  11. Kurdish ulemas (Muslim religious teachers) were to be moved away to the south and replaced with Arabs
  12. "a vast anti-Kurdish campaign amongst the Arabs" was to be begun by the government

Many of these steps were taken over the following years and the Arab Belt continued to be the government's plan.[44] The 120,000 Kurds of al-Jazira Province whom the government decided were non-Syrians could not get education or health care, and could not marry or vote.[44] They could, however, be conscripted into the Syrian military. They could be sent to fight on the Golan Heights (lands fought over by Syria and Israel).[44] These Kurds were victims of the Arab Belt plan. The government planned to move 140,000 Kurds off their land and move Arabs onto it.[44] In 1966, the government was considering doing the same in the Kurd Mountains.[44] (Like all of Syrian Kurdistan, the Kurd Mountains are on the Syria–Turkey border, and they are to the west of the areas first named as Arab Belt land.) In 1967, the lands of Kurds in al-Jazira Province were nationalized by a law named the Plan to establish model state farms in the Jezireh Province.[45] This was a euphemism for the Arab Belt plan.[45] The Six-Day War meant that the plan was not fully completed.[45] Many of the Kurds did not leave their lands when the government ordered them to do so.[45] In 1975, the Syrian government built forty "model villages" in the Arab Belt area, and moved in 7,000 armed Arab peasant families to live in them.[46] The government built the "model villages" in an area stretching from Amuda to Derik, with some near Qamishli.[46] The government gave Derik (a Kurdish name) the new Arabic language name al-Malikiyah.[46] Water from the new Lake Assad flooded the lands of Arabs living in the Euphrates valley when Syria built the Tabqa Dam.[46] The Arabs whose lands were flooded were moved to the mostly Kurdish al-Jazira Province.[46]

The Ba'athist government moved slowly, in order not to get attention from other countries.[47] The government suppressed Kurdish culture, harassed Kurdish people, and confiscated Kurdish literature and Kurdish music.[47] The government sent people in the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Syria to jail for years for what the government said were "anti-Arabist" crimes.[48] Official government documents in Syria do not mention Kurds or other non-Arab people.[49] There were Kurdish people in the People's Council of Syria (the legislature of Syria), but the official identity was Arab-only for everyone in the Syrian Arab Republic.[49] Between 1965 and 1975, 30,000 Kurds left al-Jazira Province to escape persecution or look for work.[44] According to Kurds, the government took 6,552,700 acres (26,518 km2) of land away from Kurdish farmers in al-Jazira Province: the government was following Hilal's plan.[50][51]:384 In the Kurd Mountains, the government's land reforms mostly redistributed land to Kurdish farmers, but in other parts of Syria, the government took many Kurds' lands and gave them to Arabs.[38] Even in the Kurd Mountains, which were outside the lands of the Arab Belt in al-Jazira Province, all schools taught in Arabic language only and Kurdish language was marginalized in public life.[38]

In 1976, Hafez al-Assad stopped the Arab Belt plan going any further by not building any more Arab villages. The villages the government had built and the Arabs the government had moved stayed where they were.[52] Kurdish music was again heard and official harassment became less intense.[52] The position of Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan was related to the changing political positions of Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan.[52] In 1977, the government changed all Kurdish language place names in the Kurd Mountains to official Arabic language names, as in other parts of Syria.[38] The 120,000 Kurds whose citizenship the Syrian government removed in 1961 – and all their descendants – were not given official documents or passports. The government was still conscripting these Kurds into the Syrian military in the 21st century.[53]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Maisel 2018, pp. xii-xiii; Phillips 2017, p. xvii.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Aydin 2018, p. 19; McDowall 2004, p. 8.
  3. Neggaz & Majed 2020, pp. viii-ix; Aydin 2018, pp. 19-20.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Aydin 2018, p. 20; Bajalan 2018, p. 4.
  5. Aydin 2018, p. 20.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Aydin 2018, p. 20; Bajalan 2018, p. 5; Lange 2018, p. 277.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tejel 2020, p. 252; Aydin 2018, p. 20; Bajalan 2018, pp. 6-7; Lange 2018, p. 277; Allsopp 2016, p. 29.
  8. Lange 2018, p. 277; Gunter 2014, p. 8.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Bajalan 2018, pp. 6-8; Lange 2018, p. 277.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 10.8 10.9 Tejel 2020, p. 248.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 11.7 11.8 Tejel 2020, pp. 252-253.
  12. Aydin 2018, p. 21; Bajalan 2018, p. 15; Maisel 2018, p. xiii.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Kwarten 2020, pp. 237-238; Aydin 2018, p. 21; Bajalan 2018, pp. 16-17; Maisel 2018, p. xiii; Gunter 2014, p. 7.
  14. Kwarten 2020, pp. 233-234; Aydin 2018, p. 21; Phillips 2017, p. 67; Gunter 2014, pp. 8-9.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Kwarten 2020, pp. 233-234, 237; Gunter 2014, p. 9.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Bulloch, John; Morris, Harvey (1992). No Friends But the Mountains: The Tragic History of the Kurds. Oxford University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-19-508075-9. The British and the French made it clear from the outset that they were unwilling to surrender those parts of Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan which fell under their control, and that an independent Kurdistan, if such an entity were to be created, would have to be in what was still Turkish territory.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Tejel 2020, p. 252.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Kwarten 2020, pp. 237-238; Bajalan 2018, pp. 16-17; Maisel 2018, p. xiii.
  19. Kwarten 2020, p. 238; Tejel 2020, p. 252; Bajalan 2018, pp. 16-17.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Kwarten 2020, p. 237; Tejel 2020, p. 252; Aydin 2018, p. 21; Bajalan 2018, p. 17.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Kwarten 2020, p. 238; Aydin 2018, p. 21; Bajalan 2018, p. 17; Maisel 2018, p. xiii; Gunter 2014, p. 9.
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 Kwarten 2020, p. 238; Tejel 2020, pp. 251-252; Bajalan 2018, p. 17; Gunter 2014, p. 9.
  23. Schmidinger, Thomas (2018-06-20). Rojava: Revolution, War and the Future of Syria's Kurds. Translated by Schiffmann, Michael. Pluto Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctv1qv2bm. ISBN 978-1-78680-254-5. JSTOR j.ctv1qv2bm.
  24. Glioti, Andrea (2019-09-04). "Review of Thomas Schmidinger, Rojava: Revolution, War, and the Future of Syria's Kurds". New Middle Eastern Studies. 9 (2). doi:10.29311/nmes.v9i2.3247. ISSN 2051-0861.
  25. Kwarten 2020, pp. 237-238: "South of the railway, Syrian Kurdistan was born as 'a waste product of the colonial division of the Middle East', as the German cultural anthropologist Thomas Schmidinger elegantly described it."
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 26.3 Gunter 2014, p. 9.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 27.6 27.7 27.8 Tejel 2020, pp. 251-252.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Tejel 2020, pp. 252-253; Bajalan 2018, p. 17; O'Leary 2018; Phillips 2017, p. 67; Gunter 2014, p. 7.
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 Tejel 2020, p. 253.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Berberoglu 1999, p. 84: "Then, in the 1920s, the Bedirkhan brothers introduced the Latin alphabet, which became standard in Turkish and Syrian Kurdistan."
  31. Tejel 2020, p. 254.
  32. 32.0 32.1 Phillips 2017, p. 68; Tejel 2020, pp. 253-254.
  33. 33.0 33.1 33.2 33.3 33.4 33.5 Phillips 2017, p. 68.
  34. Phillips 2017, p. 68; Tejel 2020, p. 254.
  35. Kwarten 2020, p. 238.
  36. 36.0 36.1 36.2 Tejel 2009, p. 86.
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 37.3 37.4 37.5 37.6 37.7 37.8 37.9 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. The Kurds were suspected of being "in league" with the Kurds of Iraq, who had just launched the September 1961 insurrection aimed at securing autonomous status within an Iraqi framework. On August 23, 1961, the government promulgated a decree (no. 93) authorizing a special population census in Jezireh Province. It claimed that Kurds from Turkish Kurdistan were "illegally infiltrating" the Jezireh in order to "destroy its Arab character". The census was carried out in November of that year; when its results were released, some 120,000 Jezireh Kurds were discounted as foreigners and unjustly stripped of their rights as Syrian nationals. In 1962, to combat the "Kurdish threat" and "save Arabism" in the region, the government inaugurated the so-called "Arab Cordon plan" (Al Hizam al-arabi), which envisaged the entire Kurdish population living along the border with Turkey. They were to be gradually replaced by Arabs and would be resettled, and preferably dispersed, in the south. The discovery of oil at Qaratchok, right in the middle of Kurdish Jezireh, no doubt had something to do with the government's policy.
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 38.3 Schmidinger, Thomas (2019) [2018]. The Battle for the Mountain of the Kurds: Self-Determination and Ethnic Cleansing in the Afrin Region of Rojava [Kampf um den Berg der Kurden: Geschichte und Gegenwart der Region Afrin]. Translated by Schiffmann, Michael. PM Press. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-62963-655-9.
  39. 39.0 39.1 Cite error: The named reference YEP4e was used but no text was provided for refs named (see the help page).
  40. 40.0 40.1 40.2 40.3 40.4 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. p. 199. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. In March 1963, Michel Aflaq's Baath Party came to power. Its socialism was soon shown to be mainly of the national variety. The Kurds' position worsened. In November 1963, in Damascus, the Baath published a Study of the Jezireh Provnce in its National, Social, and Political Aspects, written by the region's chief of police, Mohamed Talab Hilal. ... Hilal had set out to "prove scientifically", on the basis of various "anthropological" considerations, that the Kurds, "do not constitute a nation". His conclusion was that "the Kurdish people are a people without history or civilization or language or even definite ethnic origin of their own. Their only characteristics are those shaped by force, destructive power and violence, characteristics which are, by the way, inherent in all mountain populations." Furthermore: "The Kurds live from civilization and history of other nations. They have taken no part in these civilizations or in the history of these nations."
  41. Kwarten 2020, pp. 238-239; Maisel 2018, p. xiv; Allsopp 2016, p. 31; Gunter 2014, pp. 7-8.
  42. Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 199–200. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. A zealous nationalist, Hilal proposed a twelve-point plan, which would first be put into operation against the Jezireh Kurds: (1) a batr or "dispossession" policy, involving the transfer and dispersion of the Kurdish people; (2) a tajhil or "obscurantist" policy of depriving Kurds of any education whatsoever, even in Arabic; (3) a tajwii or "famine" policy, depriving those affected of any employment possibilities; (4) an "extradition" policy, which meant turning the survivors of the uprisings in northern Kurdistan over to the Turkish government; (5) a "divide and rule" policy, setting Kurd against Kurd; (6) a hizam or cordon policy similar to the one proposed in 1962; (7) an iskan or "colonization" policy, involving the implementation of "pure and nationalist Arabs" in the Kurdish regions so that the Kurds could be "watched until their dispersion"; (8) a military policy, based on "divisions stationed in the zone of the cordon" who would be charged with "ensuring that the dispersion of the Kurds and the settlement of Arabs would take place according to plans drawn up by the government"; (9) a "socialization" policy, under which "collective forms", mazarii jama'iyya, would be set up for the Arabs implanted in the regions. These new settlers would also be provided with "armament and training"; (10) a ban of "anybody ignorant of the Arabic language exercising the right to vote or stand for office"; (11) sending the Kurdish ulemas to the south and "bringing in Arab ulemas to replace them"; (12) finally, "launching a vast anti-Kurdish campaign amongst the Arabs".
  43. McDowell 2004, p. 475"Hilal proposed a twelve point plan to destroy the coherence of the Kurdish community: (i) displacement of the Kurds from their lands; (ii) denial of education; (iii) return of 'wanted' Kurds to Turkey; (iv) denial of employment opportunities; (v) an anti-Kurdish propaganda campaign; (vi) replacement of local Kurdish 'ulama [religious clerics] with Arab ones; (vii) 'divide and rule' policy within the Kurdish community; (viii) Arab settlement of Kurdish areas; (ix) establishment of an Arab cordon sanitaire along the border with Turkey; (x) the establishment of collective farms for Arab settlers; (xi) the denial of the right to vote or hold office to anyone lacking Arabic; (xii) denial of Syrian citizenship to non-Arabs wishing to live in the area."
  44. 44.0 44.1 44.2 44.3 44.4 44.5 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. Many of the measures listed above were put into practice. The 120,000 Kurds classified as non-Syrian by the "census" suffered particularly heavily. Although they were treated as foreigners and suspects in their own country, they were nonetheless liable for military service and were called up to fight on in the Golan Heights. However, they were deprived of any other form of legitimate status. They could not legally marry, enter a hospital or register their children for schooling.
  45. 45.0 45.1 45.2 45.3 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. The euphemistically renamed "Plan to establish model state farms in the Jezireh Province", the so-called "Arab Cordon" plan, was not dropped in the years that followed. Under the cover of "socialism" and agrarian reform, it envisaged the expulsion of the 140,000 strong peasantry, who would be replaced with Arabs. In 1966, there were even thoughts of applying it seriously, and perhaps extending it to the Kurd-Dagh. But those Kurdish peasants who had been ordered to leave refused to go. In 1967 the peasants in the Cordon zone were informed that their lands had been nationalized. The government even sent in a few teams to build "model farms" until the war against Israel forced it momentarily to drop its plans.
  46. 46.0 46.1 46.2 46.3 46.4 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. The little town of Derik lost its Kurdish name and was officially restyled Al-Malikiyyeh.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. The plan was carried out gradually, so as not to attract too much attention from the outside world. The Kurds were subjected to regular administrative harassment, police raids, firings and confiscation orders. Kurdish literary works were seized, as were records of Kurdish folk music played in public places.
  48. Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. Syrian KDP leaders were imprisoned for years, charged with "anti-Arabist actions".
  49. 49.0 49.1 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. True the Assembly retained a certain number of Kurdish deputies, but they could not stand as such since the official fiction decreed that all Syrian citizens are Arabs. In all the official publications of the Syrian Arab Republic, the Kurds - and every other non-Arab group - are never mentioned. Since the Republic is Arab, the Kurds must be as well.
  50. Allsopp, Harriet (2015). The Kurds of Syria : political parties and identity in the Middle East. London: I. B. Tauris. pp. 25–28. ISBN 978-0-85773-970-4. OCLC 1021173614.
  51. Knapp, Michael (2018). Gunter, Michael M. (ed.). Routledge Handbook on the Kurds (1st ed.). Abingdon; New York: Routledge. pp. 382–395. doi:10.4324/9781315627427-29. ISBN 978-1-315-62742-7.
  52. 52.0 52.1 52.2 Nazdar, Mustafa (1993) [1978]. "The Kurds in Syria". In Chaliand, Gérard (ed.). Les Kurdes et le Kurdistan [A People Without a Country: The Kurds and Kurdistan]. Translated by Pallis, Michael. London: Zed Books. pp. 200–201. ISBN 978-1-85649-194-5. However in 1976, President Assad officially renounced any further implementation of the plan to transfer the population, and decided "to leave things as they are". The Kurdish peasants would not be harassed any more, and no further Arab villages would be built on their lands. But the villages which had already been built would stay, as would the newcomers transplanted from the Euphrates Valley. The radio began to broadcast Kurdish music and the Kurds in the country felt much safer. They wondered, however, if this was the beginning of a new policy vis-a-vis the Kurds of Syria or if it was just as government maneuver predicated on the rivalry between Damascus and the Iraqi Government.
  53. O'Shea, Maria T. (2004). Trapped Between the Map and Reality: Geography and Perceptions of Kurdistan. New York and London: Routledge. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-415-94766-4. In 1961, 120,000 Kurds in the Jazireh region of Syria were declared foreigners by government decree, and they and their children are still denied passports or identity cards, although military service is still an obligation.

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