Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Syrian Christians at ease with Kurdish control of western Kurdistan

Source: in English

DIRK, Syrian Kurdistan,— Members of the Christian community in Syrian Kurdistan (western Kurdistan) say they are at ease with Kurds ruling the recently liberated areas.

For centuries, Kurds have lived side by side with Assyrians, Chaldeans and Armenians in the border town of Dirk, recently liberated from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Mishwar Street is the main street in town. The quarters surrounding the street are commonly known as the “Christian neighborhood” among the predominantly Kurdish population. They call it “Xana Falaya” in Kurdish.

In contrast to the Kurds in Syria who are politically united under the banner of Kurdish rights and freedom, the Christian community is politically divided. Some of them still praise Assad’s regime, while others demand its fall.

Since liberation of the town from Assad’s regime was declared on July 21, Kurds have controlled the area and all the governmental institutions. And, according to the local Christian community in Dirk, they are satisfied with the Kurds ruling their area.

Zaki al-Qais spoke to Rudaw from his car on Mishwar Street. “Our situation here is good,” he said. “Not much has changed since the Kurds have taken over the town from the government forces. For us, it was also good in the past when the government was here. We never have problems with the state, whether it is the Assad government or the Kurdish government.”

When Rudaw asked Qais if he wanted Assad’s rule in Syria to end, like many others he said, “Do not ask anymore political questions.”

Abdul Ahad Ishaq, a resident of Dirk’s Christian neighborhood, said he is “utterly satisfied” with the temporary Kurdish authorities in his area because they provide the population with their daily needs.

“The Kurdish authorities provide us with gas, electricity and water. If we need anything in the neighborhood, they will provide it without favoritism or prejudice. They also protect us, so we are utterly satisfied,” he said.

Ishaq added, “If the Salafis or Muslim Brotherhood in the Syrian opposition want to come and control our areas, we will not accept it.”

Masoud Abdul Ahad, a political bureau member of the Assyrian Democratic Organization in Dirk, told Rudaw that although Syrian Christians are not members of the Kurdish Supreme Committee and still advocate participation in the Syrian National Council (SNC), Kurdish relations with the Christian community in Syria are historical, and therefore they often meet with Kurdish political parties.

“Our relations with the Kurds are historical so there is no racism or anything between us, and we are in the SNC because most of our representatives are based outside Syria,” Ahad said. “We have good relations with all the Kurdish parties and what we call ‘the Christian nation’ here in Syria has no problem with the Kurds now ruling the region temporarily.”

The regime of Assad used to protect the Christian community, and parts of it still adore him. “He is our great leader. We love him,” said George Radi, adding that they feel protected when Assad is in power. “If he is in power we have no problem. We know he is going to win and will protect us. Long live the great leader Bashar.”

Dr. Gabir Qas, a well-known figure in the Christian community, told Rudaw that while people are satisfied with Kurdish authorities in Syria’s Kurdish region, they still see the FSA as a direct danger to their lives, which is why they want Assad to stay in power.

“People are happy with the Kurds having taken over and running governmental affairs here, because they are a peaceful opposition,” Qas said. “But our Christian community is uncertain about the armed opposition in Homs and Hama because we do not know what they want from us and from the people of Syria.”

He added that uncertainty has led many in the Christian community to continue to support the Assad regime, which is “fear or the fact that no one can protect them from the Syrian armed opposition apart from Assad.”

The Kurdish authorities in the liberated parts of the Kurdish region of Syria stand against any sort of discrimination and also prevent any prejudice against Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians and Chaldeans. The new mayor of Dirk, elected to town council just after Kurds declared the town liberated, is a Christian Kurd.

By Rozh Ahmad

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