By AMIR SHARIFI
In the Western mainstream press and media, we have rarely come across reports of the unfolding religious violence against Kurds in northern Syria (Rojava Western Kurdistan in Kurdish) over the past weeks.
It is now a known fact that al-Qaeda affiliated armed bands have opened a new front to reemerge in the Middle East.
According to Kurdish media and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) the Al Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant( ISIL), armed bands, have been laying siege and clashing with Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) and civilians, killing, kidnapping, looting, imprisoning, and torturing civilians and combatants.
The Observatory on July 31 reported: “Fighters of Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) have seized control of Tall Aren village in Aleppo province and are laying siege to another village nearby, Tall Hassel… they have taken hostage around 200 civilians from the inhabitants of the two villages.”
These brutalities are traceable to January 2013, when jihadists using heavy weaponry, attacked Sere Kaniye (Ras al-Ain in Arabic), killing many and taking a great many hostages. Since July 18, their war of terror has intensified, leaving a new trail of pillaging, destruction, and death.
There is undeniable evidence that groups such as the Ahfad al Rasoul Brigade, a Free Syrian Army (FSA) unit, are being militarily supported and funded by Qatar. The Syrian National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army, by not condemning these brutal attacks, have shown their complicity in these crimes.
Jabhat al Nusra is said to have been receiving military and logistical support from Turkey.
Now that Saleh Muslim, the co-chair of the Democratic Union Party ( PYD) was officially invited to Turkey for negotiations over the Kurdish autonomy and the Turkish role and vested interest in the Syrian conflict -- as pointed out by Cengiz Candar last month -- Turkey may be “making a U turn.” It may be changing its policy toward Kurds in Syria and reassessing its relations with Kurds and possibly distancing itself from being associated with forces affiliated with Al-Qaeda forces.
As a corollary, Turkey may exert influence on the Syrian National Coalition to recognize Kurdish representation and redirect the fight against the Syrian regime.
Exacerbated by the spiraling crisis in Syria, beset by bestial armed bands of Islamist jihadists, surrounded by an economic blockade, Kurds will find it difficult to sustain themselves unless they receive humanitarian aid and at least the Western moral support in their fight against pro al-Qaeda forces and religious fanatics.
In light of these savage attacks, one cannot but wonder why the US, European Union, and the UN are reticent about this bitter and frightening reality. Are not Kurdish human rights being violated by the most notorious forces in history? How is it that Kurds are left alone to fight cannibals who adhere to no moral imperatives except their own blind and outmoded dogmas and nihilistic culture against the right to life, democracy and freedom?
Syrian Kurds and other ethnic and religious communities are right to ask why no one is saying anything or doing anything to condemn and stop the ritualized violence of these groups.
The West has so far followed Turkey. Ironically, in the choice between the so-called fictitious regional security and the Islamist orthodoxy, they have selected the former. Kurds do not expect the West or their neighbors to bring them human rights. They understand what these rights are and have been preparing the ground for the creation of a civil and democratic society despite all the odds and flaws in their social and nationalist movement for change.
They only hope that the world community of human rights would understand their plight and aspirations.
In the end, the specter of ethnic cleansing and sectarian violence is threatening tens of thousands of Kurds and other minorities, with catastrophic repercussions beyond the borders of Syria -- as the tragedy of Iraq has shown with painful clarity.
It is troublesome that the spread of religious violence by the Islamists is receiving little or no attention from the world community. Rather than lending their support to and accommodating ultra conservative religious forces that are ideologically aligned with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Western democracies could follow a more balanced approach in helping the process of democratization in Syria by calling for the recognition and inclusion of the legitimate demands of religious, ethnic, and linguistic minorities in the post Assad Syria.
It is both a moral imperative and a political necessity for the West to stand up for human and civil rights of Kurds who are in the process of building institutions and experiencing a nascent secular democracy away from Bashar al Assad’s autocratic rule and imported gun thugs and fanatics.
Dr.Amir Sharifi is President of the Kurdish American Education Society-Los Angeles