The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Champions of peace in a chaotic region

Amanda Scott

Contributing Writer

[email protected]

It’s late November, and the “dust” of chemical warfare has settled… well, kind of. While American news cycles have long since replaced “Sarin in Syria” with “Error: 404,” peace in Syria is no more likely than Bashar al-Assad himself stepping down.

Just ten weeks ago world leaders on moral authority, such as the ethically sound Russian President Vladimir Putin, added commentary to silence America’s ethical disgust with the Assad regime. And in hindsight, he succeeded because Syria is no longer on America’s mainstream radar.

There are a few reasons to explain American apathy.

Americans are altogether confused; one cannot synthesize the compound issues facing the troubled nation into one finely edited headline. First off, Syria is not the same as Assad’s Syrian regime. Quite the contrary, the people of Syria encompass a mixed bag of both ethnic and religious groups represented by a minority faction Alawite in government. The rebels, also known as the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, cannot easily be identified either, as their name might suggest.

The bottom line remains: the Syrian people are left unheard. Those of the regime, its opposition and a number of international players seeking their ten minutes of fame (with unprecedented care for international law) have trumped the voices of peaceful Syrians. Yes, peaceful Syrians. While Assad continues to fire artillery barrages on besieged rebels, 10,000 plus Syrians are escaping to refugee camps daily. One group remains whose lives and livelihoods have not been voiced in Syria for decades, much less since the cusp of internal upheaval in 2011. The voice of 10 percent of the Syrian population, the voice of 1.6 million stateless Kurds. It is this very group that has the greatest axe to grind against Assad yet has pledged and acted with the greatest hope for peace.

Kurds in Syria have fought a war on their homeland since the 1960s when the Baath Party took control of the Syrian government. After Baath leaders conducted a hoaxed national census in 1964, 300,000 Kurds remain stateless today. The census, aimed to eradicate Kurdish Syrians from their homeland, created the world’s largest ethnic group currently stateless. Why? Kurds were seen as a threat to Arab nationalism- the cornerstone of Baathism. Without nationality or a right to identity, stateless Kurds have suffered from an inability to attain proper education, gainful employment, access to health care, the right to own property and the right to legally leave Syria altogether.

History provides the Kurds ammunition to join the rebels and fight against Assad’s regime. But they haven’t. Instead, the 10 percent of the Syrian population would rather abandon the state in pursuit of self-rule. The Kurdish people are the true champions of peace in a chaotic region because they have proposed and acted on the only legitimate solution to the underlying cleavage dividing the Middle East: Western imperialism and the national boundaries it created.

After World War II British and French rulers divided the Ottoman Empire into colonies, and eventually states, for their own benefit and profitability. The map that put Sunni and Shiite Muslims under one Iraqi umbrella is the same map that divided Kurdistan, the mountainous region home to 40 million Kurds, into four separate Middle Eastern countries. And yes, the Kurds are equally discriminated against in all four.

The Syrian Civil War has given the Kurds an opportunity to finally seek autonomy. They have made major territorial gains in northern, Kurdish-dominated cities by successfully driving out the al-Qaeda rebels fighting against Assad.

The Middle East, while historically and theologically complicated, has made one thing perfectly clear to the world: No, we can’t all get along. It will not be until the aforementioned world leaders accept and heal the wounds of blind imperialism will Syria, and to a greater extent the Middle East, find peace. It will take a pledge for ethnic autonomy through thoughtful remapping of the region to accomplish this. While a lofty goal, it is an attainable goal nonetheless. The first step will require Americans to revert their attention from website malfunction to inhumane ethnic destruction.

Scott is a senior majoring in communications and political science.

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