HASAN – The transformation of Ain al-Arab into Kobani, and New Syria

The transformation of Ain al-Arab into Kobani, and New SyriaI did an interview with a Democratic Union Party (PYD) representative in Arbil back in 2011. At the time, he put a copy of Abdullah calanand#39s book on the table and said, in brief, andldquoWe are not connected with the PKK [Kurdistan Workersand#39 Party], but calan is our leaderandrdquoIn the same vein, I would like to relate this little scenario: One day, a man is passing through customs control when an officer on duty stops him and asks him, andldquoWhatand#39s in your bag?andrdquo The man tells him his bag is full of bird feed.

But when the bag is opened, it is full to the brim with wristwatches. andldquoThis is what you call bird feed?!andrdquo asks the customs officer, incredulously.

andldquoIf you want to believe it,andrdquo replies the man. These days, those who insist that the PKK and the PYD are in fact the same organization are being scolded, andldquoWell, if you want to believe it.

andrdquoThe Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is now present in the center and the northern reaches of Syria But which ethnic groups are also present here? Well, to start with, there are Arabs, Kurds, Turkmens, Yazidis, Shebeks, Christian Arabs, Armenians, Assyrians, Adyghes and Chechens. But there is only one ethnic group currently coming out on top of things in this area: the Kurds.

In the meantime, it doesnand#39t appear that ISIL will be lasting or permanent in these regions. They are losing popular support, and they rely on both fear and strong-arm techniques to maintain domination.

But at the same time, it should be pointed out that because of ISIL, the Kurds have managed to increase their geographical presence and strength, with regional demographics switching into their favor The Arabs, in the meantime, are being force to bow their heads to ISIL. And other peoples are being permanently erased from the map.

Ever since ISIL first emerged as a factor in the region, the Kurds have been a reliable ally to the West and the United States in fighting them in doing so, they have picked up much sympathy. They have also picked up control over the disputed territories of Iraq.

In doing so, they have taken control of the vast majority of what used to be the Ottoman stateand#39s Mosul province. No matter how much Arbil may talk of independence, it is not realistic without taking control of those disputed territories.

In the meantime, the Kurds come second to the Arabs in terms of population demographics in the northern reaches of Syria But there is no geographical unity between the various districts where the Kurds live in large numbers. Whatand#39s more, there is no province wherein the Kurds actually form the majority.

Despite this, the PYD has managed to create three andldquocantonsandrdquo — my own term here — in the north of SyriaIn addition to the political and ethnic balances in northern Syria, even the toponymy — the way names of places are determined — has changed in favor of Kurdish lingo.The name popularly used to describe northern Syria is now andldquoRojava,andrdquo which in Kurdish means andldquoWest.

andrdquo Or rather, andldquoWestern Kurdistan.andrdquo Also interesting to note is that city and town names are busy changing, or rather, being changed.

One striking one is Kobani, which used to be called Ayn al-Arab (meaning Arab Well). With the Islamic State strikes against Ain al-Arab, the city was presented to the world as a purely Kurdish one, and became, in the process, a symbol of rising Kurdish nationalism in Turkey.

Part of what has boosted the andldquosacred-izationandrdquo of this spot is that calan passed from Suru to Ain al-Arab in 1979, along with the fact that local Syrians were some of the first to proffer support to the PKK.andquotKobaniandquot is an important turning point for the New Syria It appears to be the foundation stone in the formation of a Syrian Kurdistan Region in the light of the New Syria The important question thus becomes: Will the war in Syria, or rather the New Syria, continue on until the other parts of this new state — composed of Shiites, Christians, seculars, Sunnis and Druze — all form into their own pieces.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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