Prospects of Geneva 2, Syr­ian Kur­dish Au­ton­omy and why Syria will never be whole again

The Kurdish Globe - - NEWS - By Bash­dar Pusho Is­maeel

As rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Syr­ian regime and the Syr­ian Na­tional Coali­tion met in Geneva, the prospects of an agree­ment to end the bit­ter 3 year civil war that has killed over 130,000 and dis­placed mil­lions were dim.

The fiery ex­changes at the open­ing of the con­fer­ence in Mon­treaux and the deep re­luc­tance to even meet faceto-face, never the mind the en­trenched po­si­tions over the fate of Bashar al-As­sad, un­der­scored the chal­lenges of se­cur­ing any mean­ing­ful agree­ment.

Yet in so many ways, get­ting the op­pos­ing sides in the same room was an ac­com­plish­ment in it­self. With ev­ery bul­let fired, ev­ery air strike launched and ev­ery death recorded, the an­i­mos­ity only deep­ens and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion is pushed a step fur­ther. The pro­found emo­tional scar­ring can­not be patched in a few days in Geneva, but let there be no doubt, the regime and op­po­si­tion have no choice but to reach a peace­ful set­tle­ment sooner or later.

If there was a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion it would have been achieved months ago. 3 years on, with the forces in a stale­mate and with most of Syria ly­ing in ru­ins and blood, no mat­ter the even­tual out­come, how can any­one truly feel vic­to­ri­ous? What will they gov­ern with some cities in lit­eral ruin and bil­lions of dol­lars needed to re­con­struct the coun­try?

More im­por­tantly, it is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly un­likely that Syria can ever be whole again. Too much dam­age has been done and the po­lar­iza­tion is now too great for Syria to ever re­turn to any sense of unity.

In this light, it was sym­bolic and largely missed due to the in­tense fo­cus on Geneva, that the Syr­ian Kurds de­clared ad­min­is­tra­tive au­ton­omy and a pro­vin­cial gov­er­nance on the eve of the con­fer­ence.

The Kurds who have had rel­a­tive self-rule since July 2012 are in­creas­ingly work­ing to­wards safe­guard­ing and for­mal­iz­ing their new found au­ton­omy. The Kur­dish area in Syria, or Ro­java as most proudly re­fer to, is set to be ruled un­der 3 can­tons, Kobani, Efrin and Jazira with an Au­ton­o­mous Gov­ern­ing Coun­cil in each re­gion.

Kurds are al­ready pre­par­ing a lo­cal con­sti­tu­tion and have their eyes on hold­ing elec­tions early this year as well as tak­ing many steps to re­sume nor­mal life in the re­gion. Any­one would think this is tak­ing place in a dis­tant land, but this is tak­ing place in the same coun­try ruled by As­sad and gripped by a deadly civil war.

The grow­ing Kur­dish con­fi­dence and assertive­ness hav­ing suc­cess­fully warded off Is­lamist forces, nat­u­rally un­nerves Tur­key and other re­gional play­ers. The Syr­ian Kur­dis­tan re­gion is ef­fec­tively gov­erned by the Demo­cratic Union Party (PYD) with links to the PKK and pro­tected by the Peo­ple De­fense Units. This only adds to Turk­ish anx­i­ety.

Yet with the Syr­ian Kurds stamp­ing their au­thor­ity, it was ironic that in Geneva the Kurds were re­fused a sep­a­rate del­e­ga­tion or had any spe­cific men­tion. Re­gard­less of any po­lit­i­cal deal in Geneva, the Kurds are not about to take a step back into the dark days of the past and re­lin­quish their hard fought gains.

With Alaw­ites weary of Sunni back­lash in any postAs­sad era, there will al­most cer­tainly be a de facto sec­tar­ian de­lin­eation in Syria to add to the eth­nic lines that the Kur­dish self-rule prom­ises.

The only way Syria can be truly patched is a loose fed­er­a­tion where Sunni, Kurds or Alaw­ites gov­ern their own re­gions.

The prob­lem in Syria is that the op­po­si­tion is not rep­re­sented by one group but a spec­trum of forces with dif­fer­ing agen­das. Take the SNC, they only agreed to at­tend the peace talks af­ter dozens of their mem­bers walked out in protest and even if any­thing is agreed long-term, they have in­suf­fi­cient sway with the fight­ers on the ground.

This in­tro­duces the likely sce­nario that if a broader peace agree­ment was achieved, it would never be com­pre­hen­sive and thus there is ev­ery chance that the op­po­si­tion and regime forces may turn their guns on other forces, in par­tic­u­lar the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant and other Is­lamic groups that will never ac­cept or rec­og­nize any agree­ment.

Un­for­tu­nately for Syria, the fight­ing has a long way to go be­fore it reaches its course, re­gard­less of any sym­bolic break­through in Geneva.

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