The future of components and their roles in Syria and East Euphrates

Daryous Darwish

Today, Syria is divided between three influence zones, each of them provides a model in dealing with its various components, as boundaries of the current military deployment do not accurately express the distribution of diversified identities.

The control of the Syrian regime – with the Alawite structure of governance and its Arab nationalist ideology – includes vast areas with a Sunni Arab majority, and a large Kurdish population in major cities like Damascus and Aleppo, as well as, the Syrian opposition, which has Sunni affiliation and Arab Islamic ideology, controls the main strongholds of the Kurds in Afrin, Jazira, and the eastern rural areas of Aleppo, which extends from Qabasin to Jarabulus, in addition to its control over other religious and sectarian components such as Christians, Alawites, and Yezidis.

For its part, The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (called “the Kurdish”) controls areas with a large Arab majority and major Syriac and Assyrians population blocs. 

But if these influence zones are to be stabilized in the form of states or federal entities with their current borders, what models will the local authorities offer in dealing with their minorities? What is the future that awaits the components different from the main identity in each of them?

The issue of imposing a national-linguistic identity on the state is seems to be unavoidable, as it is the general model for countries in the world, whether the state is imposed on one identity or multiple identities, and whether this imposition is by law or de facto.

The single French identity is faced with other linguistic/national Corsican, Alsatian, or Brittonic identities, also, the tetra-identity in the Swiss constitution does not exempt it from the accountability of excluding the identities of naturalized Arabs and Turks.

Despite the unparalleled success of the American model in this field, whose constitution is devoid of any identity indication in a clear use of the state as a pure system emptied of all identities, it imposes a de facto linguistic identity (which is English) on the Hispanic, German, French, Italian… etc. populations.

However, it is not correct to compare the prevailing models in imposing identity in the Middle East with the models presented in the previous examples, neither in terms of their results nor in terms of the basis for their interaction with minorities.

In the Syrian opposition and regime dominated areas, national and religious identities that can only be adopted by birth are imposed, and that act only against others, whether by killing, physical extermination, or by incorporeal exterminating, as in some cases that theoretically allow other minorities to adopt their identity not by birth, as Arabism of Ba’ath party and Islam of the extremist, but at the same time it requires them to fully and exclusively belong to it, which is associated with the denial of their previous identities, which reach the same result: obliteration these minorities.

Syria, the country of extreme violence and poverty, which had been created by pure luck and without any effort, is overflowing with everything that contributes to creating problems among its components, and although the Syrian war, with its atrocity, provided an opportunity to reach a common and historical acceptance among them to form the Syrian people, it is now too late to think about taking advantage of that opportunity.

The heavy legacy of uncontrollable violence during the war makes the transformation of Syria into a mutual homeland among its components a horrific idea for them, much more than the risks of falling Syria under the control of other countries. This is reinforced by the absence of a horizon of achieving justice for the victims of massacres, genocide, ethnic and demographic cleansing between the regime and the Islamic opposition, and between the Islamic opposition and the Kurds, it is also reinforced by the persistence of acute identity intolerance, which was not been addressed by the long years of war, neither in the Islamic-national opposition camp nor in the national regime camp .

What makes it even more disastrous is that these violations are not just confined to the military and political parties that command the land. In fact, during various stages of the Syrian war, civil parties have been implicated in the violations against the people of other areas, the most important of which is the demographic change processes, such as those conducted by the Syrian regime to Sunni neighbourhoods in Homs, and as those conducted by Turkey against the Kurds in Afrin, and is still conducting it in full action in Sari Kani, which is (i.e. demographic change) is a violation based on the use of military force to displace the indigenous population, and the use of a group of people to fill the vacuum and create a new society.

The involvement of military forces and some population groups in this type of serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity, making belonging to today’s Syria, which means the acceptance of its components to exterminate its identity and return to the harshest forms of slavery, the thing that is not usually done voluntarily.

The territories east of the Euphrates controlled by Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) appears far from the impacts of violence similar to those in the territories under the control of both Syrian regime and opposition. Although it fought many battles against the Islamic opposition militias and ISIS, Syrian Democratic Forces, and before them People’s Protection Units (known as YPG), did not commit any systematic violations against the residents of the affected areas. Also, the local government in those areas seems completely rejecting religious and sectarian intolerance, and much less adopting the national intolerance, not only compared to the conflicting parties in Syria, but compared to all the countries of the Middle East from Lebanon till Iran, and from Turkey to the Persian Gulf and Yemen.

Therefore, with the relatively large economic potentials provided by oil and gas, it can be said that the authority in the east of the Euphrates contributes to creating conditions for coexistence between its components, but it misses the establishment of the historical factor: the explicit compatibility between those components on coexistence.

The Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria has an uncompensated opportunity to establish coexistence among its components without the need to fight new wars. The blood that has been shed in Syria is sufficient to reach all parties, if they want, into a certainty of the inescapability of this coexistence and mutual acceptance, but this decision needs to be based on its own choice, which cannot be expressed more clearly than through democratic means, especially polls and elections.