Shoresh Darwish is a Syrian writer, journalist and a lawyer who writes in Arab and Kurdish press and lives in Germany.
Shoresh Darwish participated in the Bochum workshop held by the Syrian Democratic Council on September 21 and 22, 2019. He gave more than one intervention in the workshop, explaining the details in this dialogue
- How was the attendees in terms of diversity, interventions and interaction?
Shoresh: Of course, any project that aspires to become a democratic holder, albeit in specific areas within the country, can only be concerned with managing diversity, respecting the diversity of the Syrian social fabric, its ethnic and regional specificities, and dealing with high sensitivity to concerns of local communities.
Accordingly, the workshop took into account these issues, in terms of diversity of attendance, although there was lack of women’s participation.
The interaction of attendees was a natural consequence of the participants’ desire to talk about their concerns, and to say what should be said, away from social media, which has become the only platform for Syrians in the diaspora, so the physical meeting enables people to speak optimally.
- You mentioned in the workshop that Iraqi General Abdul Karim Qasim put a solution to the Kurdish issue in one sentence included in the Iraqi constitution at that stage.
Article 3 states that Arabs and Kurds are partners in the homeland. Can the Kurdish issue in Syria be resolved today through the Constitution?
Shoresh: Far from assessing the Iraqi experience in its successes and failures, the courage shown by different political classes in the course of resolving the Kurdish issue, is remarkable. Despite the suspicion and genocide of the Kurds, the reference to Abdul Karim Qasim’s experience of rapprochement with the Kurds, and spreading of spirit of participation in the body of Iraqi state, is remarkable and thinking outside box of a single color state.
The simplicity of the constitutional article emphasizing national partnership was the first theoretical introduction to recognition. Recognizing the Kurds here was a health prelude to dealing with the chronic problem that Iraq suffered.
It should be noted that in Syria, the policy of denial of existence ( of Kurds) remained the most prominent feature of the approach of governments and regimes. Indeed, the distortion of the Kurds’ claims for equality and citizenship has been met with floods of false accusations. Such as “secon Israel ” “the desire to cut off parts of the country,” and “separatist Kurds,” as well as doubting their actual existence, or considering them merely immigrants at best!
Any future democratic constitution can address the Kurdish-Syrian issue by recognizing the Kurdish presence and recognizing their right to education and learning with their language and other cultural rights. In addition, democratic decentralization should be ensured, which may avoid the abuse of central authority. The restoration of the name of the Syrian Republic after the removal of the ethnic / national characteristic attributed to the state by nationalists.
You spoke at the workshop about the need to identify the “Kurdish frontiers” and neccessity of re-administrative demarcations, especially after practices of the Syrian regime, which put the Kurds in isolation. How can you explain the idea?
Shoresh: I think there is an urgent need to find new concepts to solve the Syrian Kurds issue. The Kurds have practiced discriminatory policies. There have also been serious attempts to change the demographics of their areas bordering Turkey. The example of the “Arab belt” is perhaps the most obvious of the seriousness of the chauvinists in changing the demographics of the Syrian Kurdish regions, rather than adopting balanced development and rational policies. Kurdish citizens were harassed and forced under difficult pension conditions to leave their areas and move inward.
Years before the Syrian revolution, there was a government tendency to create new provinces, including Palmyra (Badia), Aleppo countryside, and finally Qamishli.
What I meant to identify the Kurdish areas was, in part, to contain these areas by respecting their cultural and linguistic specificities as an integral part of Syria. And the possibility of resting the Kurds from the fears related to the possibility of returning of one nation-state.
Identifying such an demarcated division of Syria does not mean dividing it ethnically, as much as bringing Kurdish citizens into one administrative space, rather than dividing them into three governorates (Hasakah-Raqqa-Aleppo), which made the Kurds live in two isolation , the first because of discrimination and persecution policies. The second is to make them live in distant islands, rather than living in the space of Arab, Turkmen and Assyrians in the straddling regions ethnically .
The administrative demarcation is accompanied by the need to reconsider the idea of the decentralized state, and not to portray it as an introduction and prelude to the division of the country, as much as it is a gum for the national fabric that is violated by the authoritarian and centralized state.
- There is specificity in Self-administration regions in north and east of Syria. Geographic, human and political specificity. Therefore, in the workshop, you hoped that the self-administration would undertake a wide range of actions, including contributing to Kurdish Kurdish and Turkish Kurdish reconciliation, and sending messages to the Arab League and the United Nations. Why?
Shoresh: Yes, the Syrian Democratic Council should mediate between the rival Kurdish parties and bridge the gap between them.
This is difficult, and is governed by regional and Kurdish situations. But the hands of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC) can touch on this door. As for the issue of Turkish-Kurdish reconciliation, I did not refer to it as such.
I see the issue of reassuring Turkey, even though the Turkish state deludes others by claiming that there is a Kurdish threat south of its borders.Thus “SDC” through a basket of policies, which increase the presence of nationalist, party and social “components” in the east of the Euphrates, can lessen Turkish concerns .
As for sending letters to the Arab League, the Office of the Special Envoy for the Syrian Crisis, and all other powers involved in the Syrian crisis, it was for one thing, that these powers, organizations and states should play their part in giving way to self-administration and political and social formations east of the Euphrates to participate in the issue of drafting the constitution. This is a diplomatic act, despite the lack of diplomatic space for “SDC”, but the self-administration and “SDC” should engage in this diplomacy.
At the Bochum workshop, you spoke of the need for gradual change, especially since radical change may backfire in our society. and you cited an example of former Tunisian President Essebsi’s work on inheritance. The case that Bourguiba laid down, long ago.
There are radical changes in northern and eastern Syria. There are joint presidencies between women and men. The quota is 50%, unlike what our Eastern society wants.
Shoursh : There are intolerable changes that may seem alienating to local communities. Or it seems a direct ideology, such as the issue of the prevention of polygamy. This is something from Ataturk or from Bourguiba in Tunisia.
Perhaps it is worth guided by the remarkable Tunisian experience in a similar matter, namely the issue of equality of inheritance between men and women, which was one of the dreams of the founder Bourguiba, which came after years of the late President Beji Kaid Essebsi, who drafted a law in this regard, may not meet Legislative approval of . What is important in this example is that some radical changes that affect deeply rooted religious doctrines need sustained struggle and ongoing discussions, not imposed from above.
Perhaps there was room for delay, an open debate on this subject, and other similar topics. Especially since the Syrian Personal Status Law permits polygamy.
Regardless of our personal views in this regard, secularization of society from above and by an administrative decision will prompt society to reject what may be in the interest of society in the first place.
The involvement of women in political life is both creative and important. The issue of co-presidency is an acceptable partisan pattern, and it is possible to see such a tradition in Turkey with HDP as well as Green Party in Germany.
The equality achieved by women in the areas of self-administration is noteworthy and admirable, especially as we differentiate between the conditions of the regions in Syria and the oppression, discrimination, masculinity and exclusion of women.
- How do you evaluate the Bochum workshop, what are the pros and cons, and how can the work of upcoming workshops be developed?
Shoresh: The workshop discussed important issues, the issue of detainees in Syria, the course of the constitution, the problem of excluding representatives of one third of the country (east of the Euphrates), the Syrian complex crisis, the fears of the participants about the fates awaiting the Syrians, and the issue of preparing a conference for opposition powers and democratic figures. The ( road map mechanisms) which has been discussed, has not received much criticism, reflected a national vision and good intentions, although intentions are not enough to resolve a complex crisis like ours.
These issues, as diverse as they may be, are vital and relevant to our lives as Syrians in the country and in Diaspora.
It should be noted here that among other positives, which may seem secondary, that the workshop was a Syrian in meaning and Structure, and did not bear the stamp of a supportive state or sponsor.
One of the downsides, was the issue of low female representation. The number of participants exceeded the desired form of such activities, which affected the space of participation, and the urgency to say some important things that need time and vision.
We expect from the forthcoming workshops not to expand the discussion points in order to be closer to the specialized workshops, taking into account the state of national diversity, balanced female representation as well as sending the topics (papers) to be discussed to the participants so that they can be properly prepared.
Dialogue by Talib Ibrahim
Quoting from Syria Future website