Fighting and Mourning for Kurdistan

By Dr Jan Best de Vries:

YPJ fighters

YPJ fighters

Three years ago I wanted to travel to Aleppo and help there the wounded Kurdish, female and male freedom fighters in the northern district Sheik Maksud. Fate decided otherwise and now I’m teaching, with intervals of half a year, Kurdish history and archaeology at the Mesopotamia Academy in Qamishlo (canton Jazeera, Rojava). In 1919 the American, French and English MP’s decided that Rojava’s predominantly Kurdish region should be part of the newly created French mandate Syria. Just as the Americans won’t allow today that Kurdish Bashur in North Iraq gets independence but should remain a part of the former English mandate Iraq (also decided to be so in 1919), they’ll also never accept that Syria wil be split into different, independent states.

For Rojava there is a glimmer of hope that the close cooperation of the Free Syrian Army and the YPG as shown in Kobane, may in the end lead to a democratic Syria in which Rojava’s Social Contract will remain in force. No more than a glimpse of hope indeed, for as long as Kurds strive for their independent state, the United States of America will only provide air support to the Peshmergas on the ground, but never deliver the heavy weapons they need to fight IS. What would be easier in a more reasonable world than simply admitting: “We were wrong in 1919, sorry!”. However, I read that Angela Merkel from Germany visited Mr. Barzani to tell him that her country will provide the heavy weapons Bashur so desperately needs. It is to be hoped that Sweden may follow, for its beloved, but  murdered (28th February 1986) social democratic leader Olof Palme would have surely done so….

During my stay at Qamishlo in December 2014, staff members and students twice made trips to the girls of the YPJ behind the front line who received us with a warm-hearted welcome. But although we had great fun in their reception room, I’ll never forget the table in the corner with a vase filled with flowers and surrounded by the portraits of their fallen, young comrades. Nearly a century later this is the price Kurdish girls pay for the stupidity of three Western ‘statesmen’ in 1919…, fighting and mourning for Kurdistan.

Dr. Jan Best de Vries is an archaeologist and historian, decipherer of the so-called Byblos Script from Aleppo and Alalakh (‘How to Decipher the Byblos Script’, Aspekt Publishers 2014, ISBN978-946-153-420-0)  

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