The president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria says Kurds want democracy, friendship with Christians & peace with Israel.
A Syrian Kurdish activist in America tells the Clarion Project that the U.S. should embrace the Kurds as an enemy of “radical Islam” and as a people who desire democracy in the Middle East, seek friendship with Assyrian Christians and want to be at peace with Israel.
Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, argues that Kurds are ideological allies of the West, rather than partners of convenience. Abbas was born in Qamishli, Syria and came to the U.S. in the 1980s. He describes his faith as a “Kurdish Islam,” an Islam that is democratic, tolerant and peaceful.
He is a founding member of the Syrian Democracy Council, the Kurdish National Congress, the America-Kurdistan Friendship League and the Center for Democracy in the Middle East, of which he is the director.
Abbas’ interview follows a Clarion Project interview with Jeff Gardner of Restore Nineveh Now about how Assyrian Christians are in conflict with Kurdish fighters in Syria. Gardner argued against U.S. equipping of the Kurdish forces.
Clarion Project also interviewed Yousuf Ismael of the Washington Kurdish Institute, who argued that Kurdistan is a friend to the Christians and that the Muslim Brotherhood must be designated as a terrorist group by the U.S.
Below is the interview of Sherkoh Abbas by Clarion Project’s National Security Analyst Ryan Mauro:
Ryan Mauro: What the Kurdistan National Assembly is and what it is currently doing?
Sherkoh Abbas: The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria is an umbrella organization for theSyrian Kurdistan region that seeks freedom, peace and democracy for Syria. In addition, it seeks a federal system for Syria where all citizens are granted the natural right of self-governance.
The new Syrian government should be modeled after the principles of freedom and the federalist example of the U.S. and its democratic republic form of government. The structure should leave authority to local governments with a constitution and bill of rights that protects minorities and includes all.
Mauro: There is some controversy about the U.S. support for the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPH) in Syria because of its alleged links to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is designated as a terrorist group. The U.S. says they are separate, while others disagree. What is the nature of the relationship?
Abbas: The U.S. State Department and Department of Defense have been working with the YPG and stress that they are not linked to the PKK and are not cooperating in any way with the PKK. [PYD leader] Salih Muslim confirms this and we have no reason to believe otherwise.
They are not perfect, but they are working on shifting their ideology to Western norms. They also have a lot of work to do to be more inclusive of other Kurdish parties and other social groups. They have the potential to change the region for the better and we hope that they do not squander this opportunity.
Mauro: There are reports of fighting between the Assyrian Gozarto Protection Forces in the Qamishli area and the Kurds linked to the YPG following the kidnapping of three members of the GPF. What is the relationship between the Kurdish forces and parties and the Assyrian Christians?
Abbas: These Assyrians are members of the Assad regime. That is why almost every news agency stated that the YPG was battling with Assad’s forces there.
The Kurds welcome people from all walks of life, regardless of whether they are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Arab or otherwise. There are Christians on both sides of this fight. The YPG is currently working with the Syriac Military Council, who are a group of Assyrian Christians who are fighting against the Baathist regime and against ISIS. Some Christians are working with Assad/Hezbollah/Iran and some Christians are working with the Kurdish Peshmerga and YPG.
The Kurds do not welcome the oppressive Baath Party and their extensions. The Kurds have been oppressed for much too long under the Baathist regimes in Iraq and Syria to resubmit to such rule after fighting for autonomy. The Baath Party was formed to get rid of all non-Arabs, and some Christians did join for various economic reasons, but this is not a fight about religion.
The Baath Party is anti-Western and an enemy of the United States and Israel. They desire to purify the area of all non-Arabs, which was one of the reasons you had the Arabization policies under Hafez and Bashar Assad and the Anfal Campaign in Iraq.
The bottom line is that the majority of Christians are working with us and we protect them. Assad is using them to further his own ambitions and most of them realize this. The majority fight by our side because we are pro-Western in our ideals and pro-Israel and pro-U.S. We are fighting on behalf of humanity.
On the other side of the coin, a number of groups have been trying to disrupt us. They disrupt us because we are against radical Islam and because we do not want Arabs, Turks and Iranians as our masters. We will include everyone in a democratic process, but we will not submit to having our identities, freedoms and lives taken away.
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