In the face of deadly battles between Syrian Kurdish forces and Jabat al-Nusra and other Islamist forces in Western Kurdistan, Kurdish civilians have suffered brutal reprisal attacks and murder across a number of Kurdish towns and villages.
The neighbourhoods of Tel-Abeyd, Sere Kaniye, Tel- Aran and Tel- Hasel amongst others across Kurdish populated areas have been the subject of kidnappings, killings, lootings and terror.
The Kurdish areas have been relatively quiet since the Syrian uprising began but the latest developments not only serve to deepen the conflict between al-Qaeda affiliates and Kurds but increasingly pitch an ethnic battle between Kurds and Arabs, opening another theatre and dimension in the already complex conflict.
The Syrian National Council (SNC) and its leader Ahmed Jabra, as a legally recognised body and the supposed flag bearer for freedom, democracy and the fight against tyranny, has to shoulder the responsibility to condemn the attacks, protect Kurds and ensure Kurds are enticed into the political fold and not alienated in the fight against the Syrian regime.
However, the stance of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and elements of the SNC have hardly taking kindly to the Kurds. They have failed to address the general mistrust and anxiety of the Kurds and have looked at Kurdish gains with great suspicion.
With so many players on the Syrian chessboard, the recent conflict between Islamist forces and Kurds has seen a number of foreign powers weigh into the equation.
It was hardly surprising and somewhat ironic that Russia and Iran were quick to highlight the massacre of Kurds to the world, but this is chiefly in their quest to discredit the Syrian revolution and show the world the dark side of the opposition than any for any true affection for the Kurds. Iran and Russia were distinctively quiet whilst Kurds were persecuted for decades in Syria.
By the same token, the U.S. and its E.U. and regional allies have been rather muted and cautious in the face of the atrocities as it seemingly serves as an embarrassment for the pro-opposition camps and specifically for some Arab states and Turkey that have supported such groups to varying degrees.
In the face of Syrian Kurdish isolation and despair, the statement last week by Kurdistan President Massaud Barzani condemning atrocities and vowing to support Syrian Kurds, was welcome, bold and the just the tonic to stir sentiment and any notion that Kurds will be bystanders amidst the plight of their ethnic brethren.
Barzani had warned that “If the reports are true, showing that citizens, women and the children of innocent Kurds are under threat from murder and terrorism, Iraq’s Kurdistan region will make use of all of its capabilities to defend women and children and innocent citizens.”
For too long, the forcibly divided Kurds have struggled for national rights within the constraints of localised mechanisms than as a national force or coherent ethnic group. It has become too easy and politically correct to label each portion of Kurdistan with a Syrian, Turkish, Iraqi or Iranian prefix.
The lands may be artificially divided but a fence, border post or de-facto delineation of territory doesn’t change the soil composition, geography, nature or heritage of territory. Do the border fences that randomly separate Nusaybin or Qamishli actually mean that the historic land, the people, or the families on either side are any different?
If there is a massacre of Turkmens in Iraq tomorrow, will Turkey remain idle? Sunni states and Gulf countries flocked to support Sunni rebels in Syria while Hezbollah and Iran rushed to support their Shiite brethren.
Why should Kurds across greater Kurdistan remain idle? The crucial step by Barzani was to ensure a delegation was formed by the Kurdish National Conference Preparation Committee from members across greater Kurdistan – this national response demonstrates a common voice and a united stand but almost underscores the seeds for a Kurdish League.
Washington amongst others was quick to warn Barzani against intervention and it is not clear what measures will be taken by the Kurdistan Region if the current delegation visiting Syrian Kurdistan bring back conclusive proof of massacres and atrocities against Syrian Kurds.
No doubt the Kurdistan Region leadership will warn and increase pressure on the West to act and intervene, but if the response is negative then the leadership must match rhetoric with action.