Almost a year after the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March, the Syrian opposition is still very much fragmented and lacking an inclusive vision which will satisfy various minority groups. One major part of this equation has been the Kurds which make up the largest ethnic minority in Syria, constituting somewhere between 10% and 15% of the population, or about 2 million people.
The Kurds have been divided in their response to the uprising and their approach to the opposition with representation on both the Syrian National Council (SNC), and the National Coordination Body (NCB), as well as a third body, the Syrian Kurdish National Council (KNC). The factor of Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) offshoots in Syria, which once were supported by the Assad regime, complicates the Kurdish issue further, as does Turkey’s role.
In this report drawing on original interviews with Syrian Kurds, Omar Hossino and Ilhan Tanir provide details of what this significant group has contributed to the uprising so far and examine how they might influence the future of the fight against Bashar al-Assad.
About the authors
Omar Hossino is a Syrian-American researcher, based in Washington, D.C. He holds an M.A. in U.S. Foreign Policy from American University where he focused on U.S. counter-terrorism policy in Syria and Lebanon. He has visited Syria more than a dozen times and has written on the Syrian opposition in outlets such as the Hurriyet Daily News as well as being quoted in outlets such as the National Interest, La Nacion, and Vatan and appearing on BBC News Arabic.
Ilhan Tanir is a Washington reporter for the Turkish Daily Vatan and is a columnist for Hurriyet Daily News. He has written extensively on the Syrian uprising in these outlets as well as the Christian Science Monitor, and Fikra Forum. He recently returned from a two week trip to Syria where he met with members of the Free Syrian Army and activists in the Damascus suburbs, before he was arrested by the regime forces and deported. He received his Master’s degree from George Mason University in 2006 in Public Administration and International Management, and his BA from Ankara University’s Political Science School in Turkey.