“Grant Kurds an Autonomous State in Southeast Turkey,” Opinion by Evin Cheikosman

Evin Cheikosman 2013

Grant Kurds an Autonomous State in Southeast Turkey
Guest Opinion for Syria Comment
by Evin Cheikosman, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Syrian-Kurd who plans to pursue graduate studies in Germany or Turkey.

TO: Recep Tayipp Erdoğan, Prime Minister, Turkey

Honorable Prime Minister Erdoğan, as you are aware, the long-standing Kurdish struggle for autonomy has remained a constant issue in Turkish national politics. Kurdish history is dominated by the unending fight for self-determination and recognition of a distinct ethnic identity within the Turkish community. However, Kurds have continuously been marginalized within Turkish borders, a place they have long considered home. Mr. Prime Minister, you’ve been in office since 2003, accepting the responsibility to safeguard the interests of the Turkish citizens, but what about the Kurds? Indeed you have mentioned occasionally that the Kurdish issue needs to be resolved and that you are in the process of launching initiatives to meet the demands of the Kurdish people. However, I have yet to see great improvement or a genuine fulfillment of those promises you made during your first few years in office.

There are 15 million Kurds in Turkey but they continue to face daily persecution, intimidation, and subjugation. In this day and age these unjust acts towards Kurds are unacceptable. Mr. Prime Minister, Turkey’s government continues to fuel the long standing war between Turks and Kurds. But this is not a war between good and evil as it has been depicted throughout Turkish-Kurdish history; it’s a war between right and wrong. What’s right is that human rights and freedom of mankind is a right of all persons, what is wrong is prohibiting that right and oppressing those who demand it.

I am writing to you adding my voice to that of Kurds who should be granted full autonomy in southeastern Turkey. The Kurds have their own language, distinct cultural traditions, identity, values, and have a deep attraction to southeast Turkey. Within this context, the Turkish government should indeed allow for a separate federal Kurdish state within Turkey. Kurdistan will manage their domestic affairs but under Turkish law. In this manner, Turkey will not lose its sovereignty and Kurds will be granted a state of their own. Kurds are a proud and independent people, who like all ethnic groups seek freedom to speak their language and enjoy basic human rights; something that Quebec in Canada and the Basque region in Spain have.

Thus, my opinion would be to revamp talks with Kurdish and Turkish leaders and representatives. At this conference, Kurds should be granted an autonomous Kurdistan state under Turkish legislation, a full ratification of the Turkish constitution should be established in line with EU standards, and PKK militants who did not commit crimes should be granted amnesty and allowed to integrate into society; this would eliminate time wasted on civil trials.

Mr. Erdoğan, you have noted on numerous occasions that entry into the European Union is a top priority. However given the endless list of human rights abuses that Turkey has committed, accession into the EU will continue on its unsuccessful path. Thus by granting autonomy to the largest minority in the country, EU membership will not be the only door of opportunity opening to Turkey. Mr. Prime Minister, it is important to start looking at the Kurdish people as an asset to Turkish-Kurdish prosperity; not as PKK militants. It is also worth noting Turkeys’ current annual trade of 10 billion USD with Kurdistan Iraq. A decision made by the Turkish government, realizing the extent of change and wealth that investment in Kurdistan Iraq would bring to Turkey. Thus today Kurdistan Iraq is Turkey’s second largest trading partner. Just imagine what a Kurdistan Turkey would do for the country.

Turkey has neglected to fully resolve the Kurdish issue and as a result Kurds are turning to acts of protest, damaging Turkey’s reputation as a young democratized state. According to BBC, Kurdish prisoners in various jails in Turkey were not too long ago rejecting to eat solid food, demanding Turkey to allow Kurdish in education and legal systems. Protesters also called for the release of PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, who was captured and sentenced to life in solitary confinement (Kurds Clash with Turkish Police over hunger strikers). It is events like these that are brewing at the core of Turkey and soon it will explode into a secular war. Turkey has made minor changes to Kurdish human rights including free publication of newspapers, TV, and radio in Kurdish. This is fine, but not enough. Kurds want full equal rights to be Kurds in Turkey and have their own autonomous state within the country.

Conflicts are already evident in Syria where Kurds are organizing an army, aligning with the PKK, and preparing for an all out secular war after the fall of the Syrian regime. This is a historical opportunity for the Kurds to finally achieve independence and they are working unitarily to make a “Kurdistan” in Syria a realization.  If Kurds in Syria succeed, they will influence events to come in Turkey. You once stated, “I will never tolerate initiatives that would threaten Turkey’s security” (Hacaoglu). However by suppressing the Kurds and being unresponsive to their demands, such comments alone are threatening to Turkey’s security. People all over the world no longer fear their government, and as witnessed by the Arab Spring people aren’t afraid to rise up against their government.

Thus soon your government’s authority will diminish due to the emergence of Kurdish autonomy in Syria, which will lead to Kurds in Turkey to establish the same. This will result in more frequent acts of brutality and protest; the situation as a whole would prove disastrous for the nation. Turkey will suffer financially, death and casualties will be profound, and destruction insurmountable. By suppressing Kurds, Turkey is fueling Kurdish hostilities and motivating the possibility for a “Kurdish spring.”

Depending on how the prospects in Syria turn out, Turkey will be forced to face the Kurdish domestic issue and will have to accept the consequences of not working earlier and more diplomatically to solve it. Sooner or later, Kurds will achieve an autonomous Kurdistan in Turkey. Whether Turkey is willing to have a say in democratizing and easing this task is the real question.

Comments (74)

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51. Tara said:


So you relabeled the video as an FSA atrocity’?

You have degraded yourself for what? Don’t you think this is criminal?

Sorry but I have nothing but contempt to your action.

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:14 am


52. Warren said:

Despite the EU’s demands on human rights, Turkey’s persecution of Christians is escalating

To begin with, an interesting story about the doings of an American congressional committee, which I cannot imagine (given the head of steam building up among our own legislators in favour of Turkey’s admission to the EU) taking place in any committee room of the Westminster Parliament:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US congressional committee on Wednesday urged Turkey to ensure religious freedom and return church properties to their “rightful owners” in a vote opposed by the Ankara government.

After a spirited debate, the House Foreign Affairs Committee approved a text that says Turkey should “end all forms of religious discrimination” and “return to their rightful owners” all churches and other Christian historic sites.

“Religious minorities are under grave threat in today’s Turkey,” said Representative Ed Royce, a Republican from California.

“Rather than enjoying protection, very vulnerable religious minority groups including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Greek Orthodox Church are denied full legal status,” he said.

Turkey in 1971 closed a major seminary of the Orthodox Church, which has been seated in Istanbul since Byzantine times, as the secular state tried to bring universities under its control.

Turkey does not recognize Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I’s title as head of Orthodox Christians and considers him only the spiritual head of Turkey’s tiny Greek Orthodox minority.

Some readers may remember a piece I wrote in February, about legal attempts then under way (and still, so far as I can discover, unresolved) to seize the land surrounding the Syro-Orthodox monastery of Mor Gabriel (necessary for the community’s continued existence) amid claims that the monastery itself was built on land on which there had once been a mosque, a ludicrous contention since the monastery itself actually predates Islam. This attempt is being supported by the pro-Islamic ruling party of the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan. The point is that this case is not unique: it is simply one more example of what appears to be a mounting Islamist-inspired anti-Christian campaign, which the Turkish government, despite its ambitions to join the EU, is doing nothing to discourage. Consider a story reported by Zenit in December 2009:

Three Muslims entered the Meryem Ana Church, a Syriac Orthodox church in Diyarbakir, and confronted the Reverend Yusuf Akbulut, according to a Dec. 15 report by Compass Direct News, an agency specializing in reporting on religious persecution.

They told the priest that that unless the bell tower was destroyed in one week, they would kill him. The Muslims were apparently acting in reaction to the recent referendum in Switzerland, which banned the construction of new minarets for mosques.

According to the report Meryem Ana is more than 250 years old and is one of a handful of churches that serve the Syriac community in Turkey.

There is little doubt that the Turkish government’s anti-Christian policies have a good deal of popular support: this is, quite simply, an anti-Christian culture (and therefore incompatible, I would argue, with the European culture it claims to want to be part of). About the same time as the incident at Meryem Ana, a survey showed that more than half of the population of Turkey opposes members of other religions being allowed to hold meetings or to publish materials explaining their faith. The survey also found that almost 40 per cent of the population of Turkey said they had “very negative” or “negative” views of Christians.

This is a problem with a long and violent history, which has in no way moderated in recent decades: ponder for a moment the state-sponsored and state-orchestrated Istanbul pogrom of September 1955, which was directed primarily at Istanbul’s Greek minority.

The riots were orchestrated by the Turkish military’s Tactical Mobilization Group, the seat of Operation Gladio’s Turkish branch; the Counter-Guerrilla. The events were triggered by the news that the Turkish consulate in Thessaloniki, north Greece – the house where Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was born in 1881 – had been bombed the day before. A bomb planted by a Turkish usher of the consulate, who was later arrested and confessed, incited the events. The Turkish press conveying the news in Turkey was silent about the arrest and instead insinuated that Greeks had set off the bomb.

A Turkish mob, most of which had been trucked into the city in advance, assaulted Istanbul’s Greek community for nine hours. Although the mob did not explicitly call for Greeks to be killed, over a dozen people died during or after the pogrom as a result of beatings and arson. Jews, Armenians and Muslims were also harmed.

The pogrom accelerated the dramatic decline already taking place in the ethnic Greek population in Turkey, and particularly in Istanbul. In 1927, the Greek population of Turkey was 119,822; the official Turkish figures for 2008 were 3,000–4,000, though according to Human Rights Watch, the Greek population in Turkey was estimated at 2,500 in 2006. All this has had, of course, a huge effect on the Christian cause in Turkey itself, and puts the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople in an almost impossibly difficult position. Turkey requires by law that the Ecumenical Patriarch must be an ethnic Greek by birth (and just what kind of country is it that has laws like that?), holding Turkish citizenship, despite the expulsion of most the Greek population. There have also been expropriations of church property by the state, which closed down the Orthodox Theological School of Halki in 1971; appeals against this from the United States, the European Union and various NGOs have been simply ignored. The Turkish government (unlike the Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, the Pope, and indeed most of Christendom) refuses to recognise the Ecumenical Patriarch as the titular head of worldwide Orthodoxy, and simply insists (as though it was any business of theirs) that he is no more than the head of Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians in Turkey.

I could go on and on. The point about all this (one point about it at least, there are of course many) is that despite the Turkish government’s claim to be addressing its appalling human rights record in response to EU demands, the one thing it isn’t doing is to clean up its attitude to the Christian minority in Turkey. And the EU doesn’t even seem to be interested. I wonder why that is? Do you suppose they have a sneaking sympathy with the Turks?



With the attacks on Christians in Syria now acknowledged in the Western media; it’s patently obvious the soonite insurgents have taken a leaf out of their Turkish masters’ book. Who mercilessly murdered and expelled Greek & Armenian Christians from their land!

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:24 am


53. mjabali said:

Sami said in comment #24:

Having said that I would like to make something clear Secularism ≠ Atheism.


Secularism is not Atheism. Secularism is the separation between religion and state. In a secular state you can have believers and atheists in the same place with the same law governing all. Secularism establishes for you the rules of the public space. Whatever you want to worship is guaranteed to you under Secularism.

PS: Hey: Sami aka Edgar Allen Poe: do you watch your sentences? You put two sentences in one. These are two separate sentences. what is wrong with your English here mr. Shakespeare?

This is what you wrote in comment #24: ”
A secular state is a state with no set religion but rather a state that recognizes ALL religions (and non-religions) of its citizens, there is absolutely no reason why a religious party cannot run for office in a secular state.”

Also regarding what was the official language of Damascus in the 19th C., I still say Turkish was the official. Arabic was getting out of fashion especially with After the Ibrahim Basha period. Arabic came as a response to the Turkification of Damascus and the Turkification policies of the Ottomans. This is no secret. I asked my dog and he knew this.

If it was not to the Shami Christians (Lebanon, Palestinians, Syrians: Zreiq, Azurri etc) and an Algerian (Taher al-Jazairi) Arabic would have not known its renaissance of the early 20th C.

AS for the ethnic composition of the population of Damascus, I also still in my position: Damascus is a very mixed city. Studying the 19th C. alone shows you how mixed it is.

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:35 am


54. mjabali said:


Don’t you lie when you say that the Alawis are Persians?

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:36 am


55. Warren said:

The wretched and god-forsaken soonites have failed miserably in their attempts to kill the Lion of Syria. In frustration, the followers of the rabid barbaric creed have resorted to killing rabbits and posted it on the internet: to demonstrate soonite prowess!



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January 2nd, 2013, 7:36 am


56. mjabali said:


I read your nice posts and wonder who is the one giving you all of those thumbs down.

It is obvious that who is giving you 12 thumbs downs is one person.

My dog and I went on an investigation and were able to find our right away the criminal who is manipulating the thumbs down/up system!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guess who is this “man?”

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:39 am


57. apple_mini said:

According to news,a rebels’ commander, Maher Samak was killed during their attack on Taftanas military airport.

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:50 am


58. Observer said:

I think the issue is whether the identity called Syrian comes before the particular of each subgroup or after. It is clear that for the Kurds they were second rate citizens and therefore in the presence of a weakened central state and its attractiveness of an overriding identity, it is only natural that the sects and ethnic groups revert to their tribal and kin affiliation.

I also think that the borders are artificial and the ME entities are inherently unstable and will implode as Iraq and Sudan did and Syria will also.

So the Baath party failed in making the Arab National identity as a primordial identity and this regime has many years ago lost its legitimacy especially towards the Kurds when it withdrew the citizenship to spite Turkey. The regime is an arsonist extortionist criminal enterprise.

AIG do not waste your time and effort ZOO does not answer questions. He is extra lucide as they say and he has exclusive access to the truth. He wears Ray Ban sun glasses and they make him see the world as belonging to the Athad family and the world is their playground and the humans are their slaves.

So this post in my opinion is about legitimacy of any regime in providing
1. State institutions
2. The rule of law
3. Accountability to the electorate

It is not easy to accomplish those tasks and a strong state may abuse its position and electoral fickleness may make a state weak and unresponsive and special interests may undermine the rule of law.

In the meantime atrociites abound and the Ostritch has become the king of animals in the ZOO of Somaria Alathad.

Cheers and as long as there is no justice for Hamza this regime remains illegitimate. After all Freddo himself promised justice

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January 2nd, 2013, 8:04 am


59. Juergen said:

Top Mideast story of 2012: Syria’s ongoing uprising

Will the Assad regime fall, and if so, how long will it take? Will there be an intervention by neighboring states, the US or Israel?

“Abdul Rahman al-Rashed, in the Saudi-backed Arabic daily Asharq Alawsat, contemplates what a third year of conflict would mean for Syria. The Syrian regime “has prolonged its life not due to the valor of Assad or his forces but because the superpowers took the decision not to intervene, as they did in Libya.” He goes on to predict Assad’s demise in the coming year.”


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January 2nd, 2013, 8:04 am


60. Sami said:


“Secularism is not Atheism. Secularism is the separation between religion and state”

Maybe you should put on your reading glasses, because THAT IS EXACTLY what I wrote… and the ≠sign is a DOES NOT EQUAL sign. Go ask your dog…

“PS: Hey: Sami aka Edgar Allen Poe: do you watch your sentences? You put two sentences in one. These are two separate sentences. what is wrong with your English here mr. Shakespeare?”

I do watch my sentences, and they are mostly constructed correctly and anyone that passed grade school English shouldn’t have any problems reading them. This should explain your hard time comprehending them.

By the way the comma, is a punctuation mark indicating a PAUSE between sentences… and the Mr. in your “mr. Shakespeare” should be capitalized.

And what you have to say about what the people of Damascus please provide FACTS, with accompanying documentation or links. For the very basics of research would prove your point null:

After the victory of the Abbasid dynasty, the seat of Islamic power was moved to Baghdad. Damascus saw a political decline throughout the Abbasid era, only to regain significant importance in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods. During Ottoman rule, the city decayed completely while maintaining a certain cultural prestige.

And of course Damascus is a mixed city, always have always will be.

I think you just like to argue for the sake of it, even when you know you are wrong.

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January 2nd, 2013, 8:33 am


61. Sami said:


Are you aware that Turkey just as in France is a strict observer of the principle of laïcité?

Personally I am not in favour of laïcité, I do understand the importance religion plays in peoples lives. But I am fully in favour of a Secular State especially since Syria is a country with multi-religious backgrounds.

Btw many times you write in the plural as in “we”, may I ask are you speaking on behalf of a group officially here?

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January 2nd, 2013, 8:43 am


62. zoo said:


” harldy anyone is still talking good these days about the regime.”

In view of the ‘friends’ you have in Syria, I would have been surprised if there were any.

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January 2nd, 2013, 8:46 am


63. Visitor said:

Sami @56,

You need to be patient with jabali. His math skills are rudimentary, and while his dog far surpasses him in many areas and deserves the highest repect as a canine, I doubt the dog has been tutored in math.

Keep in mind that Jabali is the typical متفلسف type that you find in many mountainous areas, hence the name.

We are trying to set him up as a gas station attendant where a need for windshield cleaner may arise that would keep him afloat with good tips. Otherwise, we’ll try to find him a meat grinding job in an 3ar’our co.



The use of we is an oversight. I made it clear in many posts that I prefer a one-one discussion and would never tolerate a discussion where someone claims to speak on behalf of many and that includes me.

Yes I am aware of Kemalist laicism.

As I mentioned I am against it in principle because of the historical reasons that I mentioned. However, you must pay attention to the term imported secularism, which is what I am really against.

It is fair to say that even in Turkey imported laicism has been destructive as it has been in Syria, Iraq, Egypt and others.

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January 2nd, 2013, 8:47 am


64. zoo said:

#57 Sami

“Are you aware that Turkey just as in France is a strict observer of the principle of laïcité?

This is totally incorrect.
(Also read about the recent announcement of the mandatory exam on religion to be admitted in Turkish Universities). Turkey is been increasingly Islamized by the AKP that is conservative and ideological close to the Moslem Brotherhood
In France any sign of religion is banned from schools ( hejab kippas, crosses). Hejab is outlawed in public places.. etc…


Turkey is “officially” a secular country with no official religion since the constitutional amendment in 1924 and later strengthened in the Kemalist Ideology, alongside the Atatürk’s reforms and the appliance of laïcité by Atatürk at the end of 1937. However, currently all public schools from elementary to high school hold mandatory religion classes which only focus on the Sunni sector of Islam. In these classes, children are required to learn prayers and other religious practices which belong specifically to Sunnism. Thus, although Turkey claims to be a Secular state, the enforcement of secularism in public grade schools is controversial. Its application to join the EU divided existing members, some of which questioned whether a Muslim country could fit in. Turkey accused its EU opponents of favouring a “Christian club”.[7]

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January 2nd, 2013, 8:52 am


65. mjabali said:

Visitor the Chiwawa with the meat grinder:

ولاك قردYour self esteem is at Zero.

You write some outlandish crap and give your self 12 thumbs up if not even more.

I see you how you give the people you do not like 6 thumbs downs here and 12 there. My dog told me that you are not that smart.

PS: You should concentrate on your gas station business and not waste your time online.

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January 2nd, 2013, 9:25 am


66. mjabali said:


Your sources like Wikipedea and Lawrence of Arabia’s book are laughable at best. It is like bringing a toothpick to a tank battle.

Reply to my claim that Turkish was the official language in Damascus most of the 19th C.

Reply to my claim that there was a huge Turkification wave in Syria back then.

Also reply to my claim that the ethnic population of Damascus is very mixed with the ethnic Arabs constituting a minority, especially in the 19th C.

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January 2nd, 2013, 9:31 am


67. mjabali said:

Hajji Observer: Notice how this قرد gave you 6 thumbs down in one shot.

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January 2nd, 2013, 9:33 am


68. Juergen said:


Syrian air force bombed gas station in suburb of Maliha killing at least 30 people and injuring many.

The bombardement started right when a shipment of gasoline arrived.

I await youtube videos.

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January 2nd, 2013, 9:42 am


69. Ghat Al Bird said:

Another year where Syrians some with “foreign” friends are killing each other.

Bibi Nethanyahu must be ecstatic that the plan his team in the US called a “Clean Break” and which covered the invasion of Iraq, the attacks against Iran as well as the destabilization of Syria is in process.

Are there no Syrians that are able to call a truce and talk to each other towards an acceptable solution to the killings of Syrian men, women and children?

The only winners in this tragedy are ALL non syrians.

Happy New Year.

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January 2nd, 2013, 9:56 am


70. Citizen said:

64. JUERGEN said:
I await youtube videos.

Yallah men there! Your gentlemen,still waiting for your movie in youTube! do it faster! your mother!

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January 2nd, 2013, 10:16 am


71. Visitor said:

Zabali @62,

It has become my specialty to drive idiots like you to such levels of madness.

It gives me soooooooooo much pleasure, especially now that you made it clear that you have nothing better to do than counting stupid thumbs up/down. Ask your dog for a solution for this dilemma. It may give you a clue on how to improve your score and regain your self confidence.

Right now we only have jobs in meat grinding @ 3Ar’our and Sons. Are you interested? No tips. Straight time.

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January 2nd, 2013, 10:31 am


72. Syrian said:

For you to talk about the the Arabisim of Damascus is laughabel,
The Turkish languge up tp 1922 was written in arabic letters,
the turkish calls damascus to this day as Sham Shareef and conisdered it the fourth holisest city in the world after Mecca. Madina. and Alqudes,
what you called the”Turkification policies of the Ottomans” is outright lie, because that only happened for vey short time at the end of vey end of the Ottoman rules and that was all under the Secularist Yong Turk, who by the way also did the Araminan population transfers and not the Ottomans
Finally I don’t need wikki. or any source to proov to you that you are not an Arab, all you have to do is go and look in the mirror and study that Hayna look of your Kneck that all Alwais are famous for, the long one peice Attachec neck to the back that no Arab have it.you know what i’m talking about it is what Hamwies who know you best call Sendayha

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January 2nd, 2013, 10:48 am


73. Roland said:

@54 Observer,

Most of the countries in the world are polyethnic.

Most of the countries in the world have boundaries, or at least sections thereof, which have been drawn arbitrarily.

Does that mean that most countries don’t deserve to have their sovereignty or territorial integrity respected?

I think that is intellectually lazy and slovenly to argue that this country or that country is “artificial,” especially when such a condition is noticed only during a time of trouble in a given country.

If the current legitimacy of a state seems questionable, how can anyone assume that the imposition of new boundaries or a revised ethnic composition would be more legitimate? Existing states, even if arbitrarily established in the past, usually have some legitimacy simply from the standpoint of usage.

As for the tired old laundry-list of “rule of law” etc. please note that those worthy things can arise only after the paramount question of sovereignty is resolved. Until there is a sovereignty, there cannot be rule of law, constitutionality, and so forth. Unfortunately, in war, and especially in civil war, sovereignty is exactly what is most in dispute.

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January 2nd, 2013, 3:44 pm


74. William Scott Scherk said:

Is SYRIAN making some important points about sect, ethnicity, ‘race’, genetics and human varieties … or is he making bigoted statements about Alawites and Kurds and Arabs?

If not the latter, what is the goal of these remarks? I don’t see any aim but to provoke hatred and contempt:

that Hayna look of your Kneck that all Alwais are famous for
— it is what Hamwies who know you best call Sendayha
— no such thing as Kurdish nation they are called through out history as mountain Turk

How low do commentators want to go? One-topic pot-bangers like Warren use abusive terms for ‘Soonites,’ as does the suddenly MIA Revenire. But no one expects Warren or Revenire to have an intelligent discussion.

In real life, face to face, all of these gambits are ‘fighting words,’ and are no part of civil discussion. They are used only to provoke confrontation and conflict. They are the taunts of brutes, thugs and worse.

Is there some way we can encourage angry Syrian expatriates to treat each other with some basic humanity here?

Syrian, can you explain why you reduce MJABALI to a set of physical characteristics? Is there any other end result but to dehumanize and to sort into categories for extermination?

Why, Syrian, why use such language? If the end result is that you appear a loathsome racist heckler, have you won any prize?

If only you could see that otherwise reasonable arguments are poisoned and killed by taint of sectarian demagoguery.

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January 2nd, 2013, 7:22 pm


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