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Kurds Observe Nowruz in Syria

Kurds Observe Nowruz in Syria

Thursday, 21 March, 2019 - 09:45
Kurds celebrating Nowruz in Qamishli, Syria, Asharq Al-Awsat
Qamishli (East Syria) – Kamal Sheikho
Kurds in northeastern Syria are marking Nowruz, the Kurdish new year, with the traditional fire festivities, delicious foods, family gatherings, street dances and loud banging on pots, amid growing anxiety among the Arab communities fearing the ethnic group’s expanded clout, with nearly all of the eastern bank of the Euphrates falling under their military control.

In Qamishli’s central market, in observance of Nowruz (which literally means “new day”), Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) flags dot the streets. The SDF is an amalgamation of a US-backed Kurdish and Syrian fighters that have come together to fight ISIS since 2011.

Sakfan, a 32-year-old Qamishli resident, voiced his joy on the advent of Nowruz saying that the day “marks the onset of spring, and is a cultural fete Kurds had been deprived from celebrating.”

Dressed in a kaleidoscope of colors weaved into a traditional garb, Parivan, 26, openly expressed her joy next to 5,000 of those observing Nowruz in Qamishli.

“It is a beautiful emotion you feel when celebrating the holiday and the spring equinox,” she said ecstatic, adding that Kurds everywhere await the advent of Norwuz and “hope for wars to end, and for peace to prevail among peoples.”

Until the outbreak of civil war in 2011, Nowruz was not recognized as a national holiday in Syria. Many believed that the policy behind dropping the celebration was a move by the Bashar al-Assad regime to stifle Kurdish ethnic individuality.

Before the Kurdish Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria, known as Rojava, was established, many Nowruz activists, politicians, event organizers, and adherents were arrested by the authorities.

The Assad government has vowed to seize control over areas run by the US-backed SDF with the Syrian Defense Minister, General Ali Abdullah Ayoub, saying that the SDF will be dealt with “reconciliations or force.”

In response to his statements, Shahuz Hassan, head of the Syrian Democratic Union Party, one of the most prominent political parties that runs the eastern Euphrates region, believes that reconciliation talks with the Assad administration will focus on a new constitution which ensures the rights of ethnic minorities in the country.

“Our dialogue will be on the basis of negotiating a new constitution that preserves the rights of all components, and I note that it will not be at the expense of our national principles and democracy,” Hassan told Asharq Al-Awsat.

“Any negotiations should be held with international guarantees. We are talking about a roadmap that will pave the way for the start of talks for a comprehensive solution in Syria,” he confirmed.

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