Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Who Killed Maashouq?

Will the killing of Kurdish Sheikh Maashouq Al-Khaznawi prove a watershed of violent developments between Arab and Kurds in Syria? Perhaps. Kurdish popular reactions over the next few days will provide the answer.

Sheikh Maashouq began to play an increasingly prominent role in the Syrian Kurdish Community over the last couple of years both as an advocate or reconciliation with the Arab population and a spokesman for moderate Islam. His message of peace and reconciliation had attracted a lot of attention, support and admiration among Syria’s Kurdish population. Indeed, his sudden “disappearance” a short while ago drew thousands of Kurdish demonstrators to the streets in the Syria’s northernmost city of Qamishly.

But, and in contract to the tragic developments last year though, these demonstrations were pretty peaceful. The demonstrators, most of whom suspected that Sheikh Maashouq had been kidnapped by the local security apparatuses, merely urged the central authorities to find out the truth about his disappearance and to secure his release.

Instead, the authorities delivered to them his reportedly tortured and mutilated body. The Sheikh was killed by family members we are told. Can we believe that? Can Maashouq’s Kurdish disciples believe that? Will Maashouq prove to be Syria’s Hariri? Will he prove the hair that broke the camel’s back? Or, and as the Syrian saying goes, will the entire event prove to be just another fart against the marble floor?

For Syria’s Arab population, it might as well be? For Syria’s Kurdish population though, even if not rioting should take place for the moment, the event at the every least, is bound to increase their sense of alienation and radicalism.

So, and while Syria’s Arabs will continue, over the next few days, to look for a miracle to take place during the upcoming Baath Congress, the Kurds will continue to look at Syria’s realities from a completely different perspective, one that will be much harder to reconcile with Arab expectations. The fragmentation of the country continues.

But what country am I talking about here? Indeed, the upcoming Congress will feature a walking corpse presiding over a hunched corpse lording over a flattened corpse. Death is the only offering we have left. And we're giving it profusely.

PS. Oh yes. I should probably note here that in the midst of all this mayhem, my family and I found some time on May 30 to celebrate my birthday. I have just finished my 39th year of walking tall on this bedlam earth.
Is that too arrogant?