Residents of Qamishli Shaken by Recent Wave of Bombings

07/10/2012 RUDAW By ADIB ABDULMAJID – AMSTERDAM, Netherlands – Until recently, the Kurdish city of Qamishli in northeast Syria had remained relatively secure throughout the ongoing Syrian uprising. However, in the last few days, Qamishli has received two messages described by residents as “terrorist” in nature.The first was a suicide bombing targeting a square where the governmental and security departments are located. Eight people were reported killed, most of them from the security office. A number of civilians were injured and surrounding buildings were damaged.

The second “message” was a sound bomb that was placed in front of a secondary school by an anonymous source, but didn’t result in any damage. 

A number of opposition figures, especially members of the Syrian National Council (SNC), saw the suicide bombing as evidence of the “Syrian people’s insistence on liberating the country” and proof of the presence of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in all parts of the country.However, the majority of the Kurds considered these violent acts unacceptable and aimed at shaking the stability of the Kurdish regions. Kurdish areas of Syria have turned into a sanctuary for displaced Syrian Arabs who have fled their cities and villages due to the conflict between Assad’s forces and FSA rebels.

Soyar Saeed, a Kurdish activist and member of the Kurdish National Council (KNC), told Rudaw that the unprecedented bombing in Qamishli is being considered a systematically planned criminal act meant to bring chaos to the Kurdish region of Syria. “Prudence and caution are required by the different Kurdish movements to avoid a radical and extremist mentality and prevent any bloodshed in the Kurdish areas,” Saeed said.

Ibrahim Yusuf, a prominent Kurdish writer, commented on the incident, saying that the regime has tried to inflame hostility against the Kurds for decades “in order to reinforce the hatred between the different components in this region.”

“No matter which party stands behind such operations is in the Kurdish region, and what the goals of that party are, such operations will serve no one but the regime, and will definitely ignite sedition in all of Syria,” Yusuf told Alkurdiya News. According to Yusuf, it is important to take the new situation in the Kurdish areas into consideration since these areas represent a safe haven to Arab refugees who fled Homs, Hama, Aleppo, Deir Ezzor and other Syrian cities. “Thus, the Kurdish areas are now a sanctuary to families, and should be excluded from any violent acts and FSA operations that would threaten the lives of these refugees as much as those of the Kurdish residents,” Yusuf said.

Sarbast Nabi, a Syrian Kurdish professor of philosophy at the University of Erbil, said that the bombings in Qamishli basically aim to drag the Kurdish areas in Syria into the ongoing tension at any cost.   “Those who prepared and carried out such terroristic attacks want to ignite the flames of conflict in the Kurdish areas which have always opposed Assad and his rule,” Nabi told Rudaw.

“Such operations and the manner of executing them should be condemned in order to prevent them from occurring again. An audacious stance is required in this regard, because we are not willing to justify any party’s mistakes, whether it is the regime or the FSA, whatever the pretext is.”

According to Asharq Alawsat, the FSA claimed responsibility for the first attack in Qamishli. Last week, deputy chief of staff for the FSA, Colonel Arif al-Hamoud, revealed to the newspaper that the group had established a new military council in Hasaka city. He added that this brigade carried out the attack on Qamishli.

“Our military council in Hasaka province started its operations against the Assad forces in this area, and the suicide bombing carried out on Sunday in Qamishli is just the beginning of a series of operations that will take place in the coming days,” Hamoud said. He added that the FSA can liberate the northeastern area with a “little effort,” because, according to him, the regime is not in total control of this area.

“The main goal of the FSA operations in the northern border areas is to liberate them in order to establish safe corridors that connect the northeastern and northwestern areas. This would represent a remarkable support to our efforts in overthrowing this tyrannical regime,” Hamoud added.

Many activists denied FSA’s responsibility for the Qamishli attacks. Yilmaz Saeed, a member of the Kurdish Youth Movement (Tevgera Ciwanên Kurds), told Rudaw that the attacks seem to be led by “citizens from Arab areas,” those who were displaced by the brutal crackdown of Assad forces and took refuge in Kurdish areas.

“It is most likely that the executers of the Qamishli bombings are Arabs who fled their cities and came to the city due to the escalation of violence in their areas. They are willing to do anything in order to take revenge on the Assad regime,” Saeed said in an interview with Rudaw.

According to Saeed, more suicide bombings could occur in the Kurdish areas.

“Such attacks will be in favor of the Arabist opposition forces who still refuse to acknowledge Kurdish rights and aim to convert the Kurdish area into an arena for armed conflict,” Saeed concluded.

The spokesperson of the People’s Council of Western Kurdistan, Sherzad Yezidi, said that there are attempts by some sectarian opposition parties to destabilize the Kurdish region in Syria. “The regime is to be blamed for most of what is going on in Syria, but we should also admit that there is a sectarian opposition, supported by the Turkish government, looking to tamper with the security of the Kurdish area and deprive it of stability,” Yezidi told Alkurdiya News.

“Since the beginning of the popular uprising, the Kurds have been committed to civil resistance and a peaceful revolution against the regime,” Yezidi added. “Therefore, we refuse all kinds of terrorist acts such as killing, kidnapping and bombing. And we want reassurance that we will not be an incubator for terrorists.”Most Kurdish activists emphasize the importance of taking a clear and unified stance against the attacks on the Kurdish region, and say that the Kurdish political movement needs to honor its responsibilities in this regard. If not, the region could be the stage for conflict not only between the FSA and the regime’s forces, but also between divided Kurdish forces. Others believe that a unified Kurdish armed force is needed in order to face the danger looming in the future and to preserve the Kurdish areas. Otherwise, a political stance and condemnation of the acts will be in vain.