From ‘Syrian Arab Republic’ to ‘The Syrian Republic’: Multi-ethnic identity regained



ARA News

The opposition’s Syrian National Coalition held several meetings with representatives from the Kurdish National Council in Syria (KNC) to discuss the possibility of including the Kurds in the ranks of the coalition. An agreement was reached between both parties on the basis of the commitment to the goals of the Syrian revolution in ousting he current Syrian regime, and achieving justice and equality between all components of the Syrian community.  

As a step into the equality between all ethnic groups in the country, the agreement included renaming the country as “The Syrian Republic” instead of “Syrian Arab Republic”; thus, removing the term “Arab” from the official name of the country to be inclusive to all the non-Arab ethnic groups in Syria, as demanded by the Kurds −the largest non-Arab ethnic group in the country.   

In a conference held this week in Istanbul, the majority of members of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC)−extended body of the Syrian opposition factions− voted pro the decision of removing the term “Arab” and naming the country officially as “The Syrian Republic”. Accordingly, 52 members out of 80 approved their agreement on the step. 

The Kurds welcomed the SNC’s decision, considering it as a step forward towards a democratic and pluralistic Syria. 

In the statement issued by the coalition, Kurds were recognized as “the Kurdish nation in Syria”.

However, this issue raised the outrage of many Arabs in Syria.

Kamal Labwani, member of the Syrian National Coalition, strongly disagreed with the SNC’s decision to remove the term of “Arab” from Syria’s official name, accusing the coalition’s leadership to be influenced by an American agenda regarding including the Kurdish National Council in the ranks of the SNC.  

“Recognizing the Kurds as a ‘nation’ opens the door to the potential division of Syria, and this is explicitly one of the U.S.’s aspirations,” Labwani said during a press conference on Saturday. 

Ndeem al-Kheder, member of the Syrian Trustees Council, expressed his wrath about removing the term “Arab” from the country’s name, accusing the liberal member of the SNC, Michael Kilo, of “cowardice” and “waiver” to the Kurds.

“Kilo and his block are trying to manipulate the SNC and monopolize the decision-making process, beside cooperating with figures like Saleh Muslim (head of Kurdish PYD in Syria) and the minorities, and they recognized the Kurds as a nation; the fact which implies to recognize an alleged Kurdish right to autonomy,” Kheder stated on his personal page on the Kurdish networking site Facebook. 

On the other hand, some Arabs, unlike their peers, did not show refusal to the SNC’s step.

the Syrian journalist and Hena newspaper’s editor–in-chief, Naji al-Jarf, told ARA News that the official name of the country remains a secondary issue and “does not need the current outrage of many Syrian Arabs”.

“I am with the name of ‘Syrian Republic’, or the ‘Syrian State’. This issue remains secondary in comparison to other primary issues,” al-Jarf said.

Mohammed Haj Darwish, leading member in the Syrian Democratic Party, said in a interview with ARA News that he supports the SNC’s recent step of renaming Syria as “The Syrian Republic”. However, Darwish said that discussing such issues could preferably be “delayed until ousting the regime and achieving the goal of the revolution”.  

Historically, Syria was first named as “The Syrian Republic” in 1932. The name was amended into “Syrian Arab Republic” in 1963 after a military coup led by members of the Baath Party. 


Source: ARA News

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