Beyond Sectarianism in Syria – The Truce of Ras Al Ayn

Kurdish and Arab militias waged a bitter battle for three months in the  northern city of Ras Al Ayn, in Hassakeh province.  Now, they’ve reached a truce that has managed to last into a third week, marking  an early success for a nascent group of peacekeepers led by famed Christian  dissident Michel Kilo.

Syria’s northern towns  and villages, with their complex ethnic and religious divisions, are a tinderbox  for internecine fighting. They contain fault lines between ethnic groups, Kurds  and Arabs, and among competing forces within each group — battle lines that  could trigger a disintegration of the Syrian state. Ras Al Ayn is a microcosm of  them, arguably the most complex town in the region.

The months of fighting in Ras Al Ayn killed nearly 300 people. It  took a diverse group of men and women, Kurds and Arabs, Alawites, Sunnis,  Christians, tribal leaders and urbanites to broker Feb. 17’s tenuous  peace.

“We tried to have all sects represented,” said Ata Kaml Ata, a member of the  Committee for the Protection of the Civil Peace and Revolution, a new group  formed by Kilo. In a sign of the anti-partisanship for which Kilo strives, Ata,  a Sunni from Homs and a member of the Syrian Democratic Party, said the  committee was formed through consensus. Its members were chosen specifically  because they weren’t biased to the parties embroiled in the conflict.

Abdul Bari Uthman, another member and the  head of the Kurdish Syrian Revolutionary Movement in Qamishli, told Syria Deeply that the  “committee was a national initiative for mediation by Syrians with no ties to  the National Coalition,” the main opposition umbrella group led by Moaz al  Khatib. In other words, this was an independent effort.



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