Syria’s Kurds protest exclusion from constitutional committee

Syrian Kurds demonstrate in front of the UN headquarters in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli in northeast Syria on October 2, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2019

Syria’s Kurds protest exclusion from constitutional committee

  • Carrying placards, demonstrators gathered in front of UN offices in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli
  • Talaat Younes, a Kurdish administration official, stressed the need to include “all components of Syrian society”

QAMISHLI: Hundreds of Kurds demonstrated in northeast Syria on Wednesday in protest at their minority community’s “exclusion” from a United Nations-backed committee tasked with drafting a new constitution for the war-devastated country.
Carrying placards, demonstrators gathered in front of UN offices in the Kurdish-majority city of Qamishli.
“It’s our right to participate in the drafting of the constitution,” read one sign.
The United Nations on September 23 announced the long-awaited formation of the committee to include 150 members, split evenly between Syria’s government, the opposition and Syrian civil society.
Individual Kurdish representatives linked to the Syrian opposition or civil society groups are part of the constitutional committee.
But the Kurdish administration in northeast Syria that controls nearly 30 percent of the country has said its exclusion was “unjust.”
Talaat Younes, a Kurdish administration official, stressed the need to include “all components of Syrian society.”
Around him, men and women carried portraits of Kurdish fighters who had died battling the Daesh group in Syria.
Syria’s Kurds led the US-backed fight against IS in northern and eastern Syria, expelling the jihadist group from their last major redoubt in the country in March.
“Our military force has achieved significant success. We must have representatives on this committee,” said Hashem Shawish, one of the protesters.
Long marginalized, Syria’s Kurds have largely stayed out of Syria’s eight-year civil war, instead setting up their own institutions in areas under their control.
They have been sidelined from UN-led peace talks as well as a parallel Russian-backed negotiation track, mainly due to objections by Turkey, which considers them to be terrorists.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people and displaced millions since erupting in 2011 with the repression of anti-government protests.


Palestinians: Israeli settlers torch cars in West Bank

Updated 22 November 2019

Palestinians: Israeli settlers torch cars in West Bank

  • Hard-line settlers have been known to carry out “price tag” attacks in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion
  • The Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state

RAMALLAH, West Bank: Israeli settlers attacked five villages in the occupied West Bank overnight, torching vehicles and olive trees, and leaving graffiti on the walls of homes, Palestinian officials said Friday.
Ghassan Daghlas, a spokesman for the Nablus governorate, said the Jewish settlers set fire to five cars and spray-painted graffiti on more than 20 others. Villagers circulated photos of the damage on social media.
Israeli police say they are investigating the reports and that police and military units will visit the area.
Hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Mideast War. The Palestinians claim the West Bank as part of their future state.
Hard-line settlers have been known to carry out “price tag” attacks in response to Palestinian militant attacks or perceived efforts by Israeli authorities to limit settlement expansion. It was unclear what sparked the latest attack.
In the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, Palestinian health authorities said a man died of wounds he sustained in an Israeli airstrike earlier this month that killed eight members of his family. The Gaza Health Ministry identified the man as 40-year-old Mohammed Abu Malhous.
Those killed in the airstrike included two women and five children under the age of 13.
Israel’s military said it was targeting “Islamic Jihad military infrastructure” and did not expect civilians to be present. It said an investigation is underway.
The airstrike came during two days of fighting ignited by Israel’s targeted killing of a commander of the Islamic Jihad militant group. The fighting killed 35 Palestinians and more than 450 rockets were fired into Israel.