Communal Tensions Simmer in Syria's Aleppo
[An Nahar] The Kurdish rebel sits fiddling with his Kalashnikov looking bored when a comrade suddenly breaks into screams of "
holy shit! Allahu akbar" as a series of kabooms reverberate from the front line.
"Take it easy, take it easy, he can't hear you," says the Kurd, sitting next to a pile of broken glass on the street, his jeans rolled up to reveal knock-off black plimsolls with the word "PRADA" written on the label.
From where he stands checking the IDs of civilians crossing the front line of the Syrian war in Aleppo
...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins...
he can see the checkpoint of the Kurdish militia reviled by many of his comrades in the overwhelmingly Sunni Arab, Free Syrian Army (FSA).
But although he and his comrades say they are brothers fighting together to bring down Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir
Horror of Homs...
, at their post in the neighborhood of Bushtan al-Basha they disagree on what a new Syria would look like.
"We need an Islamic government," says 20-year-old Mutassim, before his Allahu Akbar chants, his beard wispy and a crocheted white prayer cap rammed on top of his head.
But the Kurd, who does not want to give his name, says he joined the rebels to avoid national service in President Bashir al-Assad's army, and not to be a "mujahid" like Mutassim.
Asked whether he wants an Islamic government, he gives an emphatic "No".
"We need a government for everyone," he added. After chatting a bit longer, his commander barks across the street for him to go back to his checkpoint. He doesn't move.
One day earlier, festivities broke out nearby between the FSA and Kurdish beturbanned goons as Mohammedans celebrated Eid al-Adha, in which one watchdog said 30 people were killed.
The fighting in Ashrafiyeh on Friday was the deadliest such incident between Kurds and the armed opposition of the 19-month uprising against Assad and came one day after the rebels moved into the mixed neighborhood.
The Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), the Syrian branch of the leftist and secular Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) that controls the area and which professes to be neutral, blamed both the regime and the FSA for the violence.
There are deep tensions between the PYD, which has been seen as doing the regime's bidding, and the rebels, seen by the Kurds as being influenced by an Islamist agenda.
But the FSA, which is already overstretched and under armed, can ill afford to take on the Kurds, no matter how much their foot soldiers bray for Dire Revenge™.
Posted by: Fred