This crisis is profound and involves all institutions and pillars of the state. It is not a temporary crisis that has emerged as a reaction to corruption and regime practices within certain state institutions. Instead it is the result of historical negative accumulations, which have led to an increase in the influence of the nation state’s institutions at the expense of wider society. In addition, since the foundation of the modern Syrian state, successive regimes have pursued a systematic nationalistic policy based upon exclusion through the notion of one nationality, one country, and one language.
The public outburst that is occurring in the form of popular protests in Syria now demonstrates the ideological bankruptcy of the nation-state model. Change, which we demand today, should not be confined to the form of political regime, but should become a process of radical change that includes all aspects of society and state institutions. In this context, this change, in its fundamental aspect, must provide a solution to the Kurdish issues.
Unlike the visions and attitudes of many political powers within the Syrian opposition, and unlike the reform programme proposed by the regime, solving the Kurdish issue is the essence of the democratisation process in Syria. We believe that the Kurdish issue cannot be separated from the Syrian issue, because without solving the issues facing Kurdish society it is difficult to find a solution to the problems that face Syrian society.
We consider the way that all the political powers handle the Kurdish question in Western Kurdistan to be the true reflection of their attitude towards the Syrian democratisation process.
Unfortunately, we have observed that, so far, all the proposed reform projects intending to resolve the current crisis marginalise and deny any possible solution to the Kurdish issue. Regrettably, all those projects to solve the Kurdish issue that have been proposed by the opposition, which presents itself as an alternative political force, are similar to those projects proposed by the incumbent regime. Some believe that the Kurdish question would be resolved through regime change as part of the democratisation process. They, therefore, do not consider the Kurdish question worth mentioning at this stage. Others look at the Kurdish issue as secondary and as an ethnic issue that could be solved by giving the Kurds some basic rights. However, they neither consider it a national nor a social issue. The regime, on the other hand, has persecuted our people over the years and has formed an alliance with regional powers (such as Iran and Turkey) to eliminate the Kurdish liberation movement. Hence, the reforms that are proposed by this regime are confined to some individual rights, which deny the fact that the Kurds in Syria are a distinctive ethnicity with a distinctive socio-cultural identity.
In this historical phase that Syria is going through, democratic change and the finding of a solution to the Kurdish question in Syria are inevitable parts of the democratisation process, which has gone beyond the point of no return. We, therefore, have decided to put forward our project for democratisation and self-governance in Western Kurdistan as the best possible solution to the current political turmoil in Syria. The aim of our project is to find a permanent, radical solution to the crisis the regime faces and to resolve the problems of Kurdish and Syrian society alike.
Our democratic project is comprehensive and contains a principal framework to solve social problems. The project represents our vision of a democratic constitution which can be agreed upon by all social spectrums in Syria. In addition, we believe that our project is a practical programme that will be implemented through building distinctively Kurdish political, economic, cultural and social institutions. Ultimately, this project offers the basis for democratic self-governance in Western Kurdistan.
Section One:
The reality we live in today and all the historical facts clearly point to the failure of the centralised nation-state project, which is based upon unity of language, culture and colour and the exclusion of others in solving national issues in the region. Indeed, the nation-state project exacerbates the situation further and creates new crises. Therefore, by examining Syria’s history, we find that:
The current political map of Syria was drawn in accordance with international agreements between the two main imperial powers (Britain and France), including the Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916), the Cairo Conference (1920) and the Treaty of Lausanne (1923). Those treaties and agreements were unequal in their treatment of the right of nations to self-determination. The imperial powers divided the Ottoman Empire after the end of the First World War into several spheres of influence, in accordance with their imperial ambitions. Consequently, Kurdistan was divided into four parts and the Arab world into several nation states, which were placed under either the British or French mandate. Accordingly, both Syria and Lebanon and the western part of Kurdistan were placed under the French mandate immediately after the First World War. France’s aim was to establish a client, Arab nation state, because the mentality of western colonialism is based upon the notion of the dominant nation state, which serves the interests of the ruling class, culture and nation. This form of state neither accepts nor recognises national pluralism nor multiculturalism. One of the requirements of the nation-state project, which is based on denial, extermination and bloody massacres, is to stand against democracy. It also attempts to melt all cultures, languages, colours, sects and nations in one pot with a dogmatic, chauvinistic and fascist character. 
The nation-state project was founded – for the first time in Europe – on the basis of the suppression of democratic popular revolutions and the dominance of the bourgeoisie built on the gains of those revolutions – first in the Netherlands and then later both in France and Britain. That project was a counterrevolutionary project – it was neither ‘progressive’ nor ‘popular’ as had been initially thought. This project led to the outbreak of many bloody regional wars among European states, including the world wars that killed millions of innocent people and resulted in the greatest devastation and destruction in the history of humanity, similar to in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Halabja. As for the Middle East, this nation-state project – based on the mentality of tyranny and domination – was not consistent with the nature, history, heritage, cultural diversity and historical harmony of the region. Hence, it created animosities among nations according to the colonial principle of “divide and rule”. In addition, the nation-state project produced alien, nationalist and racist institutions hostile to both the culture of peaceful coexistence between the various components in society and the culture of social democracy that had developed in the region twelve thousand years ago after the Neolithic Revolution (i.e. the pre-state period). In short, history has proven that the mentality of the Union and Progress Party in Turkey, the Ba’ath Party and Nasserism that have dominated the Arab world, of Zionism in Israel, and of Islamist Iran is inconsistent both with the nature of the region and the history of its nations. This is because the nation-state project represents a colonialist, chauvinist and nationalist project. The nation state is bankrupt and this is evident in today’s Iraq, because the Middle East is diverse and pluralist by nature and does not accept both mono-nationalism and forced union.
As for Syria, it is a multicultural, diverse and pluralist country and, therefore, the nation state cannot be strictly imposed on this country. The nation-state project in Syria contrasts with the reality of the diversity and plurality that have existed in the country since the pre-Roman era. After independence (17 April 1946), successive governments ruling Syria have represented and served the interests of the ruling class and the colonisers, i.e. the French – the latter’s objective was to build an anti-democratic nation state. Most successive governments – the Government of Shukri al-Qwatli, the Government of United Arab Republic and lastly the Ba’athist Government followed a nationalistic policy through manipulating nationalist sentiments. They moved to impose slavery on all elements of Syrian society. This nationalist policy has, over the years, resulted in the creation of profound political, social, cultural and economic crises in Syria.
In 1949, Syria entered a new era of its history – the era of military coups – that culminated in the Ba’athist coup d’état on 8 March 1963, which was followed by the coup led by the late President Hafez Assad on 16 November 1970, known as the Corrective Movement. The roots of those military coups exist in the structure of the Arab nationalist ideology, especially amongst the Arab bourgeoisie and petit-bourgeois that tried to imitate the French bourgeoisie, who are the true owners of nationalism, nationalist constitutions and the anti-democratic nation state.
The chauvinist nationalist mentality deepened further with the rise of the Ba’ath government, but this does not mean that chauvinism did not exist prior to that. On the contrary, the roots of the chauvinist mentality have been present since the mandate era. The most prominent example of this mentality is found in the Government of the United Arab Republic in the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser. In that era, the government pursued racist chauvinist policies – similar to those of the Ba’ath government – against the Kurdish people. After the collapse of the union with Egypt in 1961, the new government continued the same policy against the Kurds, which reached its peak in the Project of Mohammed Talb Hilal (Head of the Political Security Division in Jazira, 1961-62). This project, similar to the Zionist policy against the Palestinian people and the racist apartheid policy against African people in South Africa, was applied against the Kurds.
The regime entered a period of deep crisis at all levels and this crisis escalated due to the deepening of the centralised nation-state institutions that call for pan-Arabism and other deceitful, glittering ideologies, which drove the masses away from politics and the deep-rooted social ethics in the region – as a result, the concept of the ‘law-abiding citizen’ was no longer applicable. Consequently, emigration, social prejudices and hostilities amongst the Kurds and the Arabs all emerged in the country. Socially, this nation state fuelled aggressive sentiments against the Kurdish people, through its negative anti-Kurdish campaign. Economically, the regime seized control of all the natural resources of the country for the benefit of a handful of oligarchs. This led to extreme poverty.
Furthermore, the regime deepened the moral decay in our society, especially among women and youths. Also, it has controlled the media and all social and cultural institutions to serve its chauvinistic policies. Thus, Syria has been transformed into an economic, social, cultural and intellectual desert, especially after the so-called ‘Socialist Revolution’ of the Ba’ath Party military coup.
As for the Kurdish people in Western Kurdistan (Syria), the terms of Mohammed Talb Hilal’s project has become sacred. Since 1963, successive regimes were fully committed to the implementation of this racist project, which aims at the Arabisation of Kurdish regions, the displacement of the Kurdish community and the melting of Kurdish society in the pot of Arab nationalism. We can summarise the ‘special war’ that has been fought by the nation state in Syria against the Kurdish people since 1962 as having the following effects:
1. Stripping large segments of the Kurdish people of their Syrian citizenship and classifying them as foreigners in their own homeland in accordance with the ill-fated 1962 Census.
2. The conversion of all fertile lands in the Kurdish region into public property under the name of a ‘land reform policy’, and housing the Arab tribes in those areas after forcing the Kurds to migrate by depriving them of property ownership, especially agricultural property. In so doing, the Ba’ath Party tried to create enmity between the Arabs and the Kurds to destroy the historical foundations of the Arab-Kurdish brotherhood.
3. Changing the names of all Kurdish cities and villages and replacing them with names that are not historically related to the region, e.g. Trbi Sipi was initially changed to the White Graves and then later to Qahtanih. The main objective of this policy is to Arabise and change the demographic features of the region.
4. The settlement of Arab tribes, whose lands were affected by flooding, in Kurdish areas – this policy of the Ba’athist regime resembles the Zionist settlement policy in Palestine.
5. The creation of many obstacles that limit the Kurdish presence in the Legislative Council, local administrations, the army and other important government and public offices.
6. Classifying both the Kurdish language and culture as a threat to state security. The regime has adopted systematic security measurements to prevent the Kurdish people from speaking their mother tongue in public and in schools, in order to impose the Arabic language and culture on the Kurds.
7. Extracting natural resources in Kurdish areas in order to benefit the state and the oligarchs, depriving the Kurdish people of their revenue, as is happening in the oil and natural gas fields of Rmelan, Weidieh and Krachuk.
8. Treating the Kurdish issue as a security threat and signing regional agreements against the Kurds, such as the secret Syrian-Turkish-Iranian agreement against the Kurdish Freedom Movement and the Syrian-Turkish agreement of Adana in 1998. In addition, imprisoning, detaining and prosecuting hundreds of Kurds on trumped-up charges, such as an “attempt to cut off part of the Syrian territory and annex it to a foreign state” and other fabricated charges.
9. Applying exceptional laws against the Kurds in addition to other extraordinary laws which existed under the previous government, such as Law 49 on Property Rights and other laws.
10. Preventing the Kurdish people from celebrating their own festivals, such as Newroz. In addition, the murder and oppression policy against the Kurds under the Ba’athist regime is evident in the 12 March 2004 Massacre, the Raqa Massacre, and the killing of the martyrs Ahmed Hussein (Abu Judy), Mr Usman and Sheikh Mashooq al-Khznway, who died under torture.
11. Preventing the Kurds from supporting and communicating with their brethren in other parts of Kurdistan.
Those were the Ba’athist nation-state measurements in Syria against the Kurdish people. However, under the current regime the policy of genocide and chauvinistic denial has reached its peak. Regionally, the regime signed, as we have mentioned above, several treaties – especially with Turkey – which have serious ramifications for the existence of the Kurdish people and their struggle. Domestically, the regime has accelerated its policies of intimidation, arbitrary arrests, starvation, killings and Arabisation, which have served to deepen chauvinism and anti-democracy even further.
In this way, we have reached the conclusion that the nation-state system – in its essence, in the Middle East in general, and in Syria in particular – is bankrupt. This is because the system contradicts the development of society and its diversity both in the past and the future. This anti-democratic system (i.e. the nation state) does not have any solutions to social issues apart from security solutions. From this perspective, it is absolutely crucial to provide the correct alternative to this system to enable society, with all its components, to participate in politics and the people to express themselves and to develop solutions to their crucial outstanding issues. In our opinion, the initial framework for the democratisation of Syria and the solution to the Kurdish issue in the west of Kurdistan is democratic self-governance.
Section Two: The Ten Principles of Democratic Self-Governance
It is fundamental that all solutions to the current crisis in Syria and Western Kurdistan are permanent in nature. They have to contribute towards the process of establishing a form of Syrian democracy in which the democratic system is effective in addition to achieving social stability. If we are to consider that democracy includes both state and society, then the process of democratic transition in Syria must be carried out systematically based upon mutually agreed fair principles as a prerequisite for the development of a permanent democratic framework.
Democracy is a term that is used today by all socio-political powers, including the regime and the opposition. On the other hand, the capitalist powers intervene in the affairs of the region under the slogan ‘bringing democracy to the region’. Therefore, the correct identification of the essence of democracy – both in terms of ideology and principles – is essential for the proper implementation of the democratisation process.
1. The Principle of the Democratic Nation
The integration and unity of a nation cannot be achieved through the nation-state system, but rather through the establishment of a democratic nation or through the transformation of nationalities within the country into democratic nations. In this regard, concepts such as ‘open identity’ and ‘flexible nation’ are the primary steps to achieve this goal, which, more importantly, requires full national integration and unity based on democratic voluntarism rather than state coercion. 
2. The Principle of the Common Homeland
We must rely on the principle of the common homeland as the basis of the democratic solution because the true concept of a homeland is the one that is made up of citizens belonging to different ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic groups, and not simply citizens who belong to a single religious, ethnic and linguistic group. Only then can brotherhood and voluntary unionism be achieved.
The concept of a homeland that generates a sense of belonging within one nation excludes a large proportion of citizens, which is the main reason for the growing divisions in society. In this context, diversity reflects the richness of nature and the life of a society. Thus, the true affiliation to the homeland is belonging to the land, environment and development away from chauvinism and ethnicity.
3. The Principle of the Democratic Republic
Seeing the republic as a model of the nation state is a misinterpretation and distortion of the facts, which is another form of exclusion. The democratic republic is the best form of state system. A country cannot be called a nation state and democratic simultaneously – these are two contradictory concepts. On the one hand, the democratic republic is consistent with the democratic system and, on the other hand, the nation state is a melting pot that suppresses diversity and plurality. Hence, the democratic solution lies in the democratic republic rather than the nation state. It is, therefore, important to transform or build a republic that embraces all the components of democracy. In addition, the republic should not be given an ideological, nationalist or religious character during the democratic transformation. The republic, in this regard, should be a democratic and secular organisation which guarantees democracy and socio-economic prosperity for its citizens. Social unity and integration can only be achieved through the elimination of both nationalist labels (e.g. Kurdish or Arab) and ideological or religious labels (e.g. Islamic, Sunni or Alawite) from the republic.
4. The Principle of the Democratic Constitution
Although democratisation is a political movement not based on a formulated constitution, the constitution is written with the participation of all segments of society. All democratic constitutions are the real expression of the harmony between state and society. An individual, in the face of the growing strength of the state, can only achieve their freedom and rights in a democratic society.
Moreover, a democratic constitution is an indispensible tool in removing state bureaucracy, which creates problems, changing it into a factor that secures solutions to all existing issues. The democratic constitution makes the state more efficient and is the basis for the state-society.
5. The Principle of Democratic Solution
The principle of democratic solution takes the democratisation of civil society or democratic society as its foundation. It searches for an effective democratic system within the structure of society rather than building a new state or new social system.
The formulation of a democratic constitution, which balances the following equation (democracy + state), requires considerable practical and theoretical efforts in order to serve society more than the state. The principle of the democratic solution is not aimed at sharing authority, in principle, but rather staying away from power because authority is inconsistent with democracy. The concentration of authority within state institutions weakens the institutions of democracy. Therefore, any government or state that is exclusive and does not incorporate all social forces within society is undoubtedly a non-democratic, non-social system. Only public participation in the political process can pave the way for the democratisation process. Democratic solutions do not aim at sharing state powers, but, on the contrary, the main feature of the democratic solution principle is to achieve the constitutional guarantee in order to create the necessary atmosphere for peaceful coexistence between state institutions and democratic institutions, thus ensuring the legitimate rights of those two institutions without prejudice to each other.
According to the principle of democratic solution, the elimination of the state in the name of democracy is not permissible. The large overlap between nation-state institutions and the democratic institutions in western political systems paves the way to keep democratic institutions symbolic. This overlap is one of the pressing daily issues that face the democratisation process. On the one hand, the limitation of state power by democratic institutions is an indispensable principle and, on the other hand, taking advantage of state experience and expertise is equally important.
A democratic society inevitably triumphs through the historical process of social evolution. So, in short, the competition between democratic institutions and the state in a peaceful atmosphere will pave the way for the development and strengthening of democratic powers and democratic society as a whole.
6. The Principle of the Unity of Individual and Collective Rights and Freedoms
The principle of freedoms and rights plays a crucial role in finding solutions to the issues of democratisation, but the difference between the nature of individual and collective practice, which is contrary to the nature of communities, will further complicate issues. There are countless examples of this fact that we have observed in international experiences. An individual cannot live freely and naturally without human societies, because an individual without a community loses his/her meaning as a human. Stripping humans of their rights and freedoms makes them lose their power and vice versa. Individual freedoms and rights become meaningless if they are not applied to the life of individuals and communities because freedoms and rights are not achieved without individuals and communities. Therefore, depriving communities of collective rights and freedoms makes their individuals vulnerable to the same fate. In other words, there is no individual freedom in isolation from collective freedom.
7. The Principle of Ideological Independence and Liberty
This principle accommodates the following facts: democratisation cannot be achieved without the elimination of the hegemony of ideology and positive scientism, which is characterised by a purely materialistic and demagogic mechanism that is imposed on the world by capitalist regimes. Scientism and positivism, or so-called western philosophy, is a key principle in the hegemony of European civilisation, without which the global dominance of nationalism and capitalism cannot be achieved. The ideological hegemony of the West in the Middle East was founded on the phenomenon of orientalism, which helped the West to develop.
The new form of imperialism, which collaborates with local dictatorships, complicates the democratisation process. Therefore, any resistance against that is democratic by nature. In order for a democracy to develop and gain more strength, it must achieve complete independence from the above-mentioned dominant ideologies. This is because democracy cannot be achieved without the ideology of liberty, which creates the necessary grounds for the understanding of the democratisation process and its application and implications. Without the achievement of ideological liberation, democratisation cannot be successful because it is prone to blockage and to being constantly controlled by dominant ideologies.
8. The Principle of Dialectical History and Present
Issues of democratisation and their potential solutions are closely related to building bridges that connect the present to history, because it is difficult to comprehend the issues related to democratisation in isolation from issues that are related to history. This can only complicate the democratisation process even further and turn it towards crises, conflicts and wars. The proper study of historical events is a prerequisite to determining the nature of current developments, because current developments are how history represents itself. In this context, “we cannot intervene and change the course of history, but we can intervene in the present and change it with all our intellectual, organisational and moral energies.” According to that change we can only start the process of democratisation.
The most important issue is answering the following question: “How can we crystallise the past and utilise it to serve the present?” Conducting a realistic study of history is the key solution to all current social problems. In other words, absorbing history is the source that we draw our energy from and, therefore, those who fail to understand and write history correctly are incapable of understanding – and ultimately achieving – the process of liberalisation and democratisation
Society is a lively and developed history at the same time. Tyrants try to erase the social memory to control their nations. Therefore, democratic forces must correctly familiarise themselves with the social memory (history). The damage that modern capitalism has caused to human society is severe, because it erased human memory and represented the present as eternal reality and the end of history. Individualism, which is a social ill, is born out of this concept (i.e. modern capitalism). Individualism that calls for an attitude that can be summarised as “live for yourself and turn a blind eye to issues affecting others” is a denial of historical society; it is the source of social disintegration. Hence, we cannot build a democratic society with people of such a mentality. In this sense, liberal individualism is a denial of democracy and seeing the present through the lens of history, and vice versa, is the true principle of sociology. In sociological terms, this approach represents the philosophy of modern democracy as an alternative to the philosophy of capitalist modernity.
9. The Principle of Morality and Conscience
Western sociology does not recognise the principle of conscience and takes the analytical intelligence as the basis of its foundation. Conscience, on the other hand, is closely linked to emotional intelligence and comes at the forefront of all the principles under which social institutions were built. Social justice can be achieved through conscience, which is the essence of morality and religion. With the elimination of conscience, societies become brutal and dangerous machines. Therefore, the social conscience is the only refuge for those who lack political, economic and military powers. Thus, the weakness of conscience leads to the dominance of the principle of bloody force over society.
Democracy cannot be applied without taking into account conscience, so we can say that the monopolistic forces within the capitalist system rely on the denial of conscience. Democratisation, in essence, moves away from this denial and consolidates the rule of the social conscience. Society can only be protected through activating the social conscience. The social struggle today revolves around the reacquisition of lost conscience. Democratisation, in this regard, is meaningless without the reacquisition process. Both individuals and minorities can only achieve their liberties and rights through taking conscience as a fundamental principle at every step in their struggle. Thus, all these arguments confirm the need for a principle of conscience in order to solve issues related to the democratisation process. Without relying on conscience it is difficult to properly assess the ethnic massacres that have been committed by modern capitalism. Although the intensifying efforts to find practical solutions to the democratisation process in Syria have been useful, we find that it is important to rely on the principle of conscience and give it priority over other principles, as the basis for every step towards democratisation.
10. The Principle of Self-Protection in Democratic Systems
It is scientifically proven that each organism has its own natural defence system. Human societies that have a high level of intelligence cannot give up their mechanism of self-defence. Wars, in this regard, are closely linked to the perverse concepts of self-protection created by the civilised systems throughout history. In societies, the process of self-protection is considered to be the primary task for the defence of their entity and their presence against the deadly attacks of the supernatural forces of nature. In the face of intersocietal conflict throughout the development of hierarchical human civilisations and empires, democratic societies and free individuals have retained their right of self-defence. Thus, the principle of self-protection is a sacred right – both for societies and free individuals – against the persecution and exploitation caused by elements of modern capitalism (such as the nation state and other industrial capitalist institutions). Therefore, there is an urgent need to find solutions to the problems of self-protection for all components of society, i.e. free individuals and groups.
The lack of a self-defence mechanism in a society paves the way for economic slavery and leads to a rise in unemployment and social ills, ultimately making genocides and ethnic and cultural cleansing possible. On this basis, these attacks, caused by the modern capitalist system, force democratic societies to defend themselves. In the case of failure of the self-protection mechanism, societies are at risk both of losing their freedom and their existence. Based on these facts, a democratic society must develop its own mechanism of self-protection by organising all its segments.