Syrian Arabs are accusing some Kurd countrymen of trying to give the United States a pretext to intervene in Syria like it has done in neighbouring Iraq.
Arabs on the streets of some Syrian cities voiced anger and dismay at recent violence in the north of the country, saying on Friday they believed Kurds were trying to stir up trouble.
They also condemned statements by some Kurdish politicians
"They are trying to drag the country into a war with the
Americans now after they toppled (Iraq's) Saddam Hussein," said Jamal, who works at a bakery in the northern town of Aleppo, scene of bloody clashes between Kurds and police this week.
"The Kurds are trying to portray Syria's (government) as if
it is another Saddam ... I don't think they are mistreated. They are like any one of us living here."
Syrian Kurds, who number about two million out of Syria's 17.6 million people, want their rights to be preserved in Syria.
Kurds and police clashed in northern Syrian cities a week ago after a soccer match brawl in a stadium in Qamishli, near the Turkish border. About 30 people were killed and public buildings were damaged in the violence.
Human rights activists, who have defended Kurds' calls for
preserving their identity through Kurdish-language schools and
supported citizenship demands by stateless Kurds, say the riots abused the right to peaceful protest.
Kurds are thought to number 20
to 25 million in the Middle East
Activist Ammar Kurabi said some people who had been campaigning to improve the lot of Kurds felt let down.
"We as opposition felt as if the Kurds deceived us. They say
one thing to us about the national unity and Syria being a home for all but later we see them acting differently," Kurabi said.
"At first I used to blame the authorities because they dealt
with the situation in a wrong way, but ... the Kurds should not
have allowed the situation to reach this stage."
Kurabi said violent incidents gave the United States a
pretext to "intervene in our country".
Syria and Turkey have opposed any moves to strengthen
Kurdish autonomy in northern Iraq, fearing it could ignite
separatist aspirations among their own Kurdish minorities.
But Syrian Kurd demands are varied - some say they want
equal rights with fellow Syrians; a few demand statehood and
others say about 200,000 stateless Kurds should be given Syrian citizenship.
"We are the sons of this country," said Rachid Shabban of
the Kurdish Democratic Union Party in Syria, adding that
"unjust" state policies made some Kurds bitter.
"There are some people in this state that are not reading
the facts right. The world is changing and the region is
changing, so the Syrian state has to change. They have to accept others' rights.
"We don't want a whole change, but at least as Kurds we want to be equal," he said.
"They want a state? They can have this," said abu Salim,
70, making an insulting gesture. "I was a civil servant for 40
years and I never asked anyone if he was a Kurd ..."
"Kurds have rights and they want them. Fair enough, everyone
can ask for more rights, but not make war for (them) and destroy the country," said Umm Ammar, a housewife.
Salam Alou, a Kurd in Aleppo, probably echoed the sentiments
of most Kurds when he said he wanted more rights, not a separate state.
"Syria is our land and home, but the authorities do not
listen to us or others," he said.
Syria, an east Mediterranean state with an Arab majority,
has a wide ranging ethnic and religious mix that includes Kurds, Circassians, Assyrians, Armenians, Muslims, Christians and Jews.
"During my military service I had Kurdish mates. We used to
eat from the same bowl and sing together at night," said Faruq, a taxi driver, visibly angry at the violence in the north.
"Last month I went to the wedding of one of them and I drove
him and his bride to their house in this car," he said, banging
on the steering wheel of his yellow cab.
The crisis started last week after tensions between Arab and Kurdish football spectators developed into clashes. A Kurdish mob provoked Syrian nationals when they burnt the Syrian flag and raised the American one.