The “Arab Belt” is a term describing the confiscation process by the Syrian government of agricultural lands belonging to Kurds and Aghas (chieftains or village heads who were also landowners) in the province of Hasakah, and the distribution of the lands to Arabs arriving from the provinces of Aleppo and Raqqa to be settled in the Jazira region of north-east Syria, along the length of the border strip with Turkey.
Die ‘Arabiese gordel’ is geleë in die Hasakah provinsie, en dit maak deel uit van landbougrond wat aan Koerde en Aghas behoort, maar deur die Siriese regering by meer as een geleentheid gekonfiskeer is, en wil voorkom of dit ook by meer as een keer aan ander toegewys is. Intussen duur Turkye se gevegte in die gebiede steeds voort, word die Koerde geteiken om hulle te verwyder.
17 October 2019
Heavy fighting continues as Turkey presses on with its military operation against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria. Their military action aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned. This move came after the United States announced to withdraw its troops from the area.
‘Abu Zinar’ is an alias, with the word ‘Zinar’ meaning ‘Belt’.
20 August 2019
Was reported on 20 August 2019 that the Syrian ‘regime’ seized all agricultural land in the villages. Only the al-Mukhtar family retained agricultural land in the village. Thousands of Kurds were dispossessed of their land along the border strip between the Kurdish areas of North Syria and Turkey in 1974, before these lands were redistributed to Arab agricultural farmers arriving from Raqqa and Aleppo Provinces.
Abu Zinar is an alias, with the word ‘Zinar’ meaning ‘Belt’. The name is widespread amongst Syrian Kurds, often emerging after the ‘Arab Belt’ was established. The regime dispossessed the Kurds of agricultural land they owned and granted it to the ‘submerged’ Arabs”. That means, those whose lands were flooded due to the Euphrates dam construction. Additional plots were given to these agricultural farmers.
The land redistribution began already before the construction of the Euphrates dam. The border strip stretches 275 kilometers in length, with a depth of 15 kilometers at its innermost point. The strip was distinguished with heavy Kurdish presence, as well as the fertility of the agricultural lands. The agricultural lands in this area were known locally as the “lands of the line number ten.”
The Syrian regime would grant the Arabs from the “submerged” (flooded) agricultural areas according to the proportion of rain in the border territories, granting areas ranging from a size of 150 dunums (an Ottoman-era unit equivalent to the English acre) from the city of Derika (al-Malikiyah) bordering the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and the Kurdish territories in south Turkey – while in the city of Serê Kaniyê (Ras al-Ayn) bordering Turkey, they were granted 300 dunums. Seizing the agricultural land was a condition in order to distribute to families approximately 300 ltuaway from the seized land, which is a clear violation of the Agricultural Reform law for the bases of distribution and rent.
The number of Arab families that were transferred from Raqqa province to the Arab Belt would exceed 4,000 – distributed across various villages constructed for them and with a population reaching 40,000 at the time; making up more than 6% of the population of the province of Hasakah.
In its racist policies targeting the Kurds, and planned demographic change in their region, the Syrian regime relied during this period on a study by Mohammed Talab Helal produced in November 1963, titled “A study on the province of al-Jazeera in its national, social and political aspects.” The study would go on to call for the “formation of collective farms for the Arabs that are housed by the state in the northern strip, with these farms being militarily trained and armed exactly like the Jewish settlements on the southern border.”
Ammar Akla is a former employee in the Institute for Agricultural Reform in the province of Hasakah, he also worked in the division of confiscation and legal affairs, and was commissioned to write a study on individuals who were negatively affected by the government’s ‘accreditation committee’. He relays a story that took place during the confiscation proceedings.
Furthermore, the accreditation committee in the province of al-Hasakah for the year 1967, headed by the then-governor of al-Hasakah Mohammed Haydar, ruled on 206 cases in the same sitting, and as a result inflicted damage on 850 owners, who had valid land title deeds, which were studied, while those that were in surplus were seized; the owners were given what they deserved [in compensation] for giving up the land; this included some who received the land as inheritance from the father or a deceased spouse before the coming into force of the Agricultural Reform law.
However, the Accreditation Committee did not recognize the ownership of those who inherited the land before the coming into force of the Agricultural Reform law, such as the landowner Abdi Khalo in Amuda, who had passed away before the promulgation of the Agricultural Reform law, as well as Khaled al-Tala’a who also died before the law’s enactment. Instead, the Accreditation Committee decided to revive the dead and consider them to be owners and did not recognize the inheritance. According to Akla, “such behavior was akin to spiteful revenge operations which contravened legislation and the law of the land.
Near the border strip, were also de facto seizures of small areas occurring outside the realm of the law. Despite the fact that such lands were not included in the scope of the Agricultural Reform Law, the victims were relocated to other areas further away from the border, as took place in the village of Tall Būm (Karkand) and others, according to the former employee at the confiscation division.
After the Syrian government was finished with the process of seizing agricultural lands, bringing the ‘submerged’ Arabs to settle in those territories, the region was nonetheless headed towards a second limited demographic change in further agricultural expanses.
The areas of Derika, Çil Axa and Tirbespiyê are distinguished with the presence of old and large black rocks, distributed between the agricultural lands and near the water springs; these lands were not suited for farming because of the presence of the rocks – until a number of poor Kurdish peasants decided to fix the area and remove the rocks, as per the Agricultural Reform law issued by the very same Syrian regime.
However, after the peasants finished restoring the land, it was seized once again by the Syrian regime – with a part granted to the ‘submerged’ Arabs under the clause ‘closing the shortfall’, while another part was taken by Syrian regime officers. Many of these operations took place on the direct orders of military officials from the regime’s various security branches, with the majority of these coming from areas outside the province of Hasakah.
Regime officers would appropriate large tracts of agricultural land that had been repaired and restored by Kurdish peasants in the area of Derika and Tirbespiyê – these were recorded as being part of the lands granted to the ‘submerged’ Arabs.
In 1982, ‘submerged’ Arabs – in coordination with Syrian regime officers – seized agricultural lands that had been restored in the villages of Celka and Serimisax. The Syrian regime arrested a number of the villages’ natives who refused to agree and sign the release of their lands. It was about 155 Kurdish families that have been impacted by the second confiscation process in the areas of Alyan and Derika, with every Kurdish family owning approximately 30 dunums, which they had repaired and restored according to the Agricultural Reform law of the Syrian regime itself.
Soos reeds waargeneem is hierdie “gevegte” oor grondgebiede, wat regtens aan die Koerde behoort, beslis langer as 8 dae aan die gang is, terwyl nog meer sanksies mag voortspruit uit aksies wat hier geneem word. Grond waarvan daar wettige eienaars is in die provinsie, word afgeneem en toegewys aan ander om te kom “hervestig” nadat hul hul grond verloor het .
Eight days already gone into war of flames – heavy fighting continues as Turkey presses on with its military operation, against Kurdish fighters in northeast Syria. Turkey’s president, Erdogan said the military action aims to remove the Kurdish-led forces from the border area and create a “safe zone” to which millions of Syrian refugees can be returned.
It was confirmed by Turkey representatives, they received a sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system, defying U.S. threats for more than a year that purchasing the S-400s would result in harsh retaliation against the fellow NATO ally.