Arabic Belt

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Arabic Belt (Arabic: الحزام العربي al-hizām al-'arabi, Kurdish: Kembera Erebî که‌مبه‌را عه‌ره‌بی) was the Syrian Baath government's project of Arabization of the north of the Al-Hasakah Governorate to change the ethnic population composition in Hasakah Governorate in favor of the Arabs.[1][2]


In the 1920s after the failed Kurdish rebellions in Kemalist Turkey, there was a large influx of Turkish Kurds to Syria’s Jazira province. It is estimated that 25,000 Kurds fled at this time to Syria, under French Mandate authorities, who encouraged their immigration,[3] and granted them Syrian citizenship.[4] The French official reports show the existence of at most 45 Kurdish villages in Jazira prior to 1927. A new wave of refugees arrived in 1929.[5] The mandatory authorities continued to encourage Kurdish immigration into Syria, and by 1939, the villages numbered between 700 and 800.[5] These continuous waves swelled the number of Kurds in the area, and French geographers Fevret and Gibert[6] estimated that in 1953 out of the total 146,000 inhabitants of Jazira, agriculturalist Kurds made up 60,000 (41%), semi-sedentary and nomad Arabs 50,000 (34%), and a quarter of the population were Christians.[6] Another account by Sir John Hope Simpson estimated the number of Kurds in Jazira province at 20,000 out of 100,000 people at the end of 1930. [7]

Under the French Mandate of Syria, newly-arriving Kurds were granted citizenship by French Mandate authorities[8] and enjoyed considerable rights as the French Mandate authority encouraged minority autonomy as part of a divide and rule strategy and recruited heavily from the Kurds and other minority groups, such as Alawite and Druze, for its local armed forces.[9]


The Baath party came to power in 1963 in Syria and decided in 1965 to build the 350 km long and 10-15 km wide Arabic belt along the Syria–Turkey border. The planned belt stretched from the Iraqi border in the east to Ras al-Ayn in the west. After another coup within the Baath party, Hafez al-Assad succeeded in becoming the head of Syria in 1970 and began to implement the plan in 1973. The project's name was officially changed to "Plan for the establishment of state model farms in the Jazira region".[10]


41 Arab villages were built in the course of time, and all the Kurdish village names of the area were replaced by Arabic names. About 4,000 Arab families from the provinces of Al-Raqqa and Aleppo, where they had previously lost their houses by the construction of the Tabqa dam, were accommodated in the new villages. These Arabs are named as Maghmurin (مغمورين Maġmūrīn, which is affected by flooding).


The region of the planned belt are rich in oil deposits and fertile agricultural land. About 50 to 60 per cent of the Syrian petroleum caves are estimated to be located in the district of Al-Malikiyah.[11]


  1. ^ Tejel, Jordi (2009). Syria's Kurds: History, Politics and Society. London: Routledge. p. 61. ISBN 0-203-89211-9.
  2. ^ David L. Phillips (2017). The Kurdish Spring: A New Map of the Middle East. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  3. ^ McDowell, David (2005). A Modern History of the Kurds (3. revised and upd. ed., repr. ed.). London [u.a.]: Tauris. p. 469. ISBN 1-85043-416-6.
  4. ^ Kreyenbroek, Philip G.; Sperl, Stefan (1992). The Kurds: A Contemporary Overview. London: Routledge. pp. 147. ISBN 0-415-07265-4.
  5. ^ a b Tejel, Jordi (2009). Syria's Kurds: History, Politics and Society. London: Routledge. p. 144. ISBN 0-203-89211-9.
  6. ^ a b Fevret, Maurice; Gibert, André (1953). "La Djezireh syrienne et son réveil économique". Revue de géographie de Lyon (in French) (28): 1–15. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
  7. ^ Simpson, John Hope (1939). The Refugee Problem: Report of a Survey (First ed.). London: Oxford University Press. p. 556. ASIN B0006AOLOA.
  8. ^ Dawn Chatty (2010). Displacement and Dispossession in the Modern Middle East. Cambridge University Press. pp. 230–232. ISBN 978-1-139-48693-4.
  9. ^ Yildiz, Kerim (2005). The Kurds in Syria : the forgotten people (1. publ. ed.). London [etc.]: Pluto Press, in association with Kurdish Human Rights Project. p. 25. ISBN 0745324991.
  10. ^ November 2009. "Group Denial: Repression of Kurdish Political and Cultural Rights in Syria" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  11. ^ 20 March 2013. "Syria's Oil Resources Are a Source of Contention for Competing Groups". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 September 2017.