Akrad, Hayy al-

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Kurdish quarter on the slopes of the mountain of Qasiyun, overlooking Damascus, Syria; the other two quarters are the Muhajirin and the Salihiyya.

The three quarters owe their existence to the water of the river Yazid, a tributary of the Barada River, which splits from it in the gorge of al-Rabwa. While al-Muhajirin was created by the municipality of Damascus, capital of Syria, and the Salihiyya is almost a replica of Damascus, Hayy al-Akrad has been described as a sheer fantasy. Its streets, though wide, are irregular and do not present a defensive aspect like those of Damascus because its inhabitants, the Kurds, were feared and not attacked.

Still inhabited mostly by Kurds, Hayy al-Akrad was originally a village for Kurds, starting in the time of Saladin in the twelfth century, and attracted a new wave of Kurdish immigrants in the nineteenth century. Engaged primarily in livestock trade and serving in the military and as aides in tax-farming, the Kurds polarized around their clan leaders, who played major roles in the life of Damascus as notables, landowners, military chieftains, and also Communists. The head of the Communist Party since its early years has been the octogenarian Khalid Bakdash, who comes from Hayy al-Akrad and has the support of many of its Kurdish inhabitants.

see also kurds.

Abdul-Karim Rafeq