Ambitions for an independent Kurdistan span across four countries, each of which contains a Kurdish region that is contiguous with the others, and each of which has a long history of coping with Kurdish bids for autonomy.
Turkey has been the harshest opponent of an independent Kurdistan, and their decision to back Syria’s Sunni rebels was in no small part under the assumption that a harsh nationalist rebel state would centralize rule over West Kurdistan (the Syrian part) more than Assad ever could.
Yet as the rebels move to consolidate control over northern Syria, that desire to conquer and rule Kurdistan is creating a lot of problems for them, as Kurdish militias are willing to resist the rebels and are angling for more de facto autonomy.
This has already led to significant fights over key Kurdish towns, and undermines the rebels’ claims to be “liberating” the country from Assad. For the Kurds, trading one ruler for another doesn’t seem anything like liberation.
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