Despite early indications from Turkish officials that the civil war in Syria would be in at least some measure about western Kurdistan, the nation’s Kurdish National Council (KNC) is trying to find itself a third route through the ongoing crisis, spurning both rebels and regime and opting to stand alone.
It is not so much a matter of choice as necessity. The rebels are overwhelmingly hostile to the Kurds, both because of the Arab nationalist rhetoric used by their leadership and because they are enjoying strong support from Turkey. At the same time, the regime has never been all that friendly to the Kurds, and have lost most of their territory around Kurdistan at any rate.
For Syrian Kurds caught in the middle, many are opting to flee the country into neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan, where the KNC leadership enjoys a good relationship with the Iraqi Kurdish government.
As Iraq has splintered into sectarian fighting, the Kurds have established greater autonomy, and it seems that the same thing is happening in Syria as the civil war tears that country apart. All this is establishing de facto Kurdish-run territories, but may eventually set the stage for a full scale secession and the creation of a Kurdish state.
2 thoughts on “Secession Looming? Syrian Kurds Spurn Both Rebels and Regime”
Geography impedes the option for a Kurdish state in northern Syria, as the two areas where Kurds predominate are not contiguous and both are interwoven with other ethnic communities. Also, the influence of the KRG in Iraq cannot be underestimated. Barzani just got the two main groupings of syrian Kurds, until recently at loggerheads, to reach an agreement: the PKK-backed PYD and the coalition of groups not supportive of the PKK. Until now, KRG and Turkish interests have been complementary, so it is not clear what they are working towards. The open border also involves the arrival in Syria of Peshmerga-style trainers from iraq.
This is the Mali-type blowback most likely from the US and Turkish actions. It is what Turkey (and Iraq) fear the most. Yet they created the possibility and now can no longer prevent it.
Overall, this is a good thing for many reasons: good for the Kurds and deserved by those attacking Syria.
The Bedouin will likely turn to Jordan too, and will reach out to the Egyptian Sinai. The Alawites and Shiites and Christians will in the same way turn to their compatriots in Lebanon, which is Hezbollah. So in both of those next developments, Israel sees its worst fears come out of what it thought to be the defeat of those same fears. Again, richly deserved, and good for the people involved.
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