Anti-Kurd Protests Seen as a Threat to US Plans in Syria

Kurdish forces kill seven protesters at latest rally

The US interest in staying in Syria is built around long-term goals that aren’t particularly clear, but which are predicated on the idea that the Kurdish SDF will retain control over a massive percentage of Syria.

The problem is that while the SDF controls materially all of Syrian Kurdish territory (outside of what Turkey already sacked), they also control huge amounts of territory that they seized from ISIS, and which the local Arab tribesmen are increasingly keen to see returned to local control.

This is fueling protests among Arabs under Kurdish rule, which the Kurds are confusing of benefiting Iran and Turkey, and undermining their military victory against ISIS. It’s also undermining the one piece of status quo the US is happy about in Syria, a vast SDF-controlled east.

The SDF’s plan so far seems to be to just kill them, with SDF forces showing up in Deir Ezzor during a protest, and opening fire on the demonstrators, killing seven and sending the rest scattering.

History would tell us that killing protesters isn’t a solution to protesting, but the Kurds don’t seem to have an alternate strategy at the moment, and so long as they can fit the words Iran or ISIS into the explanation, the US probably won’t object too loudly.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is senior editor of