Monday, 14 October 2013

Kurds, Syrian war and Turkey

Kurds, Syrian war and Turkey

30 August 2013 at 09:21
In the beginning of the Syrian war Kurds stayed neutral, patrolled their territories and neither sides (rebels or the government) attacked them – Kurds didn’t intervene. Given the size of the Kurd controlled areas and population, Kurds could play a significant role in the war. It seems that Kurds are now fending off the extremist and fundamentalist rebel groups, but at the same time fighting the Assad’s forces. What’s in for them?

Kurds have been fighting for independence for decades - their claim for an independent state has demographic, historical and political arguments. The territories they claim are mainly in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. Kurdish part of northern Iraq has been calm throughout the Iraq war, they avoided major violence and it enjoys wide autonomy from the central government (Baghdad). While separation of the Kurdish parts from Iraq and Syria sounds very plausible in the current state of affairs in the Middle East, I do not think that Turkey will give up their part of Kurdish populated areas. Moreover, establishment of the Kurdish independent state next to Turkey at the cost of Iraq and Syria will create major geopolitical and security complications in the region and primarily for Turkey. On the other hand creation of such independent state will significantly weaken Iraq and Syria that Turkey would definitely like to see as this will increase its role and influence as a regional player – it seems to be a Catch-22 here for Turkey.

I think that depending on how well the Kurds are going to play their card, they may achieve establishment of the independent Kurdistan and this may play well in the interests of the western countries. Their main problem/challenge remains convincing Turkey to accept Kurdish independent state at its borders and that it won’t pose a threat to its national security and interests in the region. I believe that the West can help in crafting a deal and I wonder if this project is already on, or not.


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