By F. Stephen Larrabee, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: F. Stephen Larrabee holds the Distinguished Chair in European Security at the Rand Corporation, and served on the National Security Council staff in the Carter administration. The views expressed are the writer’s own.
The dynamics of the Syrian crisis have been shifting. Reports that forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have pushed back a rebel offensive near the mountainous area of his Alawite hometown are but the latest indicator of how the president has regained the initiative in the country’s bloody civil war.
But while international attention has tended to focus on central and southern Syria, developments in the northeast, along the border with Turkey, are also worth watching as ethnic Kurds appear bent on carving out an autonomous administrative region that could eventually develop its own ties with Ankara. And it’s a move that could be good news not just for Turkey, but for the United States, too.
The Syrian Kurds, who make up about 10 percent of the Syrian population, initially did not join the uprising against al-Assad, fearing they might face even greater discrimination and repression under a Sunni Arab dominated regime. However, the withdrawal of Syrian government forces from five Kurdish-dominated towns in the northeast along the Syrian-Turkish border in July 2012 changed the political dynamic.
This withdrawal allowed Kurdish groups led by the Democratic Union (PYD) – the largest and best organized Kurdish opposition party, which has strong ties to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – to take over the administration of these towns. The PYD has since prevented any armed Kurdish presence other than its own Popular Protection Units from emerging in the Kurdish areas.
More from GPS: Can Turkey seize Turkish card?
In recent months, tensions have escalated between the PYD and the Sunni dominated Free Syrian Army (FSA), which opposes Kurdish autonomy. The Syrian Kurds have fought a virtual war within a war against extremist groups affiliated with al Qaeda, such as Jabbat al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which are part of the Sunni anti-Assad coalition. These groups want to establish Islamic rule in the Kurdish areas, a goal the PYD and other Kurdish groups firmly oppose.
Turkey has viewed the growing strength of the PYD with concern because of its close ties to the PKK, and Turkish officials fear that the PYD-controlled areas along the Turkish-Syrian border could act as a base for PKK attacks against Turkish territory and security forces. Indeed, Ankara has threatened to intervene militarily to prevent PKK infiltration into Kurdish areas and worked closely with Sunni opposition groups in Syria to stem the PYD’s influence.
In mid-July, the PYD announced that it planned to introduce autonomous institutions in all cities and villages under Kurdish control, effective July 19. This set off alarm bells in Ankara, where Prime Minister Recep Tayipp Erdogan criticized the move as “wrong and dangerous.”
Yet the existence of an autonomous Kurdish entity in Syria need not be a source of conflict with Turkey. Turkey has cordial relations with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq, which is de facto an independent Kurdish state that legally remains a part of Iraq. Trade and energy ties in particular have expanded significantly in the last several years.
In principle, the same type of relations could be developed with an autonomous Kurdish entity in Syria. Instead of seeking to isolate the PDY, Ankara should use its strong economic potential to woo the PYD and draw it into a Turkish zone of influence and prosperity together with the KRG.
And there are signs that Turkish policy may be moving in this direction. The recent visit of Salih Muslim, co-chairman of the PYD, to Istanbul represented a turnabout in Turkey’s approach to the PYD. Prior to Muslim’s visit, Turkey had shunned any official dialogue with the PYD and had put pressure on the Sunni opposition in Syria to boycott the PYD. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu invited Muslim, and while in Turkey he was given broad access to the Turkish media, which was a highly unusual step.
Muslim’s visit suggests that Turkey is beginning to rethink key aspects of its approach to the Kurdish issue, especially the role of the Syrian Kurds and the PYD. This should be encouraged by Washington. The fact is that an autonomous Kurdish region that remains an integral part of Syria, even one dominated by the PYD, would be far less dangerous than one dominated by forces affiliated with al Qaeda. And that should be welcome news to more than just Turkey.
Can anyone here tell me just how much the Syrian Kurds are being paid by both the C.I.A. and the most infamous British MI-6 to make this move? I guess not. This will be bad news for the Kurds in both Iraq and Turkey and good news for the right-wing thugs in Washington!
USA can not play it with South Korea, can not play it with China, while it neglects NATO member country Turkey. C'mon, Washington DC, let's get serious. USA has no influence in some NATO member countries, while it spends millions of US tax payers money, on non-alliance, illegal military collaboration with South Korea. No more, not with us. We will do what ever necessary to STOP USA from illegal military collaboration with S.Korea, that is not in line with NATO.
What on earth are you referring to? Illegal cooperation with South Korea? How does that tie into NATO issue? Hello?
The real Kurdish issue is the fact that the Kurds (those who are aligned with far left extremist groups) want to split Turkey in two and establish an independent 'Kurdistan' that takes territories from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. So far, they've gained a foothold in Northern Iraq & Syria. We Turks will not give up our lands to anyone which includes the Kurds. This is also partly the reason I did not support the nationwide Gezi Park protests, as they introduced a destabilizing element in Turkey and provided an opportunity for extremist groups who support the PKK terrorists to incite a revolution and give cause for Kurdish uprisings. The Kurdish issue has nothing to do with Kurdish rights, it has always been their (PKK) objective to weaken Turkey and give cause for creating a Communist Kurdish state within Turkey's borders. The PKK promised Turkey that they'd leave our country, but they haven't done so. This is what we get when we trust or deal with terrorists.
Did you ever notice Ferhat, that Great Britain survived after 1783 without the United States? Just why can Turkey not survive without northern Kurdistan? Of course it can! Besides, don't you think that the Kurds have the same right to set up a home state like the Jews did in 1948? Evidently not, judging by your post above.
The same reason why Great Britain can't survive without Scotland.
Lands the Kurds are taking away from Turks? Who are Mongols? that's laughable. Your government and its allies have tried for decades to annihilate the Kurds but FAILED as it will in the future. In fact, your country would be much wiser and much more prosperous with the Kurds as been proven by the relations in Southern Kurdistan. Remember when Turkey tried to bring their troops into Southern Kurdistan? they left with their tales between their legs and accepted the reality which you don't seem to comprehend. I don't blame you though, thats the systematic brainwashing from your government. You are the thieves, the murderers, the rapists, etc.
You nailed it, Hejar. It would do well to remember that back in 1918 the Turks slaughtered over 1.8 million Armenians, too! The problem is that the right-wing thugs in Washington are seeking to become dominant in that part of the world with the connivance of the Turks!!!
Don't make me laugh. If the Turks were trying to somehow 'annihilate' the Kurds, there wouldn't be a population explosion of Kurds in Turkey since the early 70s. You Kurds wouldn't be 25% of the overall population. Don't forget, we even had a Kurdish president in Turkey.
Hejar Well you sound like a Kurt.You guys like or not Turkey belong to Turks and we never going to be a give you guys peace a stone from Turkish Land.You dont have a homeland because so coward to get your own kill babys and civilians attack middle of the night security forces you guys cant even fight like man.Land???Comeon LOL Just remember the image of special forces chasing you as## or F-16s take it out from your caves and dont ever forget because thats what happens to traitors .However you want a country goto Iraq thats where you guys deserve
kurds will fight your terrorist state forever and will make democracy in reagion, that what kurds beleive.the history know where turkish terrorist came from, so the time will come to judge you for the crime which done by terrorist state , and then all of world will know who own the land which called today turkey.
Is that why Abdullah Ocalan, PKK's leader copied Mao's "Little Red Book" and distributed it to all PKK fighters, so you Kurds can enjoy a democracy?
Just let the Kurds have an autonomous zone in Turkey. If they are permitted to engage in something that is fairly free home rule, then their desire to fully separate can be dealt with much later (as in Iraq). They key is getting both Turks and Kurds to stop fighting each other and to focus on protecting eachother from the militant Sunni Arabs. Good things could happen if they worked together to stabilize the region.
Please TC, quit taking up for the Turks and the right-wing thugs in Washington. will you? It makes you sound like another Tea Partying nitwit!!!
I think there should be a Kurdistan, I like the idea. The territory should come from Turkey, Iraq, Syria, maybe Iran. I like the idea of a greater trans Jordan to cover Israels' flank. The Syrian sunnis' should join with the Iraqi sunnis and form an autonomous region with Assad as its head.
And why wouldn't an ethnic minority within Turkey NOT want to destroy this Satanic country ?
Look at several examples of peoples that came to a bad end by trying to be the "Good" Minority,
to play along w/ the Turkish state:
* Assyrian / Chaldean
Almost on this list of victims ? The Kurds.
Fortunately the Kurds have exercised their God-given right to bear arms.
It's not like Turkey is going to listen to any reasonable arguments for any (non-existant)
Kurdistan: One of America's Bestest firend in the Middle East. Better than Turkey.
And your history is full of 'Good' deeds I suppose. The near extermination of American natives, the bloodiest civil war in all of history and the biggest nuclear armed country in the world, the first country to drop an atomic bomb on another nation and biggest spender on weapons. I wonder what would happen if what is left of the native Americans exercised their 'god given right' to bear arms against the US?
Stoned thoughts; Israel could come to the rescue, pours several hundred tanks and APC's through Syria, into Kurdistan and on to invade Iran. After the Persians are defeated, a free Kurdistan stretching from Northern Syria to the Caspian Sea joins NATO, guarantees the borders of their new Turkish allies to the north and the alliance ushers in a new era of peace in the Middle East.
Sorry Arabs, you were given more than a fair chance and you blew it, again and again and again.
turkey is a terrorist state, and they are supporting alnasra against civilain kurds. there is evidence that the turkish terrorist state dealing with terrorist against kurds, for example sendig them weapons ,medicin,tank,solider and even receving terrorist injured inside turkey, and also organizing them insid turkey.kurds should be aware of all this and do not deal with this terrorist state, but fight them until libreat kurds land.
You sound like Rick Perry during the Republic debate. The fact is Turkey has been a crucial NATO ally since 1952 with the second largest army after the US and has peacekeeping troops all throughout the globe. Turkey also sheltered some 300,000 refugees fleeing Assad's slaughter which also includes many Kurds and Christians. The crisis has cost turkey some 1.2 billion TL in expenses. So get your facts straight before you spew some ignorance.
Kurdish people should thank YPG sacrifices to safe Kurdish people
Enemies of Kurds namely Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Massoud Barzani are afraid of PYD’s
Successful administration. PYD is forming Kurdish Government to serve Kurds in west
Kurdistan. And they are treating Kurds like Human being compared to Turkey and Barzani
In response, Turkey, Barzani and Saudi Arabia ordered Al-Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Syria to target Syrian Kurds after the latter renewed allegiance to the Damascus government and declared strong opposition to Ankara's plan for the Kurdish population in the region, the Arabic-language al-Watan daily reported earlier this month.
Their aggression is going on but YPG forces beating them up one after the other. They are looking for other way to defeat Kurdish people in Syria.
Islamic Power Verses Kurdish Guerrilla’s feminist
Ever since Lamech, the father of the patriarch Noah according to Hebrew Bible, defied his God Yahweh, and took two wives, specific religious doctrines have sought to justify the denigration and oppression of women. Some Islamic religious laws, currently imposed on compliant or non-compliant populations, are more severe than those of other religions. In Western countries women have achieved a degree of freedom but they are yet to gain true equality. However, deep in the recesses of Middle Eastern politics, Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan, the son of Kurdish peasants, has devised teachings giving women full equality and freedom, and the impetus to fight in the Syrian War.
Consequently, we are appealing to feminists, and all others who have compassion and respect for their sisters and fellow human beings to support peace for the Kurdish people, and victory for their forces in Syria and other parts of Kurdistan as they struggle against attacks, especially on women, from Islamic terrorist organizations. The desperate situation in Syria is all too familiar to the Kurdish people who, after 1400 years of oppression, will likely soon make their last stand against it, in what might become a much wider conflict.
To inform readers about what is really happening in Syria we offer the following short background history of the conflict between the Aryan Kurds and the Islamic powers.
Since the establishment of the Islamic Arab religion by Muhammad ibn Abdullah (born into the Banu Hashim clan of the Quraysh tribe of Mecca in today’s Saudi Arabian kingdom), to our time, the Kurdish people have been ideologically and territorially victimized by the Arabs, Persians and Turks.
During the era of the second Caliph (or ‘Khalifa’ meaning king or president of the Islamic Arab Empire) Umar bin al-Khattab, the Islamic army conquered Arab tribal lands and converted them by force to the Islamic religion. Refusing to tolerate any other religion, the Islamists believed theirs was the last one bestowed on humanity by almighty God. According to Muhammad’s teaching, the Islamic religion was obligated to destroy all other religions and force humanity in its entirety into the Islamic religion.
Unaware that the Arab tribes originally came from Africa to conquer the Aryan peoples’ Middle Eastern lands, Umar bin al-Khattab led the imposition of monolithic power on both the original Aryan owners and their conquerors. Then, mistakenly assuming that the Roman Byzantine and Sassanid Empires were the occupiers of Arab, not Aryan lands, he used Arab nationalism and the Islamic religion to politically unify the Arab tribes (1). Umar bin al-Khattab’s cunning appropriation of Islamic Arab intentions to rid the land of the Roman Byzantine and Sassanid Imperial occupiers further empowered him and his movement. Throughout this process the Aryan peoples’ hopes of retrieving their lands diminished.
Islam is a religion of peace, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent by God as mercy to all of mankind. Why is there such hate for a religion which stresses the truth and a beautiful way of life? Why is there such false propaganda that women are mistreated, in fact women are empowered through Islam by laws of equality, mutual responsibilities in marriage, the special blessing of being a mother, protection of women and children, and modesty? (which is falsely portrayed as means of restriction?) Why is there such dislike for the call to take care of orphans, to promote honesty, to empower people of all races, colors and backgrounds? May God bless you and I pray that you and everyone possible can be guided and can understand the truth! Please just open your eyes and not have your thought process dictated by the beliefs of those in power and those with pride. All truth and goodness out of this is completely from Allah and any mistakes I have left are due to my own insufficiencies.
Good for the Syrian Kurds to have their autonomy. Their land provided for oil revenues that Syria had generated until the uprising. Assad will regret the loss one day, should Syria break up.
It's geography that made Ankara fear an autonomy of Syrian Kurds in northeast Syria. The reason why it has less inhibitions to forge a good relationship with the Iraqi Kurds is that the region on which Iraq and Turkey border is remote and mountainous, which would make urbanisation very difficult.
We need more France and Great Britain in NATO foreign policy, not orientationless Washington DC politics.
Yes we need France like we need a French accordion at a deer hunting party. We need McCain and Graham to take more Gasoline cans to Egypt to douse the fire. We need more wars to assure the entire Middle East turns against us..
Yes bring it on. We need more MB in the White house too to bring some discipline and sharia n every facet of lfe, getting there already! Well done!.
Thanks for the history lesson, I know some of the stories of the people of the middle east, but its always good to learn more.
As for myself I think that between northern Iraq and northern Syria that the Kurdish people could end up with a state of their own without having to excise a part of Turkey. Both Iraq and Syria have placed the Kurdish peoples in their north to separate them from the rest of the countries population and to try and destabilize Turkey. So it would be rather fitting if they were to create a completely autonomous nation of their own.
Maybe then the Kurdish people could normalize their relationship with Turkey and have a secure border to the north and in the event they are attacked from their southern neighbors, an ally who would feel it is in their best interest to support them militarily. This would also establish a good trading partner which would benefit both a new Kurdish nation and Turkey.
One thing I have to say though is if you think in this modern age of communication and social media that your going to be able to continue a 1400 year old war, well then your missing the boat that is now in the 21st century.
Hatred has its uses, but those are fleeting and then you have nothing, families lose loved ones, for what a wrong done over a thousand years ago. That was someone else's war, don't let the dead control you a thousand years later. The world we live in is temporary enough already, you should control your own actions with the short time we have on this rock we call earth.
The sun doesn't rise in the east and set in the west, the earth turns from east to west everyday as we travel around the sun. In the event of human annihilation it will still be turning and travelling, I would like it more if we were allowed to stay on it for the ride.
It would be a great Scenario for Syria too as it would be a defacto buffer against the flow of AQ come thru. The Kurds are probably , imo, the noblest of the lot. All sides respect them, except AQ.
All these problems created by British and French colonialists in early 19th century after the collapse of Ottoman empire and by creating new countries in the Middle East following Sykes Picot Agreement .
The new map later was supported by the US and Soviet as well without any consideration of its built-in problem. All these new countries were made of various nations to ensure they have a built-in conflict from the begining.
Therefore it is the West’s moral and legal responsibility to help the artificial countrie of the Middle East to be disintegrated and redrawing the border based on actual nations such as Kurds, Sunni Arabs, Shia Arabs, Turks, Armenian and so on.
Thank you, Siavash for your intelligent input here. Yours is the only intelligent post here next to mine and it's great to see someone like you who truly understands the situation in the Middle East, whereas most people here do not!!! These Tea Partying nitwits can't even speak a language other that English and have no understanding of history, especially that of the Middle East!
well i like the sound of this article, tell me more on how it develops...
Support independence for Iraqi Kurds!
I totally agree with the above. The Kurds do deserve their own home state regardless of what this idiotic Tea Partier Ferhat has to say. Moreover, he's a Turk himself!
USMC1369 if you like that much Kurds how about give your own state.Easy to talk from 6.000miles away or come over IRAQ for kill kids so you r first class idiot shutup and go eat your corn
AALTAR, YOU NOT SPEAK POOH TO POSTERS WITH BAD ENGLISH
SERIOUSLY, STOP BLAMING OTHERS AND DWELLING ON THE PAST.
IF A STORM DESTROYED YOUR TOWN WOULD SPEND THE NEXT 100 YEARS
CURSING ON THE STORM?
TRUTH IS, ALL COUNTRIES ACT I N SELF INTEREST AND ACT SECONDARY TO THE INTEREST OF THEIR ALLIES.
That of course was also my advice since the first day that the Arab Spring broke out in Syria.
WORLD HEALTH PROBLEM – syntethic pathologys in Venezuelans.
Do you know how venezuela psiquiatric pathologys its too high 2000.
WE HAVE TO MAKE AN INVESTIGATION IN ALL DRUGS.
WILL YOU DO WHEN YOU DO THIS TO YOUR CHILDREN.
INFORMANT INTERVIEWS – MENTAL Torturers – STUDIES OF THE HUMAN RACE WITH ALL AGENCIES OF COUNTRIES THAT
ARE NOT DEMOCRATIC STATE – WHY, JUST FOR BUSINESS – PUSHING THE VENEZUELAN irradiating DEMENTIA A WHILE
AND TELEVISION PROGRAMS DO TO PEOPLE THAT HANDLED CREATE THAT ARE HANDLING IS ONLY A MATTER OF
SCIENCE FICTION CUNADO MILLION CASES HAVE CEREBRAL DESTRUCTION.
NEW PAGE FOR SERIAL CRIMINALS THAT WE HAVE COMPLAINED OF COUNTRIES PAGE SUSPENDED.
THE REASON THE CONTENT IS REALITY.
WHY WOULD AN AGENCY IS TO REMOVE TAKE A PAGE MOLETIA SRs. FROM CNN.
LES HAVE A QUESTION.
GIVES NO FEAR THAT HANDLED WITH NANO TECHNOLOGY.
BY LES STRIKE WHEN THE VICTIMS hypothalamus, GENETIC DAMAGE OCCURS MANY.
WE CARE MEDICAL KNOWLEDGE PROFESSIONALS FOR NORTH AMERICAN UNIVERSITIES THAT ARE Ecxelentes
BUT THESE COMPANIES THAT PRODUCE SUCH DRUGS INCLUDE NANO NANO PARTICLES AS COMPUTERS.
August 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse | Reply
WORLD HEALTH PROBLEM.
Yeah, you need to stay off drugs...
The PKK, PYD, KRG, RPG/AK-47... All this should mean to us, it is that we should stay that hell ouf this!
Turkey will never recognize Kurds as equals. They look down upon them. This is just a ploy to use them against the Syrian government for now. Some kurds are being fooled and some aren't. Some kurds are being bribed. I hear in parts of Aleppo like Shaikh Maksoud they were bribed with fake american dollars. They found our later when they tried to spend it.
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