A new crisis: Syrian Kurds - KEMAL ÖZTÜRK

A new crisis: Syrian Kurds

The first phase of the Syrian war has ended. The Shiite-Sunni oriented sectarian war has come to an end now since Aleppo has fallen. Now, the Kurds and Kurdish regions that were second on the list will be the first on the agenda. The most important actors here will be Turkey and the U.S.

Firstly, we shall take a look at the situation of the Kurds.

Kurds, the second field of conflict in Syria

According to the report prepared by the Bekam Research Center located in Gaziantep, the Syrian Kurds are living a tragedy that is not really put into words.

They are the biggest ethnic group in Syria followed by the Arabs. Their exact population remains unknown, as Bashar Assad's regime did not give most of these Kurds identity cards for many years, because they were not perceived as citizens. Their population is estimated to be about 2 to 2.5 million.

Kurds suffered three times during the war. First, the Assad regime oppressed them because they were close to the Sunnis and Turkey. Then they were tyrannized by Daesh in Kobani and the Sinjar region after this region was occupied by Daesh.

Then they were oppressed by the armed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) once they moved into the region. Their children were forced to join the army, they also experienced custody, execution and exile.

As a result, 450,000 to 500,000 Sunni Kurds migrated to Turkey while 300,000 of them migrated to the Kurdistan region of Iraq. Some 100,000 of the ones who came to Turkey left for Europe.

They are not armed. They are economically weak. Their education is better when compared to the Arabs. They founded close to 100 parties, but these were closed down by Assad and then the PKK's Syrian offshoot, the Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Anti-PKK Kurds want to be taken seriously

A number of the Kurds who have migrated to Turkey (nine parties) founded the Syrian National Kurdish Council. Ibrahim Bürro was chosen the president of the council. Rüstem Temo, Mustafa Mustafa and Ibrahim Hüseyin are the other actors.

This council announced that it was against the PKK/PYD and that it was a part of the Syrian National Coalition. Therefore, their relatives who still lived in Syria were oppressed by the PKK/PYD.

The Kurdish Council is made up of people from different political opinion groups. Leftists, liberals and the religious met at a mutual platform. Yet, it cannot be argued that they act fully organized or represent all the Kurds.

It is said that the PKK/PYD is more disciplined, organized, economically and militarily more powerful. The PKK and the U.S.'s support has a major contribution to this.

Syrian Kurds are arguing that they are not receiving enough support from Turkey in terms of organization and politics. They say that they are experiencing a problem of not being able to find a point of contact in this respect. Independent civil organizations in the region also confirm that they are having issues being taken seriously.

There is a strict regime imposed in all the Kurdish cities controlled by the PKK/PYD. Kurds, who have different ideologies are sometimes forcibly sent to the Barzani region of Turkey. But we have lately been hearing that the PKK/PYD have been behaving nicely to the Kurds under their management in order to win their hearts.

Iran's war in Syria ends, Turkey's one starts

The PKK/PYD overtook a 550-kilometer line in the north of Syria during the Syrian civil war. The U.S. supported the PKK/PYD in its efforts to capture the border from Iraq all the way down to the Mediterranean. This was a reason for Ankara to raise an eyebrow. When a result could not be achieved during the negotiations, Turkey formed an alliance with Russia, started the Jarablus operation and thus prevented the cantons from being physically joined.

Iran's sect-oriented war ended with the fall of Aleppo. Now Turkey's security-oriented war has started. Undoubtedly, the new crisis in Syria will be based on the PKK/PYD-Turkey conflict. Kurdish ethnicity will be brought to the forefront and all Kurds, Syrian and Iraqi, will be tried to be pulled in.

The new fields of conflict will be Manbij, Kobani, Hasakah, Qamishli and Jazira. The PKK has about 20,000 to 30,000 armed forces members here (this is an estimated number, we do not know the actual figures).

However, the U.S., U.K., Germany, Israel and other foreign countries have special forces in the strategic spots of this region. We do not have much information on the amount of ammo in this region either.

The possibility of a brush is not just limited to Syria. Nechirvan Barzani threatened the PKK, which attempted to overtake the Yazidi city of Sinjar by saying, “If you don't leave, we will use our military forces.” But the PKK is actually trying to give Barzani a message: “You leave the Kurds in Syria and I will keep out of Iraq.”

What about the alliances the PKK/PYD have formed?

Iran, Damascus and the Russian administration have supported the PKK/PYD in its attempts to harass Turkey and its efforts to help the oppositions. They created fields for them and provided them with weapons, logistics and intelligence support. They did this in order to corner Turkey in Syria and Barzani in Iraq.

Therefore, there is an alliance between the three, but it seems like this alliance will end after the fall of Aleppo, as the Damascus administration asked the Kurds in certain parts of Aleppo to leave. Moreover, the Baghdad administration stopped paying the PKK terrorists wages. Although I have been receiving news on conflict between these alliances in Syria, I don't have real information on it.

However, as long as the U.S. provides support, the PKK/PYD will continue to be powerful in the region. Therefore, Turkey is waiting for the Trump administration to come into power, so that it can put an end to this support. There is an intense diplomatic preparation going on in this respect.

Turkey should be prepared for the new crisis

Undoubtedly, the Kurds will be the main topic in the Syrian crisis in the upcoming days. There is a high chance of a physical brush. This will be a brush in which all parties are actively included. Russia is close to Turkey in this one. But it won't directly take the U.S. on for Turkey. Turkey should prepare for the crisis by reviewing its right and wrong steps with the Arab oppositions. This includes new operations like Jarablus.


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