In the Syrian Conflict, The Syrian Kurds Better Watch Out.

A Kurd in Bulgaria Showing Support of Syrian Kurds (Credit: Rudaw)

Last week, while the fight for Aleppo was raging, a little reported story was that of the Kurdish populations in Syria taking control of their own security in the far north east of the country. With Syrian security forces leaving the area to help bolster forces further west, Kurdish Opposition Groups took charge in a significant move for Syrian Kurds. Long repressed in Syria, (I was told when I was in Damascus that the best job a Kurd could hope for in the city was servicing sheesha users by bringing new coals) this latest move surely will create hope in this minority in Syria of more rights and freedom in any future Syria.

However this move has also caught the attention of Turkey. One Kurdish opposition group in particular is worrying for Turkey due to its links with the militant Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). The Democratic Union Party (PYD) has long worried Turkey but under President Assad, both groups were kept in check. However now that focus is else where, this group appears to be gaining power especially after confirmed reports came out that a number of Syrian Kurds had received training, by Iraqi based Kurds, in governance and security.

So worried about this issue in Syria (due to the positive effect it could have on Kurds in Turkey), Turkey quickly sent its Foreign Minister to Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq, on the 01 August to gain assurances that Iraqi Kurds would not help their counterparts in Syria to gain autonomy. Just to hammer home the point they also carried out a 3 day military exercise in Turkey a few kilometres from the Syrian Kurdish area.

After decades of repression in Syria, this assurance from the Iraqi Kurds could prove hollow, especially when the Syrian Kurds are organizing themselves without the help of Iraqi Kurds. What is clear is that the Kurdish Regional Government will play a pivotal role the future of Kurds in Syria, but with pressure from Baghdad as well as Turkey how far will they be willing to go?

J Robinson – Twitter @jprobinsons

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