The start of the break-up of Syria:
On November 8th, Jonathan Spyer wrote an article entitled ‘Defending Rojava’. It’s an interesting article in that it clearly states that there are currently three, as he put it inter-locking wars in Syria. Without rehashing the entire article which if you want to have any understanding of what’s actually going on in Syria I recommend you read, I would like to add a couple of comments and point out one erroneous conclusion that the author made. Not erroneous in my opinion but one which turned out to be erroneous within the space of a week.
The first comment is that the Kurds are indeed carving out an autonomous area for themselves. True there had been a de-facto autonomy under the Assad regime at the start of the civil war when the Kurds announced their intention of remaining aloof from the conflict. Assad did not put troops into Kurdish areas and ignored the formation of an armed militia. That militia went on to oust forces backed by al-Qaeda from the Kurdish areas. This lead Turkey to issue a veiled threat that they would not tolerate any attempt by Syrian Kurds to stir up trouble in Kurdish areas of Turkey, nor would they stand by and watch the establishment of a truly autonomous area such as existed in Northern Iraq. They not so subtly pointed out that whereas the existing Kurdish autonomous region in Iraq was mountainous and so difficult for Turkish forces to bomb this was not the case in Syria. Things went quiet but not for long
In the article Spyer wrote that there seemed to be no agreement between the two main Kurdish factions in Syria as to whether they wanted an autonomous region, an independent country or something else. He expressed the opinion that a planned conference to discuss the matter would not take place due to insurmountable differences of opinion. He was wrong.
The BBC reported on the 13th November that the planned meeting had taken place. It was announced that the Kurds wanted to re-integrate with the rest of Syria oncel QUOTE the broader conflict is over UNQUOTE. Pull the other leg, it’s got bells on it. Syrian Kurds now control a contiguous area which encompasses all areas in Syria where Kurds live in any numbers. That area is about ten percent of Syria as it exists now and perhaps more importantly contains the greater part of Syria’s oil reserves. A look at the map will reveal that there are now contiguous Kurdish controlled areas extending from the western part of Syria through north-eastern Iraq and up to the Iranian border. In recent days the Syrian Kurds have pushed right up to the border with Turkey.
Al-Qaeda backed forces are miffed because they rather wanted the oil-rich area for a little private oil-exporting themselves. The Syrian National Coalition has publicly reminded the YPG (Kurdish ‘peoples protection units’)that the oil belongs to all Syrians. Who was it who said that ‘possession is nine-tenths of the law’? Just to remind you that currently the Kurdish autonomous area in Iraq experts it’s own oil, much to the annoyance of the government in Baghdad which can do nothing to prevent it and regards the oil in the area as belonging to all Iraq. Sounds a little familiar, where have I just heard something similar?
One final point. The previously mention YPG has been trained by the PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party), the Turkish Kurds organisation that Turkey and the rest of the world brands as terrorists. At the moment. Expect them to be re-branded as heroic freedom fighters if an oil-exporting Independent Kurdish state comes into being.The YPG has been doing rather well which doesn’t bode well for any Turkish plans to rain on their parade.
Turkish non- delight:
Having made some concessions to their own Kurdish population, come to terms with the situation in northern Iraq i.e. facilitated Kurdish oil exports provided the PKK weren’t encouraged to become fractious again and cowed, as they thought, the Syrian Kurds, the Turkish government probably thought they had got the best of a potentially very bad deal. The recent YPG victories have changed all that and if they (YPG ) feel confident enough to ignore previous Turkish threats and push right up to the border with Turkey then either a deal has been quietly struck or Turkey has been overcome by a feeling of pragmatism. After all, the oil from what will most likely be an independent Kurdistan has to be piped through somebody’s territory and it might as well go through Turkey. The only problem with this of course is Assad, once he establishes an Alawite state with Russian backing, will probably prefer the oil to be piped to the Mediterranean through his territory. In fact, it might pay him to back the formation of an independent Kurdish state, excluding areas in backers Iran’s territory, to prevent an annoyed Turkey from making trouble on his new border.