Five factors helping Syrian Kurds gain autonomy, independence

Alwaght- Before 2011, the existence of the Syrian Kurds had been deeply disregarded by the experts of West Asia region’s politics. Basically, the Kurds living in Syria, who as a minority account for about %10 of the total population of the country, for many years had no place in the research of the political analysts. But the eruption of the Syria’s domestic crisis in 2011 has changed the Situation for the Kurds of the country.

Now, in addition to calling for recognition, they ask for the right of political and administrative control over the Kurdish-inhabited regions of Syria. And in the present time it is probable that they would call for autonomy in the future, and in next steps this would develop in a call for full independence.

Following the onset of crises in Syria, most of the Kurdish political parties have been organized under two major movements which were “Kurdistan National Council of Syria” and “National Council of West Kurdistan”. Founded in October 2011, the Kurdistan National Council of Syria included 16 Syrian Kurdish political parties, basically opposing the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which was founded in northern Syria in 2003. Most of the influential parties of the Kurdish alliance are directly sister parties of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (YNK), led by Jalal Taliban, and Kurdistan Democratic Party, which is led by Masoud Barzani. Due to the Democratic Union Party’s ban, the Kurdistan National Council of Syria has failed so far to gain acceptable position among the Syria’s Kurds. On the other side, the National Council of West Kurdistan was formed in the beginning of the Syrian internal conflict by the Democratic Union Party and some other small fractions all of which affiliated with Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK). Currently, two military forces from National Council of Western Kurdistan, called People’s Protection Units (YPG) and Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), have created a canton in Syria’s north, administrated by a democratic autonomous military system of governing.

With regard to the mentioned features, this analysis seeks examining the Syria’s Kurds’ potentials to gain autonomy and independence. The major strong points the Kurds in Syria enjoyed since the spark of crisis in 2011 in the country include:

1. Syrian crisis and Kurds empowering

Crisis in Syria, which started since March 14, 2011, has divided the Syrian community in two basic parts, which were the forces opposing the central Damascus government on the one hand and on the other were those in favor of the country’s central government. But later ISIS entered the country in 2013, seizing the power and winning the upper hand among the other groups of the battlefield in Syria. Meanwhile, the Democratic Union Party (PYD) was supported unwaveringly by the central government.

In other words, the Syrian government has decided to give Democratic Union Party their rights so they resume their activity which previously was withheld from them. Also, by withdrawal of Syrian forces, from some Kurd regions, protection and administration of the government centers were entrusted to the Democratic Union Party.

Generally, the Syrian government’s weakness as a result of the crisis has paved the way for the Kurds to gain power. After seizing control of four towns of Kobani, Afrin, Serikani and Dirak, the Kurds have managed to implement a democratic autonomous government uniting the three cantons of Kobani, Afrin and Island in the areas under their control. They also made other remarkable successes so far.

2. Proximity to Iraq’s Kurdistan regional government: From mediation to military support.

Iraq war in 2003 and its repercussions for the security and redefinition of security for the country had the deepest effects on the Kurds, including Syria’s Kurds. In the present critical circumstances the Kurdistan regional government has an influential role in uniting and protecting the Kurds of Syria.

Generally, the political leaders of Kurdistan regional government have played a pivotal role to serve the security of the Syria’s Kurds after they fulfilled their duty in mediating between the Kurdish political forces and training the Syria’s Kurdish youths to defend the Kurdish areas in Syria. Kurdistan National Council of Syria and National Council of West Kurdistan saw deep gaps between them after they gained control of the Kurdish regions in Syria. Kurdistan National Council of Syria came strongly against domination of Democratic Union Party over the held areas. As the cracks enlarged between the two sides, Masoud Barzani, the president of Kurdistan region, has mediated between them. Inviting the two opposing sides to Erbil, Barzani took an influential step in meeting an agreement to ease tensions between them. The agreement assigned the task of forming a “supreme committee” by the Kurdish parties for protection of the Kurds’ vital interests in Syria.

Another aspect of Kurdistan regional government’s back-up for Syria’s Kurds is military training of the Syrian young Kurds inside its borders and providing them with arms and equipment.

3. The Syrian Kurdish fighters win global support and legitimacy.

Undoubtedly, The Kurds’ fighting won the advocacy of the dominant international powers after Kobani battle and after drawing the international focus on the thier resistance in the face of ISIS terrorists, in which a new mode of battle, especially with the presence of women, was introduced. However, Turkey has called the Syrian Kurdish fighters who were members of the Democratic Unity Party as terrorists, currently, they are not only not recognized as terrorists but also many of the international organizations describe them as guardians of democracy and human rights against the ISIS terror group.

The latest remarks of Staffan de Mistura, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, about not blacklisting the Syrian Kurds by the UN as terrorist groups are a sign of international legitimacy of the Kurds. In the light of dominant international discourse that legitimizes Kurdish fighting, any serious support for Kurdish ambitions to expand areas under their control could be possible.

4. Considerable military capabilities

The Kurds military potentials in handling an erosive war and conducting surprise attacks are their other strong points. Presently, People’s Protection Units and Women’s Protection Units are the most significant Syrian forces which have the power to take on and defeat ISIS. The anti-ISIS international coalition’s help to the Kurdish forces signals that their military capability has received international community’s attention. Coalition forces have sent about 50 tons of advanced arms to Kurds in Syria’s Al-Hasakah province.

Russia’s attempts to pull the Kurdish forces close to it could be interpreted on the same base.

Finally, it can be said that the Kurdish forces have come under global attention due to the capacities they have showed in the battlefield, and in current time the US, just contrary to Turkish demands, has no plan to restrict their military power, as many of the American military advisors describe the Syrian Kurds’ role in conflict as being similar to the US army ground forces in Syria.

5. Russian direct entrance in Syria’s battlefield

One of the most important developments taking place in the Syrian internal conflict is Russia’s direct military presence in the country which has practically prepared the ground for the Kurds to be more united and cohesive. Moscow’s principle” the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, which is the central policy in West Asia, has made moves to strengthen ties with the Kurds. The Kremlin and its allies would in no way accept that northern Syria and significant cities like Aleppo be held by ISIS or the Syrian opposition groups which are dependent to anti-Bashar al-Assad countries. Thereby, in recent months all of Kurdish measures have faced a Russia’s acceptance and welcome, and the Russian diplomatic relations with the Kurds reached their climax during the recent stretch of time.

By Alwaght