Tag Archives: Syrian rebels

Red lines and lack of action – how the bigger picture in Syria is overlooked

With the death toll from the Syrian crisis rapidly surpassing 80,000, over 4 million displaced Syrians forced to live in poor conditions and the human catastrophe deepening on a daily basis, the continued discussions in America and Europe about the trespassing of “red lines” and what action should follow is an insult to the suffering of the Syrian people.

When will the conflict be considered a crisis worthy of firm action? When the whole region is embroiled in the conflict, when the death toll surpasses 100,000 or even 200,000 or when most of Syria lies in rubble?

The point is, whilst the regime’s brazen and clear use of chemical weapons, meant that the US “red line” was crossed a long time ago, no matter what tools or apparatus is used by the ever desperate Bashar al-Assad, whether it is Sarin gas, ballistic missile or cluster weapons, the end result is the same – destruction of Syria and mass civilian casualties.

Just as in Iraq when the debate was side-tracked by search for weapons of mass destructions, the West often overlooked the bigger picture. Saddam Hussein, amongst his far reaching terror, systemically used chemical weapons on a mass scale on the Kurds and was by far worse than any weapon. By the same token, the Assad dynasty has ruled Syria with an iron fist for decades. It is not just the Assad actions of the past two years and the recent death tolls, what about the thousands dead before and immense suffering that his dictatorship has produced?

Syria is clearly a different case to Egypt and Libya, it has firm allies in the region in Iran, Hezbollah and sections of Iraq, not forgetting their chief arms supplier and bastion at the UN in Russia. However, the difficulty in knowing how to act or finding common ground to act should be no reason to remain idle for such a lengthy period of time.

US President Barrack Obama’s seemingly blurring red line and back-pedalling of the White House sends all the wrong signals to Iran, North Korea and beyond.

Last week Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated that any red line was crossed long ago. Then less than a week later two car bombs allegedly orchestrated by a group with ties the Syrian intelligence ripped through the Turkish border town of Reyhanli slaying 46 people and resulting in scores more wounded. The Turkish elite warned that a red line was crossed, yet another line, but Turkey is unlikely to retaliate.

While somewhat productive talks took place last week between UK, US and Russia, Russia continues to hold the keys to ending the conflict. The conflict has allowed it to come to the fore in a powerful and influential manner, stamping its authority on the UN and the region, while the US has largely taking a back-stage.

With the EU arms embargo in force, the rebels remain crippled by a lack of arms, as Russia and Iran, for their strategic goals, supply the regime with sophisticated weaponry and Hezbollah lends hundreds of its fighters.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: Various Misc.

A new Syria in a new Middle East

As the West remains idle, Syrians continue to suffer at large

The international community continues to tip-toe around the Syrian crisis, while almost two years into the bloody conflict, the death toll rapidly increases and thousands more refugees are forced to flee across the borders.

Syria may have much greater socio-political, sectarian and strategic connotations than Libya, but the ironies cannot be overlooked. Just when will the United States, the E.U. or the U.N. deem enough is enough?

60,000 deaths, 700,000 refugees and masses amounts of destruction and suffering later and yet the current conflict in Syria is intensifying and worsening by the day.

Failings of the West

The Western powers have greatly encouraged the Syrian revolution and the overthrow of Bashar Assad but have failed to take practical steps that would lead to the ultimate end-goal – the end of the regime.

The current predicament in Syria has echoes of the 1991 uprising in Iraq, which was encouraged and promoted by the US led coalition at the time, but as the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s arsenal sliced through Kurdish and Shiite ranks, killing thousands and sending hundreds of thousands of Kurdish refugees into desperate situations in the process, the West stood largely idle.

The images of bodies of over a hundred executed men, recovered from a river in Aleppo, is a disturbing summary of where Syria finds itself today or in the words of UN special envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, the “unprecedented levels of horror” that Syria has reached.

Ironically, as the Syrian conflict rumbles on, Western powers have hailed the impact of the intervention, unity and coordination between NATO, EU, UN and regional African forces in Mali. Such was the deemed urgency that the intervention in Mali was relatively swift and without contention.

Such urgency is needed in Syria, if not for the sake of the rebels, then to alleviate the humanitarian crisis of millions of innocent civilians. It is the duty of all those who believe in democracy and human rights.

International divide

The regional and international divide over Syrian remains great. The Syrian opposition and the Western powers have long insisted that Assad’s days are numbered and any little legitimacy he had left has long evaporated. The current stalemate is owed to those who staunchly support Damascus – Iran, Iraq, China and in particular Russia.

Russia is the key denominator to finding an end to the Syrian struggle and the party that has already vetoed three UN Security Council resolutions.

The West, having recognised the newly formed Syrian National Coalition as the legitimate representatives of the Syrian people, remain wary of direct military intervention, the setup of a humanitarian corridor or even the arming of the rebels.

The current vicious cycle in Syria is not about to break. There is no way back for Assad now. Syria will never be the same again and outgunned rebels will eventually topple Assad one way or another. The end game is clear, the only thing not clear is when and how many thousands more lives will be sacrificed and how much more suffering the population will endure in the process.

Positive signs

At the recent Munich Security Conference, US Vice-President Joe Biden reiterated that Assad “is no longer fit to lead the Syrian people and he must go.” The gulf between US and Russia is one of the reasons for the protracted nature of the struggle.

Russia has been insistent that a transitional plan or negotiations should not have the removal of Assad as a prerequisite. This negates the whole purpose and motive of the Syrian opposition. How Russia can continue to believe that Assad can be part of any future democratic framework or Syrian transition smacks of delusion.

In a symbolic step for the first time, Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, held talks with leader of the Syrian National Coalition, Sheikh Ahmed Moaz Al-Khatib. Al-Khatib’s remarks that he is prepared for dialogue with the Damascus regime, created furry among the Syrian opposition. Khatib later back-pedaled and insisted any talks would merely be on the proviso of a peaceful exit of Assad’s regime.

Either way, there is no doubt that the key to the toppling of Assad lies in building positive ties between Russia and the Syrian National Coalition.

As the Syrian conflict rages on, even Russian ranks are increasingly divided, with a stark reality that Moscow does not want to risk burning bridges with a future Syria, in spite of its rhetoric. Just recently, Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev hit out at Assad’s lack of reach-out to the opposition and deemed his chances of staying in power as “shrinking day by day”.

A new Syria in a new Middle East

With the Syrian Kurds finally free from the chains of dictatorship and enjoying symbolic autonomy that they are unlikely to relinquish after decades of suffering, Alawites likely to regroup in their strongholds and Sunnis ascending to power, the new fragmented Syria will be a far cry from that of yesteryears.

With the new Syria and the Arab Spring, strategic and sectarian alliances of the Middle East are undertaking a drastic shift. Syrian Kurds will move closer to the Kurdistan Region, Turkey’s Kurdish policy both internally and externally will need a major rethink with the reality of Kurdish autonomy on its southern border, Sunnis in Iraq will naturally move closer to the new Damascus regime just as Baghdad will move increasingly closer to Tehran.

Then there are the ramifications for the Palestinians, Hezbollah and Israel. The shifts in the Middle East are unavoidable. The Western powers and regional forces most move quickly, to harness such inevitabilities in the most constructive way, or risk more turmoil and destruction in a future Syria and the new Middle East.

A continual policy of sticking to the side-lines in the current conflict will greatly encourage extremists in the Syrian struggle and risk the possibilities of war within a war, as dangerously witnessed with al-Qaeda backed elements fighting Kurdish forces in Kurdish populated areas, seemingly on a drive to escalate the Syrian war and pour fuel on Arab, Kurdish hostilities.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources:  Various Misc.

Globe interview with Saleh Muslim, Co-leader of the Kurdish Syrian PYD

Link to Interview in KurdishGlobe-2012-39-13 (English)

Link to Interview Hawler newspaper (Kurdish) – 18.12.12 Printed in Kurdistan Region (Kurdish Translation)

Syrian Kurds with new found autonomy and historic opportunity find themselves in the limelight and key actors in the Syrian struggle. The Democratic Union Party (PYD) is at the centre of the Kurdish struggle in Syria and in the Kurdish quest to capitalise on their new dawn. With rumours and scrutiny facing the party, Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel of the Kurdish Globe spoke exclusively with Saleh Muslim, Co-leader of the PYD on a number of issues to set the record straight.


Globe: At times the PYD is portrayed negatively, as a PKK-affiliated party who has not abided by power sharing agreement with other Kurdish parties, does not tolerate other Kurdish armed forces and has even allegedly collaborated with the Assad regime. What is your answer to that?

Muslim: The PYD is a political party established in 2003 and of course we have our way and our philosophy and our strategy for the works. I mean if our philosophy or strategy was the same as classical Kurdish parties, there would be no reason to establish a new party. We established PYD which is different from the classical parties inSyria. We have the philosophy of Mr. Ocalan and his ideas are adapted to the condition and situation ofWestern Kurdistan. Our works is different from a radical party or the philosophy of classic parties. So it’s usual for people who promoting the interest of regional and global powers to attack our party and to blame it, because we are promoting and working for the interest of the people in Western Kurdistan and all Syrians.

In 50 years the Kurdish parties could not submit anything to Kurdish politics or to the Kurdish people ofWestern Kurdistan. They could not organise themselves very well and especially for the critical duration facingWestern Kurdistan. So everything belonged to the PYD, all the responsibilities including defending the people and organising the people fell to the PYD. PYD is doing everything and because of that, we are been attacked not only by the classic Kurdish parties but also other sides that are against the Kurdish people and their struggle.

They are enemies of the Kurdish people. So we are under attack from all of them. There are many rumours and sayings, trying to affiliate us with the PKK where other than the general philosophy we are completely different from them. We have our own leadership, strategy, and work forWestern Kurdistan, we do not have any organic relations with the PKK or affiliations with them. But we support each other like any party, our relation with them is no different to our relations with the KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party) of Massaud Barzani or PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) of Jalal Talabani.

Globe: Do you have any problem working with other Kurdish parties or power sharing?

Muslim: No, not at all. We would like to share the power with all Kurdish parties. We can do everything together. We have been seeking the co-operation with them since we were established in 2003, where we knocked on all their doors, we met them one by one to build relations and to work together and to make agreements with them but we could not achieve this.

Globe: In terms of the Kurdish forces, do you have any problem in working with other Kurdish forces specifically the “Syrian Peshmerga” trained in Kurdistan Region? Is the force in Syrian Kurdistan, a PYD force or a national force for all Kurds?

Muslim: We have no problem to unite all the armed forces for the sake of the Kurdish people. InWestern Kurdistanyou can have many political parties, many organisations but when it comes to the armed forces, there should only ever be one armed force for the region. Otherwise if you have intra-fighting it’s a massive problem. Because of that, as part of the Kurdish Supreme Council we decided to unify all of the armed forces, including those Kurdish forces inSyriaor those trained inSouthern Kurdistan. We are trying to unify them and this is no problem as the forces belong to the people. They are protecting people ofWestern Kurdistan. Everybody has a right to join it to defend his family and relations. This is never a problem for us. But importantly, any force should only be under one commander.

We don’t refer to such forces trained inSouthern Kurdistanas Peshmerga, they are simply part of the Peoples Protection Unit, the defence units. It’s the same to us and we do not differentiate on the type of forces by referring to these specifically as “Peshmerga”. Those forces are in Syrian right now. Most of them are Kurdish soldiers who had defected from the Syrian Army and they are simply the army of the Kurdish people inWestern Kurdistanprotecting them. An important point, they do not belong to any political party, nor the PYD or even Democratic Society Movement (Tev-Dem). They are established by (Tev-Dem) but they belong to the Syrian Kurdish people, because they take orders from the Kurdish Supreme Council.

Globe: Some have accused you of collaborating with Assad’s regime in Kurdish areas, can you set the record straight on that?

Muslim: We have been fighting this regime since we were established in 2003. We have had our people killed under torture, when the Syrian uprising started in March 2011 we had about 1,500 people under arrest and tortured by Assad’s security apparatus. Because of that we cannot say we have relations with them. But because our strategy is different from other organisations and other parties, they try to find a reason to blame us. Only because we refused to become soldiers for the others as on many other occasions in Kurdish history. Kurds have always been soldiers for others, fighting for them, dying for them and at the end they receive nothing. So we refuse to follow that historical trap. Now they point the blame at us as we refused to be their soldiers. We have no relations with the regime at all, nor would we ever open the hand of the gladiator that is killing us.

Globe: Turkey has been closely observing the new found Kurdish autonomy in Syria with great unease. Do you have any contact with the Turkish authorities? Do you see any threat in a direct Turkish invasion?

Muslim: We are on the side of dialogue with anybody, not just Turkey. Anyone involved in the Syrian conflict or the Kurdish case, we are open to negotiations with them and we do not have any objections. Today, we don’t have any contact with the Turkish authorities but we don’t refuse contact or meetings with them, if the Turkish regime accepts us. As for any invasion, I don’t think international conditions make sense for any invasion, they will not allow such an invasion nor is it convenient for any military intervention inSyria. But the Turkish hand is clearly inSyriafrom the beginning of the uprising. They are trying to be involved and are supporting armed groups to destabilise relatively peaceful Kurdish region and the Turkish intervention has succeeded in turning the peaceful uprising into an armed uprising against the regime. This was only possible with Turkish support of armed groups.

In the Kurdish case, we have already seen what happened inAleppo, Afrin and Sere Kaniye where armed groups have invaded the Kurdish areas fromTurkey. They are supporting them and they are sending them to mix the Kurdish areas and to destroy peaceful situation of the Kurdish areas. Groups such as Al-Nusra Front and Ghuraba al-Sham are all related to the Turkish regime, affiliated, supported and sent by them.

And even in Sere Kaniye when they were going to escape to get back toTurkey,Turkeyclosed the border and said to these armed groups you either have to fight or die. So they didn’t allow them to go back and still those forces are there. Just yesterday there was an air attack by regime forces on those armed groups, but they have nowhere to escape becauseTurkeyclosed the border and they are unable to move out, so they are hemmed in. More than 20 of them were killed yesterday by that air attack.

Globe: What is your message to Turkey?

Muslim: Turkey must step away from their Kurdish phobia. Kurds can live together with the Turkish people, we have no problem with any Turk. We are friends and neighbours with Turkmen inSyriaand the same with the Turkish people. We have no problem with the Turkish people and we can co-exist peacefully. The Turkish government should understand that and build on the brotherly ties between the two nations, instead of been driven by a phobia of Kurds.

Globe: Recently, there has been much violence between FSA, particularly their Islamist wings and PYD forces in Sere Kaniye and within Aleppo itself. Why such hostility and general animosity? What must happen before you will work with the FSA?

Muslim: If they leave us alone, then we don’t have any problem with the Free Syrian Army. They are mostly compromised of soldiers defecting from the Syrian Army and to protect the civilians. But it is only specific armed groups that are fighting and attacking the Kurdish areas even when there are no regime forces in such areas. They are attacking civilians and such groups do not belong to the FSA at all and even the FSA have issued declarations that they are not affiliated with them. They are different groups to the FSA and they are only using the name of FSA, but nobody recognises them as FSA. They belong to the Turkish regime. Especially, in Aleppo, Afrin and Sere Kaniye, these groups were clearly supported by Turkey with weapons, with facilities of movement and they are coming from across the Turkish side.

Any Kurdish peoples captured, such as the leader of YPG who was captured in Aleppo, are taken to Turkey for interrogation by Turkish authorities. Even in Sere Kaniye, the injured and captured people were taken to Turkey and investigated by Turkish authorities. We may not be fighting Turkish soldiers directly, but they are proxy forces instigated by Turkey.

In Syria, you have Kurds, Arabs and other nationalities. If everyone liberated his place then all of Syria is liberated. Kurds cannot go to Damascus and liberate Damascus but we can liberate our part where we live. And that’s what we have done. There are no regime soldiers or forces in Kurdish area, so why would rebel forces attack here?

Globe: What is the wait to liberate Qamishli and all of Syrian Kurdistan from Assad’s forces? What is the next step in your struggle to liberate all of Syrian Kurdistan?

Muslim: For us it’s not a case of liberation. If we push away the Syrian forces, then we are simply living with Syrian people and all Syrians within the Syrian state. For Qamishli, the situation is very sensitive. We are not fighting the Arabs but the Syrian regime. Our liberation is not from Syrian people but from Assad forces only.

While we are concern of fighting between the Kurds and Arabs, in sensitive places like Qamishli and Sere Kaniye and to prevent this sectarian war, we could not afford to attack to regime, as we are worried that some Arabs may side with the regime. We don’t want to end up in a conflict between Arabs and Kurds, as opposed to fighting the regime.

Qamishli is a Kurdish city and the capital of Western Kurdistan and the city is a hub for Kurdish activities.  The plan is still to eradicate Qamishli of regime forces. But at the same time we never reject to live side-by-side with Arabs in Qamishli and we don’t want Qamishli to be a place of fighting between Kurds and Arabs. When the conditions are right and when the Arabs in and around Qamishli leave with those that are against the regime, we will also extend our control to Qamishli.

Globe: The Kurdistan Region is your neighbour and brethren, with growing strategic power and regional influence. Can the Kurdistan Region leadership do more to help the Kurds and political parties in Syria?

Muslim: The Kurdistan regional Government is doing what it is doing in their areas and they are controlling their areas in South Kurdistan. But our conditions are very different. We are not looking for a system like in Southern Kurdistan. So we can have very good relations but we have different conditions and our solution is different from them. Their governance is based on federalism whereas what we strive for is democratic self-governing which is different. We don’t have to draw the border between Syrian Kurdish areas and the Arab areas.

A Kurd can always do more for a Kurd in terms of support. We are one nation, whether in the south, west, north or east. But for each part we have different conditions. We can help each other in the spirit of brotherhood and build our future strategy. What we are looking for in future is Kurdish parts to be unified in a democratic confederation in the Middle East. The Kurdish parts can be a reason to unite the Middle East, much in the same way as Europe came closer together through a union whilst slowly eroding their common borders. Today we have 27 countries all living together. Why can’t we the same thing in the Middle East?

At the point we have the Middle East united in a democratic confederation, at the same time all of Kurdistan will become united. This is our long-term strategy for the Kurdish people.

Globe: What is the absolute minimum that the PYD will settle for in a post Assad Syria?

Muslim: There are two points. One is constitutional recognition of the Kurdish people in Western Kurdistan. And secondly, guarantees for our democratic rights that is included in the constitution. In terms of self-governance model, the name is not important; it could be termed self-governance or democratic federalism. As part of democratic rights, there should be provision of self-protecting defence units such security units, essentially civilians protecting the areas.

The Kurdish case in Syria is different. Everybody is assessing the Syrian situation and talking about the Syrian problem, but nobody is looking at the Kurdish side of it. We are part of the Syrian people, we have our rights and any solution for the Syrian people must also contain a solution for the Kurdish conflict also. It is impossible to have democracy in Syria without solving the Kurdish problem. Everybody should be clear that once there is a solution of the Kurds, only then can democracy be attained in Syria.

Globe: It cannot be overlooked that the majority of Syrian oil is in Kurdish areas and Western Kurdistan is oil rich. Do you have any control over the oil fields at the moment and what’s your view on natural resources that Kurds have never benefited from?

Muslim: Those oil wells are protected by our people over there. And we are still getting fuel from the refineries in Homos and Baniyas, so we protect. Of course in a future Syria, such natural resources need agreement with benefit for local community and a portion of revenues should be spent on the local areas. Revenue sharing will need negotiation and agreement, but it will be managed centrally for all Syrians.

The many regional dimensions of the Syrian war

Syria was always going to be a special exception to the Arab Spring. In contrast to Egypt and Libya, its religious and ethnic framework, political alliances, strategic location and above all else its potential to instigate heat waves across the region was always going to make regional and foreign powers tip-toe that much more carefully.

However, directly or indirectly, the battle in Syria is hardly restricted to Syrians themselves. A deep underlying proxy war is already taking place in Syria that brings together many influential parties with their own interests in the conflict and the eventual outcome in Syria.

Turkish alarm

Relations between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Turkey rapidly faded after the start of the revolution. Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia and other pro-rebel foreign powers and Turkey itself, have been supporting the rebels indirectly from Turkish territory.

Regional powers have restrained from direct intervention in Syria, but a Syrian mortar attack that landed in the Turkish border town of Akcakale last week killing 5 Turkish civilians, resulting in retaliatory attacks by Turkey for a number of days, showed just how quickly the fire of civil war can burn across a far reaching forest.

Cross border tensions in the north are hardly new and other stray Syrian bullets and mortars have already fallen across the border in Turkey, and in Jordan and Lebanon for that matter, not forgetting the hotly-disputed downing of a Turkish jet reportedly in international waters fresh in the memory.

But the deaths in Akcakale were a red-line and Turkish parliament was quick to authorise symbolic cross-border operations if the needs arise to serve as a strong warning, even if in reality Turkey is far from jumping in to the drums of war.

Matters were hardly helped as further stray Syrian mortars landed in Turkish fields in the Hatay province on Saturday, just days after Syria had offered a rare apology and vowed not to repeat the incidents.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Syria would pay a “big price” and that Turkey would not shy away from war if provoked, stating “those who attempt to test Turkey’s deterrence, its decisiveness, its capacity, I say here they are making a fatal mistake.”

Clearly, Turkey and its allies do not have the stomach for direct intervention at the current time, due to the intense regional escalation it would cause. On another day, Turkey may well have had the pretext to strike back with more fire-power or even declare all-out war, but such a solitary move without some allied coalition would be detrimental to Turkey both politically and in terms of its own stability and security.

UN and NATO response

Both the UN and NATO issued a strong rebuke to Syrian actions.

NATO demanded “the immediate cessation of such aggressive acts against an ally” and pressed the Syrian regime to “put an end to flagrant violations of international law.”

While the UN Security Council strongly condemned the provocations by the Syria regime in rare agreement after hours of negotiations and stated that the incident  “highlighted the grave impact the crisis in Syria has on the security of its neighbours and on regional peace,” and “demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately and are not repeated.”

If it was not for the staunch support of Russia and China, a Western backlash on Assad would have been much more stern and direct. However, the UN text that was issued showed the increasingly difficult predicament of Moscow as it was forced to make concessions over the cross-border crisis whilst trying to maintain calm.

Regional ramifications

The war in Syria has already split the West along Cold War lines and polarised the region. The latest escalation in tensions between Syria and Turkey threatened to introduce a whole new dimension to the Syrian conflict but is not a unique danger.

Clashes have already taken place in Lebanon between pro-Assad and pro-rebel groups inside Lebanon and border skirmishes are not rare as the battle has ubiquitously spilled over. Both Iraq and particularly Lebanon have similar sectarian connotations that introduce vested interests in the Syrian conflict.

The influential Shiite group Hezbollah based in Lebanon and closely aligned with Iran, has reportedly assisted Syrian forces but in spite of stirring of old sectarian wounds in Lebanon, the major factions have shown restraint with the bitter 15-year civil war still etched in the memory.

Baghdad, who is closely entangled with Tehran, has come under pressure from its dismayed US ally for its Syrian position and pressed to cease underhand support of the Syrian regime or allow Iran logistical access to send arm shipments to Syria. While Nouri al-Maliki is careful not to alienate foreign partners, they are clearly in favour of the current regime and not the Sunni dominated rebel movement. Some even ascribe the resurgence of Sunni attacks and groups in Iraq to the deepening sectarian conflict in Syria and the rise of Sunni power in Syria.

Israel with its occupation of the Golan Heights on the direct doorstep of the Syrian conflict, and with Iranian supported Hezbollah on the other flank, knows it can also be easily dragged into the battle.

While the Syrian crisis may have split the Arab world largely under sectarian lines, it is perhaps the Kurdish issue that may prove the most destabilising of all.

The Kurdistan Region has provided a natural helping hand to its Syrian Kurdish brethren, with Syrian Kurds using the security and political vacuum to claim de-facto autonomy and break from the shackles of Arab suppression.

On the other hand, Assad’s forces, weary of Turkish intervention or even the creation of a buffer zone in northern Syria, have strategically ceded Kurdish border areas to avoid bloodshed with the Kurds and to delimit the rebel movement and at the same time create their own buffer zone.

Turkey has already suffered to a great extent with the establishment of the Kurdish region and renewed support of the PKK in Damascus, which was a ploy by Syria to only deter a Turkish incursion but was also a tool to punish the Turks for their support of the Sunni rebel movement.

Turkey is acutely aware, that with PKK attacks on a rapid rise in Turkey and Kurdish passions running high across the Syrian-Turkish divide, a unilateral incursion may open up unwanted new fronts.

A Turkish move into Syria could well see Iran ratchet its increased support for Kurdish rebels or embolden the Syrian forces with renewed military assistance.

With Iraq, Iran and to a lesser extent Lebanon on one side, Sunni dominated Saudi Arabia, Gulf countries, Jordan and Egypt have promoted and aided the rebel cause through proxy forces while at the same time trying to keep the conflict at arm’s length.

Syrian game changer

No war drives on indefinitely and something will have to give sooner or later. While the West and pro-rebel regional forces have been largely passive, how long can the world view a humanitarian crisis, a growing refugee influx and escalating violence in Syria as an internal issue and without ultimate intervention or the setup of some kind of no-fly zones?

The fall of Assad’s regime in Syria will have far reaching ramifications, may well see the break-up of Syria and drastically alter the political, strategic and sectarian map of the Middle East.

Both within the current crisis and in the aftermath of the war, regional powers will flock to make their stake and influence in the new Syria. Syria is far too important both now and the future to be simply left aside as a distant war.

First Published On: Kurdish Globe

Other Publication Sources: eKurd.net, Various Misc.