Syria’s Kurds, who have been successful in occupying large tracts of territory originally seized by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are now facing concerted military pressure from Turkey, which is backed by military forces from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Ironically, the Kurds are facing one NATO military force, that of Turkey, while being armed and trained by another NATO military, that of the United States.
The complicated situation in Syria arises from a totally failed American foreign policy in the Middle East that was more intent on overthrowing stable governments, like those of Syria and Libya, than on preserving the relatively peaceful status quo ante. This utter failure of America’s Middle East policy can be laid directly at the doorstep of former Secretary of State and presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, whose «Responsibility to Protect» (R2P) program resulted in the mass slaughter of Syrians, including Kurds, Alawites, Shias, Armenian and Assyrian Christians, moderate Sunnis, Yazidis, and Druze, at the hands of ISIL and affiliated jihadist terrorists.
Turkey’s virtual declaration of war against Kurdish People’s Protection Unit (YPG) forces is a direct assault on not only the US and Russian-supported Syrian Kurds but also on the YPG’s Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) allies consisting of Sunni Arab, Turkmen, Yazidi, and Assyrian units. The YPG and SDF alliance has achieved pivotal battlefield success against the Turkish- and Saudi-supported ISIL forces and their radical jihadist allies. SDF and YPG victories include the capture of the strategic town of Tal Rifaat, just north of Aleppo. In fact, SDF and YPG forces are, in cooperation with the army of the Syrian Arab Republic, closing in on Aleppo, which was seized by ISIL and its dubious allies, the US-, Turkish- and Saudi-supported Free Syrian Army (FSA). Ever since its creation, the FSA has maintained links to jihadist rebels in Syria, including ISIL and the al-Nusra Front. The Obama administration has falsely claimed that the FSA is composed of the democratic opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. However, an examination of the FSA and its tentacles reveals significant links to jihadist terrorist mercenaries fighting in Syria’s civil war.
In reaction to the success of the Syrian Kurds and their allies, Turkish forces opened up with artillery fire on Syrian Kurdish positions near the Syrian-Turkish border. Turkey has issued a demarche to the United States: either support its Turkish NATO allies or the Syrian Kurds. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has fashioned, along with the Saudis and Emiratis, a Sunni Legion to battle the Syrian Kurds, Shias, Alawites, and other ethnic and religious minorities, has laid down a gauntlet directed at Washington. The Obama administration’s refusal to order Erdogan and his Saudi and Emirati friends to stand down their massing forces near the Syrian border in Turkey has resulted in further uncertainty throughout the Middle East.
Making matters worse for the Syrian Kurds is the temporary suspension of US air support for the YPG and SDF the minute their forces crossed the Euphrates River, which bisects northern Syria in a north-to-south geographic boundary. Turkey and their Wahhabist allies in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are intent on preventing the establishment of an autonomous Rojava Kurdistan state stretching from the Iraqi border, across the Euphrates, to the Mediterranean Sea. There are credible reports that Assad’s government in Damascus has not objected to the creation of such a Kurdish entity as long as the Kurds continue to achieve battlefield successes against the jihadist Sunni rebel forces.
Turkey has carried out false flag terrorist attacks in Ankara against innocent civilians, as well as Turkish military personnel. The first false flag attack last October, a twin bombing at Ankara’s central railway station that killed 102 people, was initially blamed on the Turkish-supported ISIL, but later blamed on the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Another Ankara suicide car bombing this month that targeted military buses stopped at a traffic light, killing some 28 people, was blamed, in part, on a YPG «terrorist». Turkey cynically used the bus attack to carry out air strikes against YPG positions in Syria. Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu also conveniently used the attack to call on the United States and other nations to cease their support for the YPG, calling it a «terrorist» organization. US diplomats, off-the-record, confided that Turkey was lying about the YPG, emphasizing that the US had absolutely zero proof of YPG involvement in the bombing of the military buses in Ankara.
It is clear that Turkey will do anything to prevent an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq allying itself with an autonomous Kurdish state in Western Kurdistan, Rojava (“the West”), also known as Syrian Kurdistan. And two Kurdish political entities, one in Iraq and the other in Syria, stand poised to receive wide international recognition with Rojava Kurdistan already opening a diplomatic office in Moscow. Rojava Kurdistan also has plans to open similar offices in Berlin and Paris. Meanwhile, the Kurdish Regional Government in Erbil has plans to hold a popular referendum on independence, which would win overwhelming support by Iraqi Kurds. An independent Kurdistan and autonomous Rojava Kurdistan would undoubtedly come to the aid of their long-oppressed kin in eastern Turkey, which Erdogan fears will undermine his regime and his long-term plans for a pan-Turkic «commonwealth» of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Chechnya, Crimean Tatarstan, as well as Turkoman statelets in Syria and Iraq. Erdogan foresees a Turkish empire stretching as far away as China’s Xinjiang-Uighur province and Afghanistan and Tajikistan.
Turkey and its new-found Saudi and Emirati friends will continue to support their ISIL and other jihadist surrogates to prevent an independent Kurdish state in Iraq and an affiliated autonomous Kurdish state in Rojava in Syria. General Salim Idris, the Turkish and Central Intelligence Agency public relations flack who once commanded the practically non-existent «Free Syrian Army», falsely accused the YPG of being a tool of the Assad government. Israel, which has patched up frayed relations with Turkey, is relishing the fact that Syria and Iraq will eventually be fragmented, a fruition of the Oded Yinon plan of 1982 that called for the eventual dissolution of string Arab nation states into smaller warring fiefdoms.
Several nations have already established de facto diplomatic and consular relations with the embryonic Kurdish state in Iraq (the Kurdish Regional Government). The Kurdish government operating from Erbil and Sulaimani enjoys virtual diplomatic ties, through the presence of Consulate Generals in the two Kurdish cities, with Russia, China, Iran, Egypt, the United States, Britain, France, and even Turkey, but not Saudi Arabia. The recent opening of diplomatic offices by Rojava Kurdistan in Sulaimani, Moscow, and Berlin has signaled that the Syrian Kurds are following in the footsteps of their brethren in northern Iraq in a move toward eventual international recognition.
As Turkey continues to further advance its aggressive moves against Russia, alienates NATO allies like the United States, and target Kurds in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey itself, it will descend into the category of a pariah state. Further diminution of Turkey’s diplomatic and «soft power» propaganda influence in the Middle East and NATO will be good news for the Kurds, whose dream of a united Kurdish nation encompassing northern Iraq and northern Syria and eventually, eastern Turkey, is closer than ever.