Welcome to the Kurdistan Region of Syria
By Bashdar Ismaeel
For thousands of Kurds in Syria, achieving basic
rights and citizenship was a dream let alone
witnessing the hoisting of the flag of Kurdistan on
the historic soil of their ancestors.
For hundreds of years, Kurdish valour, passion and
determination stood up to many forms of tyranny and
the sheer force and military might of their
oppressors. Often helicopter gunships, tanks,
fighter jets and even chemical weapons were no match
for the heart and pride of the Kurdish warrior.
After decades out of the limelight, it is the turn
of the Kurds of Syria to seize their historic
opportunity, to unite and liberate another part of
Kurdistan from tyranny and dictatorship. As a series
of cities succumb to Kurdish control, Kurds need to
ensure that the last Arab troop to leave Kurdistan
is the last oppressing force to ever be seen in
Much like the uprising of Iraqi Kurdistan in 1991,
Syrian Kurds must ensure that the newly hoisted
Kurdish flags on-top of government buildings are the
only flags that the region will ever see.
Liberation of Kurdistan
As Kurdish forces of the Kurdish National Council (KNC)
and the Democratic Union Party (PYD) finally united
via the recent Erbil agreement brokered by Kurdistan
President Massoud Barzani, the renewed vigour of the
Kurds was on instant show.
The fall of Kobane, in the province of Halab
(Aleppo) and close to the Turkish border, served as
the first symbol of freedom. This quickly followed
with the liberation of Amude, Afrin, Dęrik and the
Cidęris district. Kurdish People's Defense Unions (YPG)
alongside the Kurdish citizens, were at the
forefront of the liberation.
The battle for these cities was largely without any
real confrontation. This is not because Bashar al-Assad's
government sees these areas as non-important. On the
contrary, they dare not indulge in a bloody
confrontation with a group of determined, passionate
and patriotic Kurds, where the outcome was certain
defeat. Instead, the Syrian army decided to regroup
and focus their efforts in maintaining control of
With reported clashes in Qamishli, the iconic
Kurdish power centre of Syria, it is unlikely that
Assad will give up the city without a fight.
However, with a united Kurdish offensive and the
Syrian army already stretched in Damascus and in
other battles with the Free Syrian Army (FSA),www.ekurd.net
Damascus can ill-afford a protracted and ultimately
costly battle against the growing Kurdish brigades.
The Union of Kurdish Coordination Committees (UKCC)
urged the members of the Syrian army to withdraw
from the Kurdish areas or face consequences. Indeed
some reports indicate that the Syrian army may well
withdraw under certain conditions rather than risk a
bloody conflict with the Kurds.
At this historical juncture, the Kurdistan Region
must continue to support their brethren in Syria,
both through a continuation of political efforts to
bolster unity and harmony amongst the disparate
Kurdish voices in Syria and also through logistical
support and aid.
Only a few weeks ago, there was a deep split in
Syrian Kurdistan that threatened the nationalist
goals of the Kurds, undermined their efforts at a
key time to topple Assad and even threatened to
break into civil war.
As part of the Erbil agreement, the Kurdish National
Council (KNC) and the People's Council of Western
Kurdistan formed an agreement for the
join-administration of Syrian Kurdistan.
Maintaining unity is perhaps the biggest risk to
nationalist goals of the Kurds in Syria. Even Assad
is less of a danger that the danger of Kurdish
Through unity, the Kurds become a cohesive force and
where their battle becomes one of ethnic and
sovereign rights, rather than individual goals of
Kurdish parties seem to be well aware of the dangers
of not fulfilling a united front. The importance of
working together was recently echoed by the
Kurdistan Democratic Party and Kurdistan Freedom
Unity amongst such an array of Kurdish views will
not be easy but any alternative is simply not an
Whilst the Kurds in Syrian and throughout greater
Kurdistan looks at the emergence of a Kurdish
controlled region in Syria with great pride, Turkey
is inevitably alarmed at such developments.
Regardless of greater Kurdish unity in Syria, there
is no denying that a major force on the new Kurdish
political maps is the PYD which has strong links to
the PKK. The PKK flags on display tell its own
Barzani has helped to reposition the PYD focus from
one of anti-Turkey and supporting the PKK to one
that can focus on the primary and historical
objective of liberating Syrian Kurdistan.
PYD has changed its tone for now, but it has left
Turkey in a precarious position. Does it remain idle
and watch as the Kurds and particularly the PYD
carve out a new bastion of Kurdish nationalism, or
does it intervene and do something about it?
If Turkey does take military action to intervene
then it almost certainly will alienate the Kurds
further and may even lead to a greater cross border
insurgency. It will also undermine their role as the
main sponsor of Syrian oppositional if ironically
they are seen to punish Kurds for ousting Assad.
Kurdistan Region on the other hand has the difficult
job of keeping Syrian Kurds in tandem with their
Region and working on their side and away from one
that may incur the wrath of Turkey.
The Kurdistan Region will become the natural foster
parent of Syrian Kurdistan and it will be
interesting to see how Ankara reacts to this
However, it may be a small price to pay if the
Kurdistan Regional Government can manage to keep the
PKK away from dominating the Syrian Kurdistan
The focus of Syrian Kurds must be on Kurdistan
before the nationalist objectives of the Arab
dominated Syrian National Council (SNC).
Syrian Kurds will be wary of taking any new power
and influence for granted, knowing only too well of
the Arab opposition to the idea of Kurdish self-rule
let alone de-facto independence.
In this light, it was a wise move by the Kurds to
prevent the FSA forces from entering their region
and to limit the prospects of confrontation and thus
damage to Kurdistan as much as possible,
While the Kurds should continue to do what they can
to topple Assad from power, the very future of post-Assad
Syria is far from certain.
How the array of opposition voices can be wedged
together is a difficult undertaking. There are many
echoes of Iraq in the new Syria, and once the
euphoria of the eventual fall of Assad wanes, the
battle to keep a united Syria will take centre
Much like Iraq, Kurds in Syria would have a pivotal
region with a plenty of oil reserves, and will work
to safeguard and bolster their region before
submitting to the sentiment of Arab nationalism once
Bashdar Pusho Ismaeel is a London-based freelance
writer and analyst, a regular
contributing writer for Ekurd.net website. Ismaeel whose primary focus and
expertise is on the Kurds, Iraq and Middle Eastern
current affairs. The main focus of his writing is to
promote peace, justice and increase awareness of the
diversity, suffering and at times explosive mix in
Iraq and the Middle East.
Most recently he has produced work for the
Washington Examiner, Asian Times, The Epoch Times,
Asia News, The Daily Star (Lebanon), Kurdish Globe,
Hewler Post, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), KurdishMedia, PUK Online and OnlineOpinion.
He has achieved seminar recommended readings for Le
High University (Pennsylvania) and Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. His work has been
republished extensively elsewhere on the Internet.
He is a longtime contributing writer for Ekurd.net. You may reach the author via email at:
First appeared on: Kurdish Globe
Other Primary Sources of Republication: Ekurd.net,
© 2012 Ekurd.net. All rights reserved
expressed in this commentary are solely those of the