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Western Kurdistan Dynamics after the Erbil Agreement

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Western Kurdistan Dynamics after the Erbil Agreement

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:13 pm

Western Kurdistan Dynamics after the Erbil Agreement

Unity or PYD Power Play?
Syrian Kurdish Dynamics after the Erbil Agreement

By ilhan tanir, Wladimir van Wilgenburg, an Omar Hossino

Executive summary:

With moderate Kurdish forces failing to reach an agreement with the Arab-Syrian opposition, Syria’s Kurds have been pushed to unite among themselves via the Erbil Agreement, which mandated the creation of a Supreme Kurdish Council. However, the effect of the Erbil Agreement has been the empowerment of radicals in the PKK-linked Democratic Union Party (PYD)

On a regional level, the presence of armed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, who are known to be affiliated with the PKK in southern Turkey, has gravely worried and exercised Ankara. It has also increased the geopolitical profile of Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG), who has been heavily involved in supporting and mediating crises between the Syrian-Kurdish factions

The withdrawal of the Assad regime’s security forces from crucial Kurdish regions is helping Syria’s Kurds attain dramatic levels of self-governance and semi-autonomy. This will have a decisive impact on the course of the Syrian civil war and the post-Assad era

While the PYD is uneasy about the connections between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and Turkey, and while it further fears that Ankara might prompt the rebels into fighting the PYD, the suspicion is mutual. Some FSA statements have indicated hostility towards the PYD, hostility which the latter group sees as orchestrated by its Syrian-Kurdish rivals

Ambiguity persists as to the level of FSA-PYD engagement, and it is unclear how much cooperation exists between the militant groups under the rapidly changing wartime circumstances

Without engagement by the United States and European Union in coordination with Turkey, Syria’s unresolved Kurdish problem could lead to devastating consequences, including increased PKK terrorist activity and the unintentional emboldening of the Assad regime. Specifically, the lack of pressure in pushing the Syrian-Arab opposition toward a political concordat with moderate Kurds is a major cause of the PYD’s gains in power and influence

Introduction:

The Democratic Union Party (PYD), which is affiliated with the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Kurdish National Council (KNC; a group of 15 Syrian Kurdish groups in Syria), signed an agreement to prevent Kurdish infighting and to jointly administer the Kurdish areas of Syria with the newly-created Supreme Kurdish Council (SKC). Following this accord, henceforth referred to as the Erbil Agreement, fighters associated with the PYD took over the Kurdish districts and areas of the Hasakah and Aleppo governorates.

These developments, which took Turkey and the international community by surprise, have serious implications for Syria’s future, both nationally and regionally. On a national level, they further complicate a problem which has been left unresolved since the beginning of the Syrian uprising: Kurdish demands for federalism or autonomy ahead of the backdrop of a general failure of the Arab opposition to agree to a decentralized post-Assad political system. (Syria’s Kurds make up anywhere between 10-to-15 percent of the national population.) On the regional level, the presence of armed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria (known to be affiliated with the PKK in southern Turkey) has gravely exercised Ankara whilst also increasing the geopolitical profile of Massoud Barzani, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq (KRG), who has been heavily involved in supporting and mediating crises between the Syrian Kurdish factions.

This report will first examine the external and internal effects that the Supreme Kurdish Council (SKC) and the Erbil Agreement have had on the Syrian uprising and to what extent the Agreement has been implemented on the ground. The report will then take a closer look at the regional and international actors involved in resolving Syria’s Kurdish Question, and then offer policy recommendations. As an update on intramural Kurdish dynamics in Syria, this report can be seen as a sequel-of-sorts to a previous Henry Jackson Society publication: The Decisive Minority: The Critical Role of Syria’s Kurds in the Anti-Assad Revolution.

Link to VERY Interesting Report:

https://henryjacksonsociety.org/wp-cont ... Report.pdf
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Western Kurdistan Dynamics after the Erbil Agreement

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