Barzani and Maliki (top) and a Balkanized Syria map
August 12, 2013
The specter of Syria’s balkanization has yet to pass
Tehran has now given the thumbs up for a "provisional
civil administration" in Syria’s Kurdish areas and agreed to help clear out
Qaeda-linked extremists there.
Fresh from talks in Tehran, Salih Muslim,
head of the Syrian Kurds’ Democratic Union Party (PYD), an affiliate of the Kurdistan
Workers’ Party (PKK), says Iran gave the go-ahead for a "transitional civil
administration" planned by the "Western Kurdistan Council."
Western Kurdistan refers to the Kurdish areas in northern
and northeastern Syria bordering Turkey.
Muslim also tells pan-Arab al-Hayat today agreement was reached with the Iranian side "to
fight our common enemy," chiefly Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq
and the Levant.
Muslim said he met with
high-ranking foreign ministry and Revolutionary Guards officials during his August
7-8 stay in Tehran at the invitation of the foreign ministry.
"Iran is an important country.
It is the only one in the region to have the ear of the [Syrian] regime," he
a while now, the print media and a number of political and media centers have
been saying terrorists in Western Kurdistan have mobilized against Kurdish
citizens and that Qaeda-linked terrorists are attacking innocent civilians and
massacring Kurdish women and children.
verify such news, I am calling for a special inquiry commission to travel to
Western Kurdistan and investigate. If it finds that innocent Kurdish citizens,
women and children are under threat of death and terrorism, the Iraqi Kurdistan
Region will make use of all its capabilities to defend innocent Kurdish women,
children and citizens in Western Kurdistan.
referred to Kurdish areas in Syria as "Western Kurdistan."
Spread over large,
adjoining tracts of Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran, the Kurdish people are often
described as the largest ethnic group without their own state.
The northern Iraqi
region of Kurdistan, which has its own government and armed forces, is pursuing
increasingly independent energy and foreign policies, infuriating Baghdad.
Iraqi Kurds have sent
fuel, food and medical aid to their ethnic kin over the border in Syria,
extending Barzani’s influence, but Saturday’s statement appeared to be the
first time that he had suggested intervention.
In Syria, where they
make up nearly 10 percent of the population, Kurds have been widely
discriminated against under Bashar al-Assad and his late father before him, who
stripped more than 100,000 of their citizenship.
For Syrian Kurds, the
insurrection against Assad presents an opportunity to win the kind of rights
enjoyed by their neighbors in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Quoting from Kuwait’s al-Seyassah newspaper, Baghdad’s Shafaq
News reported August 9, "Iraqi
Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki notified KRG President Masoud Barzani that the
Assad regime is not against Peshmerga
forces entering northern Syria to defend Syrian Kurds against attacks by al-Qaeda.
Kurdish source in Baghdad said Iranian leaders, together with the Iraqi premier,
are putting pressure on Barzani to stop supporting the Syrian revolution and
back Assad’s regime… especially that al-Qaeda poses a threat to both Irbil and
All this highlights the
potential for Peshmerga, Syrian Kurd, Iranian and Iraqi forces banding together
to help Assad win his presumed war on Takfiris, Jihadists and al-Qaeda -- at
least in Western Kurdistan.
In his opinion, Syria’s
Kurds are bent on carving out an autonomous enclave in northeastern Syria.
The PYD "has
been taking advantage of the power vacuum caused by the two-year-old conflict
to push out rival opposition fighters and move closer to autonomy…
to Kurdistan expert Ofra Bengio of Tel Aviv University, independence is not on
the Syrian Kurds’ agenda any time in the near future. 'The PYD is not talking
about independence now and will be reluctant to use such terminology in order
not to antagonize any of the governments or the international community.
Autonomy is the safer goal now,’ she said."
says "Israel has long developed alliances with non-Arab countries on the
periphery of the Middle East. Today, that policy rests on partnerships with
Cyprus, Greece, Bulgaria, and Caucasian and central Asian countries. Kurdistan
fits perfectly into that framework…
few friends in the region, the Kurds will likely look to Israel to help them
gain security and closer relations with the United States. As Arab governments
in the Middle East totter and fall, and Islamists look to exploit the chaos,
the alliance is one that both countries may find beneficial to pursue."
reminds me of the presentation former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger made
at the Ford School in New York City last June, when he said a Balkanized Syria
is the best outcome to emerge of its current Assad-controlled unity.
"There are three
possible outcomes. An Assad victory, a Sunni victory, or an outcome in which
the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less
autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I
would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view," he said.
Are Assad’s allies heeding
Kissinger’s counsel and pushing Barzani and Syria’s Kurds to go down that