From A World to Win News Service/ and Communist Party of
24 September 2012.
Until only recently the two regimes were close allies. One of the points of unity between Assad's Baathist Party and Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) was their opposition to the Kurdish movement in both countries. Not only do Kurds in the two countries have strong historical ties, a significant number of Kurds in
Syria are from
families that fled repression in Turkey,
and the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), though based in Turkey, includes many Kurds born in . Now Assad is "playing the Kurdish
card", trying to use the Kurds to
threaten Syria . Turkey
Following are excerpts from a lengthy article in issue 60 of Haghighat, the publication of the Communist Party of
(Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) entitled "The development of Syria’s civil war and the possibility of its
spread to neighbouring countries, and the perspective of the formation of a state
The civil war between the two reactionary sides in
Syria has gone through another
turning point. The Bashar al-Assad regime has pulled back its troops from five
Kurdish cities in northern Syria
and largely left control of this region to Kurdish forces, especially the
Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian Kurdish organization linked to the
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in Turkey.
The existence and configuration of Syria, like that of Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Iraq, are the outcome of the way the colonial powers France and Britain drew borders as they gobbled up the collapsed Ottoman Empire after World War One. Today, too, underlying the civil war in
is the confrontation and contention of big powers such as the U.S., Russia
and the European countries over the Middle East.
They are fighting to redivide control of that region among themselves – an
event that could lead to re-drawing the borders of Syria. Russia
has stubbornly supported the Assad regime in order to preserve its influence in
the Middle East and its status as a powerful
The position of the
U.S. as the
dominant superpower in the Middle East and
also the present stability of the Turkish regime depend on their role in this
dangerous battlefield. In the Middle East walls are being shaken and we should
not assume that the outcome of these events will be written by the present
masters of the Middle East.
At the same time,
concern that it may not be able to control the situation in Syria is not unfounded, because of the support
for the Assad regime by some of the world's most powerful countries such as Russia and regionally strong countries such as Iran. Their
attempts to sabotage Turkey's
project is gathering momentum. Moreover, Jihadi Salafi groups have quickly
grown and raised their black banners on the gates and in the centres of many
towns and cities. According to reports, the Salafis, with their superior
armament and financial support, have been able to put themselves at the head of
a movement that includes other Islamic and secular forces.
and Turkish governments recognize the FSA as the sole "representative of
the Syrian people", but they have not been able to bring the Salafi forces
under its command. (International Herald Tribune, 31 July 2012) The FSA
is not formally a religious group, but uses an Islamic discourse in its call
for Syrians to overthrow the Assad regime.
The PKK's growth in Syrian Kurdistan
Another factor seriously challenging
role in the Middle East is the increase in PKK activities in Syria's Kurdish
regions. In July and the beginning of August, following the pull-back of
Assad's military forces from Kurdish cities in northern Syria, fighters and
cadres close to the PKK (the Kurdistan Workers' Party under the leadership of
Abdullah Ocalan) moved in and took control of those cities, raising the
Kurdistan banner and putting up Ocalan's pictures on the front of governmental
offices. This took Turkey's
government and ruling party by surprise and made it very nervous. On the other
hand, Kurdish people in Turkey
took to the streets to celebrate it as a victory. There is a rumour that a
Kurdish autonomous republic may be declared in northern Syria.
The Turkish press wrote that: "in the absence of Assad's forces, PKK has taken advantage and is filling the power vacuum." It is said that Assad withdrew his security and military forces based on an agreement between the Syrian government and PKK that the Democratic Union Party (PYD) would be allowed to take control of these cities. [Also see International Crisis Group report no. 219, 11 September 2012]
At the same time, PYD forces were also able to reach an agreement with Massoud Barzani (the head of Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq) and, in unity with the Kurdish National Council, formed an organization called the "High Council of Kurds" trained and supported by Barzani forces) that has taken control of Kurdish cities in Syria. The Turkish regime was outraged by this unity between the Kurdish National Council and the PYD, which it had previously warned against.
A Turkish newspaper wrote that "PYD representatives hurried to meet with the head of northern
Iraq's Kurdish Regional Government (KRG),
Massoud Barzani, in Erbil, and agreed to run the Kurdish region in Syria in a
partnership with the pro-Barzani KNC. The Erbil agreement signed on June 11
between the KNC and the Council of Western [Iraqi] Kurdistan formed a joint leadership to
run the Syrian cities taken by the PYD…
"As soon as the agreement was signed and before the coalition administration was formed and the Barzani-trained pro-KNC forces made their way to northern
Syria, the PYD supporters took the
initiative and in a prior agreement with the Syrian regime took control of the
area. Now the PYD's rule is fully established, and PKK flags and Abdullah
Ocalan’s portraits are spread all over the government administration
offices." (Today's Zaman, 31 July 2012)
In reaction to these events
threatened to send its military into Syrian Kurdistan. In order to create
public opinion, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused the PKK of
cooperating with Bashar al-Assad to invade Syrian Kurdistan. At the same time
PKK stepped up its military activities in the Hakari region of south-eastern Turkey. This
situation has increased the internal political pressure on the Tayyip Erdogan
regime. Even those who used to criticize Erdogan for his "recognition"
of Kurdish rights are now criticizing him for not seriously following the plan
for a compromise between the regime and the PKK.
In a word, the intensification of civil war in
Syria suddenly and greatly
amplified the role of Kurdish forces in the unfolding of events in the region.
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