Welcome to the ’Kurdish Spring’

Welcome to the ’Kurdish Spring’


One of the unintended consequences of the Syrian uprising has been the rising political aspirations of Syria's minority Kurds, predominantly based near the Syrian-Turkish border. But across the frontier, Ankara is on high alert. (France 24)
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has come out all guns blazing after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad quietly concluded a deal that handed the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party control of key areas in the northeast.

This raises prospects for Ankara’s worst nightmare:

A semi-autonomous region coalescing with Kurds in Iraq, which turns the Turkish maxim of "zero problems with our neighbors" on its head.

by Pepe Escobar


Turkish foreign policy, codified by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, used to be known in shorthand as "zero problems with our neighbors". When Turkey started calling for regime change in Syria, it turned into "a major problem with one of our neighbors" (even tough Davutoglu himself admitted on the record the policy change failed).

Now, in yet another twist, it’s becoming "all sorts of problems with two of our neighbors". Enter – inevitably – Ankara’s ultimate taboo; the Kurdish question.

Syria’s ‘forgotten Kurds’ grab the spotlight (France 24)

Ankara used to routinely chase and bomb Kurdish PKK guerrillas crossing from Anatolia to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Now it may be positioning itself to do the same in Syrian Kurdistan.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came out all guns blazing on Turkish TV; "We will not allow a terrorist group to establish camps in northern Syria and threaten Turkey."

He was referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD) – affiliated with the PKK; after a quiet deal with the Assad regime in Damascus, the PYD is now in control of key areas in northeast Syria.

So Ankara may provide logistics to tens of thousands of Syria’s NATO "rebels" – which include plenty of hardcore Sunni Arab "insurgents" formerly known as terrorists; but as long as Syrian Kurds – which are part of the Syrian opposition – demonstrate some independence, they immediately revert to being considered "terrorists".

It’s all conditioned by Ankara’s immediate nightmare; the prospect of a semiautonomous Syrian Kurdistan very closely linked to Iraqi Kurdistan.

Follow the oil

Show us your terrorist ID
This Swedish report [1] contains arguably the best breakdown of the hyper-fragmented Syrian opposition. The "rebels" are dominated by the exile-heavy Syrian National Council (SNC) and its Hydra-style militias, the over 100 gangs that compose the Not Exactly Free Syrian Army (FSA).

But there are many other parties as well, including socialists; Marxists; secular nationalists; Islamists; the Kurdish National Council (KNC) – an 11-party coalition very close to the Iraqi Kurdistan government; and the PYD.

The KNC and the PYD may bicker about everything else, but basically agree on the essential; the civil war in Syria shall not penetrate Syria Kurdistan; after all, when it comes to the nitty gritty, they are neither pro-Assad nor pro-opposition; they favor Kurdish interests. The agreement was sealed under the auspices of their cousins – the Iraqi Kurds. And it explains why they are now in full control of a de facto Kurdish enclave in northeast Syria.

As much as Turkish paranoia may apply, it’s a long and winding road from a semi-autonomous area to an independent Kurdistan agglutinating Kurds in both Syria and Iraq – not to mention, in the long run, Turkish Kurds. Yet half of a possible, future, independent Kurdistan would indeed be Turkish. Ankara’s nightmare in progress is that the closer Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan get, the merrier the agitation among Turkish Kurds in Anatolia.

Priorities though divert; the bottom line for Iraqi Kurds is independence from Baghdad. After all; they have loads of oil. On the other hand Syria Kurdistan has none. This means, crucially, no role in regional Pipelineistan.

This concerns above all two strategic oil and gas pipelines from Kirkuk to Ceyhan – a direct deal between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds which in theory bypasses Baghdad.

Well, not really. As Baghdad has made it clear, there’s no way these pipelines will be operative without the central government having its sizeable cut; after all it pays for 95% of the budget of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Show me your terrorist ID

Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani
Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani told al-Jazeera [2] that yes – they are training Syrian Kurds who defected from the Syrian Army to defend their de facto enclave. It was Barzani who supervised the key deal sealed in Irbil on July 11 that led to Assad forces retreating from Syrian Kurdistan.

What is being described as "liberated cities" [3] is now being "jointly ruled" by the PYD and the KNC. They have formed what is known as a Supreme Kurdish Body.

One can never underestimate the Kurdish capacity to shoot themselves in the foot (and elsewhere). Yet one can also imagine all this cross-country Kurdish frenzy terrifying quite a few souls in Istanbul and Ankara. This [4] columnist for the daily newspaper Hurriyet got it right; "Arabs are fighting, Kurds are winning." The Kurdish Spring is at hand. And it is already hitting Turkey’s borders.

Mr. Nice Guy -- Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
Davutoglu must have seen it coming; when a formerly "zero problem" foreign policy evolves into housing the weaponized opposition to a neighboring government, you’re bound to be in trouble.

Especially when you start itching to kill "terrorists" living in your neighbor’s territory – even though your Western allies may view them as "freedom fighters". Meanwhile you actively support Salafi-jihadis – "insurgents" formerly known as terrorists – back and forth across your borders.

An increasingly erratic Erdogan has invoked a "natural right" [5] to fight "terrorists". But first they must produce an ID; if they are Sunni Arab, they get away with it. If they are Kurdish, they eat lead.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

(Copyright 2012 Pepe Escobar.)

Watch the full interview with Pepe Escobar on RT

‘Secret-order leak a smokescreen’

Asia Times Online correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that the leak's timing was intended to distort the true nature of Washington's covert operations on the ground in Syria.

“This intelligence finding signed by Obama – that’s the code for a secret order – this was signed six months ago. So the fact that Reuters has only been allowed now to report about it proves that there have been high deliberations in Washington: ‘should we let people know about what they already know?’"

"In fact, the Washington Post two weeks ago had already reported about it, and when the CIA wants to leak something in the US, they usually go to the Washington Post. The CIA and Mossad, on the ground [in Syria], side by side working with the Qataris, the Turks, the Saudis and a swarm of jihadis coming from everywhere, but especially from across the border in Iraq,” he argues.

Escobar says the leak was intended to make it look as though Washington was leading the Syrian campaign from behind the scenes, when in fact the US is “leading from the front lines alongside al-Qaeda-style Jihadists, Qatari intelligence, and Turkish logistics.”

He says the Western drive against Syria follows the breakdown in the international order caused by the 2011 Libyan intervention.

“There’s no semblance of international law since what was decided in Libya last year. The maneuvering and the wording of UN resolution 1973, authorizing war – a no-fly zone was actually war – against Libya. That was the end of international law as we know it. Nation-states don’t matter anymore. If you are a neo-colonial power, like Britain or France, or an empire like the US, you can trample on nations’ sovereignty anywhere, anyhow, anyplace, and this is exactly what’s happening. That’s why Russia has been opposed to it from the start, because Moscow sees that as the end of the sovereignty of nation-states,” he says.

He added that Syria's disintegration into a weak – or failed – state is part of Israel’s long-term designs on Iran.

“The battle of Aleppo could become an extended [rerun of] Lebanon in the 1970s. This is the ‘Lebanonization ‘of whole tracts of Northern Syria, in fact. And this, by the way, is the Israeli strategy. Israel wants a ‘Lebanonized’ and ‘Somalized’ [Syria], like the new Somalia in Libya; a very weak country with sectarian strife… an overextended army, and of course, innocuous against Israel. So this means opening the way for an Israeli attack against Iran in the next few months or perhaps in 2013.”


    Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the opposition center-left CHP, has said that Turkey must halt its belligerency against Syria.
    Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who heads the Republican People’s Party (CHP), said the “sovereign powers of the West are preparing the ground to get Turkey to enter into Syria for an armed conflict.” 
    Kilicdaroglu made the remarks in an interview with the TurkishHurriyet Daily on July 27. 
    “The AKP’s policy on Syria has fully collapsed. It is a shortsighted policy and it is influenced by other countries’ policies,” Kilicdaroglu stated, referring to the policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
    On July 11, Kilicdaroglu said Erdogan is the sub-contractor of the Western hegemonic powers.