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‘Syria’s Kurds should take note and beware’

Sep 13,2017 - Last updated at Sep 13,2017

US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) units advanced into the Deir Ezzor province and took control of an industrial zone in a bid to challenge the Russian- and Iranian-backed Syrian army.

They have just ended the siege of the provincial capital and the nearby airbase and consolidated control over the highway from Damascus to the city.

To enter the “race” for Deir Ezzor, the SDF had to take troops away from the battle against Daesh for Raqqa, the cult’s capital and remaining headquarters.

So far, the SDF has captured 65 per cent of the city, but Daesh remains well dug in, in the remainder.

By giving Deir Ezzor priority, the US has altered the focus of the SDF from the battle against Daesh, in order to take on Syrian government forces with the aim of obstructing Damascus’ efforts to recapture territory in eastern Syria from Daesh and other insurgent elements.

Clearly the US is more interested in the post-Daesh situation in Syria than the campaign against Daesh.

Washington seeks to trump Damascus, Moscow and Tehran by using the SDF to grab strategic territory in Deir Ezzor and along the Euphrates River.

By launching the Raqqa offensive at the behest of Washington, the SDF became a US tool rather than a force charged primarily with the defence of the Syrian Kurds and territory where they are in a majority.

The SDF was rightly reluctant to take on the task of liberating Raqqa, an Arab city, from Daesh, but its Kurdish leadership capitulated to the US diktat.

The transformation of the SDF from a Kurdish self-defence outfit to a US-militia has been completed by the Deir Ezzor incursion.

This could be unfortunate for the Kurds who, over decades, have been used by Britain, US, Iran and Israel to undermine and divide Iraq, as well as Iran. 

Determined to secure an independent Kurdish state, Iraqi Kurdish leader Mustafa Barzani fought Baghdad for decades and died in exile in the US, let down by his inconstant Western friends.

Thanks to the 1991 and 2003 US wars on Iraq, Barzani’s son, Massoud, has been more successful. He is now head of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region and plans to hold a referendum on independence on September 25.

While Barzani claims a “yes” vote will not mean instant independence, he argues that it will strengthen his government’s hand in negotiations with Baghdad over the border of a Kurdish state.

His aim is to force the Iraqi government to recognise the expansion of Kurdish-held territory during the 2014 battle to contain Daesh.

At that time, the Kurds seized swathes of land in Nineveh and Kirkuk provinces, increasing Kurdish-held territory by 40 per cent and expelling the majority of Arabs who lived in towns and villages.

Baghdad cannot afford to accept this takeover, has vowed to fight, and could count on the aid of Turkey, Iran and even Syria in such a campaign.

The seizure of land and expulsion of the Arabs who lived there amounts to overreach by the Iraqi Kurds.

The Syrian Kurds, instigated by the US, seem to be following the Iraqi Kurdish example. Resentment is already growing against Kurdish dominance in towns and villages of Raqqa province, which have fallen under the rule of the SDF.

While all ethnic groups are included in local administrations in areas freed from Daesh, the Kurdish Military Council is the main decision maker.

Tensions rose when the Kurds proposed teaching Kurdish to Kurdish pupils. Local education bodies refused and stuck to Arabic, with English and French taught as second languages.

Arabs have already been protesting against Kurds in Hasaka, an area under Kurdish control for several years.

The Syrian Kurds have insisted that the areas they hold — be they majority Kurd or majority Arab — be federated with a decentralised Syrian state. While this may appeal to Kurdish residents, Arab inhabitants may have other ideas.

Federalism in a weak Syria could fragment the country and create a political vacuum spawning fresh Daesh-type insurgent groups as well as a range of warlords.

The Kurds should be careful about the allies they join.

Since the US defeat in Vietnam, every military campaign launched by the US has been a political failure. 

The war against the Soviets in Afghanistan led to the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda (and the attack on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001) as well as the proliferation of radical fundamentalist groups in this region and elsewhere.

The 1991 war to “liberate” Kuwait from Iraq failed because the US did not succeed in achieving “regime change” in Baghdad.

George H.W. Bush incited Shiite and Kurdish rebellions, which were crushed by the Iraqi army.

The 2001 war in Afghanistan is still being fought with the Taliban gaining ground and Al Qaeda still a menace.

The 2003 war against Saddam Hussein devastated Iraq, empowered a Shiite fundamentalist government allied with Iran, and led to the rise of Al Qaeda in that country and Syria, and the founding of Daesh.

The 2011 war in Libya has fractured that country and given room for Daesh and other takfiris to flourish.

The war in Yemen — where the US is backing a Saudi-dominated coalition — is stalled and destroying that country.

Trump, who likes winning, has planted three losing generals in major posts. 

Chief-Of-Staff Marine General John Kelly was involved in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the onslaught on Fallujah in 2004.

He served as commander of the multinational force in Iraq in 2008-09.

National Security Adviser Army General H.R. McMaster fought in Iraq in 2004 and became a counterinsurgency expert. Retired Marine General James Mattis commanded troops in the 1991 Iraq war and served in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. In 2010-11 he led the US central command supervising the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and was known for being keen on military action against Iran.

 

Generals do not like losing wars even when they are only using proxies to fight on behalf of the US. Syria’s Kurds should take note and beware.

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Comments

Good article, thank you

Kurds think was to much of themselves and Syrian army will not accept their behaviour.

Good grief, this is a politically illiterate Orientalist hybrid of Seymour Hersh, SANA and Alex Jones. Not even sure where to start. A political party is not an ethnicity, whether in Ireland or Syria or Iraq or anywhere else. The PKK and its regional affiliates are not "the Kurds" any more than the IRA or the DUP are "the Irish". Similarly the Baath Party, which in Syria is effectively a vehicle for the Assads' murderous hereditary despotism (and has been closely allied to the PKK and its affiliates for many years), is not "the Arabs" by the same measure. BTW, if Michael claims to oppose the fundamentalist regime in Iran, supporting its primary regional client Assad is an odd way to do so. She should also give up throwing around the term "Takfiri" a slur beloved of the Islamic Republic and its proxies (and, tellingly, also beloved of Daesh), unless of course she is a devout Muslim.
Surely the Jordan Times can find knowledgeable Jordanian or regional journalists rather than republishing this dire, clueless babble. I realise that the author is indeed a longtime correspondent - but apparently that hasn't given her any insight at all.

Sorry, but your article does not add up. The Kurds have been treated badly by Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria and you write as if THIS IS NOT THE CASE !! and the Kurds are of no ethics. Who said the SDF will stay is Raqqa, its an Arab city and will be left to the Arabs, etc....

Sorry, but your article does not add up. The Kurds have been treated badly by Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria and you write as if THIS IS NOT THE CASE !! and the Kurds are of no ethics. Who said the SDF will stay is Raqqa, its an Arab city and will be left to the Arabs, etc....

This article seems to think that a. a weak Syria should not be a federation and b that kurds should accept being discriminated against by arabs.

Both are bad assumptions.

One can even say that a weak state trying to force a fragmented population where there is a battle hardened, armed opposition with control over large and isolated areas is the shortest way to fragmentation of that state.

The implication that a minority should accept being discriminated against because that is "good" for the state, that implication I find despicable.

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