Mar 12 2018

Kurds’ fate rests on international actors - Think Tank

Kurds in Syria and Iraq have reason to fear they have been abandoned by their allies as they seek recognition after providing crucial assistance in the fight against the Islamic State, Swedish scholar Magnus Norell and Swedish-Kurdish writer Kurdo Baksi wrote for the Washington Institute.

The Kurdistan Regional Government was established in 1992, and assigned federal status in 2005 as the country drafted a new constitution after dictator Saddam Hussain’s downfall. The recent moves by the regional government have been stricken by severe miscalculations, according to the Swedish scholars, which culminated in an abortive bid for independence that was quickly countered by the central government in 2017.

Likewise, the writers say the gains made towards autonomy by Syrian Kurds since the beginning of the civil war are endangered by opposition from regional countries, particularly Turkey, which has launched a military operation to wipe the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) from areas near the Turkish border.

While Syrian Kurds hope to be considered as political players rather than foot soldiers, according to the Swedish writers, only the United States and Russia have the capacity to decide the fate of their hopes for lasting autonomy in a federal state.

A change in the situation in Iran, where citizens across the nation have protested against the Islamic Republican government, may offer a ray of hope to the Kurdish movement.

However, many Kurds see the failure in northern Iraq as a bad omen for their chances in Syria, and have turned to the Kurdish diaspora for counsel in how to pursue their aims in their own neighbourhood and internationally, said Norell and Baksi.