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Fight against Daesh raises Kurdish issue to a new level 27 octobre 2014

Posted by Acturca in Middle East / Moyen Orient, Turkey / Turquie, USA / Etats-Unis.
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Gulf News (UAE) Monday, October 27, 2014, p. A4

By Mohammad Akef Jamal *

This has begun to worry more than one country in the region wary of the international campaign by the US against the extremists.

Wars waged by Daesh ( Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) in both Syria and Iraq have created special circumstances and their repercussions have gone beyond the borders of these two countries. These wars have become a major source of concern to the region’s countries and the Middle East. However, the governments of the Middle East are still not keen on the rights of the minorities in their communities and the importance of these rights in enhancing security and stability.

Daesh’s wars have boosted the status of Kurds in the West, which will have some merits in the future. The West has found among the Kurds the best ally in Iraq and it has started building bridges with Syria’s Kurds who are fighting in defence of the city of Kobanî. Although the Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in countries where they are distributed, they acknowledge their need of western protection; that is why they do not object to the political and military presence of the West in their midst. Kurds, who are distributed in four countries,: Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria have their own political project which aims in the long term to establish a national Kurdish state away from marginalisation and subordination imposed on them since the Sykes- Picot agreement a century ago. The Kurds did not find in these countries’ existing systems that encourage them to continue to remain in their geographical, political and ideological frameworks. Iraqi Kurds were the first in their national rebellion since the very beginning of the modern Iraqi state’s establishment. Their armed movements against the existing authorities have undergone many setbacks since the 1930s.

However, their efforts were crowned in the eventual emergence of their province which enjoys independence akin to an independent state with strong support from the West, mostly the US. In Turkey and Iran, the Kurds raised arms at a late stage, but they were unable to impose a reality influential enough to take their case to international forums.

These Kurds were unsuccessful in securing the support of the West. Instead, they faced a dead end when two Kurdish parties, the Turkish “PKK” and the Iranian “PJAK” were placed on the international terrorist list.

In Syria, the Kurdish issue is starting to take a political dimension that has not raised the ire of the existing political system since Syria hosted elements of the PKK and its leader Abdullah Ocalan in a move to disturb Turkey during the 1980s. Syria’s Kurds did not adopt hostile slogans and stands against the regime and their stands regarding the 2011 Syrian revolution are shrouded with ambiguities.

Indirect talks

Coalition forces that carry air strikes against Daesh sites in Syria focus most of their air raids on the city of Kobanî although the US does not consider the prevention of its fall as a strategic objective of the international coalition.

In this city, Syria’s Kurds are fighting fiercely against Daesh supported by western and Arab reinforcements. This has raised the importance of the Kurdish issue in Syria to a new level which has begun to worry more than one country in the region wary of the big international campaign by the US against Daesh and the emergence of new allies to the West from these countries whose regimes want to get rid of them and delete them from the existing political map.

Jane Sacchi, US State Department spokeswoman announced on October 16 that an official in the ministry held direct talks for the first time with the main Kurdish political party in Syria, the Democratic Union Party, as a result of the culmination of indirect talks through intermediaries. This US step could be interpreted by Turkey as an expression of the West’s dissatisfaction and US administration’s disappointment as a result to Turkey’s failure to join the international coalition. These talks worry Turkey, which is beginning to realise that the Syrian file will not be in accordance with what it desires. The Kurds are new allies which the US relies upon in its war against Daesh. They provide coalition forces with information on the coordinates of Daesh sites which greatly improved the accuracy of the air raid targets. The US has not excluded the probability of arming them, thus sparking a new row between Ankara and Washington.

It is no secret that there has been a continuous decline in Turkish- US relations — which are no longer at their best since the rise of the Justice and Development Party to power.

The Turkish administration had refused to allow the US to use its territory to invade Iraq, it is at odds with the US administration regarding its position towards the Syrian revolution, and is in disagreement about the goals of the international coalition against Daesh. Turkey carefully monitors the change in the US officials’ speech about the Syrian regime. However, Turkey mostly fears that the dialogue channels that have opened with the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party may become an introduction to ease the atmosphere with the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party ( PKK).

* Mohammad Akef Jamal is an Iraqi writer based in Dubai.

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