It was only a matter of time before the Syrian military and Kurdish organizations butted heads in Syria over who controls specific territory in the north. Over the past few months and as both the Kurds and the SAA push forward against the ISIS and related Western-backed forces operating near the Turkish border, these confrontations have become increasingly frequent, requiring the help of outside negotiators to defuse the situation and implement a ceasefire.
For instance, as far back as April 20, a heavy firefight was ignited when Kurdish police (Asayish) would not stop at a Syrian border checkpoint in Qamlishi. The fight lasted three days, taking the lives of 10 Kurdish fighters and 22 SAA soldiers as well as 17 civilians. Many innocent lives lost and much time and equipment wasted that could have been spent on ISIS.
On April 22, the Russians were able to secure a ceasefire which was respected by both sides, despite remaining tensions. In Qamlishi, all joint Syrian-Kurdish roadblocks and checkpoints were dismantled as a result. Still, a prisoner swap was organized and taken advantage of almost immediately by both sides.
At the end of the battle, YPG forces found themselves in control of a formerly government-held prison on the outskirts of Qamlishi and the NDF took control over several locations in Qamlishi’s central districts. Government troops still maintain control over about 50 villages on the southern border of the city, despite being effectively surrounding by Kurdish fighters. It is expected that the YPG will eventually attempt to take the city since it is the “capital” of the “Rojava Government” also known as “Syrian Kurdistan.” Such an attempt would result in a fierce battle, however.
Another incident took place in Hasakah on July 3 when the city became the site of sporadic clashes between the SAA and the YPG. Like the result of the Qamlishi deal, a ceasefire was struck between the two sides and a prisoner exchange was made. The SAA will soon hand over control of the Literature College and two other sites recently seized by their forces to the YPG and Asayish.
Why the Clashes?
The clashes between the Syrian government and the YPG Kurdish forces (notably not the Kurdish people themselves) have been a virtual inevitability since the informal declaration of a “Rojava” administration by the YPG in 2013 when the “Kurdish areas” found some level of autonomy due to a lack of government presence as the SAA began losing territory to Western-backed terrorists. Certainly, the potential for violence increased with the official declaration of Rojava autonomy in 2016. This is simply because the goal of the YPG has always been nothing more than the establishment of a “Kurdistan,” a separate enclave run by Communist YPG forces who routinely terrorize, abuse, disenfranchise, and kill Assyrians, Christians, and other non-Kurdish peoples in areas they control (see here, here, here, and here).
The Kurds have long acted as a force which the US has been able to harness to stir up destabilization in the Iraqi, Syrian, Turkish, and Iranian sphere. Such is the case now, as the US and NATO powers seek to use the Kurdish desire for an independent country – Kurdistan – as a destabilizing force against Syria, Iraq, and Iran and a galvanizing force for the Turks. Whether or not the Kurds will ever obtain such an independent state, however, remains to be seen.
Regardless, the US has been attempting to use the fighting force of the Kurds for their geopolitical aims – whatever those aims might be in relation to the creation or not of an independent Kurdistan.
Kurds in Northern Syria have declared a federal system in Syria, with the areas they have seized in the northern part of the country designated to act as an autonomous zone. The official declaration came on March 16, with reports like those coming from the BBC reaching Western audiences on March 17. According to reports, the conference at which the federation of three Kurdish entities in Syria took place was located in Rmeilan.
Kurdish journalist Barzan Iso confirmed the initial rumors surrounding the Kurdish declaration to RT earlier on March 16 when he stated that “Now the conference has just started in Rmelan, about 200 representatives of Rojava have joined [the event]. They represent different ethnicities and nationalities. There are Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians, Syriacs, Turkomans, Armenians, Circassians and Chechen. Also we have representatives from the Syrian democratic forces, YPG, women defense units. This conference is supposed to announce a federation as a political project for Rojava region in northern Syria.”
The “new project” is designed to replace the currently autonomous zone of Rojava by formally creating a Federation of Northern Syria incorporating the 250 miles of Kurdish-held territory along the Syria-Turkey border with the section of the northwestern border near the Afrin area. At least, this is the plan as relayed by Idris Nassan, an official working in the Foreign Affairs Directorate of Kobane (Ayn al-Arab). The new system entails “widening the framework of self-administration which the Kurds and others have formed,” he said.
Rojova only received a degree of autonomy in 2013, when Syrian forces were overwhelmed by Western-backed terrorists and were forced to abandon much of the territory now occupied by Kurdish militias such as the YPG and others. In place of the SAA, the NDF and other Syrian patriot militias, as well as Kurdish forces, remained and fought terrorists gallantly to the point of securing large swaths of border territory.
Before 2013, Rojova was never an autonomous region nor was there a separate Kurdish entity in Syria. After all, the “Kurdish” areas are occupied by many more religions and ethnicities than Kurds, including Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, and Turkmen. Indeed, Kurds are the distinct minority not only in Syria as a whole but in most of the areas they are claiming should be labeled as Kurdistan. In January 2014, however, the PYD (Democratic Union Party) declared all three “Rojovan” cantons autonomous. This included Afrin, Kobane, and Jazira. The Rojova “interim Constitution,” known as the Charter of the Social Contract, came immediately after. The charter called for the peaceful coexistence of all religious and ethnic groups residing under its jurisdiction and reaffirmed that Rojova would remain part of Syria.
Still, the representative of the PYD party in Moscow, Abd Salam Ali, told RIA Novosti that “Within days, probably today, self-governing [bodies] of three Kurdish cantons in Syria’s north will declare a federation.” Ali’s prediction came true but he also pointed out that autonomy did not mean separation from Syria, merely the establishment of a looser centralized governing system and the “federalization” of the Kurdish area. He said that the new “Kurdistan” will remain part of Syria.
Turkey, of course, opposes the move fearing both that the Syrian Kurds will begin to represent a significant threat on its borders and that, more importantly, the Syrian Kurds will unite with the Turkish Kurds and begin to wrest territory from Turkey itself. Ironically, the Kurdish announcement resulted in Turkey laughably suggesting that it “supports Syria’s national unity and territorial integrity.” Indeed, if Turkey has finally come around to supporting Syria’s national sovereignty, it is a revelation had by Turkish leaders only hours prior to the statement.
Aside from the ridiculous claim that Turkey respects Syria’s territorial integrity, the Turks reiterated their position that any “administrative restructure” must come via the adoption of a “new constitution” for Syria.
The legitimate Syrian government is also rejecting any federation plans for obvious reasons. Bashar Jaafari, head of the Syrian government delegation at the United Nations’ Geneva talks, was quoted as stating that “Drawing any lines between Syrians would be a great mistake.” He also pointed out that Syrian Kurds are an important part of the Syrian people.
It should be noted that the Kurdish move comes as it became clear that the Kurds would not be included in the Geneva talks. While Turkey was obviously pleased at the exclusion of the Kurds (evidence suggests the Kurds were excluded at Turkey’s request), the Russians repeatedly contended that they should be involved in the process. Even Staffan de Mistrua, the UN Envoy to Syria, agreed that the Kurds should be included.
Rodi Osman, head of the Syrian Kurdistan Office in Moscow, implied that the declaration of the federalized Kurdish territory may have been a response to having been excluded from the peace talks. He stated to RIA Novosti,
The second round of inter-Syrian talks is underway in Geneva, but Syrian Kurds were not invited. It means that the future of Syria and its society is decided without Kurds. In fact, we are pushed back into a conservative, old-fashioned system which does not fit well with us. In light of this, we see only one solution which is to declare the creation of [Kurdish] federation. It will serve the interests of the Kurds, but also those of Arabs, Turks, Assyrians, Chechens and Turkomans – all parts of Syria’s multinational society. Given the complicated situation in Syria, we would become an example of a system that may resolve the Syrian crisis.
Syrian Representative to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari stated that the talks should not have begun with the “absence of half or two thirds of all the opposition” since doing so has left the talks “very weak.”
Kurdish exclusion from political negotiations, however, is not the only possibility as to why the Kurdish federalism has been announced, since the idea is the very concept proposed by the United States only weeks ago.
The Kurdish Plan, Kerry’s Plan B, Brzezinski’s Plan A
In truth, the Kurdish entity is not a separate political actor since it is part of Syria and the Syrian government delegation is representing its country as the sole legitimate delegate. Still, with the declaration of a “federation” in northern Syria, the Kurds have attempted to essentially separate themselves, even if only to a degree, and fracture the line of resistance to Western-backed terrorists and Western geopolitical interests both during the peace talks and afterwards.
What is more concerning, however, is how the Kurdish declaration matches up with the Western “Plan B” for Syria all along; that is, the fracturing of the country into separate states based solely on religion or ethnicity. Consider the statement made by Abd Salam Ali, PYD Representative in Moscow, when he said that Syrian Kurds expect their experience with “autonomy” to be spread to other ethnicities and religious groups in Syria. He stated that “Our experience would be useful for Alawites and Sunnis. Perhaps, this is the key to [bringing] peace in our country.”
In other words, Ali is suggesting that not only should Kurds maintain a “federalized” autonomous state, but so should other ethnic and religious groups. Most likely, he is referring to the same groups mentioned repeatedly in Western media over the last several weeks as the Western “Plan B” – Alawites, Druze, Sunnis, and even Wahhabists.
So Ali’s suggestion and the concept gaining steam amongst the Western population via their corporate media outlets as well as among Kurds in Syria is the same as the Plan B mentioned by John Kerry, the Brookings Institution, and a litany of media outlets and “analysts” receiving their marching orders from the U.S. government. It is quite the coincidence then, that the Kurds would make their announcement so soon after the Plan B begins garnering attention in the international discourse in a renewed fashion.
For his part, John Kerry did not elaborate on the nature of his “Plan B” except to say that it might be “too late to keep as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” or if the negotiations in Geneva fail.
Consider the op-ed published by Reuters and written by Michael O’Hanlon, entitled “Syria’s One Hope May Be As Dim As Bosnia’s Once Was.” The article argues essentially that the only way Russia and the United States will ever be able to peacefully settle the Syrian crisis is if the two agree to a weakened and divided Syria, broken up into separate pieces.
To find common purpose with Russia, Washington should keep in mind the Bosnia model, devised to end the fierce Balkan conflicts in the 1990s. In that 1995 agreement, a weak central government was set up to oversee three largely autonomous zones.
In similar fashion, a future Syria could be a confederation of several sectors: one largely Alawite (Assad’s own sect), spread along the Mediterranean coast; another Kurdish, along the north and northeast corridors near the Turkish border; a third primarily Druse, in the southwest; a fourth largely made up of Sunni Muslims; and then a central zone of intermixed groups in the country’s main population belt from Damascus to Aleppo. The last zone would likely be difficult to stabilize, but the others might not be so tough.
Under such an arrangement, Assad would ultimately have to step down from power in Damascus. As a compromise, however, he could perhaps remain leader of the Alawite sector. A weak central government would replace him. But most of the power, as well as most of the armed forces would reside within the individual autonomous sectors — and belong to the various regional governments. In this way, ISIL could be targeted collectively by all the sectors.
Once this sort of deal is reached, international peacekeepers would likely be needed to hold it together — as in Bosnia. Russian troops could help with this mission, stationed, for example, along the Alawite region’s borders.
This deal is not, of course, ripe for negotiation. To make it plausible, moderate forces must first be strengthened. The West also needs to greatly expand its training and arming of various opposition forces that do not include ISIL or al-Nusra. Vetting standards might also have to be relaxed in various ways. American and other foreign trainers would need to deploy inside Syria, where the would-be recruits actually live — and must stay, if they are to protect their families.
Meanwhile, regions now accessible to international forces, starting perhaps with the Kurdish and Druse sectors, could begin receiving humanitarian relief on a much expanded scale. Over time, the number of accessible regions would grow, as moderate opposition forces are strengthened.
Though it could take many months, or even years, to achieve the outcome Washington wants, setting out the goals and the strategy now is crucial. Doing so could provide a basis for the West’s working together with — or at least not working against — other key outside players in the conflict, including Russia, as well as Turkey, the Gulf states and Iraq.
O’Hanlon is no stranger to the Partition Plan for Syria. After all, he was the author the infamous Brookings Institution report “Deconstructing Syria: A New Strategy For America’s Most Hopeless War,” in June, 2015 where he argued essentially the same thing.
In this article for Brookings, a corporate-financier funded “think tank” that has been instrumental in the promotion of the war against Syria since very early on, O’Hanlon argued for the “relaxation” of vetting processes for “rebels” being funded by the U.S. government, the direct invasion of Syria by NATO military forces, and the complete destruction of the Syrian government. O’Hanlon argued for the creation of “safe zones” as a prelude to these goals.
Yet, notably, O’Hanlon also mentioned the creation of a “confederal” Syria as well. In other words, the breakup of the solidified nation as it currently exists. He wrote,
The end-game for these zones would not have to be determined in advance. The interim goal might be a confederal Syria, with several highly autonomous zones and a modest (eventual) national government. The confederation would likely require support from an international peacekeeping force, if this arrangement could ever be formalized by accord. But in the short term, the ambitions would be lower—to make these zones defensible and governable, to help provide relief for populations within them, and to train and equip more recruits so that the zones could be stabilized and then gradually expanded.
Such a plan is reminiscent of the Zbigniew Brzezinski method of “microstates and ministates.” In other words, the construction of a weak, impotent state based upon ethnicity, religion, and other identity politics but without the ability to resist the will of larger nations, coalitions, and banking/industrial corporations.
Thus, the Syrian Kurdish forces, whether willingly or not, have essentially played right into the hands of the architects of the plans currently underway to destroy and degrade their country already set in motion by the NATO powers.
The Syrian “Stans”
Much has already been written about the possibility of a Kurdistan in northern Syria, the boundaries of which have been declared by the Syrian Kurds themselves, which essentially line up with those drawn up by Western strategists and war designers years ago.
Likewise, public suggestions have been made since at least 2013 that, in addition to a Kurdistan, an Alawite enclave – perhaps lead by Assad but perhaps not – would be established in the western portion of Syria, predominantly in the Latakia area, where what is left of the Syrian government, presumably itself decimated by restructuring, would reign. Robin Wright of the United States Institute For Peace, a military industrial complex firm dedicated to strategic development, suggested a larger Alawitistan, stretching from the South, up through Damascus, Homs, Hama, Latakia and on to the northern coast of the Mediterranean.
Druzistan (Jabal al-Druze as suggested by Wright) has also been dreamed up for the Southern tip of Syria (near Daraa).
In the rural areas, discussions have centered around a Sunnistan that would span from rural central and eastern Syria across the border into central, western, and eastern Iraq. However, others have suggested that Sunnistan would be a function of Syria alone.
Still other strategists have even suggested the appeasement of Wahhabist terrorists by the formation of a Wahhabistan in between Iraq and Syria (essentially the same territory as that occupied by ISIS today). Such a Wahhabistan would function as a barrier between moderate and anti-NATO forces in Iraq and Syria and would cut off a major supply route for Syria and Hezbollah coming from Iran for what would be left of Syria.
Consider Wright’s suggestions when she writes,
Syria has crumbled into three identifiable regions, each with its own flag and security forces. A different future is taking shape: a narrow statelet along a corridor from the south through Damascus, Homs and Hama to the northern Mediterranean coast controlled by the Assads’ minority Alawite sect. In the north, a small Kurdistan, largely autonomous since mid-2012. The biggest chunk is the Sunni-dominated heartland.
. . . . .
Over time, Iraq’s Sunni minority — notably in western Anbar Province, site of anti-government protests — may feel more commonality with eastern Syria’s Sunni majority. Tribal ties and smuggling span the border. Together, they could form a de facto or formal Sunnistan. Iraq’s south would effectively become Shiitestan, although separation is not likely to be that neat.
The dominant political parties in the two Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq have longstanding differences, but when the border opened in August, more than 50,000 Syrian Kurds fled to Iraqi Kurdistan, creating new cross-border communities. Massoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, has also announced plans for the first summit meeting of 600 Kurds from some 40 parties in Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran this fall.
“We feel that conditions are now appropriate,” said Kamal Kirkuki, the former speaker of Iraq’s Kurdish Parliament, about trying to mobilize disparate Kurds to discuss their future.
. . . . . .
New borders may be drawn in disparate, and potentially chaotic, ways. Countries could unravel through phases of federation, soft partition or autonomy, ending in geographic divorce.
. . . . . .
Other changes may be de facto. City-states — oases of multiple identities like Baghdad, well-armed enclaves like Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, or homogeneous zones like Jabal al-Druze in southern Syria — might make a comeback, even if technically inside countries.
Former Ambassador to the United Nations and Neocon, John R. Bolton, even wrote an op-ed for the New York Times where he argued for the balkanization of Syria and the creation of a “Sunnistan.” Bolton was relatively blunt in his article, openly admitting that the new state is “unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years” but following that statement up with a bizarre admission that “this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions.” While Bolton’s latter comment would have negated the stated public objectives of the war against Assad by the Obama White House in the first place, it also makes clear that freedom and democracy were never the true aims of the United States, but instead the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad and the destruction of Syria as a functioning state.
Today’s reality is that Iraq and Syria as we have known them are gone. The Islamic State has carved out a new entity from the post-Ottoman Empire settlement, mobilizing Sunni opposition to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the Iran-dominated government of Iraq. Also emerging, after years of effort, is a de facto independent Kurdistan.
If, in this context, defeating the Islamic State means restoring to power Mr. Assad in Syria and Iran’s puppets in Iraq, that outcome is neither feasible nor desirable. Rather than striving to recreate the post-World War I map, Washington should recognize the new geopolitics. The best alternative to the Islamic State in northeastern Syria and western Iraq is a new, independent Sunni state.
This “Sunni-stan” has economic potential as an oil producer (subject to negotiation with the Kurds, to be sure), and could be a bulwark against both Mr. Assad and Iran-allied Baghdad. The rulers of the Arab Gulf states, who should by now have learned the risk to their own security of funding Islamist extremism, could provide significant financing. And Turkey — still a NATO ally, don’t forget — would enjoy greater stability on its southern border, making the existence of a new state at least tolerable.
. . . . . .
Make no mistake, this new Sunni state’s government is unlikely to be a Jeffersonian democracy for many years. But this is a region where alternatives to secular military or semi-authoritarian governments are scarce. Security and stability are sufficient ambitions.
. . . . .
This Sunni state proposal differs sharply from the vision of the Russian-Iranian axis and its proxies (Hezbollah, Mr. Assad and Tehran-backed Baghdad). Their aim of restoring Iraqi and Syrian governments to their former borders is a goal fundamentally contrary to American, Israeli and friendly Arab state interests. Notions, therefore, of an American-Russian coalition against the Islamic State are as undesirable as they are glib.
Bolton’s Sunnistan, while on one level is another aspect of the conglomeration of petty, squabbling, microstates that would make up Syria under the Plan B, is also eerily reminiscent of the “Salafist Principality” envisioned and supported by the United States military and intelligence communities early on and in place in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq today.
In the end, considering the history of the Kurds and Western machinations, and the repetitive use of the Kurds in those schemes, there is no guarantee a Kurdistan will ever actually take shape. Of course, with a Kurdistan, the Brzezinski method of microstates and ministates will become realized. In other words, the construction of a weak, impotent state based upon ethnicity, religion, and other identity politics but without the ability to resist the will of larger nations, coalitions, and banking/industrial corporations.
Without a Kurdistan, the strategy of tension and destabilization will continue to exist as a ready-made fallback plan with which to weaken the region and provide for yet another avenue to sink the countries surrounding the faux Kurdistan into regional conflict and war. After all, the West has repeatedly used the Kurds for their own geopolitical aims while dangling the carrot of Kurdistan over their heads. When the Kurds have served their purpose, they are usually dropped and left to their fate until useful to NATO again.
While the final goal of the Anglo-American empire regarding the creation of a Kurdistan still remains to be seen, the question itself is undoubtedly being used for geopolitical reasons today. It is also certain to result in lower living standards, greater oppression, and less freedom for all involved, the Kurds included.
Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is the author of seven books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1 and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 650 articles on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s radio show Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. His website is BrandonTurbeville.com He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at) gmail.com.
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