Syria: Opportunity for Kurds?

Look, I will acknowledge right up front that I am not particularly knowledgeable about this area of the world. So please bear that in mind with the following thought:

Given that Syria is a complete mess right now
Given that Turkey has an ongoing issue with Kurdish groups

What if we (the collective world we) carved out a chunk of northwestern Syria and allowed the Kurds to build a state there? I am thinking that we might be able to negotiate with both the Kurds and Turkey that such a state would be given friendly status with Turkey and the west, and in return the Kurds would relinquish any claims to Turkish territory as part of a Kurdistan. Ethnic (?) Kurds would be allowed to either stay in Turkey as willing Turks, or migrate to the newly formed Kurdistan and take part in the building of a nation.

Would this/could this accomplish several things at once? If utterly stupid, please explain…

For reasons I don’t pretend to understand, it seems like everybody hates the Kurds. If the relevant countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Turkey) ever got their shit together, I think the more likely outcome would be a coordinated genocide to wipe the Kurds out of existence.

The Kurdish view basically is that a large chunk of northeastern Syria, plus the area around Afrin which is perhaps what you are thinking of, is already (part of) Kurdistan (Rojavayê Kurdistanê), no goddamn thanks to the external forces that subdivided their land and people in the first place. Why should they concede other of their historic territories?

The Kurds already have Defacto autonomy in Iraq and control a fair chunk of Syria. Any attempt to join the two together into a Kurdish state would probably be met with a ground invasion from Turkey. Turkey seems to have come to an agreement with the Iraqi Kurds that they will leave them alone as long as they don’t push for full independence from Iraq. I imagine they’ll make the same offer to the Syrian Kurds.

One option I’ve read is splitting up Syria with a federal government system and giving the Kurds their own autonomous region, which would coexist next to Iraqi Kurdistan which is already pretty autonomous.

I like it. Let’s take some land in the Middle East, create a new State for people not fully from that area, while moving most of the locals out. What could possibly go wrong?

Another important hurdle is that the Kurds are not a unitary group politically. They fought a war with each other in Iraq in the 1990s. There is tension in Syria between the PYD and other Syrian Kurdish political groups/militias. There are also many different ethnic groups in Northeastern and Northwestern Syria.

I doubt the West has the ability to effectively navigate all the regional elements that are involved in negotiating a state for the Kurds in the Middle East. They seem to be doing a good job of carving out territory for themselves. How about we give them the political support they need to avoid invasion by Turkey and the military support they need to prevent invasion by ISIS, Syria, Iraq, et al. and let them work out the rest themselves?

This is probably the best that we outside the region can do for them.

This sounds somewhat like the history of Israel’s creation, without the historic connection of the people to that particular chunk of land.

I say yes, go for it! What can possibly go wrong?

Why do so many in the ME dislike the Kurds?

Why do you assume they do?

What so many dislike is the idea of dismembering their countries in which they have a vested interest ( however recent and artificial in of themselves ) on behalf of an ethnic minority. Now you can argue the right or wrong of that, but ultimately that is what it comes down to. It doesn’t require any animus against the Kurds per se, just an unwillingness to give many of them what they want.

Well considering that Turkey’s been hating on Kurds for decades that I know of, now people are saying they would attack a Kurdish country carved out of other countries that have nothing to do with them, that makes me think Kurds are an especially hated minority there. It seems to me that Turkey, if they hated Kurds, should just allow them to move out of Turkey and go to another country, and that country is made up of my enemies, I should be happy.

Also, even taking into account of the whole anti-Jewish thing using it to distract from their own problems, countries in the ME practically fall over themselves to support a Palestine carved out for those people. If them, why not Kurds?

Because the Kurds aren’t Arabs.

This is oversimplifying the issue. The Turkish Kurds are not one monolithic group and they do not live in one single area of the country. Kurds and Turks live among each other and intermarry. I wouldn’t be surprised if more than 20% live near Istanbul.

The Kurdish-issue focused HDP lost seats in parliament to AKP AFTER the AKP attacked the PKK militia in Southeastern Turkey. This was because a percentage of the population is very conservative and believes the PKK should be dealt with militarily. So Turkish Kurds, never mind all the varying Kurdish groups in the region, are not uniform in their politics.

The Turkish government is able to work quite well with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and with the competitors to the PYD in Syria (their name escapes me atm). The Turkish government is at odds with the PKK and it views the PYD as the same thing as the PKK.

The Kurdish ethnic group as a whole is ascending in terms of recognition of their right to express their culture, in regions of the world where they live safely and democratically, in their cooperation with the West, and success in defending their land. They are experiencing some serious problems with the governments they live under at the moment, but they are not as bad as in the past and running a line across borders in the Middle East coupled with forcing a mass exodus is not too many degrees removed from ethnic cleansing and about as cruel.


Someone please explain this. What would be so threatening about having a continuous kurdish state? As much as Turks seem to despise the pkk, why would they not WANT to be rid of the territory they inhabit within Turkey? Money? Tax revenue?

I’ve read/heard that the pkk are not natural allies of kurds in Iraq where Iraqi kurds are a bit more religious while the pkk kurds are more leftist/marxist. And the syrian kurds have alliances with the pkk kurds.

I want to see the kurds get their own nation, and saving an issue within Turkey where Turkey refuses to cede land, have a carve out of Syria and Iraq for a kurdish state, and let the new kurdistan be an autonomous state where it can be a sort of Israel for the Kurdish homeland in the middle east, and if things keep staying bad for kurds in Turkey, more and more over time will emigrate to the new Kurdistan.

Why is this not an ideal goal?

That would not satisfy Kurdish nationalists in Turkey. They still would want to secede from Turkey and take their territory with them. After all, there are millions of Turkish Kurds and they and their ancestors have been living for centuries in what is now southeastern Turkey.

The question I want to know the answer to is why does Turkey want that region so much? Increased economic power?

It seems to be a trouble spot for them so why not let the people that you don’t get along with have that land they’ve been living on for centuries?
The Scotts almost seceded from the UK, and might still do so in the future, I suppose some people think that together they are stronger as a whole. Is that what Turkey thinks about their Kurdish population they don’t like?

Territory. It might not make a lot of sense, but states are always reluctant to give up territory. And Turkish Kurdistan isn’t some overseas colony, it’s part of contiguous Turkey.

Because the Turkish part of Kurdistan is as big as Iraqi, Iranian and Syrian Kurdistan combined, and home to at least 1.1 million Kurds. There are too many to move. Some tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Jews escaped the Holocaust by emigrating from Europe to Palestine before WWII, but there was no way 6 million could have, and most – since they could not foresee the Holocaust – would not have wanted to.

Correction, 1.1+ million. Also, there is a substantial Turkish minority who might not like living in an independent Kurdistan – and might fear getting ethnically cleansed if it happens.

The Kurds, BTW, are linguistically and culturally, and presumably genetically, closely related to the Persians – and not to the Arabs or the Turks.

I probably should have noted that yes, I am aware of the parallels with Israel and the fact that nation-creating has a less than stellar past. On the other hand, one often hears about how many of the current issues in the ME are at least partially due to the arbitrary borders drawn up by the past colonial masters, without regard for the tribal, ethnic, cultural etc borders that would have naturally existed. My thought was that, given the fact that Kurds are already a significant population in the region, this might solve a couple of problems and partially right a past wrong, while admittedly undoubtedly creating some new ones.

I didn’t go into this thinking if it would be a panacea, but I wondered if it might be a net positive over the current situation.

And to another point, naturally some of the Turkish Kurds would want to take their land with them to a new Kurdistan, it seems a reasonable compromise to say that while you can’t have the current Turkish Kurd lands, you can have your own state in lands historically part of the Kurdish region.