Wednesday, November 13, 2013


Many of you, like me, will never have heard of "Rojava." This is the name the Kurds of north-eastern Syria have given to their enclave, consisting mostly of ca. 70-80% Kurds, that is now virtually independent and separate from the rest of Syria. After having defeated the Syrian Army and expelled the pro-Shia Alawite Arab forces, the Kurds then turned on the mostly Sunni Islamists who captured territory surrounding their enclave and have defeated them. The Kurds, consisting of the so-called YPG (or People's Protection Units), have surged forward in the past few weeks, capturing territory where the proportion of Kurds is less. We learn this from an article in the J. Post this weekend by Jonathan Spyer of the Herzliya-based Inter-Disciplinary Center (

Rojava now consists of a separate ethnic Kurdish enclave controlling about 10% of former Syrian territory. Maybe this will be the pattern of furture developments in Syria, with the country splitting into at least three entities, namely the Kurdish north-east, the Alawite north-western area, and the Sunni heartland, where there will be clashes between the Free Syrian Army and the Islamist forces of the al Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS). Damascus will remain the center of fighting between the Assad regime and the opposition forces.

How can Rojava survive economically? Quite easily, since this region has most of the oil resources in Syria, such as at Romeilan, and if they can manage to sell their oil across the border to Iraq they will be able to thrive. On the other hand, the Syrian oposition groups have claimed this oil as a national Syrian resource and will contest Kurdish control if they ever get the chance.

Naturally the question arises if the Kurds in Syria and in Iraq, who have a similar enclave in northern Iraq, can get together and combine forces. But, the aim for a future Kurdistan is greatly reduced by the fact that each of these Kurdish enclaves is controlled by mutually antagonistic Kurdish parties, the PKK (the socialist Kurdish Worker's Party) in the case of Rojava and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), led by Massoud Barzani, in Iraq. These two military organizations have fought each other before and there is little or no likelihood of their combining at this time. This will be a great relief to Turkey, where the builk of the Kurds live in eastern provinces adjacent to Iraq and Syria.


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