“We don’t aspire to create an autonomous zone that is exclusive to the Kurdish nation,” said Rodi Osman, director of the Syrian Kurd’s representative office in Moscow. “We envision to install a federal regime, democratic and secular, in which all parts of Syrian society can live and by which they will feel themselves represented,” he told reporters.
The fact though, is that the newly declared autonomous zone is another step along the way towards an independent Kurdish state, not only in Syria, but in Iraq as well. The Kurds are the largest indigenous group of people still without a sovereign state. However, that may be changing.
If the Kurds do in fact reach independence, in at least a partial part (Iraq and Syria) of their historic homeland, they will have ISIS to thank. Without ISIS, the Kurds would have at little leverage on the world to back them towards independence. Interestingly enough, it has been Russia as of late that has come to bat for the YPG (People’s Defense Units) in Northern Syria. While the USA, Turkey and all parties in Syria rejected the Kurdish declaration, Moscow, did not.
Russia’s abrupt pullout of Syria, maybe more to do with a realignment in Putin’s strategic thinking in who he can support to continue boxing in Turkey and bolstering his control in the Middle East. Remember, the Kurds are primarily secular and they have proven themselves very efficient in rooting out and destroying ISIS. An independent Kurdish state in Northern Syria and Iraq, backed by Russia would not only put an end to American hegemony in the region(if there is any left). It would however be a death knell to Turkey’s expansionist philosophy. For Putin, he cannot accomplish this with Iran and Syria’s Assad as they bring far more downside.
For Israel, A South Sudan Redux?
As the Western world continues its decline, Israel has been carefully continuing its strategic realignment. It is no secret that Israeli officials met with Russian representatives about security issues in the North. This meeting took place just days before the Syrian Kurds declared their autonomy. It is also known that not only does Israel buy Kurdish oil and train the Peshmerga in Iraq, but Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has gone on record supporting Kurdish independence.
Some would point towards South Sudan as a model for Israel to replicate with the Kurds. However similar, there are some very big differences. The first is that Turkey, the USA, and the rest of NATO is in direct opposition. The Kurds seem to have the entire world against them, except Russia. Yet, expecting Russia to rush a Kurdish state is to expect them to drop both Syria and Iran. This was very unlikely until now and that’s what makes the situation very interesting.
The Sunnis and Shiities look upon Kurdish independence as a break up of Arab colonialism from the South and Turkish colonialism from the North. The Kurds, as are the Jews, Druze, and Arameans are the true indigenous people’s of the region. An independent Kurdish state would help no other Middle Eastern country except for Israel and with Putin’s increasing involvement in the region, an independent Kurdistan is becoming more of a reality than ever before. If the switch is on for Russia, Kurdistan would only need Israel’s tacit support, since the Russian Bear could offer it far more. For Israel, it needs to make sure it is on the right side of this geopolitical shift. If not it could risk becoming further isolated.