Fazel Hawramy writes: Almost unnoticed last week, as attention focused on battles in Damascus, Kurdish activists in north-eastern Syria started taking over control of a few towns without encountering much resistance from the Assad regime’s security forces.
It was a significant development, as Syria’s Kurds number about 2 million people and could potentially tilt the balance of power towards the opposition.
President Masoud Barzani of the Kurdistan regional government (KRG) in northern Iraq, who is a fierce opponent of the Assad regime, is credited with bringing together the main Kurdish opposition groups from Syria to form a united front.
A few days before last week’s attack that killed four of Assad’s top aides in Damascus, the main Syrian Kurdish groups – the Kurdish National Councils (KNC) and the Democratic Union party (PYD) – signed an important agreement in Erbil to set up a Supreme Kurdish Council to co-ordinate their efforts.
They agreed to form a popular defence force consisting mainly of Kurdish Syrian soldiers who have defected to Iraqi Kurdistan since the uprising began in March last year. These soldiers are being retrained in military camps funded by the oil-rich KRG and are preparing to enter the Kurdish areas in Syria to defend towns such as Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) that are in the hands of the Kurdish activists.
President Barzani is also developing close political and commercial ties with Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has considerable influence over the Syrian National Council (SNC). It seems almost inevitable that in the near future the SNC and the Kurdish opposition groups will co-ordinate their efforts to accelerate the downfall of the Assad regime. [Continue reading…]