Just as the Kurds in Iraq were considered as the others and left pretty much on the side of the Sunni-Shiite debate, they were not accepted by either group. They were the perennial outsiders as under Saddam Hussein they were a victimized minority and now under the Iranian aligned Shiites they are those others in the far north. In many ways the Kurds in Iraq are the fortunate amongst the various Kurdish populations as they have successfully carved out their own little fiefdom and have won for themselves a near absolute autonomous region. In Iraq the Kurdish population has the protection of well-armed and well-trained militias and has gained a relative secure and peaceful region with little to fear from either the Sunnis or the Shiites of central and southern Iraq. There only trouble spot has been the occasions when Turkish military executed incursions into northern Iraq in efforts to presumably eradicate Kurdish guerrilla units which were terrorizing Eastern Turkey’s Kurdish regions. The Kurdish areas of Iraq closest to Syria have been providing refuge for Syrian Kurds who have fled the violence of the Syrian conflict.
But there are those Kurds who decided to remain in Syria and fight to hold and protect their areas and allow their fellow Kurds to remain in their homes and communities. These Kurds had ably cleared and protected their northeastern communities and were content to hold on to their areas where the majority of the Kurdish population resided and leave the civil war to the other groups and al-Assad’s military. For the most part the Free Syrian Army, the secular militia, had respected the Kurds leaving them to care for their own and was almost uniquely concentrating on the overthrow of Bashir al-Assad. For much of the two years the Syrian Civil War had raged, the Free Syrian Army and the al-Nusra Front were both concentrating all of their efforts against the Syrian Military and had occasionally coordinated their efforts when it suited both in clearing or liberating a critical area. This has changed over the recent past as the al-Nusra Front merged with al-Qaeda and other Sunni Jihadists who have now decided to impose a Sharia compliant area over which they claim autonomy. This has led to their declaring their intent to fight the Free Syrian Army as well as Bashir al-Assad as both are now considered to be enemies of their ideals for a Sharia state. This has obviously led to a three way civil war with the three separate combatant groups being the Syrian military loyal to al-Assad, the Free Syrian Army, and the al-Nusra Front which has aligned with al-Qaeda and the Islamic State in Iraq (ISI) with the new alliance assuming the new title of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). As the Free Syrian Army has slowly but inexorably been losing manpower, the ISIS has reached the decision that they no longer pose either a sizeable threat nor do they offer much in the way as an ally assisting in the war against the Syrian military so ISIS has declared hostilities against the Free Syrian Army as well as their efforts against al-Assad.
That leads us to the Kurdish militias and their held area in the northeast of Syria. With recent setbacks for ISIS and gains for the Syrian military, the ISIS found themselves pushed back northward and coming into contact with the Kurdish areas. This quickly became a problem as the ISIS jihadists declared the region to be part of their Sharia state which was opposed by the Kurdish forces. There has been some nasty firefights in the past week with little actual gains by either side. Late Tuesday the Kurdish People’s Defense Units (YPG) issued a “victory message”, celebrating the liberation’ of Ras al-Ain, in northern Syria. During the fighting between the two groups over the past weeks has actually spilled over the border with Turkey and into the nearby town of Ceylanpinar where a seventeen-year-old Turkish boy was killed and two other people were wounded. That may be about to change as the ISIS jihadists abducted two-hundred Kurdish civilians and is holding them as hostages. The jihadists after taking Tall Aren, a village in Aleppo province, are now laying siege to another village nearby named Tall Hassel. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported that the Jihadists have taken two-hundred civilian hostages from the two villages and are demanding the Kurdish forces surrender the area and cease their resistance and comply with their demands. This has led to a call by YPG in a statement quoted by Al Arabiya requesting, “We call on the Kurdish people… to step forward… anyone fit to bear arms should join the ranks of the Committees for the Protection of the Kurdish People (YPG) and to face the assaults of these (jihadist) armed groups.”
A well-known Kurdish politician, Isa Huso, was killed in Qamishli near his place of residence. Commenting on the situation, a Kurdish spokesperson had decried that “Despite our repeated calls to the National Coalition and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) command… to date these parties have failed to take a clear position. It said it was clear that FSA battalions, Al-Nusra Front and ISIS in particular, were coordinating with jihadist groups, adding that these groups and the FSA “have become one side in attacking the Kurdish people.” This grabbing of civilian hostages is presenting a threat to escalate the conflict into a new and unthinkable area. Should these likely terrified Kurdish noncombatants, which includes women and children, be tortured, murdered or otherwise come to harm an international denouncing would be in order. This might be an appropriate time to repair one of the most grievous oversights committed after World War I when the Ottoman Empire was being sliced up into nations replacing the colonial demarcations and no state was set aside for the Kurdish populations which lived mostly in one region which included southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran. Perhaps the time for establishing a Kurdish state has arrived. Should such a state be cut from the areas of Kurdish populations, it could be minimized at the eastern and western extremes thus minimizing the amounts of land requested from Turkey and Iran in order to form Kurdistan. The advantage to Turkey and Iran would be an end to the low level but consistent problems ruling over their Kurdish minorities and the friction due to the Kurds being denied a homeland would be resolved and the Kurds would need to surrender any claims to lands beyond the agreeable borders resulting from deliberations. If the world can go to such extents in order to force the formation of a state for the make-believe Palestinian people, then there certainly should be an effort to form a Kurdish state as we know that there was a long and proud Kurdish history. This is obvious as history tells of a commander of one of the most formidable Islamic armies of all time who was a Kurdish man named Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn Yūsuf ibn Ayyūb, more famously known by his westernized name, Saladin. Certainly the descendants of the tribe of Saladin deserve a rightful place within the Islamic lands if any group is found so deserving. On the other hand, after being so unceremoniously ejected from the Holy Lands by Saladin’s army, it is no surprise that European powers would deny his descendants their rightful heritage. Talk about revenge being served cold.
Beyond the Cusp