The march of the Kurds

When the battle in the Middle East is entering into a decisive phase, an entirely unexpected outcome is on the card- the emergence of Kurds as the regional power in the Middle East. Latest reports tell that Turkey has requested for summoning a NATO meeting to address the problems it is facing.

 For Turkey, the attack by ISIL in Suruc that killed thirty people may not be as hurting as the ambush of Kurdish forces against the ISIS.

The emergence of strong Kurdish controlled territories in its border with Syria is an urgent concern. Excusing the Suruc attack, Ankara which traditionally followed a sympathetic approach to ISIL has made raid on both ISIL and PKK (Kurdish forces in Iraq); though the PKK has no connection with Suruc attack.

In the coming weeks, Turkey will continue its policy of barking on the ISIL and biting on the Kurds.

Already, many areas previously controlled by ISIL are falling into the YPJ hands. YPJ is the Kurdish defence forces in Syria. The Kurdish fighters have captured Tal Abyed from ISIL. Tal Abyed is just fifty kilometers from the ISIL‘s Syrian capital -Raqqa.

Strategically, the fall of Tal Abyed will cut ISIL supplies to Raqqa.

Ever since the beginning of the present conflict, if the ISIS has lost its territories or is facing resistance either in Iraq or in Syria, it is the Kurd forces that fight them. In Iraq, the government forces have lost many territories to the ISIL. In Syria, President Bashar Assad has just declared that his army is not enough to meet the ISIL challenge.

Early period has seen the Kurdish Peshmagars pushing back the ISIS. The Peshmegars forces may be short of ammunition and training is spirited and even has large number of women fighters. Their fight back to retain Kobane was the breakthrough battle.

 The Kurd forces – the YPJ and the Peshmagras have shown mettle.   Perhaps more notable is the march of the YPJ in Syria which is pushing ISIL back; sending shock waves in Ankara.

Kurds are considered as the largest ethnic people without a state.  They are scattered as minorities but with strong presence in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Of the 40 million Kurds, about 14 million are in Turkey. Kurds retain strong ethnic identities and Turkey knows that any resurgence in Kurdish nationalism is a promotion of separatism in Kurd dominated areas in Turkey.

In the past, Turkey has used the NATO forces efficiently to fight against the Kurds and tens of thousands of people died in the conflict.

Turkey’s entire approach to ISIS is based upon its policy on countering the Kurdish power. Hence it allowed foreign jihadists to join the ISIS as it was clear that ISIS has to take on the Kurd fighters in Iraq and Syria. But as the war in Syria and Iraq progresses, nothing brings cheer to Turkey. A loss for ISIL will be a cause for Kurdistan and hence a loss for Turkey.

That is why Turkey attacked PKK or the Kurdistan Workers Party forces in Iraq though it should have targeted ISIL. In future, if Kurdish forces make further progress, Turkey may enter the field with the help of NATO to minimize the Kurdish march along the Syrian border.

In this scenario the US, which is assisting the Peshmegars, may be asked by Turkey to stop its help. It will not be surprising if the Kurds may have to face the ISIL, Turkey and the US on the same battlefield.

The war in Middle East may have started for an Islamic State with Arab accent. But now every chance is that it may create a Kurdistan.