NIGHTWATCH: Syrian Kurds Holding North – Kurdistan Emergent + Kurd RECAP & Syria RECAP

05 Civil War, 08 Wild Cards, 11 Society, Peace Intelligence

Syria-Kurds: Islamist groups in northern Syria are weakening after months of fighting and Kurdish militias are gaining ground, a top Syrian Kurdish leader said on Wednesday.

Saleh Muslim, head of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), said in an interview that Tuesday’s announcement of an interim Syrian Kurdish autonomous administration in northeastern Syria is only a provisional measure until the end of the Syrian fighting. Muslim said he would only join the Geneva talks if there was a separate Kurdish delegation.

Muslim said, “About 3,000 of those Salafists have been killed. At the beginning they were strong, but now they aren’t so strong….We have found no allies and paid for our own bullets.”

Muslim admitted, however, the PYD had received aid, money and weapons from the Iraq-based Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan as well as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which fought for greater Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for three decades.

Comment: Syrian Kurds number about two million people or 10% of Syria’s population of 22.4 million, according to the CIA World Factbook. More than 25 million Kurds are dispersed among Syria, Turkey, Iran and Iraq.

The pro-Western and the jihadist groups reject the formation of an autonomous Syrian Kurdistan region. Nevertheless, one of the ripple effects of the Syrian fighting has been to galvanize the long-oppressed Syrian Kurds into taking action to defend their territory in northeastern Syria.

Muslim’s admission that his group receives aid, money and weapons from other Iraqi and Turkish Kurds is significant because usually Kurdish leaders are more circumspect about linkages to other Kurdish regions, particularly the prosperous and highly autonomous Iraqi Kurds. None of the leaders of states with large Kurdish populations wants to see a Kurdish nationhood movement emerge.

For now, the Asad government owes the Kurds for preventing the jihadists from seizing northeastern Syria, as they have tried for much of the summer.

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