The Kurds that control large swaths of Syrian territory have announced they plan to declare their own autonomous region. This comes at a time when many word powers are trying to find a solution to the 5 year old civil war in Syria. One country that is part of the ongoing peace talks is Turkey, and they have an enormous problem with the recent development from the Kurds. Turkey has been fighting its own Kurdish minority and has regularly stated the Kurds need to be sidelined from the peace talks even though they are one of the most vital forces in the fight against the Islamic State. While the Kurds have been a significant force against ISIS, Turkey has attacked Kurdish forces in Syria and Iraq in hope of deterring the Kurds from their increased self-determination. There is no doubt this further complicates the ongoing peace talks to end the war in Syria since the Kurds are not interested in a unified Syria along with Turkey’s intention to keep the Kurds from the negotiating table.
Despite Turkey’s animosity towards the Kurds, they still intend to create their own autonomous state. It is unclear how the new Kurdish state will interact with the Syrian government, but they are going to manage their own economic, security, and defense affairs with the current regions of Kurdish territory being formed into one complete state. This is likely to aggravate Turkey and the Syrian government because of their unilateral decision to create their own autonomous region, but what did they expect when the Kurds were left out of the peace talks? Regardless, no matter what, the Kurds need to be incorporated into the peace talks; if the peace talks end with a deal in place that does not include the Kurds, who knows what the Kurdish people will do. If that scenario played out, the potential for the Kurds to exacerbate the war in Syria is great. Aside from ISIS and Al-Qaeda, the Syrian government would be forced to deal with another unhappy party which could make the war drag out even longer. However, Turkey is the biggest obstacle when it comes to giving the Kurds a seat at the table; the country is currently in a conflict with the PKK, a group of Kurdish fighting forces. This is not to be confused with the YPG, which is another Kurdish group that has been a major ally of the US in the fight against the Islamic State.
World powers have weighed in on the announcement from the Kurds and not surprisingly, Turkey, Syria, and the US dismissed any potential for the Kurds to develop their own autonomous state.
The State Department of the US released a statement saying: “We have not and will not recognize any “self-rule” semi-autonomous zone” and proceeded to state “We remain committed to the unity and territorial integrity of Syria”(Source).
On the other hand, Russia conveyed the message that they were open to more Kurdish autonomy in the region. It is not often that I agree with Russia, but I think they actually have a point: the only real solution to the civil war in Syria is separating the country into three autonomous states. In my opinion, Syria as we know it is a failed state. Therefore, we must learn from our past and realize replacing the government or somehow working out a peace deal will not return Syria to normalcy. We have seen the results of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya; each resulting in a more fractured state than it was before. If the world powers want to truly put the Syrian conflict in the past, then maybe the only practical solution is giving the differing parties want they want: their own state.