EYE Welcome to the Kurdish
Spring By Pepe Escobar
Turkish foreign policy, codified by
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, used to be known
in shorthand as "zero problems with our
neighbors". When Turkey started calling for regime
change in Syria, it turned into "a major problem
with one of our neighbors" (even tough Davutoglu
himself admitted on the record the policy change
Now, in yet another twist, it's
becoming "all sorts of problems with two of our
neighbors". Enter - inevitably - Ankara's ultimate
taboo; the Kurdish question.
to routinely chase and bomb Kurdish PKK guerrillas
crossing from Anatolia to Iraqi Kurdistan. Now it
positioning itself to do
the same in Syrian Kurdistan.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan came out all
guns blazing on Turkish TV; "We will not allow a
terrorist group to establish camps in northern
Syria and threaten Turkey."
referring to the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party
(PYD) - affiliated with the PKK; after a quiet
deal with the Assad regime in Damascus, the PYD is
now in control of key areas in northeast Syria.
So Ankara may provide logistics to tens of
thousands of Syria's NATO "rebels" - which include
plenty of hardcore Sunni Arab "insurgents"
formerly known as terrorists; but as long as
Syrian Kurds - which are part of the Syrian
opposition - demonstrate some independence, they
immediately revert to being considered
It's all conditioned by
Ankara's immediate nightmare; the prospect of a
semiautonomous Syrian Kurdistan very closely
linked to Iraqi Kurdistan.
oil This Swedish report  contains
arguably the best breakdown of the
hyper-fragmented Syrian opposition. The "rebels"
are dominated by the exile-heavy Syrian National
Council (SNC) and its Hydra-style militias, the
over 100 gangs that compose the Not Exactly Free
Syrian Army (FSA).
But there are many
other parties as well, including socialists;
Marxists; secular nationalists; Islamists; the
Kurdish National Council (KNC) - an 11-party
coalition very close to the Iraqi Kurdistan
government; and the PYD.
The KNC and the
PYD may bicker about everything else, but
basically agree on the essential; the civil war in
Syria shall not penetrate Syria Kurdistan; after
all, when it comes to the nitty gritty, they are
neither pro-Assad nor pro-opposition; they favor
Kurdish interests. The agreement was sealed under
the auspices of their cousins - the Iraqi Kurds.
And it explains why they are now in full control
of a de facto Kurdish enclave in northeast Syria.
As much as Turkish paranoia may apply, it's a
long and winding road from a semi-autonomous area
to an independent Kurdistan agglutinating Kurds in
both Syria and Iraq - not to mention, in the long
run, Turkish Kurds. Yet half of a possible,
future, independent Kurdistan would indeed be
Turkish. Ankara's nightmare in progress is that
the closer Iraqi and Syrian Kurdistan get, the
merrier the agitation among Turkish Kurds in
Priorities though divert; the
bottom line for Iraqi Kurds is independence from
Baghdad. After all; they have loads of oil. On the
other hand Syria Kurdistan has none. This means,
crucially, no role in regional Pipelineistan.
This concerns above all two strategic oil
and gas pipelines from Kirkuk to Ceyhan - a direct
deal between Ankara and the Iraqi Kurds which in
theory bypasses Baghdad.
Well, not really.
As Baghdad has made it clear, there's no way these
pipelines will be operative without the central
government having its sizeable cut; after all it
pays for 95% of the budget of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Show me your terrorist ID Iraqi
Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani told
al-Jazeera  that yes - they are training Syrian
Kurds who defected from the Syrian Army to defend
their de facto enclave. It was Barzani who
supervised the key deal sealed in Irbil on July 11
that led to Assad forces retreating from Syrian
What is being described as
"liberated cities"  is now being "jointly
ruled" by the PYD and the KNC. They have formed
what is known as a Supreme Kurdish Body.
One can never underestimate the Kurdish
capacity to shoot themselves in the foot (and
elsewhere). Yet one can also imagine all this
cross-country Kurdish frenzy terrifying quite a
few souls in Istanbul and Ankara. This 
columnist for the daily newspaper Hurriyet got it
right; "Arabs are fighting, Kurds are winning."
The Kurdish Spring is at hand. And it is already
hitting Turkey's borders.
have seen it coming; when a formerly "zero
problem" foreign policy evolves into housing the
weaponized opposition to a neighboring government,
you're bound to be in trouble.
when you start itching to kill "terrorists" living
in your neighbor's territory - even though your
Western allies may view them as "freedom
fighters". Meanwhile you actively support
Salafi-jihadis - "insurgents" formerly known as
terrorists - back and forth across your borders.
An increasingly erratic Erdogan has
invoked a "natural right"  to fight
"terrorists". But first they must produce an ID;
if they are Sunni Arab, they get away with it. If
they are Kurdish, they eat lead.