Something like good news out of Syria for a change:
On January 21 st the Kurds declared an autonomous provincial government in the northeast. With the help of the autonomous Kurdish government of northern Iraq and the many Kurds in Turkey, the Syrian Kurds are keeping most of the war out of their territory. The Syrian Army considers the Kurds more trouble than they are worth at the moment and something that can be tended to once the other rebels are crushed. Many rebel groups get along with the Kurds and respect their desire to concentrate on protecting their own. Since the northeast is geographically out of the way the Kurds can do that. The Kurds do allow free passage for rebel groups they trust. The Kurds are 15 percent of the Syrian population, moderate and democratic Moslems, concentrated in the northeast. They have long opposed the Assads and are hated by the largely Iraqi ISIL (which has always hated the Iraqi Kurds). Allied with the Kurds are the Christians who are about ten percent of the population. Together have over 12,000 armed men available (mainly for self-defense). The Iraqi Kurds are about 20 percent of the Iraqi population and followed the same plan in the early 1990s with assistance from the United States and Britain (who provided air support, weapons and trainers) to keep the Iraqi forces out. The Syrian Kurds appear to be trying the same strategy.
The Kurds never declared independence from Iraq because they haven’t had need to. They have enough autonomy to feel safe from Baghdad, and enough skilled mountain warriors to make it stick. Now the same might be coming true in Syria. The “two Kurdistans” don’t really have any need to join, because as I understand it, their government is already such a loose confederation that no such thing is necessary. Besides, secession — from Iraq or maybe now also from Syria — is a nice club to keep at arm’s reach, instead of one to go whacking the Arabs with right away.
And recognizing a Kurdish state is still a club we can threaten to use — but not for forever, as the Arab (and possibly Turk and Iranian) states whither away.