03.08.2020 Author: Vladimir Danilov

Kurds Rebuild Ties with Washington to Even the Score with Ankara and Damascus


The cultural identity of the Middle East where peoples lived for century without statehood has given the Kurds a particularly strong incentive to carry on their struggle for independence over the last few decades, and American political strategists have taken full advantage of this. That is why the Kurds have been designated a place on the map to establish their own independent state of Kurdistan in America’s plans for the Greater Middle East (MENA), which would serve as a new Washington-controlled ally with a population of 30 million, and would owe its existence to the United States. Yet being able to rely on US-funded Kurdish armed groups to deal with regional security issues would be just one of the tasks the White House plans to allocate to this Kurdish state, given that the Kurds have proven they are capable in combat and have demonstrated their commitment to achieving military objectives. The state could also be used to maintain a favorable power balance in the Middle East from Washington’s point of view, between Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and part of the Kurds’ historical homeland in east Transcaucasia between the Kur and Araxes rivers, where they have lived for centuries.

In order to go about seizing Syrian and Iraqi territory where Kurdistan could be established in the future without violating international law, the US used their fight against DAESH (banned in Russia), which had taken the entire geo-cultural historical region traditionally inhabited by the Kurds in the Levant. Washington planned to sustain the Kurdish–Turkish conflict between the Republic of Turkey and various Kurdish insurgent groups fighting to gain independence for Northern Kurdistan in Eastern and Southeastern Turkey. Washington must surely have its own “Kurdish plan” for Iran like Turkey’s, where Kurds make up 9% of the country’s population.

After Saddam Hussein was deposed by the Americans in 2005, an autonomous Kurdistan Region was established in Iraq, and American political scientists drafted a new constitution for a “free Iraq”, which assigned the presidential post to a Kurd. Since then, the President of Iraq has had to be an ethnic Kurd under the new power-sharing deal, although Kurds only make up 16 % of the population in Iraq.

After President Barack Obama sent US troops into Syria in 2015, the Kurds served as reliable allies for the United States in this country for some time, devoted to their cause in the fight against DAESH in the Levant. The US supplied the Kurds with weapons and training, and used them in the war against DAESH.

However, the Kurds have been betrayed time and time again throughout history as pawns in a game of political chess played by the “great powers”, and history has repeated itself. All too often, the Kurds have been left to do most of the hard work, only to find that the next move will seal an inescapable fate, and they are to be offered up as a sacrifice with checkmate. This is exactly what has now happened following Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops and leave the Kurds to be torn asunder by Turkey in Syria and Iraq.

However, the Kurds do objectively have a very important and “well-oiled” tool, which they are now able to use as leverage in the current situation to try and win back Washington’s affection. It is no secret that Syria’s oil and gas reserves have fueled the prolonged conflict in this country. And the regions with oil and gas reserves have recently passed from the hands of terrorists to the Kurds.

Given these circumstances, recent US operations in Syria have focused on stimulating Kurdish separatism with money from the illegal Syrian oil trade from crude extracted east of the Euphrates. Since May, the United States has been accelerating the transfer of military personnel and weapons to the region under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), a Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), and has been stepping up its work to create infrastructure for a Kurdish state, whose administrative center chosen by the Kurds is the town of Tabqa under Kurdish control, 40 km west of Raqqa. That is why the Pentagon has begun actively transferring military personnel, weapons and military equipment from Iraqi territory to the al-Hasakah Governorate controlled by the PYD. US forces are transferring armored vehicles accompanied by drones across the border at Bara (Iraq) and al-Hawl (Syria) to the airbase in Tal Baydar. The US military have also brought convoys of oil and gas specialists from Canada, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to northern Syria, who plan to maximize oil production, which will put Washington’s plans into practice, enabling a “Greater Kurdistan” to be established on Syrian, Iraqi, Iranian and Turkish territory. There have been numerous reports published by various media outlets, as well as satellite imagery from the Russian Ministry of Defense, which show Americans engaging in oil production on Syrian territory and the oil being subsequently taken away on tank trucks for export, which indicate that the United States is plundering Syria’s natural resources on a mass scale through industrial mining in regions of the country that have been taken illegally.

The United States began drafting a special coordinating unit in Syria to guard the oil fields east of the Euphrates river, which included ethnic Arab fighters from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), an alliance in the Syrian Civil War composed primarily of Kurdish, Arab, and Assyrian/Syriac militias, the backbone of which is formed by the Kurdish People’s Protection Units. On July 30, US Senator Lindsey Graham reported that political representatives of the Syrian Kurds signed a deal with an American oil company to modernize oil fields in parts in the northeast of the Syrian Arab Republic that are under the control of the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces in order to strengthen business ties with Washington.

While this was going on, the leaders of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) comprised of Kurdish paramilitary groups hired lobbyists in Washington in order to guarantee better protection from the Turkish Army Forces during their “Claw-Eagle” military operation, and to avoid falling under the “Caesar Act”, which came into force in America in the summer, prohibiting all relations with official Damascus.  According to the Foreign Lobby Report this is what motivated Kurdish leaders to sign a contract with prominent lawyer Ayal Frank and his company AF International to secure lobbying for their interests in Congress and in the administration of President Donald Trump. The deal reportedly includes consulting services, drawing up a plan for interaction with government agencies and the media in the United States, as well as organizing meetings and events with government officials and journalists.

The question remains whether these actions taken by the SDF to strengthen ties with Washington and the robbing of the Syrian people by United States will strengthen the authority of this Kurdish alliance, in a country where the Kurds expect to continue to live, even if it means continuing to endure the illegal US military presence. Or will we witness Washington abandoning its Kurdish allies yet again, once they have completed the task of helping America plunder Syria?

Vladimir Danilov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.