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Syria's Kurds Have Little Choice But to Flee Amid the Desolution, Ruins and Danger They Face
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The Kurdish enclave of Kobani in north-east Syria, once the home of Aylan al-Kurdi and his family, is largely in ruins after a four-and-a-half month siege by Isis fighters that ended in January. It was one of the greatest victories in Kurdish history, but a Pyrrhic one that saw 300,000 Syrian Kurds flee into Turkey from Kobani, a city just south of the Turkish border, and from the 250 villages surrounding it.

Isis may have been driven back, but the Kobani enclave remains a desolate, ruined and very dangerous place. Some 70 per cent of the city was destroyed in the fighting, by Isis suicide bombs and mortars, Kurdish counter-fire, and US air strikes using 500lb and 2,000lb bombs to smash Isis positions. At one point, Isis set fire to buildings in order to create a smokescreen to protect them from US aircraft.

In most of Kobani city there is no water or electricity supply and retreating Isis forces booby-trapped many of the shattered buildings, so these cannot be easily cleared. The fighting was more intense and went on longer than any recent battle in Iraq or Syria, with Isis – which calls itself Islamic State – losing an estimated 2,000 fighters and the Kurdish YPG militia some 560.

After January there was a trickle of Kurdish refugees returning from Turkey to Kobani because life among the ruins was better than in the squalid refugee camps. But the Syrian Kurdish authorities turned out to be tragically over-confident that Isis was incapable of a counter-attack. On 25 June some 100 Isis fighters disguised in YPG uniforms entered Kobani and a village 20km to the south of the city and began a massacre that left between 223 and 233 men, women and children butchered, along with 35 YPG militiamen. Syrian Kurdish refugees in Turkey will have got the message that it is not safe to go home even when their forces are advancing with the help of US air strikes and Isis is retreating.

Kobani is one of three Kurdish enclaves just south of the Turkish border that have created their own quasi-state since the Syrian army withdrew in the summer of 2012. The 2.2 million Syrian Kurds, long discriminated against by the Damascus government, became a surprisingly important player in the Syrian civil war. Their enclaves, which they call cantons, are in strategically valuable places, controlling crossing points on the 550-mile border with Turkey. Half this frontier is now held by the YPG, denying Isis important crossing points between Turkey and Syria.


The Syrian Kurds have a political significance out of proportion to their numbers in the region’s civil wars. They have achieved a real measure of practical independence in the de facto Kurdish state called Rojava under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) and its well-disciplined YPG militia. Since last October, the YPG has been the only effective ground force in Syria co-operating with US airpower against Isis. But the enhanced influence of the Syrian Kurds has made them a target for their many enemies. Turkey has been dismayed at finding what amounts to a Kurdish statelet controlling 250 miles of its southern frontier. Worse, the PYD and the YPG are the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a powerful guerrilla organisation that has been fighting the Turkish army since 1984.

This summer, Rojava, a fertile wedge of territory full of wheat fields and dotted with oil industry “nodding donkeys”, looked idyllic and peaceful compared with the rest of Syria. But for Syrian Kurds the future is full of menaces in the shape of a hostile Turkey to the north and Isis to the south. Moreover, any potential winner of the civil war in Syria may swiftly move to extinguish the Kurdish independent entity. In the face of these dangers, it is no wonder that Syrian Kurds will take any risk to escape to Europe or anywhere else where they might find safety.

(Republished from The Independent by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: ISIS, Kurds, Syria 
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  1. So why don’t they fuck off to the Golan?

    If the Arabs won’t accept them why should the Europeans?

    Oh, Right, they have rules against it.

    Qatar should spend the quarter trillion dollars it’s going to piss away on the World Cup on fixing this problem.

  2. bossel says:
    @Bill Jones

    So why don’t they fuck off to the Golan?

    If the Arabs won’t accept them why should the Europeans?

    The Golan is under Israeli control. Hard to call that Arab.
    & BTW, Kurds are not Arabs, either.

    • Replies: @Bill Jones
  3. {BTW, Kurds are not Arabs, either.}

    What is an Arab? They speak Arabic. Don’t Kurds speak Arabic? Are ‘americans’ are Americans. America is a SETTLER state like Israel. Are they all ‘americans’? Of course not. For got sake, not all speak English either. Then why not split America into many smaller pieces? They are doing it in the Middle East killings millions and make millions more refugees. This is the time to expose these murderers and their plan. The kurds have been working for Israel and US for a long time against the interest of the regional population. It is the time to expose them fully. Stop painting the Kurds as ‘victims’, like the Zionists.

    • Replies: @matt
    , @Art
  4. German_reader says:

    I don’t want any mass migration of Kurds to Europe either even if, relatively speaking, they’re the “good guys” in the current conflict. The obvious solution would be for Europe to stop supporting Turkey. Turkey should be dismembered and its southeast become part of a Kurdish state.

  5. Suppose a Kurdish state is created and a minority within it wants to secede. What would happen if the minority wasn’t allowed to and they decided to fight?

    Obviously the Kurdish state would treat them like the Kurds are treated now.

    So f ck all the government-loving Kurds, which is probably 99+% of their population.

  6. matt says:
    @No Second Israel

    What is an Arab? They speak Arabic. Don’t Kurds speak Arabic?

    I’m sure lots of Kurds speak Arabic as a second or third language. But they have their own language(s), known as “Kurdish”.

    • Replies: @No Second Israel
  7. @matt

    Don’t millions of Americans have first language, spanish, English, French, German or Yiddish?
    Get lost from the Middle east. Stop your destabilization with your agents, the kurds. You are using the Kurds as YOUR PAWNS to change the map of the region. You should take this wish into your graves vicious people. Get lost from the Middle East NOW or you will be forced to.

    • Replies: @matt
  8. @Bill Jones

    So why don’t they fuck off to the Golan?

    I hope that was sarcastic. Israel does not want Muslim refugees or immigrants. That’s the one tiny Jewish homeland.

    UAE, Saudi Arabia, and especially Qatar on the other hand… They are Sunni nation states. They have that ethnic sovereignty that the Christian Europeans want to keep whats left of. They should provide homes for their fellow Sunni muslims.

    Qatar should spend the quarter trillion dollars it’s going to piss away on the World Cup on fixing this problem.

    Qatar has funded the Syria rebellion and Islamic terror. The west has been involved, everyone wants to blame the west, but the west has generally had altruistic intentions even though they make massive mistakes and fund rebels that become ISIL. Qatar is far more to blame for this mess than the west and these fleeing peasants are largely Sunni Muslims!!!

    Persecuted Syrian Christians, fine, give them refuge in Christian Europe. But why does Qatar get to keep this ultra wealth and have zero obligation.

    The world’s liberals have power to guilt European whites directly to the grave but they have zero leverage over the Sunnis and don’t even bother talking about them because no one cares.

    • Replies: @matt
    , @anti_republocrat
  9. @bossel

    The Golan thing was a deliberate freebee to perhaps start a discussion on why the Khazar land thieves are constantly given a free pass.
    I’d forgotten about the Kurds being “The largest ethnic group without its own country”

    Here btw is one simple map that perfectly illustrates the issue:

  10. matt says:
    @No Second Israel

    You seem unstable. I hope you get help.

    • Agree: European-American
  11. matt says:
    @Massimo Heitor

    Israel does not want Muslim refugees or immigrants.

    Luckily, that shouldn’t a problem, for the very convenient reason that not a single square cm of the Golan belongs to Israel in the first place.

    the west has generally had altruistic intentions even though they make massive mistakes


  12. JohnDough says:

    Here are two great links that have to do with refugees. One shows how the BBC helped it happen and two shows how Peter Sutherland spoke in 2012 to a council on immigration that the European hegemony had to be broken up. “EU should ‘undermine national homogeneity’ says UN migration chief.” What a coincidence!



    What a world of proxy moves and smoke and mirrors!

  13. @Bill Jones

    The Empire as a whole, including its EU vassal, created this mess and should take responsibility for the breakage by accepting the refugees. The West created a failed state in Libya, then shipped captured Libyan arms to Syrian rebels. The only objection to Western support for the al-Qaeda linked rebels was Parliaments vote on air strikes after the East Gouda false flag operation. The UK and the rest of the EU has been in lock step with the US insisting Assad must step down before negotiations even begin.

    Stop blaming the victims for this rape.

  14. @Massimo Heitor

    Western (US) intentions are not altruistic. Western leaders are not stupid or insane, so “massive mistakes” are not repeated for over 30 years. These “massive mistakes” are wildly successful in creating the chaos and instability that justify the institutional imperatives of the MIC: 1) profits for weapons manufacturers and other military contractors, 2) career enhancement for military brass and civilian employees of the Pentagon, CIA, State Department, think tanks and media, 3) sensational headlines to sell media advertising and frighten stupid Americans, distracting them from internal problems and 4) pork for politicians.

  15. Sonic says:

    The greatest Kurdish victory in history was the victory of Sallahadin Ayubi (ra), who fought as a Muslim on behalf of the Muslim Khalifah against the Crusader occupation of Palestine. Of course, that was a real Khalifah unlike the one ISIS now claims. By the same token, that is what the real Kurdistan is: a province from among the provinces of the Khalifah! Not this secular abomination that some Kurds now claim.

    Oh and Patrick – while you are at it, please also tell us the stories of some of the families from the Sunni areas of Iraq, or Afghanistan, or the tribal areas of Pakistan, or Yemen, or Somalia, etc. who had to flee from the siege of American and British bombs? Would you be so kind as to do that, or do you pick and choose whose stories to tell? Kobani was mainly destroyed by American bombs (not ISIS counter-attack or camouflage) – and the residents sat back and cheered on the destruction of their own city. Imagine how they feel now that America is allowing its NATO ally in Turkey to bomb other Kurds around the region in order to ensure that there will never be an independent, secular Kurdistan.

    The Kurdish people are a Muslim people. Secularism completely and one-hundred percent contradicts with Islam. Thus, the Kurdish areas will never know peace or stability so long as they try and reconcile this contradiction. The secularists have been in power for a long time…but we have seen now how these secularists are used and fooled by the surrounding powers. They have nothing to show for their rebellion against God and their racism and ethnocentrism. Like Zionism and Baathism…it will eventually be replaced by the return of Kurdish Islam. A Kurdish Islam that Sallahadin Ayubi (ra) would be proud of.

    Finally, it is important to point out that refugees to Europe and elsewhere are coming from all over the war-torn areas. It is not just Kurds, but Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Yazidis, Alawites, Syrians, Iraqis, Druze, and so forth. The Kurds are hardly the only victim and as a minority in the region – they should make peace with the majority (Sunni Arabs) rather than become pawns of a global game of power and thus, serve the interest of western powers who are far removed from the region. Never forget that Iraq was destroyed over the course of several decades which including mass carpet-bombing and inhumane sanctions. The Iraqi Kurds during this time mainly supported those who were responsible for bombing and sanctioning Iraq, and became a pivotal ally of the occupation during Gulf War 2. So how can one be surprised with regards to the level of hatred their enemies have for them!? Along with the natural resources of the region, Islam is the unifying factor between the Kurds and its neighbors, and so that alone should be the movement and identity that brings peace and ends war (not segmented nation-states replacing the previous segmented nation-states).

    And for all the comments regarding the refugees not being able to migrate to the oil-rich sheikdoms of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States…don’t you know? The rulers of these states are puppets of the west. They oppress their own people, so why would they allow more people into their countries to be oppressed? They are tyrant apostates running police states controlling the natural resources of the Muslim world while killing and imprisoning any who threaten their throne or any who threaten their special relationship with the west. Refugees have to do whatever they need to in order to survive. No blame is on them. It is the powerful governments and elites of the world who are to blame, and who deserve the most severe blame and chastisement.

  16. Art says:
    @No Second Israel

    “The kurds have been working for Israel and US for a long time against the interest of the regional population.”

    Exactly – a perfect example — the last thing you want to be is a friend of Israel – look at America – it is cursed by its friendship with Israel.

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